Monday, August 4, 2008

Thinking about Atonement

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 NIV
It seems that in the days of Oswald Chambers, about 90 years ago, already New Age thoughts we being accepted, for Chambers seems to spend a fair bit of time arguing against them. We are not gods and we are not naturally one with God. In our natural state, we are at enmity with God. We are opposed to him in defiance and rebellion. This is sin—something we are all born into. God does want oneness with us—just as he and Jesus are one—but that oneness isn’t the result of never doing wrong, or of reaching a state of emptiness through meditation. It comes only as a result of Jesus’ atonement for us to reconcile us to God. That reconciliation does away with the defiant rebellion in our hearts so that we can be in relationship with God.

Chambers writes:
If all Jesus came to do was to tell me I must have an unsullied career...then He but tantalises me. If He is simply a teacher, He only increase our capacity for misery, for He sets up standards that stagger us [e.g. “...anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”]. But the teaching of Jesus Christ is not an ideal, it is the statement of the life we will live when we are readjusted to God by the Atonement. The type of life Jesus lived, the type of character He expressed, is possible for us by His death, and only by His death, because by means of His death we receive the life to which His teaching applies.
Later he says, “There is no Christ FOR me if there is no Christ IN me.” It is only when I accept the gift of reconciliation and atonement and welcome Jesus to come inside and change me that I can begin to live the way he teaches. If my life does not manifest the presence of God by the way I live and speak, I need to question if I have truly accepted the gift he offers.

Lord God, I can’t do the good you want me to do unless I have accepted your gift of forgiveness and reconciliation and your Spirit lives in me. I can’t do it on my own. No matter how hard I try, without you I am hopelessly immersed in my own ways and my own desires that take me away from you. I have accepted your gift, Father, and I thank you for it. Fill me with your Spirit and keep me full and overflowing so that your presence in me is obvious to all I encounter.

*All non-biblical quotes are from "How to Think about the Atonement," in "Biblical Ethics" in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, pages 130, 131.

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