Colossian Study 7-19-09
The Atonement of Christ, Universal or Limited?
For the past several weeks in our Sunday school class we have doing a verse by verse study in the epistle to the Colossians.
Last week we were taking another look at Colossians 1.13 in which we are told that God has “delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ” The question came up “Who are the us that God delivered, and does it apply to everyone?”
Holy Scripture teaches us that when Jesus was dying on the cross our sins were met in Him.
Our sins were assumed by Him; He stood before God as though our sins were his own as though every vile deed of ours were His… and every wicked and angry word that we have spoken were His……as though all of our selfish deeds and all the immorality and wickedness that we committed belonged to Him……..as though they were all His……
He took them all. He took every unspeakable one of them……..He bore all them away.
He became, what is called the “scape goat”… the innocent one that takes the blame for others.
Christ in bearing our sin away became a curse and died in our place and paid the penalty for our sin. It is only by the shed blood of Christ and the power of God’s grace we are saved. After all, how can sinners like us save ourselves no matter how hard we try? We just can’t do it. We need mercy not justice.
The “scape goat” imagery is described in Leviticus 16. The scapegoat was a goat that was driven off into the wilderness as part of the ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, … during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem.
During this sacrificial rite, the priest would symbolically place all of the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat.
Then, this goat, with the sins of the people placed upon it, was sent away into the wilderness alone to perish. This goat carrying the sins of the guilty would die in the wilderness and its death would atone for, or (cover) their sins.
The word "scapegoat" has come to mean an innocent person, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes, or sufferings of others.
It was a vivid picture of sin being removed from the people and committed to the goat and never seen again. As David said:
Ps 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
And this goat, which represented the removal of sins, bore them to an isolated place in the wilderness, never to be seen again.
There is the picture of the death of Jesus Christ.
Alone, and hanging on the cross, our sins were met in Him……and were assumed by Him;
He stood before God as though, in some mysterious sense, our sins were his own.
Christ bearing sin away He took our sin to the grave — As the goat went away to die alone, the eyes of the people followed it, and they were taught to believe that their sin, on that goat, was no longer was applied to them.
So Jesus, in his matchless grace, has borne away the sin of the world into a land of forgetfulness. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10.17)
He was alone in his mediatorial work. No one could provide Him company or relief. No one could do it for Him.
Others in later years have suffered deaths of martyrdom but they could not do what He did. His mother, and John stood at the foot of his cross…… but no one could accomplish what He did as He sacrificed Himself and took the wrath of God and in judgment paid the penalty for our sin.
Did you ever think….. how lonely He was in His agony and suffering! Even the Father seemed to have turned from Him!
Hanging naked and beaten on that cross before the universe, in that dreadful darkened hour, the Savior hung in awful, unimaginable solitude!
He was terribly alone.
I think that this is what was symbolized in the O.T. by the goat, laden with the sins of Israel, being led away into the wilderness and lost, forever.
Israel never saw this goat again, it died a lonely death in the wilderness, and thus Israel never saw its sin again.
It was the Father who has qualified believers to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Then having redeemed us by the sacrifice of Christ from the bondage of sin and the power of darkness, God transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Colossians 1.12-13
And that’s where all true believers are today living in the “kingdom of light” Col 1.12.
These true believers in Jesus Christ are the saints of God living in His grace under the guidance of His word and the instruction of His Spirit.
All because God sent a Savior to take their place in death and paid for their sins with His blood.
So the question was who is it that God delivered from the power of darkness?
That’s a good question….if the sacrifice of Jesus was for the whole world, then why isn’t everyone a believer? Why are there so many who scoff and reject Him?
Why isn’t everyone repenting from their sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Did He die for the whole world or didn’t He? Was His a perfect sacrifice or not?
Did His sacrifice and His shed blood cover the sins of everyone or only some? Did He die for you or didn’t he.
Did the sacrifice of Christ make it only possible for someone to be saved or did His sacrifice actually save those for whom it was intended?
Was the atonement of Christ universal? Meaning, did Jesus die for everyone? Or was it a particular, or limited atonement, saving only those the bible calls the chosen, or the elect? Matthew 24.22, Luke 18.7, Romans 8.33, Ephesians 1.4,
These are questions that demand an answer. Is the atonement of Christ for you? What is your answer and what is the basis for your belief?
Brother Dale, pastor/elder