The Atonement: What is it?
As you read Christian literature, you’ll see “The Atonement” throughout. As it turns out, the Atonement is the center and crux of the Christian faith. So, what does the word mean? Resorting to the dictionary, Merriam-Webster defines atonement as “reparation [or satisfaction] for an offense or injury.” Dictionary.com gives the same definition as Webster but adds “amends” as in “… to make amends for…”.
The Bible teaches us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. The Bible reveals that God’s standard is His own perfection. None of us people can reach that standard; we’ve all done sinful things. Breaking God’s law through sin has earned us condemnation and promised destruction. God is righteous and just; He cannot let sin go unpunished.
The Bible further teaches us that God is also loving and merciful. He has provided a way for sinful people to be reconciled to a Holy God. God sent His Son Jesus, who, having lived a sinless life, was the only one qualified to “pay for,” “make amends for,” and provide “satisfaction” for the sins of sinful people. Everyone else would have to pay for their own sins, disqualifying them from paying for others’ sin debts.
Jesus was (is) qualified to “pay for,” “make amends for,” and provide “satisfaction” for the sins of others, having no sin of His own. By giving up His life on the cross, He paid the sin debt of everyone who believes the Gospel, making Atonement for their sins, canceling their sin-debt, and reconciling the forgiven sinner to God.
In sum, the Atonement is the price paid by Jesus Christ to release the sinner from condemnation and destruction, fitting them for a life in harmony with God and ensuring for them a happy eternity.
--- Bill Brashers