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Sermon #58 — Romans Series
Title: “The Atonement”
Text: Romans 5:11
Subject: The Atonement of Christ
Date: Sunday Morning — July 12, 2015
Reading: Leviticus 16:1-34 or Isaiah 53:1-12
Let’s open our Bibles to the 5th chapter of Romans, Romans chapter 5.
(Romans 5:1-3) “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so…”
Being justified in Christ, by faith in him, we have peace with God, access to God and all his grace, a firm standing upon Christ the Rock of our salvation, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. But that’s not all. That’s just standing at the bottom of the mountain! That’s just getting started! That’s just the beginning!
(Romans 5:3-5) “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts. That is to say, the love of God has reached its goal and is brought to perfection in us, by the gift of the Spirit of Life, by the gift of the Holy Ghost, making us “partakers of the divine nature” in the new birth. That revelation of God’s love for us, experienced in the soul, is the comfort and assurance of our hearts which keeps us in peace (1 John 4:18).
(1 John 4:18) “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
(Romans 5:6-8) “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The love of God shed abroad in our hearts and experienced in our souls in the new birth is the love of God commended to us is the sacrifice of his darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. — If God so loved us that he sacrificed his own dear Son for us, our future blessedness must be without limit! That’s exactly what the Lord is telling us here. I told you (Paul told us back in verse 3), glorious as salvation is in the beginning of our experience, that’s just standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up. Even now, we haven’t even begun to ascend the heights of the mountain.
(Romans 5:9-10) “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Paul is talking to us about heaps upon heaps, upon heaps of grace! — Now, look at my text — Romans 5:11.
“And not only so…” — When I read those words in verse 3, and read them again here, I almost want to stop and say, “Wait, there can’t be more.” But those very words of inspiration say, “Oh, yes; there’s still more, much, much more!” — “And not only so…” — not only are we reconciled to God by the death of his Son and secure in life by the life of Christ our risen Lord, “we also,” all who are saved by his grace, “joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” We did not make atonement for our sins by trusting Christ; but by believing him we receive the atonement. By the application of Christ sin-atoning blood to our hearts and consciences, by the witness of the Spirit shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts, we receive the atonement.
That is my subject — “The Atonement.” That is the title of my message — “The Atonement.”
(Romans 5:11) “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
Proposition: By faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we receive complete, full, free, perfect atonement for all our sins, the atonement spoken of, typified, and required by the law and the prophets.
The word atonement is frequently used in the Old Testament in connection with the typical sacrifices of the law and the ceremonial expiation of sin (Leviticus 1:4, 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 16:6, 10, 11,16-18, 27, 30, 32-34; 17:11).
The basic meaning of the word “atonement” is “to cover.” As the pitch with which the ark was covered covered Noah and his family from the flood of God’s wrath, so the blood of Christ covers God’s elect. As the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled upon the mercy-seat covered the broken law of God, so the blood of Christ covers and blots out our sins. As the blood upon the doors of every house in Israel caused the Lord God, looking upon the blood, to pass by and spare the Israelites when judgment came upon Egypt, so the blood of Christ will cause the Lord God to spare chosen, redeemed sinners in the day of his wrath and judgment.
Christ, by his sacrifice, the antitype of these Old Testament types, is a covering to his people, from the curses of the law we have broken, from the wrath of God we deserved, and from avenging justice of the holy Lord God to which our sins expose us.
However, the word “atonement” is only used one time in the New Testament. We find it only here in our text — Romans 5:11. — “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” This atonement was made for us by Christ our Surety, Head and Representative. The knowledge, blessing and benefit of it, the application of it, comes to us by the Spirit of God, who takes the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ, effectually applies them to us, shows us our interest in the atonement, and causes us to receive the effect of it by trusting Christ. The effect of it is joy, peace, hope, and comfort in the knowledge of redemption accomplished.
· The word καταλλαγην here translated “atonement” means “reconciliation,” and is commonly translated that way. In fact, atonement and reconciliation for sin mean the same thing. Both imply a satisfaction made and accepted by God for the sins of his people.
· The English word “atonement” means “at-one-with.” Believers are brought to be at one with God by the sin-atoning blood of Christ. As soon as you believe on the Son of God, you are at one with God, because God has reconciled you to himself by the death of Christ for you.
· We receive “the atonement” by faith in Christ. The Lord Jesus did not merely provide the possibility of atonement for his people. He accomplished it and obtained it for us. Our faith in him contributes nothing to his finished work. Faith simply receives what Christ has done. To believe on the Son of God is to receive the atonement he made and its benefits. — “Therefore being justified (by his blood atonement), by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
“Complete atonement Thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er Thy people owed.
Nor can God’s wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in Thy righteousness
And ransomed with Thy blood!”
Have you received the atonement? Do you trust Christ alone as your all-sufficient, sin-atoning Savior? It is my prayer that, even as I preach this message, God will grant you faith in his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by the mighty operation of his grace, for Christ’s sake.
Let’s look at this matter a little more fully. What does God the Holy Ghost teach us in the Book of God about “the atonement”?
Baptists and the Book
Unlike papists and protestants, we believe and preach only that which is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. This is historically the one thing that distinguishes Baptists from all other religious denominations. We are glad to know that our doctrine and practices are supported by history, but we believe nothing and practice nothing simply upon the basis of historical precedent. We are glad to know that our doctrine is logical and reasonable, but we do not build our doctrine upon logic and human reason. We believe and practice only that which is plainly written upon the pages of Inspiration. We preach what the Scriptures reveal, no more and no less.
· We believe the doctrine of the Trinity, because it is written. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are One” (1 John 5:7).
· We believe that God freely forgives sin, because it is written – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
· We believe that all have believers are free from the law, because the apostle Paul says – “We are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:15).
· We practice the observance of the Lord’s Table just as our Lord commanded us and just as it was done in the New Testament. — Wine and Unleavened Bread – (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) — Open to All Believers (Acts 20:1-7).
· We practice the immersion, the burial, of believers in water as a public confession of faith in Christ, because that is the way it was done in the New Testament. — Our Lord (Matthew. 3:16) — The Eunuch (Acts 8:37)
· We believe that all men by nature are totally depraved, because it is written – “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
· We believe in God’s sovereign, eternal election of his people in Christ, because it is written – “He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him” (Ephesians 1:4).
· We believe in the effectual calling and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit, because the Word of God declares – “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16).
· We believe in the final perseverance and eternal preservation of God’s elect in Christ, because our Lord said – “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).
And we believe in a particular and effectual redemption, Limited Atonement, because it is clearly stated and universally taught throughout the Book of God.
I believe, rejoice in, and enthusiastically preach that glorious, God honoring, soul comforting, gospel doctrine of Limited Atonement — Particular and Effectual Redemption. If you ask “Why?” I answer, “Because I believe this Book.”
The Word of God teaches what men commonly call Limited Atonement. That is to say, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died as the Substitute for his own elect. By God’s intention, design, and purpose the atonement of Christ is limited to his own elect. And we believe, according to the Scriptures, that by his one atoning sacrifice for sin the Lord Jesus Christ actually accomplished the redemption of all the elect, securing our eternal salvation.
I believe in particular and effectual redemption, and preach it without apology, because this is plainly and clearly revealed as the doctrine of Holy Scripture.
· In Isaiah 53:8 the Lord our God tells us that the death of his Son was for a particular, chosen people. — “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” — That is particular redemption. That is atonement limited to God’s elect.
· In Hebrews 9:12 the Spirit of God explains to us that the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ effectually accomplished the redemption of his people, the redemption of all for whom he suffered and died. – “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” — That is effectual redemption, effectual atonement.
This is the very first thing God taught me when he saved my soul. I am persuaded that this is the first and most important thing God teaches all of his people in conversion. I saw that God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily took upon himself my sin, suffered the wrath and justice of God in my place, and died under penalty of God’s law; and by his one great sacrifice as my Substitute he put away my sin.
E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
· This is the place where the battle rages.
· This is the issue of greatest importance.
· This is the place where men are most likely to compromise.
I realize that there is a great division among religious people over the doctrine of the atonement. I am sorry that such division exists, but it does. Let me quickly add this: – There is no division among God’s people concerning this matter.
The great majority of religious people believe what is called “Universal,” or “General Redemption.” They believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for every person in the world, and that the intention of Christ in his death was the eternal salvation of all human beings. Now here are four inescapable conclusions which must be accepted by all who teach the doctrine of universal redemption.
1. If it was our Lord’s intention to redeem and save all men, and yet all men are not saved, then the purpose of Christ in his death is frustrated.
2. If the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for every person in the world and some of those people for whom he died go to hell anyway, then Christ died for them in vain.
3. If Christ died to make an atonement for all men and to save all men, and some men yet perish in hell, then Christ failed in his mission: his work of redemption is a failure.
4. If Christ died to make an atonement for all men and to save all men, and some men yet perish in hell, then the death of Christ really makes no difference and accomplished nothing!
These are blasphemous absurdities which we cannot and will not endure. They rob Christ of his glory in redemption, destroy the foundation of our hope, and utterly deny the eternal Godhead of our Savior. But, if the doctrine of general, universal redemption is believed, these conclusions must be accepted.
There are some, however, among whom we are glad to be numbered, though they may be a despised few, who believe the Bible doctrine of Particular and Effectual Redemption — Limited Atonement. We believe that the blood of Christ is of infinite value, but that the intention of Christ in his death never was the salvation of all men. Without question, if Christ had intended to save all men by his death, if that had been the object and purpose of his atonement, all men would be saved; but that never was his purpose. We believe, according to the Scriptures, that the intention of Christ’s atonement and the effects of his atonement are the same. It was our Lord’s intention to redeem his elect by the shedding of his blood; and by the shedding of his blood all of God’s elect have been redeemed. This is clearly the doctrine of Holy Scripture. The Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily laid down his life for a particular people. And by his death at Calvary, the Son of God effectually accomplished the eternal redemption of all for whom he died. What he intended to do, he has done!
· The Lord Jesus has redeemed all of God’s elect from the curse of the law. – “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” (Galatian 3:13).
· Our Christ has put away the sins of his people. – “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:27). — “He has by himself purged our sins” (Hebrews. 1:3).
· The Son of God has purchased for himself a people. — “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.” (1 Peter 1:18-10).
· Our Lord Jesus Christ has perfected those who are sanctified, or set apart in eternal election as the objects of God’s love and grace. — “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14).
Everywhere in the Bible, when the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of and explained, it is described as a particular and effectual redemption.
Isaiah 53:10-11 – “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Matthew 1:21 – “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
John 10:11, 14-18 – “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Romans 5:8 – “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 – “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
Galatians 1:4 – “Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
Ephesians 5:25-29 – “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Titus 2:14 – “Our Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
1 John 3:16 – “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”
· The Typical Sacrifices — Passover
· The Typical Pictures — Noah’s Ark
· The Prophecies
· The Songs in Heaven (Revelation 4-5)
The doctrine of the Bible is particular and effectual redemption — Limited Atonement. The Lord Jesus Christ died for and accomplished the eternal redemption of his chosen people, according to the will of God the Father. – “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We must and do reject as blasphemy and heresy any doctrine that denies the efficacy of the atonement.
I lay these nine charges against the doctrine of general, universal redemption. After much thought and deliberation, I lay these nine charges at the door of every preacher who preaches the blasphemous heresy of universal redemption.
1. While pretending to enlarge the love of God for sinners those who preach universal redemption reduce the love of God to nothing!
· What kind of love is that which has the power to save, but does not save?
· Universal redemption makes the love of God no more than a fickle, mutable, changeable passion.
2. Those who preach universal redemption make the wisdom of God to be foolishness! What man makes plans which he knows will never be carried out? Is there any wisdom in making a plan that is doomed for failure?
3. Those who preach universal redemption would destroy the justice of God! Justice cannot and will not demand a double payment for one debt. Justice cannot require one offense to be punished twice, both in the offender and in the offender’s Surety.
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine!
4. Those who preach universal redemption make the power of God to be impotence! We are told that God wants to save everyone in the world, he has done everything he could to save them, but he cannot.” Can the Almighty fail? Perish the thought! Has the will of God become impotent and the will of man omnipotent? Is the eternal God subject to puny man? Is the power and will of God subject to the power and will of man? Such absurd thoughts are blasphemous!
5. Those who preach universal redemption reduce the work of Christ on the cross to nothing but a meaningless gesture of love at best! He came to redeem, to save, and to justify; but if universal redemption is true, he only rendered men redeemable, savable, and justifiable. He failed in his work! — Universal redemption robs Christ of his soul’s satisfaction. How can the Son of God be satisfied, if so much as one soul for whom he died, suffers the eternal torments of the damned in hell? — Will he say in the Day of Judgment “I loved you, I made a wonderful gesture and display of my love for you by dying for you; but my love could not conquer your will. I loved you too much to interfere with your free-will and save you from hell”?
6. Those who preach universal redemption offer sinners no sure foundation of hope in Christ! If my salvation depends upon the merits of my works, my repentance, or even my faith, I must forever be disturbed by these questions – “Are my works good enough?” “Have I repented enough?” “Do I have faith enough?”
7. Those who preach universal redemption offer no encouragement to believers to love Christ and praise him because of his sacrificial death for us. If Christ did no more to save me than he did to save Judas, then the grounds of praise is my faith, not his blood. If Christ loves me no more than he loves Esau, then it is my love to him, not his love to me, that makes the difference between Esau and me.
8. Those who preach universal redemption would disappoint God, robbing him of his chief end in the salvation of sinners – the glory of his own great name (Psalm 106:8). If salvation is in any measure the result of something man does for God, then God shall not have and cannot rightfully claim all praise and glory for it.
9. Those who preach universal redemption, essentially deny the Godhood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The question really is not – “For whom did Christ die?” The question is – “Who died?” If Christ died upon the cross to redeem and save men who are not redeemed and saved, then he is not God, he is not the true Messiah, and we are all lost who believe in him!
Do you see how vitally important this gospel doctrine of particular and effectual redemption is? Without it, there is no gospel. Without it, there is no hope. Without it, there is no salvation. We preach a Savior who saves, a Redeemer who redeems, and an atonement that atones! We preach a gospel that honors God in all his glorious attributes, magnifies Christ in his redemptive glory, and gives a sure hope to sinners. With confidence and joy we sing the praises of our sovereign Redeemer, saying –
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.
We know that all those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood at Calvary are redeemed. All of them shall be saved. And all of them shall be with him in glory, because “He shall not fail!” This is the atonement we have received by faith in Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
· My blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, took my sin and gave me his righteousness.
· He took my condemnation and gave me his freedom.
· He took my guilt and gave me his innocence.
· He took my shame and gave me his glory.
· He took my death and gave me his life.
· He took my hell and gave me his heaven.
· He took my place and gave me his place.
(Romans 5:11) “We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
Take your place in the dust before his cross, as a guilty, lost, helpless sinner, and trust him alone.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ’s kind arms I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all!
 The Arminian, the works monger, the will-worshipper also believes in a limited atonement. The free-willer limits the merit, power, and efficacy of the atonement!