The Atonement—Atoning Sacrifice and Priestly Application

The Atonement—Atoning Sacrifice and Priestly Application

God's work to redeem sinners.

I. Justice and Mercy Blend at Cross

I. JUSTICE PERFECTLY SATISFIED AT CROSS.— Justice and Mercy stood apart, in opposition to each other, separated by a wide gulf. The Lord our Redeemer clothed His divinity with hu­manity, and wrought out in behalf of man a character that was without spot or blemish. He planted His cross midway between heaven and earth, and made it the object of attraction which reached both ways, drawing both Justice and Mercy across the gulf. Justice moved from its exalted throne, and with all the armies of heaven approached the cross. There it saw One equal with God bearing the penalty for all injustice and sin. With perfect satisfaction Justice bowed in reverence at the cross, saying, It is enough.—General Conference Bulletin, Fourth Quarter, 1899, vol. 3, p. 102.

2. SATAN'S CHARGE OF CONFLICTING ATTRI­BUTES FOREVER SETTLED.—Christ's death proved God's administration and government to be without a flaw. Satan's charge in regard to the conflicting attributes of justice and mercy was forever settled beyond question. Every voice in heaven and out of heaven will one day testify to the justice, mercy, and exalted attributes of God. It was in order that the heavenly universe might see the conditions of the covenant of redemption that Christ bore the penalty in behalf of the human race.—Manuscript 128, 1897.

3. CROSS RECONCILES JUSTICE AND MERCY.—His [Christ's] object was to reconcile the pre­rogatives of justice and mercy, and let each stand separate in its dignity, yet united. His mercy was not weakness, but a terrible power to punish sin because it is sin; yet a power to draw to it the love of humanity. Through Christ Justice is enabled to forgive without sacrificing one jot of its exalted holiness.—General Conference Bulletin, Fourth Quarter, 1899, vol. 3, p. 102.
4. EXHAUSTED PENALTY; PROVIDED PARDON.—Justice demands that sin be not merely par­doned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and pro­vided a pardon.—Manuscript 50, 1900.
5. CROSS ASSURES SECOND TRIAL FOR MA N God bowed His head satisfied. Now justice and mercy could blend. Now He could be just, and yet the Justifier of all who should believe on Christ. He [God] looked upon the victim ex­piring on the cross, and said, "It is finished. The human race shall have another trial." The redemption price was paid, and Satan fell like lightning from heaven.—Youth's Instructor, June 21, 1900.

6. CROSS DRAWS GOD AND MAN T OGETHER.— The only-begotten Son of God took upon Him the nature of man, and established His cross between earth and heaven. Through the cross, man was drawn to God, and God to man. Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied. Through the cross the sinner was drawn from the strong­hold of sin, from the confederacy of evil, and at every approach to the cross his heart relents and in penitence he cries, "It was my sins that crucified the Son of God." At the cross he leaves his sins, and through the grace of Christ his character is transformed. The Redeemer raises the sinner from the dust, and places him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.—The Signs of the Times, June 5, 1893.

H. Atonement Vindicates God's Changeless Law

I. CROSS UNANSWERABLE ARGUMENT FOR CHANGELESS LAW.—The Cross speaks to the hosts of heaven, to worlds unfallen, and to the fallen world, the value which God has placed upon men, and of His great love wherewith He has loved us. It testifies to the world, to angels, and to men, the immutability of the divine law. The death of God's only begotten Son upon the cross in the sinner's behalf is the unanswerable argument as to the changeless character of the law of Jehovah.—The Review and Herald, May 23, 1899.

2. LAW NOT CHANGED TO ACCOMMODATE SINNER—The cross of Christ testifies to the sinner that the law is not changed to meet the sinner in his sins, but that Christ has made an offering of Himself that the transgressors of the law might have an opportunity to repent. As Christ bore the sins of every transgressor so the sinner who will not believe in Christ as his personal Saviour, who rejects the light that comes to him, and refuses to respect and obey the commandments of God, will bear the penalty of his transgression.—Manuscript 133, 1897.
3. CROSS DEMONSTRATES INEXORABLE PUNISH­MENT FOR SIN.—The death of Christ was to be the convincing, everlasting argument that the law of God is as unchangeable as His throne. The agonies of the garden of Gethsemane, the insult, the mockery, the abuse heaped upon God's dear Son, the horrors and ignominy of the crucifixion, furnish sufficient and thrilling demonstration that God's justice, when it pun­ishes, does the work thoroughly. The fact that His own Son, the Surety for man, was not spared, is an argument that will stand to all eternity before saint and sinner, before the uni­verse of God, to testify that He will not excuse the transgressor of His law.—Manuscript 58, 1897.
4. DIVINE LAW MAINTAINED BY ATONEMENT. —Satan is continuing the work on earth that he commenced in heaven. He leads men to transgress the commandments of God. The plain "Thus saith the Lord" is put aside for the "thus saith" of men. The whole world needs to be instructed in the oracles of God, to under­stand the object of the atonement, the at-one­ment, with God. The object of this atonement was that the divine law and government might be maintained. The sinner is pardoned through repentance toward God and faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness of sin, and yet the law of God stands immutable, eternal as His throne. There is no such thing as weakening or strengthening the law of Jehovah. As it has always been, so it is. It cannot be repealed or changed in one principle. It is eternal, immutable as God Himself.—Manuscript 163, 1897.
5. CROSS THE CONDEMNATION OF TRANSGRES­SION .—Satan endeavored to keep hidden from the world the great atoning sacrifice which re­veals the law in all its sacred dignity, and impresses hearts with the force of its bind­ing claims. He was warring against the work of Christ, and united all his evil angels with human instrumentalities in opposition to that work. But while he was carrying on this work, heavenly intelligences were combining with human instrumentalities in the work of restoration. The cross stands as the great center of the world, bearing a certain testimony that the cross of Christ will be the condemnation of every transgressor of the law of God. Here are the two great powers, the power of truth and righteousness and the working of Satan to make of none effect the law of God.—Manuscript 61, 1899.
6. CROSS NULLIFIES  SATAN'S ARGUMENTS AGAINST LAW—The death of Christ removes every argument that Satan could bring against the precepts of Jehovah. Satan has declared that men could not enter the kingdom of heaven unless the law was abolished, and a way devised by whiclyransgressors could be reinstated into the favor of God, and made heirs of heaven. He made the claim that the law must be changed, that the reins of government must be slackened in heaven, that sin must be tolerated, and sinners pitied and saved in their sins. But every such plea was cast aside when Christ died as a substitute for the sinner.—The Signs of the Times, May 21, 1912. 

111. Atonement Result of Divine Love

1. MANIFESTATION OF ALREADY-EXISTING LOVE. —The atonement of Christ was not made in order to induce God to love those whom He otherwise hated; and it was not made to pro­duce a love that was not in existence; but it -was made as a manifestation of the love that was already in God's heart, an exponent of the divine favor in the sight of heavenly intelli­gences, in the sight of worlds unfallen, and in the sight of a fallen race. . . . We are not to entertain the idea that God loves us because Christ has died for us, but that He so loved us that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for us.—The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1893.
2. ATONEMENT INEVITABLE RESULT OF DIVINE LOVE.—As the Saviour is lifted up before the people, they will see His humiliation, His self-denial, His self-sacrifice, His goodness, His tender compassion, His sufferings to save fallen man, and will realize that the atonement of Christ was not the cause of God's love, but the result of that love. Jesus died because God loved the world.—The Review and Herald, Sept. 2, 1890.
3. PROVIDED PROPITIATION BECAUSE HE LOVED Us.—The Father loves us, not because of the great propitiation, but He provided the propi­tiation because He loves us. Christ was the medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." God suffered with His Son, in the agony of Gethsem­ane, the death of Calvary; the heart of Infinite Love paid the price of our redemption.—The Home Missionary, April, 1893.

IV. Atoning Provision Greater Than Man's Need

I. ATONING . PROVISION GREATER THAN OUR SIN.—Justice demanded the sufferings of a man. Christ, equal with God, gave the sufferings of a God. He needed no atonement. His suffering was not for any sin He had committed: it was for man—all for man; and His free pardon is accessible to all. The suffering of Christ was in correspondence with His spotless purity; His depth of agony, proportionate to the dignity and grandeur of His character. Never can we comprehend the intense anguish of the spot­less Lamb of God, until we realize how deep is the pit from which we have been rescued, how grievous is the sin of which mankind is guilty, and by faith grasp the full and entire pardon.—The Review and Herald, Sept. 21, 1886.

2. CHRIST'S LIFE SUFFICIENT TO REDEEM.—The divine Son of God was the only sacrifice of sufficient value to fully satisfy the claims of God's perfect law. The angels were sinless, but of less value than the law of God. They were amenable to law. They were messengers to do the will of Christ, and before Him to bow. They were created beings, and probationers. Upon Christ no requirements were laid. He had power to lay down His life, and to take it again. No obligation was laid upon Him to undertake the work of atonement. It was a voluntary sacrifice that He made. His life was of sufficient value to rescue man from his fallen condition.—The Review and Herald, Dec. 17, 1872.
3. RESTORES DISOBEDIENT; SAFEGUARDS INNO­CENT.—The work of God's dear Son in under­taking to link the created with the Uncreated, the finite with the Infinite, in His own divine person, is a subject that may well employ our thoughts for a lifetime. This work of Christ was to confirm the beings of other worlds in their innocency and loyalty, as well as to save the lost and perishing of this world. He opened a way for the disobedient to return to their al­legiance to God, while by the same act He placed a safeguard around those who were al­ready pure, that they might not become pol­luted.—The Review and Herald, Jan. 11, 1881.

V. Typical Sacrifices Prefigure Lamb of God

1. PREFIGURED DEATH AND MEDIATION OF CHRIST.—The sacrificial offerings, and the priesthood of the Jewish system, were instituted to represent the death and mediatorial work of Christ. All those ceremonies had no meaning, and no virtue, only as they related to Christ, who was Himself the foundation of, and who brought into existence, the entire system. The Lord had made known to Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and the ancient worthies, especially Moses, that the ceremonial system of sacrifices and the priesthood, of them­selves, were not sufficient to secure the salvation of one soul.


The system of sacrificial offerings pointed to Christ. Through these, the ancient worthies saw Christ, and believed in Him.—The Review and Herald, Dec. 17, 1872.

2. PUNISHMENT TRANSFERRED TO SUBSTITU­TIONARY VICTIM.—Christ, in counsel with His Father, instituted the system of sacrificial offer­ings; that death, instead of being immediately visited upon the transgressor, should be trans­ferred to a victim which should prefigure the great and perfect offering of the Son of God.

The sins of the people were transferred in figure to the officiating priest, who was a media­tor for the people. The priest could not himself become an offering for sin, and make an atone­ment with his life, for he was also a sinner. Therefore, instead of suffering death himself, he killed a lamb without blemish; the penalty of sin was transferred to the innocent beast, which thus became his immediate substitute, and typified the perfect offering of Jesus Christ. Through the blood of this victim, man looked forward by faith to the blood of Christ which would atone for the sins of the world.—The Signs of the Times, March 14, 1878.

3. EVERY BLEEDING SACRIFICE TYPIFIED LAMB OF GOD.—The great truth that was to be kept before men, and imprinted upon mind and heart, was this, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." In every bleeding sacrifice was typified "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things. Many forgot the true significance of these offerings; and the great truth that through Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin, was lost to them. The multi­plying of sacrificial offerings, the blood of bulls and goats, could not take away sin.—The Signs of the Times, Jan. 2, 1893.
4. FORGIVENESS SOLELY THROUGH BLOOD OF CHRIST.—The great lesson embodied in the sacrifice of every bleeding victim, impressed in every ceremony, inculcated by God Himself was that through the blood of Christ alone is for­giveness of sins; yet how many carry the galling yoke and how few feel the force of this truth and act upon it, personally, and derive the blessings they might through a perfect faith in the blood of the Lamb of God, realizing that through Him only is forgiveness of sins, believing that when repented of He forgives them, whether great or small. 0! What a blessed Saviour!—Letter 12, 1892.
5. ABEL FORESAW ATONEMENT ON CALVARY. —By faith Abel offered unto God a more ex­cellent sacrifice than Cain. . . . Through the shed blood he looked forward to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had witness that he was right­eous, and his offering accepted.—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 72.

VI. Atonement Gave Death-Stroke to Satan

1. CROSS GIVES DEATH-STROKE TO SATAN.—He [Christ] died on the cross to give the death-stroke to Satan, and to take away the sin of every believing soul.—Manuscript 61, 1903.
2. GAINED RIGHT TO FREE SATAN'S CAPTIVES. —What right had Christ to take the captives out of the enemy's hands? The right of having made a sacrifice that satisfies the principles of justice by which the kingdom of heaven is governed. He came to this earth as the Redeemer of the lost race, to conquer the wily foe, and, by His steadfast allegiance to right, to save all who accept Him as their Saviour. On the cross of Calvary He paid the redemption price of the race. And thus He gained the right to take the captives from the grasp of the great deceiver, who, by a lie, framed against the government of God, caused the fall of man, and thus for­feited all claim to be called a loyal subject of God's glorious everlasting kingdom—The Signs of the Times, Sept. 30, 1903.
3. BROKE SATAN'S ACCUSING POWER FOREVER. —Christ on the cross, not only draws men to repentance toward God for the transgression of His law—for whom God pardons He first makes penitent—but Christ has satisfied Justice; He has proffered Himself as an atonement. His gushing blood, His broken body satisfy the claims of the broken law, and thus He bridges the gulf which sin has made. He suffered in the flesh that with His bruised and broken body He might cover the defenseless sinner. The victory gained at His death on Calvary broke forever the accusing power of Satan over the universe and silenced his charges that self-denial was impossible with God and therefore not essential in the human family.—Manuscript 50, 1900.


4. SATAN CAST OUT BY VICTORY ON Coss.—He [Christ] planted His cross midway between heaven and earth, that He might wrestle with and overcome the powers of darkness. He gave His life for the life of sinners, and Satan, the prince of the world, was cast out.—Manuscript 44, 1901.

5. CHRIST'S CROSS SUPPLANTS SATAN'S THRONE. —Soon was to be offered the great Sacrifice to which all the Jewish offerings pointed. When with the cross before Him, the Saviour uttered the sublime prediction, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, shall draw all men unto me," He saw that the great apostate, who had been expelled from heaven, was the central power in the earth. Looking for Satan's throne, He found it set up where God's should have been. He saw all men worshiping the Apostate, who in­spired them with rebellion. The inhabitants of this world had prostrated themselves at Satan's feet. Christ declared, Where stands Satan's throne, there shall stand my cross, the instru­ment of humiliation and suffering.—Manuscript 165, 1899.

6. GLORIOUS WORK OF RESTORATION COM­PLETED.—Christ was crucified, but in wondrous power and glory He rose from the tomb. He took in His grasp the world over which Satan claimed to preside, and restored the human race to favor with God. And at this glorious completion of His work, songs of triumph echoed and re-echoed through the unfallen worlds. Angel and archangel, cherubim and seraphim, joined in the chorus of victory.—The Youth's Instructor, April 16, 1903.

VII. Atonement Never to Be Repeated

ATONEMENT NEVER NEED TO BE REPEATED.—The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never ;teed to be re­peated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ?—The Signs of the Times, Dec. 30, 1889.

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