Saturday, February 25, 2012

40 Days of Atonement Feast - Days 3 & 4: Redeemed by Grace

I decided to start our study in Colossians thinking it wouldn’t take me long to get through this book. We are on day 4 and I’m only on verse 20 of Chapter 1…this book is full of atonement!

On Day 2 I studied the Preeminence of Christ and was so moved that I stayed there yesterday. This morning as I was looking forward to moving on I felt like there was still more to uncover here. So I decided to unpack verse 20 even more…especially since it starts off with “and through him”.

Colossians 1:20
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

I’m reading through the Reformation Study Bible (RSB) and the footnotes are really helpful. The following is written for verse 20: Humankind’s fall into sin brought with it the corruption of all creation, seen and unseen. Through Christ’s incarnation and atoning death, God’s righteousness is satisfied, peace between God and humankind is restored, the eventual glorification of the created order is assured, and the rebellious spirit beings have their powers limited.

I think I could spend the next week unpacking the atonement themes in this section! The ideas of incarnation, atoning death, righteousness satisfied, peace restore, glorification assured and rebellious spirits limited had me wanting to know more. I could define what each idea meant or represented but I wanted to know them deeply. So, I started looking up the cross-references and the first one mentioned is Romans 3:22-26 which interestingly enough is what I had permanently inked on my arm last summer.

So I jumped on over to Romans 3 and then realized I could spend a week here also! I love these verses, obviously!

Romans 3:22-26
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance He had passed of former sins. 26 it was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Again the Reformation Study Bible breaks it down in the footnotes:

Through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe – knowledge, mental assent, obedient trust, and reliance on Him (RSB).

My Response: I’m realizing that I throw “faith” around pretty often and at times may be desensitized to the enormity of what faith is and how much I really possess. Before I can bask in the richness of the cross, I first have to acknowledge (continually) that Jesus has been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, has given me the ability to respond (by choosing me), I have agreed with and chosen to trust this truth as Gospel, and now I put my “earthly” life in His hands moment by moment in complete reliance on Him.

Fall short of the glory of God – consequences of sin; made in the image of the glorious God (RSB).

My Response: I continually exchange God’s glory for my idolatrous heart and my ruined desires have led me to a distorted image of God’s divinity. I constantly want to define what I believe is good and 99.9% of the time involves my comfort, stability, and happiness while negating the peace and joy that I possess 100% of the time even in the midst of suffering and wrong-doing.

Justified – the opposite of condemnation. Declaration of the sinner to be just and it comes through the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is final and irreversible. We now share the same righteous status of Christ, with whom we are now united forever (RSB).

My Response: I fully get and have no trouble accepting that I am no longer subject to condemnation; God condemned His son in my place. I, however, struggle to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. Through my actions and behaviors, it is pretty evident that I do not fully see myself or my sin as ugly as it truly is. I often feel quite justified on my own merit rather than through the righteousness that was imputed to me. So gross!

By his grace as a gift – emphasizes the divine initiative and mercy in freely granting our salvation (RSB).

My Response: I don’t deserve this grace – I didn’t do anything to earn it and I can’t do anything to keep it. Yet my mind still wants to reason that I can somehow do something to share in the recognition.

Redemption – Freedom gained through the payment of a price; released from the former condition of bondage in sin. Accomplished through Christ’s death, the ransom price for our salvation (RSB).

My Response: Redeemed by Grace, for me, is a constant reminder of the beauty of the atonement. I had it tattooed on my arm, I chose this for my blog name, and it has always resonated with me. My sin has been paid for, redeemed at the Cross. I have been set free and given a new life free from a previous wrong-doing. It no longer binds me and it no longer identifies me. How amazingly wonderful is this truth?

Who God put forward – Christ died as a propitiatory sacrifice that satisfies the divine judgment against sinners, bringing about forgiveness and justification. Paul is careful to indicate that the sacrifice does not cause God to love us; the opposite is true as it was His love that caused to sacrifice his son (RSB).

My Response: God so loved that He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be in sweet union with Him!

By faith – Faith is the instrumental cause, not the ultimate cause, of justification (RSB).

My Response: Because of my faith, I am forever in union with Christ’s righteousness; it is my identity.

To show his righteousness – In dealing with Christ as sin-bearer and the human person as sinner, God does not compromise his own holiness, nor is the necessity of sin being atoned for. Yet He graciously provides a salvation that mankind was incapable of obtaining (RSB).

My response: God made a way for us to be forever reconciled for Him; we could not keep our part of the covenant. He had uphold both ends of the deal on our behalf.

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