Provoking Thoughts


Prayer List

The Atonement

Bro. Mike Miller

Meditation Archives

The most wonderful thing that has ever entered into the minds of men is the message of the Gospel – that God sent his Son to save lost and sinful men. Since it is the most important thing God has ever done, and since it is so wonderful for sinful mankind, the devil has not been lazy in his resistance to the message of the Gospel. If it is presented correctly and clearly it is the power of God unto salvation. The devil has no weapon that will stand under its influence and so his best hope for neutralizing its effects is to confuse the message, and you better believe that he is good at doing that.

The message of the Gospel is that Jesus delivers us from our sin. It is more than just a promise for the future – it is real help, strength, and true deliverance right now, “in this present world.” Sin is the problem between God and man, and the second Adam came to fix that problem – not to leave us in the same state that had separated us from God. God didn’t need anything fixed on his side, it was man who needed something done for him. The sacrifice of Christ was not a payment God made to himself to appease himself and satisfy his anger. It was aimed at the heart of sinful men – not at a holy God. When it is truly applied to the heart of a sinful person he sees the vanity of living after the flesh and his own foolish desires. He yields his life to Christ and is born again and becomes a “new creature” in Christ. The Kingdom of God is set up in his heart and Jesus is the King there. (Luke 17:21) He gets out of the sinning business. His life, which was bound in sin, is put to death with Christ on the cross and he is now a new person, with new desires, and free from the dominion of sin. His mind is renewed and he doesn’t live or think in the realm of sin and selfishness any longer. God means for the focus of the Atonement to be on the sin of man – not the judgement of God.

In order to confuse the message the devil has done many things, but the most effective thing he has done is to change the focus of the Atonement. Those who go about to “win souls” almost always put the emphasis on going to heaven. After all, who doesn’t want to go to heaven, and who could possibly want to go to hell? The whole “plan of salvation” is presented as a gift, or a reward that is available if you’ll just reach out and take it. Instead of the focus being on the fact that they have went about their whole life without any regard for God or his law, the focus is on the judgement of God. In other words, they are much more disturbed over the fact that God would bar them from heaven than they are about the way they have treated God. So the message of the Atonement turns into a plan for getting to heaven and avoiding hell and nothing at all is done to take care of the sin problem. In fact, it is a common tactic for “soul-winners” to tell the sinner that God “will deal with his sin later.” Right now he needs to focus on being sure he is going to heaven. The Holy Spirit, however, ALWAYS deals with a sinner about his sin and not about “going to heaven” when he dies. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement, not a home in the sky bye and bye.

Another way the message of the Atonement is confused is by putting all the focus on what we DO. Whether it be sins that we commit or good works that we do after we are saved, people really tend to focus on certain deeds and certain sins, rather than on the sinful heart that is turned against God. There is more wrong with you than just your drinking, smoking, cursing, and being immoral. The way you THINK and the things you LOVE are all wrong because your heart is wicked and against God. The Atonement is not a book of rules to live by or a list of do’s and don’ts that will put us into a good relationship with God. God's design in the Atonement is to change the heart of man and turn it from self – toward God. As long as the focus is on our own interests we are going to miss the reality of what God can do for our soul. When a person truly experiences new life in Christ he not only changes his behavior, but his thinking changes also. His view of everything changes and he sees things in light of the Word of God and the reality of God in his life. This happens because of what is accomplished in his heart when he finally understands the Atonement God provided for him through the death of his Son. Surely he stops living under the dominion of sin and starts doing good works, but this is the fruit of what happened in his heart. DOING, or NOT DOING these things is not what brought that change about. So many people miss the boat right here. There are multitudes in hell already, and in the church right now who are making an attempt to serve God simply by the things they do or don’t do. If your understanding of what God has done through his Son goes no further than that you are simply a Pharisee, which is the type of person that Jesus spoke the harshest words to, and gave the least hope of being saved.

We should add right here that you cannot be saved by doing nothing. You MUST respond to the Gospel. You must COME to Jesus. We are not saying that salvation comes to the person who sits passively and waits for God to DO something to him. God has done all He is going to do. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” …it was finished. The Atonement has been completed and all that is necessary for sinful men to be made into sons of God has been accomplished. The next step is ours. When we hear the Word of God and the Gospel message we must respond and come to Jesus, surrendering our heart, our will, and our life to him. In order to be his disciple we must follow him, and the first step in following Jesus is to deny ourselves, and take up the cross. We follow him to the cross and there we are crucified, also. The old man is put to death and buried and only then can there be a resurrection of the new man. If we are baptized before this is a reality in our life we are simply telling a lie, because this is exactly what baptism represents.

We will have “godly sorrow” when the focus is on the fact that we have had no regard for God despite his goodness and longsuffering, and yet He still wants us and will forgive us, for Christ’s sake. There will be no godly sorrow as long as the focus is on delivering our sorry selves from the just punishment of God. The problem that we must face is our sin. It is what has separated us from God. We cannot ignore that fact and just try to work a plan to get to heaven. The preaching of our day brings very few sinners to the place where they agree with God about their just condemnation. The reason for this is that most of the preaching isn’t designed to do that. Rather, its aim is to bring forth “decisions” or professions of faith. The more of those you have the better it sounds when you get the chance to brag to other preachers. But heaven doesn’t rejoice about it and God is grieved because people are given a false hope, and left in a worse state than they were before – “twofold more the child of hell…”

The sinner must realize that he has put himself at odds with God because of his sin. He must realize that his just punishment is being separated from God forever in the Lake of Fire. Then he must realize that in spite of the fact that God could throw him in hell forever and be just in doing so, God so loved him that he gave his only begotten Son to die in his place. He doesn’t have to perish, but can have everlasting life. He must simply trust Christ and follow him to the cross, lay down his life and receive new life in Christ from God. This is the gospel message that works. It’s the one we shouldn’t be ashamed of because it is the power of God unto salvation.

Back to top                                    Back to Provoking Thoughts