Monday, June 25, 2012

The Atonement

The Belgic Confession of Faith

Article 21: The Atonement

We believe that Jesus Christ is a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek—made such by an oath—and that he presented himself in our name before his Father, to appease the Father’s wrath with full satisfaction by offering himself on the tree of the cross and pouring out his precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, as the prophets had predicted.

For it is written that “the punishment that made us whole” was placed on the Son of God and that “by his bruises we are healed.” He was “like a lamb that is led to slaughter”; he was “numbered with the transgressors,”45 and condemned as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, though Pilate had declared that he was innocent.

So he paid back what he had not stolen,46 and he suffered—the “righteous for the unrigheous,” 47 in both his body and his soul—in such a way that when he sensed the horrible punishment required by our sins “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.”48 He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”49

And he endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.

Therefore we rightly say with Saint Paul that we “know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified”;50 we “regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.”51 We find all comforts in his wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means to reconcile ourselves with God than this one and only sacrifice, once made, which renders believers perfect forever.

This is also why the angel of God called him Jesus—that is, “Savior”—because he would save his people from their sins.52

45. Isa. 53:4-12
46. Ps. 69:4
47. 1 Pet. 3:18
48. Luke 22:44
49. Matt. 27:46
50. 1 Cor. 2:2
51. Phil. 3:8
52. Matt. 1:21

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