The Atoning Work of Christ

The Atoning Work of Christ

Many in our world have the sentiments of a man buried in a Roman cemetery who had ordered that these words be engraved on his tombstone: “I was not, I was, I am, I am not, I do not care.”

For people outside of Christ, life is meaningless. The good news that Christ rose from the dead changes that. All that we do or say in this life has eternal significance. The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes the way we think about life and death. Christ’s resurrection assures us that we have a hope beyond the grave. Now we think of death as the doorway to the fuller life. Since the resurrection changes the way we think about the next life, we can think about our present life in a new way too. When we study the sermons in the book of Acts, we see that the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection was at the heart of those messages. Christ’s triumph over death validated everything He had taught. Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed that He was the Truth and that no one could come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). The resurrection shows that He had the right to make such statements. If the apostles ever had doubts about their mission to proclaim Christ, they could always think back to those days following resurrection Sunday. They had seen the risen Christ. This was the message that everyone needed to hear.

The resurrection reversed the sentence of death caused by Adam’s sin. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Christ’s is Lord of the universe, “for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (I Cor. 15:25). Jesus is the Truth. The life that He demonstrated is the life that Good intends for all of us. The ultimate victory of Christ began with the resurrection. The resurrection is linked to Christ’s atoning work. It indicated God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).

Paul has given us some glimpses of the resurrection body. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (I Cor. 15:42-44). We shall maintain the identity we have in this life, but we shall have transformed and glorified bodies. We can only wonder at what God has prepared for His redeemed children.

In areas where missionaries take the gospel, many people not only have a fear of death but also are afraid of their recently deceased relatives and friends. Often they pour the blood of an animal over their graves. They seek ways to assuage their supposed anger. They are afraid to act in any way they think might offend the dead. Their homage to their deceased relatives approaches the worship that should be reserved for the Lord. To these people comes the good news of the gospel. Christ is risen. He is the Lord of the spirit world.

As Romans 14:9 says, “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Our faith in a risen Christ dissolves our fears. We have a hope for this life and forever.

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