Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 2, 2012 0 comments

Being a person who generally loves language, the first thing I see when I look at the word “atonement” is that it is made up of other words - “at” + “one” + “ment.” This is especially significant because those little words show us the meaning of the word as a whole.

Atonement is us being made “at one” with God. Atonement is the idea that because we are separated from God through our sin, we must be atoned or reconciled to him. We can’t just say “Hey God, I’m sorry” and think that’s enough. Something bigger than us had to happen to make that reconciliation or atonement happen.

Back in the days before Jesus came to earth, the people of Israel celebrated the Day of Atonement. This was the most holy day of the year for these people, because it was of central importance to their faith. The high priest would make a sacrifice in the temple and offer the blood to God. After that, they would send a goat into the wilderness that would be a symbol of carrying away the sins of all of the people. This goat would never return, symbolizing the fact that now their sins of the past year are completely gone.

Today, however, we don’t need a literal scapegoat like that! Because we live in the time after Jesus came to the earth, we look to His atonement for us - living a sinless life, dying on the cross and raising back to life. This is what makes atonement possible for us today. In Romans 3:25-26 it says:

"God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

Last week we learned about grace, which is God’s free gift to us - giving us the salvation that we have in no way earned ourselves. Atonement is similar to that; it is the reason grace is available. Because Jesus died an atoning sacrificial death on the cross, we have the opportunity to receive grace and be made “at one” with God. Atonement re-establishes the relationship between us and God. We simply need to have faith and we are restored and atoned to God because of Jesus.