Saturday, March 19, 2005
Atonement or Redemption?
A little important theology today. I've noticed from time to time that there is a little confusion about the idea of atonement. In the Old Testament, "atonement" refers to the covering of sins by, for example, an animal sacrifice. Because of this, we tend to think of our sins under the New Covenant as being "covered". Nothing could be further from the truth.
Merely "covering" a sin meant that the sin was not taken away, that it was almost literally "swept under the rug" to be dealt with in the future. This meant two things:
1. The sin still had to be dealt with.
Hebrews 10:4 says, "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." So it was only "covered" for a time. Only when the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ was enacted by the Cross, were these "covered" sins of the Old Testament saints finally dealt with, retroactively, being "taken away" by their Messiah, Who took those sins upon Himself, exchanging it for His righteousness.
2. The sacrificial "covering" had to be repeated over and over (literally ad nauseum, if you can imagine rivers of blood from the sacrifices).
Only the past sins of Old Testament saints were "covered" by blood sacrifices. So there was no end to the rivers of blood. Over and over and over, as new sins were committed, the sacrifices had to be repeated.
But praise God, when the final Sacrifice was made by the Lamb of God on the cross, all the sins (past, present and future) of all the Saints of all time were "taken away", replaced by the righteousness of God, Who will "remember their sins no more", Hebrews 8:12.
In Theology this is called the "Substitutionary Atonement", and there's where the confusion comes in. "Atonement" here is, I believe, a bad choice of word, since it's not a "covering" as in the Old Testament. Thank God, He has taken away our sins "once for all" (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; 1Peter 3:18)!
That means your sins are forgiven. All of them. Past, present, and future, if you are a born-again child of God. No need for condemnation or questioning God's love for you, or wondering if your sins will ever be "uncovered". They can't be, because they never were "covered", they were taken away! Redemption, not atonement.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.