Robert Griffith | 5 December 2023
Robert Griffith
5 December 2023


Did Jesus actually accomplish a once-and-for-all atonement and, as a result, set sinners everywhere right with God?

Or did Jesus’ work merely make it possible for sinners to enjoy this atonement if they follow through, correctly and precisely, so that they complete what Jesus only started? The Apostle Paul answers that question:

2 Corinthians 5:19  “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ …”

From the moment of the first human sin and even before, restoring right relationship between sinners and God was top priority on God’s personal list of things to do. This job was too important to delegate it to any angel, much less to any mere mortal. God assigned this task to Jesus of Nazareth, His anointed Servant and incarnate Son. And when Jesus carried out this job, He accomplished it once and for all.

The Old Testament story of Israel provides a helpful analogy. When God was ready to liberate the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, He did not execute a series of regional rescues. He certainly did not send Moses through Israelite neighbourhoods passing out Wilderness maps, or distributing instructions on making a dry path through the Sea, then releasing all the water and drowning a few Egyptian soldiers in the bargain.

No at all! With one mighty sequence of divine demonstrations, God delivered all His people from slavery in Egypt. At Sinai, He identified Himself as the God Who had done that very thing, and He informed the liberated Israelites how to live henceforth in response to the gracious thing He had done on their behalf.

In a similar way, we announce that God has set the world at-one with himself through Jesus, urging hearers not to “receive the grace of God in vain” but to “be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1).

In other words, we beg the world not to reject their reconciliation by continuing to live as if nothing had even happened. Everyone is included but not everyone finally enjoys God’s incredible gift. Those who entrust themselves to God in Christ will not perish, but those who knowingly and persistently refuse to believe God will remain in that reality.

Some Christians struggle with the ‘once-and-for-all’ reality of our salvation. Deep down, believe that’s because we want to have come say in own salvation.  We are happy to give God 99% of the credit for our new life in Christ, but our fallen nature still cries out to hang  on to the 1% and believe that we had something to do with this incredible transformation.

Our salvation and reconciled relationship with God is a gift, effected by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Either we believe that and receive the reality of that gift – or we don’t. We didn’t deserve it; we didn’t earn it; we didn’t barter for it with our obedience or repentance; everything (including repentance) was a free gift from God, by His grace and for His glory – achieved once and for all, by Jesus.

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