Simply put, atonement is the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. The apostle Paul briefly describes how atonement comes about for you and me:
For God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)A great exchange has taken place. Jesus took all our sin upon Himself and nailed it to the cross. In its place, He has given us His righteousness — the righteousness of God Himself. We receive this great exchange through faith in Jesus Christ: “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).
Many Christians understand that forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God is part of the atonement. But they often do not realize the depth of what that entails: Everything that was lost to us in the fall when Adam rebelled against God is restored to us by cross when the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins and extended to us His righteousness. However, Jesus not only took our sins to the cross, He also took our sicknesses:
Surely he has borne our griefs [literally, sicknesses]Healing, for our bodies as well as our souls, is included in the atonement. For sickness entered the world because of sin. But Jesus took both our sin and its consequences upon Himself and nailed it to the cross.
And carried our sorrows [literally, pains]
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Because of the atonement, we are made the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, so that whatever belongs to the righteous now belongs to us.
What belongs to the righteous? The blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 give us a very good example. (You can hear what these blessings are in this special 5 minute MP3 presentation, Choosing Life, from our Healing Scriptures and Prayers CD Vol. 2.) Psalm 112 also describes the blessings that belong to the righteous (see Living in Awe of God). All of these blessings belong now to those who have been made righteous in Jesus Christ. They are all in the atonement.
All of heaven comes to us in the atonement, for in the atonement we have all the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus has been exalted to His throne in heaven (Ephesians 1:19-23), and we have been seated in the heavenlies in Him (Ephesians 2:6). Heaven belongs to us because of the cross, and we belong to heaven.
Even now, the kingdom of heaven is breaking into the world, even as the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, come. Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:33). Because of the atonement, we are now of heaven — born from above by the spirit of God (John 3:3), so that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
The atonement is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ at the cross on our behalf. In it, all the blessings of the righteous now belong to those who belong to Him. Everything you will ever need has already been provided for you in the atonement.
Healing Scriptures and Prayers
by Jeff Doles
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