What is meant by the atonement?


The atonement consists of Christ’s satisfying divine justice, by his sufferings and death, in the place of sinners.

The Bible is a great big book that teaches us about our great big God. And sometimes, that great big book uses great big words to talk about our great big God! “Atonement” is one of those words. But great big words don’t seem so scary when you know what they mean.

Atonement means “paying the price to fix something that you did wrong.” Imagine if you got mad and slammed your friend's video game controller into the wall, smashing it to bits. To atone for that foolish choice, you’d need to pay the price to fix what you did wrong. That means you'd need to buy your friend a brand-new controller with your own money!

When we talk about atonement in the Bible, we are not talking about paying for some toy you broke. We are talking about paying the price for breaking God’s commands. I think you know by now what the price of sin is: death… the forever kind!

Our God is a God of justice. That means he gives people what their actions deserve. Those who obey his good commands are rewarded with forever life. Those who break his commands are punished with forever death. Sadly, all of us are law-breaking sinners. If God gave us justice, if he gave us what our actions deserved, we would all be facing forever death! That's bad news for us!

Thankfully, because of what Jesus the Christ has done, there’s good news! He was sinless every second of his life, so he deserved nothing but reward. But instead, Jesus took what we deserved – and we deserved death! Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity (sin) of us all.” Jesus let himself be punished for our sins. He suffered in our place as his sinless hands and feet were nailed to a cross. And he hung on that miserable piece of wood until there was no life left in his body.

Hebrews 2:17 tells us that the reason Jesus came to live as one of us is so that he “might make atonement for the sins of the people.” By paying the price of death for us, he atoned for our sins. He paid the price to fix what you and I had done wrong. Our sins deserved death – the forever kind! And Jesus made sure our sins got what they deserved by suffering the dreadful death of the cross. Only Jesus could have done this. No one else could have paid the price of forever death. To atone for our sins, we needed the almighty power of the only Son of God!


+ Why can’t we atone for our own sins?

+ How did Jesus’ death on the cross atone for our sins?


Mark 10:45; Acts 13:38, 39; Rom. 3:24-26; 5:8, 9; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 3:18

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