By Tope Akinnola
A lot of people have gotten confused about whether the atonement has already been completed by the Lord Jesus or not. Those who have asserted that it has not been completed have also claimed that the work of atonement is still on-going by Jesus in heaven as we speak. What they imply is that Christ’s substitutionary redemptive work was incomplete by his death and resurrection.
And that, it is still in the process of being accomplished. But if that were to be the case, it means that nobody can ever have the assurance of salvation right now — as we speak. That also means that the Scriptures lie about our salvation when it says in Acts 16:31, ”BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and THOU SHALT BE SAVED…” That means the Scriptures lie when it says in Ephesians 2:8-9, ”FOR BY GRACE ARE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” That means the Scriptures lie in Romans 10:9 when it says, ”That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
However, we know that the Scriptures do not lie. For God is not man that he should lie, neither is he the son of man that he should repent. Has he said it, shall he not do it?
One of the greatest problems we have as humans is the difficulty of accepting the simplicity of the gospel. The word ”simplicity” means freedom from complication, or from abstruseness. When something is abstruse, it means it is difficult to comprehend or understand. It means it is esoteric or recondite. It means it is concealed or hidden out of the way in a very special manner that will demand special skills to unravel. Some people treat the work of redemption made freey available through Christ’s atonement, which is the very core of the gospel of Christ, as if it’s esoteric or recondite, or a clandestine, covert or furtive activity that is complex, and so requires special evaluation and interpretation.
No! The gospel is not complicated; it comes with simplicity, plainness, and clarity. And the atonement and work of redemption that Jesus already accomplished are plainly outlined in Scriptures. So, every attempt to discredit the already accomplished atonement and the already completed work of redemption that Christ has finished is an attempt at a fabrication and falsity, from whatever source it comes from, now or in the future.
Before we go on, let’s just define the words atonement and redemption. Okay? Atonement in its simplest form is making amends to restore a damaged relationship by paying a price. In theology, atonement is the reconciliation of God and mankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus. This reconciliation itself is the restoration or re-establishment of friendly relations between two parties. It is a conciliation, or a rapprochement; and in the Biblical sense, it is the end of estrangement between man and God, as a result of the price Christ already FULLY paid.
Redemption is a related word that is indicative of the recovery of something. To redeem is to recover something or to get it back. It is also to rescue upon payment of a ransom. Christ redeemed us, or rescued us upon payment of a ransom. A ransom is money paid for the freeing of a hostage. When used as a verb, the word ”ransom” means to pay a price to set someone free from captivity or punishment. Christ has paid the ransom to free us from the captivity of sin, Satan and spiritual death. We were held hostage as prisoners in the kingdom of darkness, but because of the ransom Christ paid, we got redeemed, or rescued, or set free, or delivered, and translated into the kingdom of light, at an instant by faith.
The ransom that Christ paid was the shedding of his own blood ONCE AND FOR ALL. And it is exactly this same shed blood that was used for the atonement of our sins, that is, the complete REMOVAL — and not just the covering — of our sins — the sins which previously created ”the great blockage” between man and God.
Ephesians 1:7 says, ”In whom WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” The word ”have” in this verse of Scripture is in the present tense and it means ”to POSSESS” or ”to OWN”. In other words, God’s Word in Ephesians 1:7 is telling us assertively and categorically that we ALREADY POSSESS or OWN REDEMPTION in the here and now! According to the richies of Christ’s grace!
In Colossians 1:12-14, we read, ”Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, even the forgiveness of sins.” Here, we are told again that we ALREADY POSSESS redemption, that is, we ALREADY HAVE redemption, right now, through the ransom of Christ’s blood that he already paid! Glory to God!
So, if the work of atonement is complete, and if the work of redemption is complete, then what is Jesus doing in heaven right now?
After he accomplished a complete atonement and a complete redemption for us by breaking the power of sin and death through the shedding of his blood as well as through his death and resurrection from the dead, Jesus was raised far above all principalities, powers and spiritual dominions and he sat down at the right side of Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:3 says, ”Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
When he ascended back to heaven, Jesus became our High Priest, up till this very moment. Hebrews 8:1-2 says, ”Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man,” (NKJV).
Jesus became our High Priest in a heavenly tabernacle not made with human hands. The high priest of the Old Covenant was a type of Christ. Christ Jesus is now the High Priest of the New Covenant which is established on better things, on better promises, on better terms!
Hebrews 9:24-25 says, ”For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, NOW TO APPEAR IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD FOR US; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another,” (NKJV). The primary function of the high priest is to appear in the presence of God on behalf of others. Christ Jesus as our High Priest today also appears in the presence of God on our behalf, paving the way for us to have uninterrupted, direct access to the Throne of Grace.
But remember that, under the old order or Old Covenant, the high priest would enter the earthly tabernacle with the sacrificial blood of bulls and goats to make an annual atonement for the sins of God’s people. And as Hebrews 10:3 indicates, ”… in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.” The yearly sacrifice didn’t deal with the core of the sin problem. It just created a cosmetic cover over the sins of the people for only a year. It didn’t, in fact, couldn’t, wipe away or REMOVE the sins of the people permanently.
In the New Living Translation, Hebrews 10:1 says, ”The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.” The old system could only temporarily cover but not permanently wipe away or remove the sins of the people.
Apart from the yearly atonement carried out by the Old Covenant high priest, the other junior priests also carried out the shedding of blood of animal sacrifices daily for the sins of the people, depending on which types of offences they had committed. Hebrews 10:11 says, ”Under the old covenant, the priest stands before the altar day after day, offering sacrifices THAT CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY SINS,” (NLT). This daily, repeated, continual shedding of blood of animals was meant to merely appease God, as it was incapable of wiping away the sins of the people.
Jesus, however, made his own sacrifice by giving up himself in death for the shedding of his own blood once and for all time. Hebrews 10:10 says, ”By that will WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL.” He had done it once for all time! This same truth is reiterated in Hebrews 10:12 which states, ”But this Man (referring to Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,” (NKJV).
Hebrews 10:14 in addition nails it by saying in the Good News Translation, ”With one sacrifice, then, he has made perfect forever those (referring to believers) who are purified from sin.”
Verse 18 of this same tenth chapter of Hebrews says in addition, ”So when these have been forgiven, AN OFFERING TO TAKE AWAY SIN IS NO LONGER NEEDED,” (GNT). In other words, Christ Jesus does not need to make any more new sacrifice or carry out any new activity involving blood even in heaven right now. Why? Because the work of atonement for our redemption from sin is already fully completed. Glory to God!
To be continued.
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