Atonement and the Cross of Christ

October, November, December 2008

Want to learn more about Atonement and the Cross of Christ? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: God's Nature: The Basis of Atonement (Psalms 102, 1 John 4, Isaiah 40)
Have you ever thought about how long God has been around? Just saying, "How long" implies a specific period of time. Can you imagine a God who has always been? There is much scientific evidence for the "Big Bang" theory of the origin of the universe. We can observe that the universe is uniformly expanding outward at a set rate of speed. Two logical conclusions flow from this. First, the universe had a creation point (the "bang"). Second, since the rate of expansion is perfectly timed, an Intelligence guided the "bang." If time was created when the universe was created, then the "Intelligence" exists in a realm outside of time. Let's dive into the Bible and see what it says on this subject!

Lesson 2: Cosmic Crisis: The Disruption of God's Established Order (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, Genesis 3, Job 1)
Many people ask "How could sin arise out of perfection?" Since I doubt I'll ever figure it out with my human brain, I prefer to ask "Why did sin arise in a perfect place?" If we figure that out, it might help us to be more alert to the sin problem in our life. The Bible gives us some strong clues as to the main reason why sin arose. What would you think if we learned that the root cause of the sin problem was not considered to be a serious sin today? Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 3: The Fall Into Sin (Genesis 3)
There is an old saying: "You get one shot at the king; either you kill him or he kills you." Imagine the thinking of Satan: if you were given one opportunity to test the loyalty of Adam and Eve, wouldn't you bring your best argument, your best temptation? Everything was riding on that "one shot." I wonder if Adam and Eve gave as much thinking to their upcoming test? Let's jump into our lesson and consider how sin entered our world!

Lesson 4: Atonement and the Divine Initiative (Romans 3, 5 & 8, Ephesians 1)
The last two weeks we studied how sin entered the universe and our world. This week we turn our attention to the first chapter of our escape from sin and eternal death. Why would God decide to redeem us? What began our way out of sin? We learned something in the last two weeks about how to avoid sin based on how sin entered the universe and the world. What can we learn about righteousness based on how God gave us a way out of sin? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about the thoughts of God!

Lesson 5: Atonement Announced (Genesis 3 & 22, Exodus 32)
If you were God, what would you do when humans rejected you? Two weeks ago we studied how it was that Adam and Eve sinned and plunged us all into a terrible situation. Last week we looked at what God planned to do to throw a life-line to humans. This week we progress to God's announcement to humans of His great plan for disaster relief. How difficult a decision was this for God? Why would God announce in advance what He had in mind? Why not leave His options open? What does this show us (again) about the character of God? Let's dive into our study and learn more!

Lesson 6: Atonement in Symbols: Part 1 (Leviticus 4-6 & 17, Romans 3, 5 & 6)
This past Sunday evening I was sitting on a bench overlooking the lake by my home. The quiet, beautiful evening turned my thoughts towards God and my place in His world. I thought about why it was I believed God existed, that Christianity was true and Jesus was the Messiah. Our lesson this week speaks to those issues. My reason for believing God exists is the order I see in the Creation. Owning cars and houses has taught me that things move from order to disorder, not the other way around. That God foretold the Messiah through the symbols of the Atonement shows His order. The three major world religions believe in the account of the sanctuary service, yet only Christianity can match it up to Jesus the Messiah. Only Christianity relies on these fulfilled symbols for the forgiveness of sins. Christianity is the logical, consistent, reasonable religion. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible to better understand this!

Lesson 7: Atonement in Symbols: Part 2 (Leviticus 16, Hebrews 9)
Last week we learned that only Christianity, of the three major world religions which accept the Old Testament as the inspired word of God, fulfills and follows the Old Testament pattern for dealing with sin. That is history. What about today and the future? What does the Old Testament sacrificial system teach us about Jesus' current work, if any, on the problem of sin? What is Jesus doing for our sin? Or, is His work complete and He is currently enjoying retirement? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 8: Born of a Woman - Atonement and the Incarnation (Luke 1, Matthew 3, Matthew 4)
We learned the last two weeks that Christianity is the "thinking person's religion." What we did not discuss was how hard we have to think! In one sense it is easy and logical to line up the Old Testament system for removing sin with the life, death, resurrection and heavenly ministry of Jesus. They just logically fit. On the other hand, it is not so easy to understand how the Creator God could demean Himself to become a human. Even the mechanics of the "God born of a woman" to create a God/human are very difficult to grasp. Let's give it a try by plunging into our Bible study!

Lesson 9: Metaphors of Salvation (1 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 5, Romans 3)
Have you ever gone to a physician and found you don't understand a lot of what is being told to you? I had one specialist who would use all sorts of medical terms that I did not understand. I would stop him and make him explain his terms. In my law practice I work with employees whose religious beliefs conflict with some work requirement. The law requires the religious objector to let the employer (or union) know about the conflict. When these (generally Christian) employees write about their religious beliefs, I try to be alert to terms that are not understood by the general public. When I see these, I suggest to the employee that they substitute a term that the public understands. The Bible uses all sorts of terms to describe salvation. We learned the reason for many of them when we studied the Old Testament sanctuary service. This week we look more deeply into this subject. Let's dive right into our study of how the Bible describes our salvation!

Lesson 10: Atonement at the Cross (Matthew 26 & 27)
Have you considered engaging in a serious sin? If so, you weighed the consequences: would you get caught? How serious would the punishment be? Even if you were not caught, how would it affect you? I recall one friend saying (about a serious sin) "If I do it God will forgive me." When it comes to sin, our primary concern is how it will affect us. This week we look at how our sins affected Jesus. God paid a terrible price for our sins. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and take a close and personal look at what our sin did to our loving Savior!

Lesson 11: Benefits of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice (Hebrews 7, John 16)
Last week we ended our study with Jesus' final words "It is finished" (John 19:30). What was finished? Was Jesus completely through with humanity? Had He done all that was necessary to reconcile us to the Father? There is some debate among Christians about what Jesus is doing right now. Did all of the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice come into place at the cross? Are the benefits still coming? We have previously studied the idea that Jesus is now acting as our High Priest in heaven, but there are certain technical problems with that idea. Plus, there is the belief that when Jesus was "finished," the Holy Spirit took over His work in an expanded way. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and find out what Jesus is doing, if anything, for us right now!

Lesson 12: United to Christ (Romans 6)
Let's review for a moment what we have learned in the past few weeks. Jesus came as a second Adam. Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. Just as we were swept into sin by Adam, so we are swept into righteousness by Jesus - if we choose. We can choose to be incorporated into Jesus' baptism, sinless life, death and resurrection by being baptized. Are we together so far? Last week we began to consider what is next: living life according to our spiritual, not human, nature. Let's continue to explore what it means to be united to Jesus in day-to-day living. Ready? Let's plunge into our Bibles!

Lesson 13: Atonement and Universal Harmony (Hebrews 9, Revelation 20 & 21, Matthew 25)
What does the Bible say about the last chapters of human life on this sinful planet? Where does the earthly sanctuary service point us for the future? What does the Bible say about the conclusion of what Jesus has done for us as both the sacrificial Lamb and the High Priest? What is the standard for our final judgment? Let's dive into our last study on this topic and find out!

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