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- Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice for Us
- Atonement for Sin
- Redemption from Sin
- Jesus Christ’s Resurrection and Salvation
The teachings in this section are at the absolute heart of the NT and the gospel message. It is critical for anyone trying to comprehend the Christian faith to soundly understand them.
Christ gave his life as a substitute for our lives. He died in our place to pay the penalty for our sin, so that we would not have to pay it ourselves with everlasting death. Instead we can have everlasting life. This is life which extends beyond physical death. Note that as the Son of God, Christ’s life is worth infinitely more than our lives; thus his death was an adequate sacrifice for any number of people.
Biblical atonement is where God in his grace accepts an offering or sacrifice of a living being (i.e. its life) as a substitute for the life of a sinner – the person’s life otherwise being required for their sin. As such, God accepts the sacrifice as payment for the person’s sin. The result is that sin is taken away – and so the sinner is forgiven, pronounced righteous and reconciled to God. In conjunction with this, God’s wrath – provoked by sin – is appeased.
In the OT, people who had sinned brought an animal as an offering of a life, for the priests to sacrifice on their behalf to make atonement for them. Jesus Christ’s offering or sacrifice of himself has a number of striking parallels with this OT practice. Furthermore, his death in fact fulfilled this requirement of the OT law once and for all, making such offerings no longer necessary. The atonement made by Jesus Christ’s death is central to the Christian faith.
But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice. 27Indeed, just as people are appointed to die once and after that to be judged, 28so the Messiah was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. Hebrews 9:26b-28a ISV
[Paul, to believers:] You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. 22But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent. Colossians 1:21-22 CEV
To “redeem” someone was to set them free by paying a ransom, a payment of comparable value. Such terminology was often used in NT times in reference to paying the price to free a slave. In the NT Scriptures it is applied to Jesus Christ redeeming or freeing believers from enslavement to sin by giving his life as a ransom.
For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NET
Christ redeems or frees people from enslavement to sin, through having given his life as a ransom for them (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 ↑). This concept of redemption is complementary to that of atonement.
They [heavenly beings] were singing a new song: “You [Christ] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. Revelation 5:9 NET
An implication of believers being redeemed from sin by Jesus Christ’s death is that they have been bought for God – to whom they are now slaves (as the following subsection indicates).
[Peter, speaking to believers and making reference to baptism:] It is not the washing away of bodily dirt, but the promise made to God from a good conscience. It saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, … 1 Peter 3:21 GNT
By what baptism symbolizes (as opposed to the act of baptism) we are saved by Jesus Christ’s resurrection – the culmination of his saving work.
[Paul, to believers:] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. 20But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 1 Corinthians 15:17-23 NET
The “firstfruits” (vv. 20, 23) alludes to the firstfruits of the harvest which were offered to God. As well as preceding the rest of the harvest, they were seen as a confirmation that the rest would take place. Here the term is applied to Christ, as like the firstfruits of the harvest, his resurrection precedes and is an assurance of the resurrection of all believers.