Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Atonement in its Application

Every time I come to do a blog post on this atonement series, I am keenly aware that we are just 'scratching the surface'. However, I can offer some pointers for more study. One of the grand atonement passages in the New Testament has to be Romans 3: 21-26. Regarding this passage, the commentator Leon Morris writes that it is 'probably the most important single paragraph ever written, Paul brings out something of the grandeur of Christ's saving work' (Leon Morris, 'The Epistle to the Romans', Leicester, Eerdmans, 1988, p 173). With this comment in mind, it would take weeks to fully expound this passage, but there are several threads regarding the atonement that need to be understood and applied.

Here are four themes:

1. The Righteousness of God (3:21)

2. Faith in Jesus Christ (3:22)

3. A Propitiation (3:25)

4. By his Blood (3:25)

Here we notice that these grand themes handle what Paul has explained to be the twin subjects that are revealed in the gospel of God: These are the righteousness of God and the wrath of God (Romans 1: 1 and 16-18). It is Christ's propitiation that satisfies the wrath of a holy and righteous God. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus averts the wrath of God upon those who justified by faith. Notice also that the object of our faith needs to be the person of Jesus, but it must also be in the blood of Jesus. Perhaps the significance of the blood of Jesus is downplayed at times to our detriment; the shedding of Christ's blood is central to the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26: 28).

Now, if we want to understand the atonement we need to understand the Book of Romans and here are some commentaries that I recommend.

Leon Morris 'The Epistle to the Romans', referenced above.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 'Sermons on Romans, especially Romans 3-4), Edinburgh: Banner of Truth.
John Murray, 'The Epistle to the Romans, Volumes 1 and 2', Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965.

Further additional reading includes;
John Murray, 'Redemption Accomplished and Applied', Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1961.

Now in terms of application; for those who are involved in preaching and the leading of the people of God in public worship, every stage of our ministry should be magnifying Jesus Christ, the mediator. In terms of personal devotions we need to be reminded that the atonement of our Lord is perfect, it is complete and nothing can be added to it or taken away. We need to lean on the merits of Jesus Christ, and Him alone for salvation!

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