Updated: Apr 5, 2020
By: Pastor Matthew Mitchell
The saving work of Jesus is very important. Jesus was the only person who could make the payment that we owe to God. The payment Jesus made on our behalf has four different elements. The elements of our payment are that Jesus became our propitiation, became our redemption, became our atonement, and reconciled us to God. We will look at each of these and how they satisfied the wrath of God. Without God’s satisfaction we all would be separated from God for all eternity.
Jesus’ salvation is the payment to God’s satisfaction. Why did God need to be satisfied? In the beginning God had created a perfect human being. The day sin came into the picture God no longer had a perfect human being. The act of disobedience angered God. The act of disobedience took away what God had. God was angry because His perfect creation was no longer perfect. God demanded a replacement for what was taken away. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”(NASB) Death was the price for the disobedience. The problem, though, was that after Adam sinned he did not have the ability to pay for his own sin, because he was no longer perfect. The payment for sin had to be human, because we as humans have all sinned (Romans 3:23). The payment had to be perfect, because only something that is perfect could replace what was corrupted. Finally the payment had to be shed blood, because life is in the blood. A little was lost, but a life was demanded. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, because He met all three of the requirements. Not only did Jesus meet the requirement for sin that Adam, or we, could not, but His death had each of the elements to bring the satisfaction that God needs to forgive you of your sins.
The first element of Jesus’ saving work is “Propitiation.” Propitiation is the substitutionary work of Jesus Christ that satisfied the wrath of God. That is, Jesus taking our place and sacrificing His life so the penalty of sin that is demanded from God could be satisfied. First John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”(NASB) As we saw in the Tabernacle Study book, “The Salvation of God,” the Old Testament animal sacrificial system appeased God, but it did not satisfy God. Jesus’ propitiation satisfied God because it met all the requirements that we owe to God. This element of our payment took care of the satisfaction that we owed to God so that we no longer angered Him.
Through Jesus’ propitiation He was able to satisfy the second element in His saving work “Redemption.” The redemptive work of Jesus Christ was the act of Christ to buy back mankind from sin. God demanded a life for a life. A perfect life was corrupted by one act of sin, so a perfect life in sacrifice was demanded to satisfy this element of payment to God. Jesus Christ paid back the debt owed to God by sacrificing his perfect life as payment by dying on the cross in our place. First Peter 1:17-19 says, “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (NASB) Because life is in the blood it is the only payment that would buy us back.
When sin came in, it became our master. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (NASB) Before salvation we are all under the control, or mastery of sin. Sin owns us! Jesus came to satisfy God’s wrath so that He could buy us back. That which was created by God had to be bought back because sin enslaved us. Jesus’ laid down His own perfect life to be our substitute.
In Jesus buying us back from the mastery of sin He became our “Atonement.” The third element of Jesus’ saving work was to bear our punishment. The Atonement of Christ is that Jesus is the substitute who bears the punishment rightly due to all sinners, their guilt being charged to His account in such a way that He representatively bore their punishment and covered the sins of all who believe. Atonement is just like someone coming along and paying all your credit card debt. That would be nice! Romans 5:8-11 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Jesus satisfied the debt, and redeemed us by bearing our punishment. It was you who owed God. It was you who should have been on that cross. It was you who should have lost your life. But you were not even good enough to pay for your own sin. It was Jesus who said to His Father “Put their sin on my account. Put their wrong choices, habits, and depravity on the account of my life.” He who did not know sin, became sin so that you could have eternal life. He did not choose to sin, and lived a life of selflessness. It was Jesus’ pure love of shedding His perfect human blood for you that satisfied God.
Through bringing satisfaction to God, buying you back from sin, and being the payment for our sin that Jesus’ saving work brings us to the final element of His saving work called “Reconciliation.” Reconciliation is the forgiveness that Jesus Christ made available for those who repent and turn from themselves and their sin, and turn to Jesus Christ by accepting His death, burial, and resurrection in their place. By repentance being asked and forgiveness being given we are brought back into a relationship with God just as if we had never sinned.
Reconciliation is a two-fold process. Jesus’ atoning work made forgiveness available to all who would believe. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”(NASB) God did not wait for you to ask for His forgiveness to send His Son to be our propitiation. He did it before so that the very moment that we come to the place where we accept His atoning work that redeems us, we could be reconciled to God. The element of reconciliation is made up of forgiveness and repentance. To be reconciled one must first ask for forgiveness. The asking of forgiveness is our part. Jesus made the forgiveness available, but not automatic. Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” To do the will of the Father is first to admit that you sinned against Him. Second, to believe that His Son paid the price. Finally, third, to confess your sins and believe that God raised Jesus from the grave. Repentance is the change in mind that results in our change in action. We need to ask for His forgiveness. When we repent and ask for forgiveness God is faithful to give you that forgiveness.
See, we are saying to God that I am not going to live my sinful life from now on. God is saying then I will not remember that sinful life. Forgiveness cannot be given without repentance. When this is all said and done, reconciliation happens as if the life of sin never happened. This is what Jesus Christ brings to every believer. He has made forgiveness possible through His death. When the Holy Spirit convicts our heart and we turn to Jesus for salvation it is Jesus who brings us to the Father. The Father then forgives us and our relationship is restored as if we had never sinned against God.
The saving work of Jesus Christ is absolutely needed and amazing. What you and I could not do, God did by sending His only Son. The only way that we could have a relationship with God is through the four elements of Jesus’ saving work. The only way you and I could be saved from our life of sin is through God making the way possible. God paid His own price so that you and I could be saved from our sin. Jesus is the only way. Keep looking to Jesus.