Translations: 简体中文 繁體中文

Christ's Atoning Work

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" 1Timothy 1:15
One would think it easy enough to save sinners simply by forgiving them. But that would not satisfy God's judicial nature. Justice must be satisfied for a sinner to be reconciled with God. But God graciously provided a sacrifice to atone for sin.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1John 4:10

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1Peter 3:18

But how does the atonement work? Afterall Christ was killed as an innocent victim at the hands of wicked men. Speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem Peter says, "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Acts 2:23 If Christ's death was God's will and it brought so much good, then why were those who carried it out condemned as wicked men in so doing?

I remember a father one time recalling beating his son for some alledged wrong, which later he found out the son was innocent. So he tells his son that the next time he did something worthy of such a beating he would not receive it, because he had already been beaten.

We know also that when the righteous suffer an injustice, God has some compensation for them.

"If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20,21
So when the righteous man - Jesus Christ - suffered unjustly, he would be worthy of great reward. But even so, would that suffering be valuable enough to pay even for one other person? Afterall Christ's suffering was a matter of hours on the cross, not eternally in hell. And isn't it written, "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough" Ps 49:7,8 Also implied in this is that since "no payment is ever enough", then neither can one suffer enough in this life to pay for one's sins, given also the fact that the penality is eternal suffering.

The difference is that Jesus was more than a man. For "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ...Through him all things were made  ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" John 1:1,3,14 Thus as the Son of God his suffering was valued infinitely higher than that of a mere mortal.

Discussion Questions

Why doesn't God just forgive sin just as he commands us to forgive one another - without demanding justice be satisfied?

In what ways was Christ's death a good thing and a bad thing?

In what way does Christ's death atone for sin? How does it work.

In light of Ps 49:7,8 can one ever suffer enough in this life to pay for one's own sins?

And also in light of this verse, how can Christ's death pay for the sins of others?
The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Dec 11,2023