The atonement is like a multi-faceted diamond. What Christ accomplished on the cross is so massive, and the window into the heart of God is so big that no one explanation or description of the atonement can tell the whole story.
Because the atonement is at the heart of who God is and what he has done for us, we can never fully exhaust the riches that flow from this event. But recognizing our inability to mine all the theological treasures represented in the cross of Christ should not keep us from pondering the beautiful truth of this event.
In recent weeks, guest contributors have written about the different aspects of Christ’s atoning work. Here is a summary of their posts, with links for you to dig deeper into the significance of each truth.
On the cross, Christ slays the Dragon and wins our victory:
In the cross and resurrection, Christ the warrior king is the new and better Adam who delivers a head crushing blow to the serpent. He is the new and better Joshua who drives out all his enemies from the Promised Land. He is the new and better David who establishes the eternal kingdom of God.
On the cross, Christ drinks the cup of God’s wrath as a substitute sacrifice:
Because of this, when God looks at us, he no longer sees a sinner destined for wrath; he sees His Son nailed to the cross, shedding His own blood in our place. He died so that we may truly live, free from the shackles of sin and death.
On the cross, Christ redeems us from slavery to sin and death:
Can you see that this is what the redeeming love of God looks like—buying you back from the slave market? He wooed you to himself with gospel promises of mercy instead of punishment, belonging instead of estrangement. He loved you by redeeming you from your enslavement to all lesser lovers, and He is loving you even now as He cuts away from your character every lingering tether to your old way of life.
On the cross, Christ pays the ransom:
The ransom now paid, we have been delivered from the domain of sin and death into perfect union with the Son of God, in whom there is therefore now no condemnation.
On the cross, Christ is the Lamb who takes away our sin and shame:
Expiation is that angle on the atoning work of Christ that means we are clean. Clean. What we need is the good news that Jesus Christ died not only to forgive us, but to cleanse us.
On the cross, Christ is our liberator:
Redemption is not for our restriction, but for our joy. Christ did not die for our duty, but for our delight. I have been set free, but this freedom is not an unfettered pursuit of my desires, for that’s slavery all over again. It’s the joyful mission of bringing God pleasure because He has liberated and set me free.
On the cross, Christ shows how God is with us in our suffering:
There, in the midst of God’s own grief and sorrow, we see God with us and believe that he is able somehow to take up our burdens upon himself and deliver us from our despair. He is not distant from our pain. He understands our suffering because Jesus Christ – God in human flesh – suffered.
On the cross, Christ is the propitiation that makes us right with God:
Everybody needs a plan for getting on the right side of the gods. But if the true God has made his character known as it is found in the Bible, then there’s only one way of propitiation: the one that God himself put forward in the blood of Jesus, to be received by faith, the one who is his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the cross, Christ becomes our ultimate example:
Jesus Christ is the supreme model of Christian discipleship, the ethical exemplar of the Christian life. The compelling force of Christ’s sacrificial example is one answer to indifference and inaction in our broken world. Once we truly grasp what Christ did on our behalf, we will be compelled to live our lives in a way that reflects his self-sacrifice for all others.