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An Atoning Sacrifice

by David Johnson

Transcribed from The Words of Life Radio Program

      It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is “An Atoning Sacrifice.”   And our key text is taken from the New Testament First John, the First epistle of John chapter 4 verses 9 and 10. Please listen to the Word of God. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  This is the Word of God. May He add his blessing to the public reading of His Word.

     For Bible-believing Christians the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are indeed the core, central truths of the gospel, the ‘Good News’ of Jesus Christ revealed to the human race. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul that he wrote to the church at Corinth: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” We can find that at First Corinthians chapter 15 verses 3 and 4.

These are paramount truths revealed in his key text for the defense of the validity of the gospel and Christianity itself. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the One and only unique Son of God, being the Person of the Godhead who accomplished all of this over 2000 years ago.

Genuine Christians all agree with these basic gospel truths, in which we have unity in Christ as His universal church down through the centuries to today.

     Yet today we live in a so-called ‘post-Christian’ era in much of the world. Meaning that in America, and primarily in Western Europe Biblical Christianity is no longer dominant. That ‘Western’ society has assumed values, culture, and worldviews that are no longer predominated by Christianity. This is tangibly evidenced especially in Western Europe, primarily the area of many of our forefathers, in America, whereby many church buildings are becoming museums, tourist attractions of a bygone time, or even becoming mosques for Muslims to worship in.

     Sociologists claim that what occurs in Western Europe often follows in America in about a generation or two. We are already witnessing the closing of many church buildings across America, and our Bible-believing  Christian population is shrinking in the United States.

     According to the Barna Group’s articles in America: ‘Culture and Media in Faith and Christianity’ published in May of the year of our Lord 2021, states amongst U. S. American adults only 29 % believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and has no errors, that is in the original autographs. That is only about 3 out of every ten adults now trust in the reliability, in the veracity of the Biblical text.

     No how accurate is this Barna Group? In its 38-year history, Barna Group has conducted more than one million interviews over the course of hundreds of studies and has become a prime go-to source for insights about faith and culture, leadership and vocation, and generations. Barna Group has carefully, and strategically tracked the role of faith in America, developing one of the nation’s most comprehensive databases of spiritual indicators.

     I share this introduction to pose this most pivotal question: Why did Jesus Christ need to die? Seems like a rather basic gospel type question. Can you answer it readily? This is the type of question that many especially younger American adults, and in Western Europe predominately and youth across the world are asking mainly because they lack biblical training in our post-Christian society in the Western world.

     Do you realize that according to most Christian conservative theologians the death of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history equaled only by His physical bodily resurrection out from amongst the dead? Both Christ’s death and resurrection are absolutely necessary in the Christian faith. These truths cannot be compromised. Moreover, one without the other renders Christianity null and void, meaningless. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are non-negotiable to the biblical Christian.

Basically, the death of Jesus Christ exhibits two gospel truths:

#1 His death: Assures mankind of God’s love for us.

John chapter 3 verse 16 probably the most well-known passage in all of the Bible “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In Romans chapter 5 and verse 8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  In the first letter or first epistle of John chapter 3 and verse 16 it states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

     A second most important point regarding the death of Jesus Christ is as follows:  Christ’s death provided the basis for our reconciliation to God.  Romans chapter 5 verses 10 and 11 “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”  In plainer language, The Living Version paraphrase of this passage of Romans chapter 5 verses 10 and 11 says “And since, we were his enemies (due to our sins), we were brought back to God (reconciled) brought back to God by the death of his Son, what blessing he must have for us now that we are his friends, and he is living within us! Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins – making us friends of God.”

      As maturing born-again, baptized believers we rejoice everyday in these gospel truths that first brought us peace with God and so now also we can enjoy the peace of God in our inner being.

And surely, we can testify, witness, share with others that because of our faith in Jesus Christ, and his death on the cross at Calvary on our behalf, that God and His Son Jesus Christ truly love us; and that by His death we are no longer enemies, due to our sin, but instead God’s friends – in fact God’s family as sons and daughters of the living God!

     That’s the core gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ for us to share with all who will hear.

Let’s go a little deeper for those who insist but why did Jesus have to die?

The answer, the holiness and justice of God as revealed in the Bible required that the penalty of our sins, and we all have sinned, must be paid. The penalty must be paid. The ‘Good News’ is that God provided the one and only way to have that sin penalty paid for in full once, and for all who receive Christ through genuine, saving faith.

     The only way is that God sent His one and only Son who had no sin, He never sinned, to pay the price by dying on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ as fully human became one of us in his incarnation, and therefore became our substitute; He took our place to reconcile believers to God. To make us friends with God, not enemies. Second Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin (or it could be translated to be a sin offering) for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God or the righteous of God.  First Peter chapter 3 and verse 18 “For Christ died for sin once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

     Here we have the necessary truths of the gospel: Christ’s ‘death’ and ‘made alive’ (That is His bodily resurrection).

Christ did die for all the sins of all of mankind, however, His atoning sacrifice is only effectual to those who believe. Who genuinely put their faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross on our behalf.  Gospel of John chapter 3 and verse 18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Also, First John chapter 4 and verse 10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

     ‘Atoning sacrifice’ in the original Greek language means ‘appeasement’ or ‘satisfaction’. That is Jesus’s atoning sacrifice completely satisfied, appeased, the demands of God’s holiness and justice for the punishment of our sins. Nothing sinful, evil, or immoral can exist in an absolutely holy God’s presence. God is holy, holy, holy. God simply cannot, will not, overlook, condone, or excuse evil, excuse sin as if it never happened. God does love mankind, but his love does not, cannot, cancel His holiness, nor His justice. Thankfully, the gospel reveals to us that by God’s grace, through genuine faith, and Christ’s atoning sacrifice we can be set free from the penalty of sin which is eternal punishment and eternal separation from God.

     The death of Jesus Christ is the basis for believer’s acceptance with God. Jesus died so that believers could have eternal life with Him through faith. That’s all-gospel truth – ‘Good News’ from Jesus Christ to mankind!

Oswald J. Smith, past pastor, author, and missions advocate, stated: “Why should so few hear the gospel again and again when so many have never heard it once?”

     May each of us share the ‘Good News’, the gospel of Jesus Christ including Why He died on a cross for the human race and was raised from the dead never to die again. So many have never heard or understood the why of Jesus’ atoning sacrificial death on a cross.

     May we be Christ’s ambassadors regarding these truths. May we also share and partner with missionaries through our financial gifts to send missionaries around the world to share the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection out from amongst the dead that many more may become friends, indeed family of God through saving faith in Him.   

 

                               David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 




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