Christ’s ONE-TIME and Final Substitutionary Atonement
By Manny Mill I Peter 3:18-22
What do we mean when we use the word “atonement”? The word originally meant “at one-ment” or “at one with.” For the Christian, a former enemy of God, it means to be at one with God the Father, made possible by the substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf, making the payment of Christ’s sinless blood for our sins required by the justice of the Father. Sinful mankind needed reconciliation with a holy God so we could be declared justified, or righteous, and because of His amazing love and overwhelming mercy, He provided that justification through His own Son, Jesus.
Christians do not fear humans; we fear only our triune God with holy reverence. We must define and speak up about JUSTICE, therefore, through the lenses of the Gospel, not subjectively according to public opinion, culture, a ruling mob, the media, or social forces that want to silence us Christians with intimidation. We must define justice by the Word of God. Justice in a humanistic society, without the drive of the Christian-Judeo influence, will always be defective and unjust. We don’t have to look further than to Washington, D.C., and our own justice and prison systems to see this clearly.
Peter wants us to know a key foundational truth, a biblical treasure we read in 1 Peter 3:18:
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”
Peter wants this ingrained—tattooed—in our hearts so we will never forget it and will utilize it as our filter for objective truth, to strengthen our Gospel Belief System. (This spiritual GBS is even more important than the physical GPS so many of us rely on!)
Notice that the Trinity is clearly embedded, expressed, and experienced in this verse by Peter. It begins and is driven by Christ’s unwavering love for His Father. Christ reconciled us to God the Father through His substitutionary atonement, and then He was made ALIVE by the Spirit! Jesus conquered sin and death forever, so we did too! Aleluya! As Christ goes, we go!
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul writes the most radical text in Scripture about justice by punishing the innocent Christ:
“For He [God the Father} made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
You see, without Christ’s substitution, each of us is doomed into Hell for eternity.
Let’s end on a victorious note, because Christians are more than conquerors, not just somehow, but TRIUMPHANTLY. Jesus hung on our Cross to make the FULL payment for our sins and vindicate the holy reputation of the Father, so we do not have to hang in there anymore or keep living in defeat; rather, we can live in victory for the grater hallowing of the Father by partaking of His “How Much More.” In Philippians 4:13, the Apostle Paul says,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Micah is mainly a book of deserved judgment, but it gives a clear vision of HOPE for the RADICAL JUSTICE AND OVERWHELMING MERCY OF GOD THE FATHER. Listen to the Prophet Micah for a practical mandate and prescription for how Christians must function during great evil, deep confusion, intense persecution, and devastating corruption:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Christians are required to do the greatest good without complaining or arguing and with the utmost integrity.