Atone means to make reparation, satisfaction and reconciliation. When this is done, the injury is atoned for. Atonement applies to sin or wrong doing. Sin is violation of law, either divine or human. To every transgression of law there is a penalty. The laws of God are so strong and perfect that every sin must receive its just penalty. God is holy and he will never pardon the least sin, unless it is atoned for. To do this, the broken law must he fulfilled. Perfect obedience only will fulfill and satisfy the law. No sinner can do this, because he is already imperfect and disabled or weak. Sin entails guilt, condemnation and death. The whole world is guilty before God, because all have sinned. “The wages of sin is death,” and every sinner must die. God is just and holy, therefore, in the condemnation of all men under his holy law. Right here is where the truth of salvation by free grace alone comes in, and every mouth is stopped, because there is none good, no, not one. None have any claim upon God for justification, or any blessing. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” All men in the flesh are forever condemned by the law, and are under its curse. Mercy and grace only can save any sinner. Yet all men in the flesh depend upon their works to obtain salvation, and they claim the blessings of God as rewards for religious service. They make salvation conditional in part upon their supposed obedience to the holy commandments of God. Thus thy must either hold that their obedience is perfect, or that the divine commandments are imperfect and will accept of faulty obedience. This was the fatal blindness of the Jewish Pharisees, who trusted in themselves and their self-righteousness. They therefore did not believe in Christ as the Savior of sinners, nor trust in his atoning blood to cleanse them from all sin. Nay, but they depended upon their boasted ability and good works to make atonement or satisfaction to the law of God, which is holy. Just so does every doctrine and principle of conditional salvation on man’s part virtually deny both the complete fullness and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and the need of it; for every feature and sort of conditional salvation necessarily claims to save us from some sin and its punishment or wages. This is nothing else but making atonement in part for ourselves, by our works of conditional salvation. It is evident, therefore, that the doctrine of conditional salvation, in any part, is a denial of the perfection and fullness of Christ’s atonement for all the sins of his people. For a full and complete atonement for all our sins, is full redemption, free justification and perfect salvation. Conditional salvation from any sin, either of commission or omission, contradicts this full and perfect salvation through the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and charges imperfection and failure in part to his perfect work of obedience unto righteousness and full justification and salvation. Conditional salvation denies that all salvation and its joys and blessings come to us through Christ’s atoning suffering unto death for our sins, but claims that salvation in part comes to us because of our own obedience; that is, the atonement for our sins of disobedience is in part conditional, and depends upon our good works of obedience. There is no escape from this fatal consequence of conditional salvation, for all salvation is from sin and death, and that which brings salvation is an atonement for sin; if this is our works, then it is not the blood of Christ that obtains our salvation and God’s blessing. Unitarians deny the divinity, vicarious sufferings and atonement of our only Lord Jesus Christ; therefore they depend upon their own works of supposed obedience to the commandments of God to atone for their sins and obtain salvation for themselves; that is, they hold to personal atonement by works of obedience, and to conditional salvation either present or future; for it all depends upon works, and is not by grace.
With thanks to God for his unspeakable gift, we turn away from this bloodless atonement and faithless salvation, to the “fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains,” and in joyful faith and praise we say, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Let us notice, 1st. The necessity of the atonement. We read, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “And so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” “For the wages of sin is death.” The Savior of shiners, therefore, must give his life-blood and die for their sins, as the atoning sacrifice and price of their redemption. Christ thus gave himself for all his people, and made this perfect offering and sacrifice of himself. “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
2nd. The completeness of Christ’s atonement. Atonement must cover all sin, pay all the debt, redeem from all iniquity, remove all guilt and every curse, and justify from all things, in order to fulfill the law and satisfy justice. Should the least stain of sin remain upon the body of Christ, the church, then both he and his people for whom he died must have remained forever under the curse of the law, and the dominion of sin and death. Paul shows this in 1 Cor. xv. But blessed be God, the obedience and death of his holy Son possessed this perfection and infinite merit and saving power. So we read, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
3rd. Since the atonement of Christ removes all guilt and cleanses from all sin, it freely justifies us from all things, and none can condemn or lay anything to the charge of God’s elect. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”
4th. Paul testifies that God raised Christ from the dead for our justification, and that whom God justifies he also glorifies. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” This full and free justification not only makes us forever free from all sin and guilt and condemnation, but it also brings us into righteousness and salvation and eternal life, as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
5th. The atonement of Christ, then, makes an end of sin, destroys death, and brings in life and immortality for all who are his. This is the holy and blessed estate of all for whoso sins Christ died. Their sins are all blotted out forever for Jesus’ sake, and they have free and full and everlasting forgiveness from God their Father. Yea, they are born of God, have passed from death unto life, and shall live for evermore, because Christ lives in them. His fullness of grace and glory is theirs in him, and in him is their full salvation and all spiritual blessings, both for time and eternity. “If Christ is mine, then present things and things to come are mine.” When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 73., No. 13.
JULY 1, 1905.