by Bill Nugent
Atonement means reconciliation with God. The Bible’s teaching on atonement is therefore of utmost importance. If we are not reconciled with God we shall not enter into heaven in the afterlife. Hell is a place of separation from God’s loving presence. Those who refuse to be reconciled to God implicitly choose hell.
Something of very grave concern to me is the tendency of some to reject the Bible’s teaching on the necessity of blood atonement. We must be reconciled to God on God’s terms not our own. God’s way of reconciliation is by blood atonement (a term I will define shortly).
Some people reject blood atonement and believe that reconciliation with God can be obtained by good works (acts of charity). Good works are very important and the Bible certainly commands that we perform good works. The Bible, which is inspired by God, is also very clear in its teaching that good works do not purchase salvation!
Now let me precisely define the term “blood atonement.” Blood atonement means that the penalty for our sins was placed upon Jesus and He suffered and died (shed His blood) on the cross so we could be saved from the penalty of our sins. The Bible even goes so far as to describe Jesus Christ as He “that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).
At first glance the phrase “washed us from our sins in his own blood” may seem macabre but it serves to emphasize our utter dependence on the Savior’s death on our behalf to save us. First Peter 3:18 says “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.” I could quote many other passages in the Bible that make this same point. It is a theme often repeated in the Bible due to its extreme importance!
In the Old Testament under Judaism, animals were offered in sacrifice. The first seven chapters of Leviticus describes the sacrificial system in minute detail. The Old Testament sacrificial system was a prophetic picture that looked forward to the coming of the Messiah — Jesus — to be the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus offered Himself for our sins. He made peace with God on our behalf. The penalty has been paid! The gift of eternal life is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord!
The futility of trying to earn salvation by good works is shown in Isaiah 64:6 which says: “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Here it is revealed that even our good deeds are filthy when compared to God’s holiness. How many filthy rags do you think it takes to earn salvation? If our righteous deeds are like filthy rags what are our sins like? Salvation is “not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph, 2:9 NAS).The Bible is clear that we can’t work our way to God but we must come to God by way of the Savior, Jesus Christ who already paid the penalty for our sins!
Once we come to God through Christ and receive forgiveness THEN WE CAN DO GOOD WORKS! Salvation comes first and then we are truly free in our hearts to sincerely do acts of charity, mercy and love.