What A Man Says
We are in the middle of a multipart series in which we are examining what sin is, why it exists, how it affects us, what is atonement, why it is needed, and how we apply it. Since we have learned the basics of what sin is, where it came from, and what atonement is, we can now ask the next fundamental question on this topic…. Why do we need atonement?
Before we even get to the necessity of atonement, The Atonement, we need to come to grips with a very real reality here, God did not need to save any people at all. It is us who need atonement. There is nothing saying that He had to do this, nor any other power or entity that was forcing Him to do this. He could have easily chosen not to offer salvation to any of us if He so desired. In fact, we see the very evidence of this in the scripture… first with the angels, and then with people…
2 Peter 2:4-5 (NLT)
For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood.
It was because of God’s love that He decided to save us and restore our relationship with Him. Atonement therefore actually comes as the consequence of God’s love for us, it was not mandatory for God to save us, nor was God forced to provide atonement to us in any way. If God chose to save us and restore our relationship, then we must also understand that atonement is required in order to provide salvation from the consequences of the sin, namely, the wrath of God Himself.
We also know that the atonement that was truly required was not that of animals..
Hebrews 10:2-4 (NLT)
If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
A better sacrifice was required….
Hebrews 9:23-26 (NLT)
That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals. For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
Jesus is the sacrifice, because He being completely God, is completely sinless, and therefore the only one qualified and capable for making this sacrifice. Anything less than this would have been no better than the animals from before. Our God is perfect in Justice. And therefore, our sins must be atoned for in order for us to be in the presence of God for eternity. And it is in the presence of God that we have true life.
John 14:6 (NLT)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
It is through Christ that we can have life, because it is His sacrifice and His blood which atone for the sins in our life. Without that atonement, justice is not complete, and if justice is not complete our sins cannot be forgiven.