The Power of the Atonement

By Edwin Hayes

Have you noticed the uncertainty today? Especially in the wake of a global pandemic! Fear, unrest, and a general uneasiness have become prevalent in our society. Many people do not appear very confident. I think it is true for good reason. The foundations upon which people are building their lives are not sturdy. People trust things like material gain, good health, earthly success, politics, pleasure, education, or religion to bring peace and satisfaction. Of course, none of these bring the contentment and fulfillment they crave.

When we examine these foundations carefully, we can only conclude any of them could be lost in a moment. Material things can be stolen, good health can change in the blink of an eye, earthly success can suddenly be taken, politics can fail, pleasure can lose its effect, education can miss the mark, and even religion can disappoint. No, we must look elsewhere to find security and fulfillment.

As Christians, we have a foundation upon which we can confidently build our lives—the atonement of Jesus Christ. This atonement occurred when Christ suffered and died upon the Cross to make it possible for us to be reconciled to God. When we receive Christ’s atonement, our sins are forgiven, we become a member of the family of God, we no longer have a reason to fear death, and no one can take these blessings from us. 

How can I speak with such certainty and confidence? Because God Himself is the author of the atonement. His plan of atonement offered the full payment for our sins and provided redemption for our souls. Christ became a man and took man’s punishment on the cross. Because His blood was shed there, in our place, God’s wrath for our sins was satisfied. Three facts about the atonement give us total confidence, no matter what we face in life:

The Atonement Is Eternal

All earthly foundations share one common characteristic: they are temporal, here today and gone tomorrow. As the psalmist said, “They are like the chaff which the wind driveth away” (Psalm 1:41). I can’t help but wonder how many people lost their “foundation” as a result of the coronavirus?

Those who build on the foundation of Christ’s atonement no longer need to be unsure or uncertain. His atonement is complete. When Jesus died on the cross, He exclaimed “It is finished.” And, it was.

Christ’s atonement is not like that. It is eternal. You can place your faith in what Jesus did on the Cross, and it will be good today, tomorrow, and millions of years from now. Its effect will never end. His payment on the Cross has no limits. It is good for all time. Long after this world and all of its vain promises are over and forgotten, we will still be enjoying the effects of the atonement for eternity.  

The Atonement Is All Powerful

No power on earth can match Christ’s atonement. This world boasts many powerful ideas and philosophies that stand squarely against God and His Word: atheism, agnosticism, evolution, and—most powerful of all—sin. These all have risen to oppose the Lord, with a powerful affect on mankind. These rebellious powers seek to separate God and His creation. 

It is hard to argue against these powers, especially the power of sin. Surrounding and enfolding us, sin destroys people, families, and nations. Since Adam’s sin in the garden, we have been enduring the terrible effects of rebellion against God. Look at all the misery sin has brought to this world. 

But God has triumphed over all sin and rebellion through the atonement of Christ. Romans 6:20 reminds us, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” His grace battled with sin and the world’s philosophies and won. His atonement is all powerful, and nothing can stand against it.

The Atonement Is Complete

How many people today are unsure of their future? How many are uncertain about their eternal destiny? So many people are busy working or doing religious activities, hoping somehow, it will be enough to allow into Heaven. No wonder they are filled with anxiety and worry. No wonder people are filled with fear, anger, and uncertainty. Their foundations are crumbling. 

But those who build on the foundation of Christ’s atonement no longer need to be unsure or uncertain. His atonement is complete. When Jesus died on the cross, He exclaimed “It is finished.” And, it was. Nothing more was needed. The sin debt had been paid. The payment was accepted in Heaven, and no further payment is required.

Early church father Anselm once asked, “How can God be just and still spare the wicked?” When we see how sinful we have been, we understand his concern. Thank God; we find the answer in Christ’s atonement. He suffered our punishment, and now our sin debt has been canceled. 

Even the poor thief dying on the cross next to Jesus reached out for help at the last minute. Though he had nothing to offer God, because of the power of the atonement, his sins were forgiven, his debt paid, and Jesus assured him that He would see him in Heaven.

Hallelujah! We have full confidence in our standing with God. We don’t need to fear the future. Thank God for the power of the atonement.

About the writer: Edwin Hayes is executive secretary of the Ohio State Association. Adapted by permission from The Ambassador. Some thoughts in this article reflect the descriptions of the attributes of The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer (1961).


< Return to PULP1T Magazine | Summer 2020