Since God is completely just, he must judge our sin. He cannot simply sweep it under the carpet. Since we have all sinned, everyone has incurred a debt with God and faces judgment. Even if you think that you’re a pretty good person, your good deeds would never be enough to pay off your bad deeds. When a thief goes to court, he doesn’t get to talk about all the good stuff he’s done in his life in hopes the judge will take that into account. The fact is that he’s guilty. God doesn’t have a scale of good and bad that he weighs people on to decide if they deserve salvation or not. He looks at our actions and attitudes and rules on whether or not we have been perfect.
Because no one is perfect and everyone has sinned, everyone stands guilty before him as sinners. The penalty for that sin is eternal separation from God in hell.
However, God, in his infinite mercy, made a way for sinful people to have their sins forgiven and right relationship with him restored. God sends his only son, Jesus Christ, to the earth. He lives the perfect life that we could never live and then freely offers himself on the cross as a substitute for sinful people. It was at the cross that God paid for mankind’s debt at great cost to himself. Jesus rose from the grave three days later proving that he had authority over sin and death and showing God’s approval of his sacrifice. For all those who confess that they have sinned against God, believe that Jesus is the Son of God who takes away their sin, and put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior the Bible declares that they are saved.
This is one of the most beautiful truths about the God we worship. He did not owe us anything but judgment. Yet he loved us enough to send his Son to die for us. This is also a truth that separates Christianity from all other faiths. We believe, as Scripture says we should, that salvation and right relationship with God are only found in the finished work of Jesus through the cross and resurrection. You can never be good enough to earn salvation. It is a free gift, given to those who humbly come to Jesus. Salvation is not given to those who look to their own strength and boast in their own ability, but for those who look away from themselves and their own strength and to person of Jesus.
This kind of love and grace changes someone. When you come to faith in Jesus, you don’t live in sin like you did before. You’ve entered into a relationship that changes the way you relate to God and others You begin to want to live like Jesus commands you to—to fight sin and injustice more and to love God’s family, the church. The love of God, displayed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, changes everything!
- How has the brokenness in your life impacted your relationships with God and others?
- What does it mean to you that a perfect God would accept your punishment of death?
- How would experiencing God’s love and restoration in your life impact those around you—your friendships, family, work, school, etc?
Doctrine of Atonement
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sent to earth by the Father to offer himself as a sacrificial substitute for man. Through his death on the cross he satisfied God’s wrath, atoned for man’s sin, and opened the door for salvation. Through his resurrection he secured eternal life for all who come to him in faith.
Key Scripture: John 1:12; 3:16, 36; Romans 3:21-26, Colossians 2:14; 1 John 5:11-13