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Christ's Great Sacrifice

    As we draw near to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we look back at what happened to Christ and why. The Bible is full of theological terms, many you have heard of, but can we think of what those words and actions mean, and what they accomplish? There has been an exhaustive study by many over the years to describe what some of these terms mean so we have a better knowledge, better appreciation, and a greater love for the One who accomplished them for us. One of these terms is EXPIATION. Commonly referred to in the scriptures as atonement, I would like to take a quick look at expiation today and what it accomplished for us.

    By expiation we mean that the sacrifice cancels the sin. So, the object of expiation is the sin. Christ's sacrifice cancels sin by taking the guilt and absorbing it, paying for it, suffering, taking it upon Himself. Expiation means to clear away the record, to make it as if it never existed. Expiation means that Jesus's sacrifice cleanses us from sin's pollution and removes the guilt of sin from us. The word expiation is found 94 times in the Old Testament, usually being translated by the word atonement. That word drives at the thought of making reconciliation between man and God. One key verse to help us see expiation in the NASV is in Numbers 35:33," So you shall not pollute the land in which you are, for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it."

    The great English Puritan Stephen Charnock in his book Christ Crucified says, "If He be our Lamb, we must be like Him, we must learn of Him. As He is the cause of our expiation, He must be the copy of our imitation. If expiation could be made by a creature for himself, in vain did God send His Son to be a propitiation for sin. Had man himself been sufficient for it, God's sending His Son had rather appeared an act of cruelty to Christ." Guilt is said to be expiated when it is visited with punishment falling on a substitute. Expiation is made for our sins when they are punished not in ourselves but in another who consents to stand in our stead. It is that by which reconciliation is effected. Sin is thus said to be "covered" by vicarious, or substitutionary satisfaction. Psalm 32:1,"How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

    Let us sink our roots by faith into Christ, through the gospel to be emotionally, and intellectually, and astonishingly staggered at the grandeur of God in the gospel, a love that surpasses comprehension. "Once we were not a people of God, now we are a people of God, once we had not received mercy, now we have received mercy". (1Pet.2:10) It was for us that Jesus endured the cross, suffered separation from His Father, and tasted of the bitterness of death. May the realization of this make us hate sin, and cry daily to Him for complete deliverance from it. And may the realization of grace so amazing constrain us to live only for Him, who loved us and delivered Himself up for us. Let us remember Paul's words in Col.2:13-14,"When we were dead in our transgressions and the uncircumcision of our flesh, He made us alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having CANCELED out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Elder Randy Slak