Gateways to the Atonement

This sermon clip sums up the idea behind my @ONE series at church this Lent season.

gates2

We have been talking about the Atonement.  I compared the atonement to the city of Jerusalem. In the center of the city is the place where people could meet God.  But one had to get there and to get into the city you had to enter one of the gates.

In the same way, the Atonement is the work of God that allows us to know God’s forgiveness and presence.  It is what restores what was broken and reconciles those who are far apart.

The Atonement is the truth that Christ died for us.  By the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus we have the gift of Salvation.

            We who have come to Jesus and by Jesus have come to know the grace of God, have each come in a different way.  These are like the gates of the city.  Our goal is to get to the place of God’s presence, but we are drawn in by one or another gateway into the city.

What are these gateways?

  • Ransom – sin has humanity in its power. It is like a slave master and God purchases our freedom in Jesus. Some know the atonement first through the payment that brought us freedom.
  • Reconciliation – sin has broken the relationship God gave us at the start – we are not friends but enemies of God. By his death for us, Jesus bridged the gap between God and sinners and make reconciliation possible.
  • Substitution – Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away our sins –we may have become aware of our sinfulness first and rejoiced in the substation of Jesus.
  • Satisfaction – If we have any idea of God’s holiness – which is hard for us to understand because we live in a culture that celebrates and makes money off of unholiness of every kind. God’s holiness is a treat to us because of our unholiness. Those who know the fear of God’s wrath are drawn to the idea that Jesus bore the full measure of our punishment.
  • Rebirth – those who are spiritually dead may not even be aware that they are. Nicodemus did not know he needed to be reborn.   Many have come through the offer if New Birth – the John 3:16 gate.
  • Shed Blood – we saw how the people of Israel offered sacrifices every day, week and year for hundreds of years. This shed blood made atonement, but which had to be repeated over and over. Jesus death and his shed blood is the once and final payment for sin.  No longer do we need to go to the temple to offer scrrivice, but we need only believe in Jesus to be saved.

These are all parts of one reality that we can call the Atonement.  Just as one Jerusalem had many gates, and just as one diamond has many facets, so the Atonement has different parts, but when we receive it we receive all of it.  Let’s say you drive into Madison and you came by way of East Washington.  Can you say you know Madison if that is all you see. To be a real citizen of the city you need to know all the important places in the city.  If you know Madison, you totally get this map:

madison

So with Salvation, to know what Christ has done, you need to know all the important parts of the work of Atonement.

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Two Book Retreats – the Bridges Class

willybridgeReaders of this blog will have seen posts about the two books of revelation, nature (general revelation) and scripture (special revelation.)  I have started a small side business to promote the idea that we can explore nature artistically and spiritually.  The website is here: Two Book Retreats

Together with an artist, Nancy Macgregor, we will offer the class “Bridges along the Yahara River” which combines learning how to do watercolor sketches with an appreciation of this natural setting in central Madison and an opportunity for spiritual reflection.

Further information is available here – Bridges Class

The Side Rock Cafe – my Smoky Mountain retreat

a quiet place in the Smoky Mountains

a quiet place in the Smoky Mountains

 

I have a restful week in the Smoky Mountains as part of a Sabbath Rest gathering.  One of my activities was to stop and look at the world so check out my watercolor sketches here .

This sketch is from along a hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains – I did not get to the big falls, but had a pleasant lunch at my own personal “Side Rock Cafe.”

I plan to do some exploring of this theme here at Fresh Read – while we are not under the legal regulations of the Sabbath, we continue to have the invitation, which we can take at any time where the Lord says, “just stop and spend some time with me, with my words and works.”

If you are in Madison and want to try a local version, Two Book Retreats will be offering a class this June and July along the Yahara River – see the link here.

 

Drawing From Creation – August 23-25

BlakeCreationThe Bible begins with creation.  We are most familiar with the majestic narratives of Genesis 1 and 2.  Creation is presented in a variety of viewpoints within the Hebrew Scriptures. It is further developed in the New Testament through the teachings of Jesus and in the book of Revelation.

In this weekend retreat we will explore the Bible’s rich witness. We will begin with Genesis 1 and 2.  Then individuals will select from other passages such as: Psalm 8, Psalm 104, Job 28, Proverbs 8, Isaiah 40, Matthew 6 and Revelation 21 and 22.  Participants will learn a new way to study scripture and will draw insights to our place in the world.

One way to deepen our understanding of Creation is to make a journal recording our personal responses in art and writing to our study of the texts.  Nancy Macgregor, a Madison artist and instructor, will help each participant distil their thoughts and experiences into simple pictures and words.  This way all will have a continuing memory, visual and written, of what has been learned.  This is possible for all, artists and non-artists alike.

http://twobookretreats.com/2013/07/06/drawing-from-creation-august-23-25/