Archive for the ‘Atonement’ Tag

Jesus The Savior Is Crucified!


Vector illustration of Jesus Christ crucifixion silhouette, Good Friday.

Audio – Part 1a: 20 min”

Audio – Part 1b: 21 min”

Audio – Full Message:”

Bible Verses: Matthew 27:11-51

The crucifixion of Jesus was brutal and unjust, and yet, He willingly laid His life down in obedience to the Father and for the salvation of sinners. As the substitute sacrifice, Jesus died in our place and on our behalf. As the crucified King, He demonstrated the true wisdom and power of God. And as the forsaken Son, He endured the punishment of our sin, absorbing all of our transgressions and putting them to death so we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Theological Theme:

Jesus is the King who willingly took upon Himself the judgment for sin.

Christ Connection:

Unjustly condemned to death, Jesus willingly took up His cross and suffered the judgment our sins deserve. At the moment He died, the curtain in the temple sanctuary was torn in two, signifying the truth that sinners have access to God through the blood of Christ. The crucifixion of Jesus is the center of history, revealing God’s holiness and justice, our sinfulness and unrighteousness, and Christ’s humility and love.

Christ Our Substitute “At the heart of the atonement is Jesus Christ substituting Himself for sinners as He died on the cross. This truth is seen against the backdrop of the Old Testament sacrificial system, which provided a picture of humanity’s need for sin to be covered and guilt to be removed by an innocent sacrifice. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with humankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross, He made provision for the redemption of humanity from sin.” – The Gospel Project

Missional Application:

God the Father calls us to proclaim by the Spirit not only that Jesus died on the cross but also why He died and what it reveals about the Father’s heart and his going to the uttermost that we might be saved and participate in his love!

“He lost his own life in order to gain life for all; he preferred to be conquered in himself in order to be the victor in everyone.” – Maximus of Turin (circa 380-465)

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Jesus is the Ultimate Atonement and Sacrifice, Part 2

Jesus is the ultimate Atonement

Part 1: “”

Part 2: “”

Full Sermon: “”

Theological Theme: The sin offering represented the purification of the people before Our Father. The restitution offering addressed the damage of depriving others of their rightful due, and it served to cleanse the offender’s conscience.

Christ Connection: These offerings point forward to Christ, whose work purifies our hearts, cleanses our consciences, and frees us to do good deeds for His glory.

Missional Application: God the Holy Spirit calls us to offer others the hope of purification and cleansing that comes only through trusting in Jesus Christ.

*picture courtesy of

Jesus is the Ultimate Atonement and Sacrifice, Part 1


Part 1:”

Part 2:”

Full Sermon:”

Theological Theme: The burnt offering was for the removal of the people’s guilt before God; the grain offering restored Israel to serve God and neighbor, and the fellowship offering was for the reconciliation between God the Father and His people.

Christ Connection: Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we celebrate the removal of our guilt before God, the freedom to serve God on His mission, and the restoration of our relationship with God – Father, Son and Spirit.

Missional Application: Because we who share in Christ’s life have been freed from our guilt, God the Holy Spirit calls us to serve Him by serving others.

*photo courtesy of

I Already Got 5 Dollars

In the Wendell Berry book, Jayber Crow, the main character (Jayber) tells a lie as a young man in order to disguise his aimlessness. He is hitchhiking and a man he knows from his childhood gives him a lift. Jayber is now about 19-20 and he knows the man does not recognize him. Jayber never intended to rob the man but he made up an elaborate lie about a sick mother and hungry brothers and sisters and that he had to go to the city to find work to support them. The truth was, he was lost emotionally and did not know what to do with his life.

When the man dropped him off at his destination he shoved a 5-dollar bill into Jayber’s jacket pocket. Jayber took the money, he needed it, but it was a liar’s wage and he knew it. The 5 dollars became a shameful burden for Jayber.

Well, by and by Jayber made his way back to his home town and became the town’s only barber. The memory of his lie and his “liar’s wage” would not leave him, nor would its shame. One day the man who’d given him the 5 dollars, so many years ago, came and sat in Jayber’s barber chair. Seeing that he was the only customer in the shop Jayber took the opportunity to confess his crime and offered to repay the 5 dollar5vers. The man refused the money by saying, “I already got 5 dollars.”

Do you see it?

Forgiveness, true forgiveness does not require repayment. Since the man had forgiven Jayber he was no longer in a place where he had to have the money back in order for their relationship to be whole. It was not easy for Jayber to accept such free and honest forgiveness but he did and he and the man never spoke of the 5 dollars again.

In the Atonement the Father, Son, and Spirit forgave humanity’s Sin and sins, we were no longer under any obligation to repay a debt. Most amazingly the Father, Son, and Spirit do not even want our attempted repayments. There is no need for penance, no need to try and balance the scales, no need to try and make up for our sins. It may be necessary and beneficial to try to make restitution to a person we have wronged. It may be helpful for us and for them but it will never improve the unconditional forgiveness we have all received in Jesus.

The statement from Jesus on the Cross: “Father forgive them…” is a done deal for us. Trust me there is nothing you can ever give back to triune God that you perceive you have taken. I can almost hear Jesus now, when I let guilt creep into my life over wrongs I’ve done, “Hey Bill, I already got 5 dollars!”

~Bill Winn

God’s Justice

Here’s a common question I hear about Trinitarian Theology: If all of humanity is reconciled to the Father in Christ, what about God’s justice?

Consider two different administrations of justice: One would be a judge sentencing a criminal. The Judge is bound by the law because the rule of law is greater than him. He must sentence the convicted felon to a fine, prison, or even execution. Another administration of justice would be the way a Father treats his children. If one child is hurting the other the Father may choose any number of methods, including punishment, in order to discipline his children.

Here is the main difference between these two methods of justice: the Father who disciplines his children is doing so in order to restore relationship. The purpose of the Father’s justice in his family is to set right the relationships that had gone wrong and restore peace. The Judge sentencing the criminal is doing nothing more than trying to protect society and, in some philosophical sense, exact a measured retribution against the offender on society’s behalf. Sometimes the sentencing of criminals involves a plan for their rehabilitation but such mercy is not required for legal justice to be served.

So, which idea of justice is closer to who God is? Is God the divine Judge who is subject to the law and must administer that law according to the sentencing guidelines established within it? And here’s a bonus question: if God were subject to the law then wouldn’t that make the law really God? Or, is God a Father who loves his Son in the love of the Holy Spirit? Is the ultimate truth about God his judgeship or his identity as Father, Son and Spirit?

Perhaps we can now see why the doctrine of the Trinity is not just “a” doctrine, it is “the” doctrine of the Christian faith. In order to correctly define any aspect of human existence – including a concept such as “justice” – we must start with the Father’s love for the Son and with humanity’s inclusion in that love through the Son’s life as the man Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:19-20, Eph. 2:15, 1 Tim. 4:10.) If we don’t start there then we don’t have the right idea of justice.

God disciplines us for our good ~ Heb. 12:10

Is God just? Yes. He is just in the way that only a perfect, loving Father can be. Everything he does, from the forgiveness of sins to the disciplining of his children, is done with one goal in mind: to help humanity live out the reality of who we already are in Christ. We are his beloved children through his Son Jesus Christ, baptized in the Spirit (Acts 2:17; 2 Cor. 5:18-20.) The justice of God the Trinity is about bringing peace and right relationship into his family and therefore it is not about torture, eternal imprisonment, or legal games such as “you have until sundown to figure out who Jesus is and if you don’t then you’re screwed.”

Consider these two scenarios:

1. A teenage boy who lives next door to you (let’s call him Joey) comes over one day and tells you about what happened at his house the night before. He tells you that he drank several beers with his friends and then came in past curfew. His older brother Frank saw him sneaking in and said “you better look out, Dad is going to kill you!” Just then, Joey’s Dad walked in the room, smelled the beer on Joey’s breath and in a rage his Dad picked up a baseball bat and chased him around the house screaming “I’m going to kill you for breaking my rules!” Suddenly, Frank stepped between him and their Dad and said “don’t beat him, beat me instead!” And so the Dad beat Frank unconscious. And then Joey says his Dad turned to him and said “you see, Joey, how much I love you? I beat Frank up instead of you. Now, you better believe in Frank’s sacrifice for you or I’m still going to beat you with a bat, except then I won’t just beat you unconscious the way I beat Frank, I will beat you with this bat forever, no matter how sorry you may be someday for breaking my rules.”

2. Joey comes over and tells you how he came home last night past curfew after having several beers with his friends. His brother Frank caught him sneaking in the house and said, “Joey, this is dangerous! I love you and we’ve got to talk to Dad about this.” Joey admits that Frank made him so mad (and he was a little bit drunk) that he started punching Frank. But Frank didn’t hit him back, he just dragged him into the next room where their Dad was. Their Dad then had a long talk with Joey about why teenagers shouldn’t be drinking and why he has a curfew. Then Joey tells you that his Dad grounded him for 3 months and is going to make him paint their entire house.

Which version of the story displays the justice of a loving Father? And which version of the story would prompt you to call the police?

~ Jonathan Stepp


Nemuel tugged hard at the rope to keep the goat moving. It was hard going through the gravel and dust of the wadi and he knew they had a ways to go yet. Aaron had been quite clear: get this goat so far away, out into the wilderness, that he will never find his way back. Ever. Aaron was ancient, hardly able to stand on his own now, but the glare in his eyes was enough to strike the fear of El into Nemuel. And there was something else there, a kind of pain that said “let’s not make any mistakes, like we did that first time.” Truth be told, Nemuel didn’t much care whether the goat stayed out here in the desert or not, but those priests – they know things. So it’s better to do it the way they say to do it.

Besides, it was an honor, really. That’s what he’d told Zuar from the start. Zuar was what he’d decided to name the goat after their first couple of hours of walking together. “Zuar,” he’d said at noon, when they stopped for a break in the shade of a huge boulder, “it’s an honor, really, to be the one to drag you out into this Nephilim infested wilderness. A true honor.” And he actually had felt honored when the priests had come to his tent, nine days earlier, and said “Nemuel, son of Simeon, the lot has fallen on you.” But after struggling through the empty desert all day it didn’t feel like an honor anymore. And now the sun was setting and it was going to be a long trip back to the camp, even if he would be able to travel faster without this wretched animal balking all the way.

He struggled to the top of a low ridge, small rocks scattering under his feet so that he nearly fell. He surveyed the wide plain of rock hard dirt that spread out before him and stretched on to a high range of red cliffs in the distant. Here, this would have to do. If the goat found its way back, well Aaron could just get up off his dusty, bony, old butt and do it himself next year.

Nemuel slipped the rope from around the goat’s neck and shouted “Git! Go on!”

And in that moment Nemuel felt something he had not felt since he was a small boy: he felt compassion for an animal. The goat actually seemed to be looking at him, as if to say “so, this it then? you’ll just be leaving me here to die of thirst and starvation?” Nemuel felt tears well up, unexpected, sudden, with a sob that he barely stifled – even though there was no one around to shame him if he did cry. “Git outta here!” he shouted, his voice cracking slightly. “You’re nothing but a piece of meat with legs, and the priest cursed you, so go! And you stink! And you’ve got one crooked ear!”

Now Nemuel felt a terrible rage that boiled up out of the hot water of his stifled tears. He thought of Mahlah, and how she’d turned him down when he asked her to marry him. He thought of the long hours he spent laboring over his carving, only to have the masters say “not quite good enough, yet; maybe next year.” He thought of the dust, and the heat, and the fear of living in a tent in a desert all his life. How dare this stupid animal make him feel weak! He picked up a fist of pebbles and hurled them right into the goat’s eyes. Then he spit on him and kicked him. “Go! you miserable sack of hair!”

And then the goat turned, with some strange animal patience, and began walking slowly down the far side of the ridge – away from Nemuel and in the opposite direction of the camp. Nemuel felt a great release of frustration wash over him. The tightness in his chest vanished and his limbs felt warm and slightly weak. It was over. That cursed goat was going to stay away and he could go back to the camp and everyone would be glad to see him, alive and well; maybe even Mahlah would be glad to see him.

At that moment the air itself suddenly began to vibrate. Right in front of Nemuel and the goat the air seemed to catch fire, glowing with a brightness that made Nemuel lift his hand to shield his eyes. At that moment a real, live, demonic Nephil appeared right before them. Nemuel stood rooted to the ground, paralyzed except for the sudden spray of urine running down his bare leg and soaking his robe.

The demon was like the darkest terror of his worst nightmare: it was covered with eyes, in front and in back; it had the face of an eagle and six wings. Suddenly, there were three others there with it – one had the face of an ox, the other the face of a lion, and the last the face of a man. They were all covered in eyes, there were even eyes under the wings, so there was no doubt in Nemuel’s mind that they could see him quite clearly.

He clenched his stomach but his guts went loose anyway and the stench of his soiled robe seemed to fill the air around him. The demons were reaching out to the goat, they laid their hands on it and shepherded it toward the brightness glowing all around them. The goat bleated cheerfully and walked toward them. And then they were all gone, the Nephilim and the goat, vanished into thin air.

Nemuel came to himself and looked around. He could move again. The terror was gone and he was alive. Tears rolled down his cheeks unhindered. The relief he felt now was like plunging into a cold oasis pond and feeling all the dust and grime of weeks in the desert wash away in one moment. He stood for a little while, soaked in urine and feces and tears, and just caught his breath. “So,” he chuckled to himself, “the goat will not die of thirst and starvation, alone in the desert. He will be roasted and eaten by demons.” His chuckle burst into a full fledged laugh that rolled away into the darkening desert.

Nemuel turned and headed back up the wadi in the general direction of the camp. “Those priests,” he mumbled to himself, “they really do know things. It’s best to listen to them.” Aaron had said, “when you get back, make sure you wash thoroughly in the water of the large basins at the edge of the camp and put on new clothes before you cross the border back into the community.”

With the smell of his stained robe all around him, Nemuel was looking forward to that bath.

~ Jonathan Stepp

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