Last evening the church Life group which my wife and I attend studied “7. The Atonement of Christ” in the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. Four attended. My wife, Leonora, opened with singing and prayer; we considered the sheet on “7. The Atonement of Christ” that I’d given out in a previous meeting; Ray Noble took prayer requests and led us in prayer; and we closed with lunch.
A copy of the sheet follows. Besides reading it, we read each of the Bible passages referred to in it and considered how it supported the Statement. We also discussed how the atonement shows the love and justice of God.
[MATERIAL ON SHEET]
This evening we’re going to consider “7. The Atonement of Christ” in the Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAONL). “Atonement” is the work that Jesus Christ did in his death to make mankind and God at one. Here is what “7. The Atonement of Christ” says about it:
Salvation has been provided for all men through the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross (Isaiah 63:3-6; John 12:32,33; 1 Peter 2:24). It is the only perfect redemption, propitiation, satisfaction and substitutionary atonement for all sins of the world, both original and actual. His atoning work has been proven by his resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:36; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 14:14,17,20; Hebrews 10:12; 1 John 2:2). Those who repent and believe in Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and receive eternal life (Acts 20:21; 1 Peter 1:23,25). Furthermore, in the Atonement, divine healing was provided for all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16b,17).
We’ll consider each statement in “7. The Atonement of Christ” guided by the definitions and comments given below it. We’ll also discuss how the Bible passages demonstrate the statement.
Salvation has been provided for all men through the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross (Isaiah 63:3-6; John 12:32,33; 1 Peter 2:24).
“Salvation” is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin.”
“All men” refers to all people, not just to all men. Note that although salvation has been provided for all people, not all people have accepted it.
“Sacrifice” is “offering of something precious, such as the life of an animal, to a deity.”
Perhaps Isaiah 53:3-6 is intended instead of Isaiah 63:3-6.
It is the only perfect redemption, propitiation, satisfaction and substitutionary atonement for all sins of the world, both original and actual.
“Redemption” is “deliverance from captivity or other evil by payment of a ransom.”
“Propitiation” is “making favourably inclined.”
“Satisfaction” is “compensation or reparation for a wrong or injury.”
“Substitutionary” is “taking the place of.”
“Atonement” is “making at one of mankind and God.”
“Sin” is “breaking the law of God.” It is the topic of “6. Sin.”
“Original sin” is “the guilt and the tendency to sin that all people inherit because of Adam’s sin.”
This view of the atonement is generally known as the theory of penal substitution or the theory of vicarious atonement. “Penal” refers to Jesus’ bearing a penalty when he died and “substitution” refers to his being a substitute for us when he died. “Vicarious” refers to Jesus’ taking our place.
Although this view of the atonement is the view most generally held, several other views of it have been put forward in the history of the church, the best-known being:
1. The Ransom to Satan Theory, which holds that the ransom which Jesus paid was paid to Satan.
2. The Moral Influence Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to show us how much God loves us, enticing us to love Him and thus obtain salvation from Him.
3. The Example Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to provide an example to us of how much we should love God if we are to obtain salvation from Him.
4. The Moral Government Theory, which holds that Jesus died on the cross to demonstrate to us that God requires a penalty to be paid when His laws are broken. Jesus’ dying on our behalf allows God to forgive us our sins while preserving the moral government of the universe.
The main criticism made of each of the four theories is that it doesn’t account satisfactorily for the many Bible passages which refer to Christ as a sacrifice and propitiation.
His atoning work has been proven by his resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:36; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:14,17,20; Hebrews 10:12; 1 John 2:2).
Although Acts 2:36 doesn’t demonstrate the statement by itself, “therefore” indicates that it does when taken with what precedes it.
Although 1 John 2:2 describes Christ’s atoning work, it doesn’t seem to connect it with His resurrection from the dead.
Those who repent and believe in Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and receive eternal life (Acts 20:21; 1 Peter 1:23,25).
“Repent” means “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault that one tries to change one’s life.”
“Believe” means “to accept the truth of and trust in something.”
Repentance and belief are the topic of “9. Repentance and Faith.”
“Born again” refers to God’s giving new life to us. It is the topic of “8. Regeneration or New Birth.”
“Eternal life” is described by Jesus in John 17:3 as a life in which ones “know you [the Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you [He] have sent.” It also means “everlasting life.”
Although neither Acts 20:21 nor 1 Peter 1:23,25 demonstrates the statement by itself, they do when taken together.
Furthermore, in the Atonement, divine healing was provided for all believers (Isaiah 53:4,5; Matthew 8:16b,17).
“Divine healing” means “restoration to health of one by the supernatural intervention of God.”
Its importance to us is shown by our “Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths” devoting a Truth, “18. Divine Healing,” to it. It says: “Divine healing is an integral part of the Gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the Atonement, and is the privilege of the Church (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Matthew 8:16, 17; James 5:13, 16).” We’ll consider it when we reach that Truth.
We’ll close our study by considering why Christ came to earth and died for our sins. The Bible attributes his doing so to the love and justice of God.
The love of God as a cause of the atonement is expressed in the Bible’s most familiar passage, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
The justice of God as a cause of the atonement is expressed in Romans 3:25-26, “God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood…to show God’s righteousness, because in divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (ESV).