To atone' refers to the state of being made at one or being reconciled to God because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and his death on the cross). Atonement is to make up for the past. More specifically, the word atonement refers to the sacrificial work of Christ for sinners.
- 1 Need for An Atonment
- 2 A Perfect Sacrifice
- 3 Law of Moses: Preparation for Atonment
- 4 Christian Theories on the Atonement of Christ
- 5 Quotes
- 6 Links
Need for An Atonment
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
Sin is the cause of the estrangement, and therefore the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin. From the time of Adam to the death of Jesus Christ, true believers were instructed to offer animal sacrifices to the Lord. These sacrifices were symbolic of the forthcoming death of Jesus Christ and were done by faith in Him.
Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3:4); it is a refusal on men’s part to submit to the law of God (Rom. 8:7). By transgression man loses control over his own will and becomes the slave of sin (Rom. 7:14) and so incurs the penalty of spiritual death, which is alienation from God (Rom. 6:23). The Atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the Fall of Adam and causes all to be answerable for their own manner of life. This means of atonement is provided by the Father (John 3:16–17) and is offered in the life and person of His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).
A Perfect Sacrifice
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
"17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." (1 Cor. 15:17).
Jesus Christ, as the Only Begotten Son of God and the only sinless person to live on this earth, was the only one capable of making an atonement for all mankind. By His selection and foreordination in the Grand Council before the world was formed, His divine Sonship, His sinless life, the shedding of His blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, His death on the cross and subsequent bodily resurrection from the grave, He made a perfect atonement for all mankind. All are covered unconditionally as pertaining to the Fall of Adam. Hence, all shall rise from the dead with immortal bodies because of Jesus’ Atonement.
The Atonement is conditional, however, so far as each person’s individual sins are concerned, and touches every one to the degree that he has faith in Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and obeys the gospel.
Law of Moses: Preparation for Atonment
The services of the Day of Atonement (Law of Moses foreshadowed the atoning work of Christ (Lev. 4; 23:26–32; Heb. 9). The scriptures point out that no law, ordinance, or sacrifice would be satisfactory if it were not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:1–9;).
"For the law (Law of Moses) having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." (Hebrews 10:1)
Christian Theories on the Atonement of Christ
Penal substitution theory
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- Erroneous Theories of the Atonement by William W. Sasser
- Atonement of Christ by James Petigru Boyce
- Atonement, some basics, by Peter Leithart
- Atonement in Narrative Context, by Peter Leithart
- The Biblical Doctrine of the Atonement (many resources)
- God's Provision, Man's Need (includes a useful chart & glossary)
- Historical Opinions as to the Nature of Christ's Atoning Death by Gordon Olson (excellent brief overview)
- The Atonement - LDS Gospel Topics
- He is Not Here, He is Risen - Thomas S Monson
- The Atonment and Faith - Dallin H Oaks
- The Atonement Covers all Pain - Kent Richards
- Accepting the Atonement of Christ - Teaching s of Brigham Young]
- The Infinite Atonement of Christ - Teachings of John Taylor]