Monday, August 4, 2008


My wife and I went to see the movie “Atonement” when it was first released. It is a movie I would highly recommend. One caveat. Spend some time before viewing with any old Monty Python or Benny Hill episodes to acclimate yourself to the common language that separates us from our English brethren. OK..OK.... “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Fawlty Towers” episodes will work equally well. Without this acclimation one will find it very hard, at times, to understand the English language as it is so proficiently spoken.... by the English.

Without giving away the entire story, it is the tale of a pre-adolescent girl who secretly sees a scene unfold before her eyes between her older sister and her sister’s boyfriend. As is often the case she makes a hasty judgment about what she has just witnessed and in the course of the events, which immediately follow, accuses the boyfriend of an atrocious deed, which, in reality, was not committed. Because of this accusation the course of three lives, including her own are radically changed forever. The rest of the movie, which spans a time period of approximately 65 years, is spent attempting to make atonement for this sin committed when she was merely thirteen years old.

All of which brings me to another Atonement, one with eternal consequences. As a layman and a student of the Word, here is my understanding. This was an atonement made for many, an atonement for the Church, the ekklesia. This was an atonement for His sheep. And.... this is the basic Gospel...Christ died for His sheep. “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep,.... I lay down my life for the sheep.” (Jo 10: 14-15) In John chapter 17 he says, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Here we see two priestly functions, one sacrificial and one intercessory. The scope of both are identical. He prays for the sheep which the Father has given Him and He lays down His life for the sheep which the Father has given Him. Unlike the atonement in the movie in which a futile attempt is made to atone for a single wrong, the atonement Christ made is not only efficient, i.e., it accomplishes exactly what it intends to accomplish..(for He shall save His people from their sins, Matt 1:21), but also is sufficient for all the sin of those for whom it was intended. (All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; Jo 6:37) (....the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt 20:28) (..Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Rom 4:7-8)

Now, I love a lot of folks that have come into my life. But,....there is one very special love that I have. I love my wife like I love no other. My love for her is a ”special love” that cannot even compare to my love for any other. Christ also has a special love that is reserved only for those whom the Father has given Him. The apostle Paul admonishes husbands, “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Eph 5:25). His is the example of a discriminating love that lavishes itself only upon those whom the Father has given Him, His Bride...the Church. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Jo 10:27, 28) The gospel call goes out to all....Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;.. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts2:38ff)

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal
no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
(From “Rock of Ages”-Augustus

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. (Ps 104:31)

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