Understanding the Bible 31: Explaining the Atonement – How the Cross Saved the World!

At last we put all of the pieces together, and I offer my explanation of the atonement –  how it is that Jesus’s death and resurrection fulfills the covenant with Abraham and accomplishes the salvation of the world.  It was not by satisfying a wrathful God (as though God was saving us from himself!).  Nor was it by satisfying justice (as though God is less than sovereign and beholding to a moral category!).  Rather, salvation was achieved when love was restored to a system from which it is both essential and lacking.  That is to say – following the work of St. Augustine – sin is not a presence, but an absence.  Thus, the only cure for the curse of sin is for love to be restored, which I suggest is precisely what happened when the God of love loved his enemies by not resisting their violence at the cross.  It was by “turning the other cheek” that Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses, restored love to primacy and – as the one faithful Israelite – fulfilled the covenant.

This is the moment we have been building to for 30 weeks!  And I hope that after this sermon much of the biblical story will come into sharper focus.  Once we know “the butler did it” – and how he did it – the rest of the novel finally comes together.

From here we will be able to turn to Act 4 of the biblical narrative:  Jesus’s establishment of the church!


This is a sermon that was originally presented at Canvas (a Presbyterian church in Irvine, CA), April 20, 2014 (Easter). To learn more about Canvas, click here!


To receive future episodes automatically, simply subscribe by clicking below:


StitcherIcon              Link to iTunes Subscription




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top