What Does Atonement Mean?

The concept of atonement is rooted in the Old Testament Day of Atonement. Endless sacrifices made by the priests were a constant reminder of sin. The Ten Commandments, contained in the ark of the covenant, were a visible reminder of just how far we have fallen. So, once a year (on the Day of Atonement), the high priest would sprinkle blood on the atonement cover, effectively covering our record of not keeping the commandments from God’s view (Leviticus 16).

This picture of blood was dramatic. An animal gave up its life to preserve yours. These recurring sacrifices demonstrated the need for a sacrifice to come that could cover our sin and appease God’s wrath.

Jesus came as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He is God’s sacrifice of atonement. (Romans 3:25). His blood covers all sin (1 John 1:7). On the cross, Jesus, as our substitute, faced God’s wrath for sin and took the punishment we deserved.

God has reconciled the world to himself in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus’ atonement, paid once for all (Hebrews 9:12), doesn’t make deliverance from sin possible; it makes it complete. This gift, received through faith (John 3:16), means you are now “at one” with God.

Study Atonement in the Scriptures

Leviticus 16

John 1:29

Romans 3:25

1 John 1:7

2 Corinthians 5:19

Hebrews 9:12

John 3:16

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