Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Atonement & all it means (part six)

Jesus as the instrument of atonement.
      Our understanding of Christ's nature is crucial here... He is the eternal, preexistent, Second Person of the Trinity.  He is God in the same sense and to the same degree as is the Father, a sense in which no other human has ever been or will ever be divine.  To his deity he added humanity. He did not give up his deity in any respect, but only the independent exercise of his divine attributes.
      In our understanding, Jesus' humanity means that his atoning death is applicable to human beings.  Because Jesus was really one of us, he was able to redeem us.  He was not an outsider attempting to do something for us.  He was a genuine human being representing the rest of us... Not only is Jesus human; he is completely human.  He took not merely the physical nature of a human being, but the full psychological makeup of humanity as well.  He felt the full gamut of normal human emotions.  Thus he was able to redeem all of human nature, for he assumed all of what it means to be truly human.
      In addition, Jesus' death is of sufficient value to atone for the entire human race.  The death of an ordinary human could scarcely have sufficient value to cover his or her own sins, let alone those of the whole race.  But Jesus' death is of infinite worth.  As God, Jesus did not have to die.  In dying he did something God would never have to do.  Because he was sinless, he did not have to die in payment for his own ins.  Thus his death can atone for the sins of all humankind.
~Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p821-822
This quote slams home the fact that Jesus was not only the perfect person to atone our sins, but the only one who could do so.  Marrying the human and divine natures of Jesus is key to understanding the atonement.  It is also instrumental in giving us an idea of the length God went to to atone the sins of his people.   God didn't have to provide a perfect atonement for sin.  He could have left it up to us to keep living under the laws, trying to atone in our own way, and continuing to fail.  But it was his love that meant he sent Jesus.  Jesus' love meant he was willing to give up the 'independent exercise of his divine attributes' and limit himself to the human form.  Not only that but then be mistreated so harshly by his own creations, before being killed and experiencing God's wrath for all our sin.

The atonement is where God's love, and God's justice meet.  If they had never met then God would have ceased to be God (because he would have compromised one of his eternal qualities) and the human race was doomed (because he justice meant that despite his love he must punish sin).  Yet both his love and justice are appeased because Jesus has paid that price.  He has taken the punishment.

Completely incredible.

No comments:

Twitter Facebook Favorites

Powered by Blogger | Printable Coupons