The Doctrine of the Atonement

The Doctrine of the Atonement

Salvation Under the Law

  1. How did we get the law?  The law was given by God through Moses to the children of Israel in the wilderness.  Exodus 20:1ff.   “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17.
  2. For whom was the law given?  “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate....”  See 1 Timothy 1:5-11 - Note vs. 9, 10.
  3. Why was the law given?  It was given to reveal man’s sin and guilt “...that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19, 20.

    NOTE:  The law was not given as a way of salvation, because “...if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Galatians 2:21.  “...For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.  But the Scripture has confined all under sin....”  Galatians 3:21, 22.
  4. After Moses was given the Ten Commandments, what was Moses commanded to do?  He was commanded to (1) build the tabernacle, (2) establish the priesthood, and instruct the people regarding offerings.  Exodus 25:1ff; Leviticus 1:1ff.  Every Jew understood that “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”  Leviticus 17:11.  “And according to the law almost all things are purified (or cleansed), and without shedding of blood there is no remission (or forgiveness).”  Hebrews 9:22.
  5. What is the meaning of “atonement”?  A popular definition or interpretation is “at-one-ment,” meaning that the sinner becomes at one with God.  That’s wrong!  The Hebrew word used in the Bible simply means “covering” (noun form) and “to cover” (the verb).  Consider the words of David, who wrote, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”  Psalm 32:1.
  6. Was God satisfied with sins covered?  No.  The blood of Old Testament sacrifices only provided a covering for sins.  “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”  Hebrews 10:4.  Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7.  Before Jesus came into the world He said, ...In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.”  “For the law made nothing perfect….”  Hebrews 7:19.
  7. In the light of all this, what did God do?  “...God set forth [Jesus Christ] as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”  Romans 3:25.  See also Acts 17:30.
  8. Who is this Jesus?  What did He accomplish?  John the Baptist said, “Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:29.  “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”  Hebrews 10:11, 12.

SUMMARY STATEMENT:  In the Old Testament under the law salvation was by grace through faith.  No one was saved by keeping the commandments.  Transgressions were forgiven, and sins were covered.  In His forbearance God looked forward to the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two examples of salvation by grace through faith in the Old Testament are those of Abraham, who lived before the giving of the law, and David, who lived after.

“What shall we say that Abraham our father was found according to the flesh?  For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted him for righteousness.’  Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.  But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.’”  Romans 4:1-8.

The word “atonement” is not found in the New Testament with the exception of Romans 5:11 in the King James Version, where the correct translation is “reconciliation.”  Sins are no longer covered.  They have been taken away by the blood of the Lamb!  The slate has been wiped clean.

Salvation has always been by grace through faith apart from the works of the law.

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”  Romans 4:16.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8, 9.

“(God) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”  2 Timothy 1:9.

All of the redeemed may sing a new song in heaven.

“Praise the Lamb who was slain and has taken away our sins, and has redeemed us to God by His blood.  He alone is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessings.  Amen!”


All About God

Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
Copyright ©
1979, 1980, 1982
by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by Permission.
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