With the resurgence of lay movements within the Church, it is increasingly important that we who are laymen have a clear understanding of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Christ founded his church with laymen, and they should remain the strength and stay of every department of his work.
I want us to think about a word that carries deep spiritual significance, one whose concept is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. That word is atonement.
At the level of our worldly experience, atonement means a satisfactory reparation for an offense or injury. Unjust as some awards may be, payment for injury to persons and property resulting from an automobile accident, for instance, carries with it the idea of an atonement to the one injured.
In the realm of the spirit and of theological usage the Atonement means “at-one-ment” between God and man, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and all that is implied thereby.
We must frankly admit that no one definition of the Atonement can possibly cover all the marvelous facets of this sublime truth. What is very clear in biblical teaching, however, is that Christ died for our sins, taking upon himself the penalty rightly belonging to us, so that, through faith in him, we are freed from our penalty and guilt.
There are immediate as well as eternal results of the atonement that transcend many other doctrines of Christianity. In fact, many other doctrines revolve around the central truth that Christ, God’s Son, came into this world to make atonement for our sins.
Man’s need for the Atonement goes back to the basic problem of sin.
Sin is a universal disease; it affects all men everywhere. Our news media daily recount multiplied acts of overt sin against God and man, ...1
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