Posts tagged ‘atonement’

A Tale of Two Trees

The poet, Joyce Kilmer once wrote that “only God can make a tree” and she was right. Many important events in the Bible happened on or around trees. But I would like to consider what are arguably two of the most significant events in history that involved trees.

To look at the first event, we need to go back to the Garden of Eden. From the beginning, Adam lived in complete freedom to partake from any tree in the garden, except for one.

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17 NASB)

Pretty simple, right? But as we all know, Adam and Eve both ate from the tree after satan convinced them that Jehovah was trying to withhold something from them. Once they stopped trusting what God had told them, they were setup to fall.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4, 5)

After the Fall in the garden, they were kicked out of paradise and sin, or a sinful nature that predisposes us to sinfulness, passed to all. It was like someone dented the bread pan and from then on every loaf had a defect.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- (Romans 5:12)

But that was not to be the end. Even though death and sin entered the world because of what happened on a tree, the remedy for our situation would come from a “Second Adam”, at it would also happen at a tree.
The early church father, Irenaeus, put it this way:

“Through a tree we were made debtors to God; so through a tree we have our debt canceled.”

And he was right! The death that came through the sin at a tree was atoned for by the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God on a tree. Paul, by inspiration, described it like this:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree “- (Galatians 3:13 NASB)

Jesus took the cross, a tree of death, and turned it into the new tree of life for us. An implement of torture and cruel punishment for sin, is now a source of life and forgiveness of sin.

who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. (I Peter 2:24 NKJV)

Yes, Joyce Kilmer was right when she wrote that “that only God can make a tree”, but even more significantly, only God can take a tree of death, and make it a tree of life! Where the first Adam fell and brought death, the second Adam has paid for life and immortality for all who would receive it!

but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! (2 Timothy 1:10 NET)

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The Blood Cries Out

Murder is a terrible thing. That is especially true when it involves family members. When a murder happens, there is instinctively a desire for justice and punishment. There is a felt need for justice to be done and for retribution to be handed out. Such was the case when e first murder occurred in Genesis as Cain killed his brother Abel.

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. “So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. (Genesis 4:8-11 NKJV)

Because of his crime, the blood of Abel cried out from the ground and brought down upon Cain a curse for his crime.

There is another time in Scripture that there is blood that cries out. During what is commonly called the passion of Christ, his blood was also shed. During the beatings, the scourging, and the crucifixion, Jesus shed blood. Like Abel, it was blood that was being shed by an innocent man, and was in connection with the offering of a sacrifice. The Hebrew writer says this about that blood:

to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24 NKJV)

Abel’s blood, when it was shed, cried out to God for judgment, justice, and condemnation. The blood of Jesus also cries out, but speaks of better things. The blood of Jesus cried out “atonement, grace, forgiveness, and salvation!” The blood of Abel was like the sacrifices of the Law which only had the power to condemn. But the blood of Jesus is the blood of the New Covenant that brings forgiveness instead of guilt, grace instead of law, and salvation instead of condemnation!

In context, the Hebrew writer was making reference to an event that happened on Mount Sinai when Moses came down the mountain and found that the people were reveling in their sinful passions. On that day at Mount Sinai 3,000 people were killed as God judged them for their sins.
So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. (Exodus 32:28 NKJV)
Later, when the church was born at the feast of Pentecost, this time on Jerusalem (Mount Zion), the Holy Spirit descended, the Gospel was preached, and 3,000 people were saved. That is the difference now that the blood of Christ has been shed. Instead of instant judgment by the Law, those who received the Word and were baptized that day were forgiven and given eternal life! All of this was and is made possible by the blood of Christ that “speaks better things” for those who believe and obey the Gospel!

So come by the blood. Come to Christ and appropriate for yourself that cleansing power and have the blood cry out “forgiven, justified, and set free” over you today! Have peace with God because of the blood that was shed for your salvation.

and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:20 NKJV)

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Our Kippur

Tonight at sunset, members of the Jewish community will celebrate the festival of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day (yom) of Atonement (kippur). This feast was ordained by God in Leviticus as the day in which the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. This was the space between the golden cherubim and was called “the mercy seat.” (Leviticus 13 & 26)

While that is very interesting, what does it symbolize for us today? Glad you asked!

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15 NASB)

In Christ, we now do not need to wait for a yearly day of atonement in order to be forgiven. Nor do we have a high priest who is continually offering he sacrifice of His blood to atone for our sins.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:24-28 NASB)

This is a one time sacrifice that has been offered once-for-all and needs never to be repeated. As a sacrifice of infinite value, it cannot be added to.

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10-14 NASB)

That is why He can continually cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:9) and why we can enter into His presence boldly.

With that in mind, every day is part of the one eternal Day of Atonement for Christians. So we should rejoice in the salvation that has been purchased with the blood of the Lamb of God. Christ has fulfilled the feast, and as our high priest has completed the atonement once for all!

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Whosoever Meaneth All Y’all

Who did Jesus die for?
Seems like a fairly simple question, and many are surprised to find out that there is heated theological debate surrounding it. One the one side stand those who subscribe to Calvinist theology and claim that Jesus only died for the sins of the elect. The elect are those whom God has predestined for salvation out of the world, as opposed to the reprobate, whom He has chosen for destruction. This is known as the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.”
On the other side stand those who say that Christ died for all, but that the price that was paid is only efficacious for those who obey the Gospel offered by grace to those with faith.

How this question is answered is highly consequential, for it will affect your entire view of the nature of God. Does God only love and save a few, or is there a universal invitation offered in love but which only a few will accept and obey? Let’s see what the Bible says on the matter.

Who has Jesus invited to come to Him?

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11 NKJV)
That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:9 NKJV)
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30 NKJV)
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32, 33 NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)

What can be seen from these verses is that the call to salvation has gone out to all men, not just to an elect few, and that the invitation is for whoever will believe and obey it. So then, it is reasonable to conclude that the blood that was shed was sufficient for the forgiveness of every sin ever committed.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2 NKJV)

Do you see the significance of that? The price has already been paid. All that is left is for us to accept that sacrifice through faith when we obey the Gospel. If someone goes to eternal punishment, how much more tragic it is that they will do so in spite of someone having paid their sin penalty for them!

The last words Jesus spoke before ascending to the Father, we’re a command to go into ALL the world and make disciples of all the nations. How? By baptizing them, and teaching them to do all things He had commanded them. (Matthew 28:18-20). It is certainly fitting, then, that the New Testament should end with a call to salvation as well. And it is a call to whosoever will (aka all y’all).

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely…
He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:17, 20 NKJV)

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