Christ’s “Atoning Sacrifice” accomplished the work He came to this world to do. His work was to save people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), and He finished that work (John 17:4; 19:30).
In Romans 1:16 Paul says that the “gospel of Christ” is the “power of God unto salvation.” In 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, Paul equates the “cross of Christ” and Jesus Christ crucified with the “gospel.”
As I contemplate “Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice” I see it as the complete “gospel.” It encompasses His birth (incarnation), life, death, and resurrection. On the cross Jesus said, “it is finished,” and He rested on the Sabbath day. His resurrection on the first day of the week was proof that his atoning sacrifice was perfect and complete (Rom. 4:25). Romans 6:7 indicates that the cross event accomplished our justification, so it must be perfect and complete as well.
In answer to the first question in Sunday’s lesson, the resurrection and ascension are intrinsically linked to the atoning sacrifice and they are proof of it. The resurrection marks the beginning of the next phase of Christ’s work in accomplishing the restoration of His “saved” people. “Christ’s atoning sacrifice” can be illustrated by comparing it to the foundation of a very tall and large building. The gospel is the foundation of biblical teaching.
As the perfect and complete atoning sacrifice made the resurrection and ascension possible, so it makes Christ’s heavenly mediation possible. Without shed blood there can be no sprinkled blood. Please remember the “Day of Atonement” service. The sins (or record of sins) dealt with were forgiven sins that had gone before into the sanctuary. The blood used represented the blood shed on the cross of Christ (His atoning sacrifice).
Because the resurrection and ascension marked the beginning of the mediation phase of Christ’s work, that work had to be centered in heaven. Christ ascended to heaven (Acts 1:8-11), and He is mediating as our High Priest in heaven (Heb. 8:1, 2). As illustrated in the earthly “Day of Atonement,” Christ mediates with His shed blood in the Heavenly Sanctuary, which brings us to Wednesday’s lesson.
Just as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” preserved Adam’s earthly life for a few years, so mediation of Christ in heaven preserves and enhances life to some degree today for at least two reasons. (1) God in His mercy will never take away man’s power of choice. (2) God preserves the life of His “choosing” children so they can experience the “mind of Christ” and bring glory to God by their example. (The notes on Wednesday’s lesson answer the question well.)
I hope we are beginning to see that the earthly and heavenly ministries are a complete work for the restoration of humanity. If humanity never hears or understands that “work,” no change or restoration could take place. The work of the Holy Spirit is to communicate “salvation” to mankind. John 16:8 emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit’s work. Without His work, final salvation would not take place. However, the Holy Spirit is not our redeemer and He is not our co-redeemer. We still have the power of choice, to accept or resist. May I remind you that our “choice” is not our savior either?
Ellen G. White has written extensively on the “Christ’s atoning sacrifice.” A few quotes follow, but I encourage you to look up some of her many uses of the phrase.
“With deep interest and grateful, wondering joy the brethren listened to Paul’s words. By faith they grasped the wonderful truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and received Him as their Redeemer. They were then baptized in the name of Jesus, and as Paul “laid his hands upon them,” they received also the baptism of the Holy Spirit, ...” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 283).
“Were it not for Christ’s atoning sacrifice, there would be nothing in us in which God could delight. All the natural goodness of man is worthless in God’s sight. He does not take pleasure in any man who retains his old nature, and is not so renewed in knowledge and grace that he is a new man in Christ” (Amazing Grace, p. 66).
“Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The lamb slain is our only hope” (ibid. p. 71).
“It is the constant realization of the preciousness of Christ’s atoning sacrifice in our behalf that qualifies us to point others to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. We must become exponents of the efficacy of the blood of Christ, by which our own sins have been forgiven. Only thus can we reach the higher class” (Lift Him Up, p. 293).
At the beginning of this “Insight” I suggested that “Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice” was like a foundation. In fact it is the foundation and we are the building stones:
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. ... ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:5-10, KJV).
My prayer is that we will submit to this truth and become complete in Christ both in truth and experience.
—J. B. Jablonskifootech