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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Atonement

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
I.  Introduction
    A.  A study of the word atonement is necessarily a study of the two 
        covenants.
    B.  A common misconception is that the Old Testament, especially the 
        law of Moses, was a system of law, and the New Testament is a 
        covenant of grace.
        1.  The Old Testament often promises grace to those who were 
            under its provisions, and the New Testament often speaks of 
            law and law keeping.
        2.  The English word grace occurs 37 times in the Old Testament 
            (King James Version).  The Hebrew word translated grace 
            is also translated favour, or some similar word, an additional 
            62 times in the Old Testament (King James Version), for a 
            total of 99 times in the Old Testament.
        3.  The English word grace occurs 112 times in the New Testament
            (King James Version).  The English word favour appears 6 times
            in the New Testament (King James Version), for a total of 128 
            times in the New Testament.
        4.  To say that the Old Testament is a system of law that 
            ignores or discounts grace is to show a superficial 
            knowledge of the teaching of the Bible.
        5.  To say that the New Testament is a system of grace and not 
            legal (legalistic) or law based is a failure to take into 
            account the whole of the teaching of the New Testament.  
            Paul said long after his conversion that he was under law to 
            God and to Christ (1 Cor 9:21); Faith establishes law (Rom. 
            3:31); where there is no law there is no sin (Rom. 5:13). 
            The gospel is called the law of the Spirit of life in Christ 
            (Rom. 8:2). We must fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). 
            The New Testament, full of grace and truth, is the perfect 
            law of liberty (James 1:25); a royal law (James 2:8); the 
            law of liberty (James 2:12); we are to be judged by the law 
            (James 2:12).
        6.  To say the New Testament is a system of grace and frees from 
            all law to God and Christ is to show a superficial knowledge 
            of the teaching of the Bible.
    C.  Some use John 1:17, "For the law was given through Moses; grace 
        and truth came through Jesus Christ."
        1.  Does this passage mean there was no truth in the law of 
            Moses?
        2.  Does this passage mean there was no grace in the law of 
            Moses?
        3.  Does this passage mean there is no law in the New 
            Testament - that we are not under law to God and Christ?
        4.  The verse is simply saying that under the law of Moses there 
            was no absolute forgiveness for all sin, but under Christ 
            there is such forgiveness.  The passage does not deny grace 
            under Moses nor law under Christ, but affirms that in Christ 
            we have super-abounding grace and all sin may be forgiven.
    D.  Note: if there is no law under Christ; and if sin is a 
        transgression of law (Rom. 5:13); then under Christ there is no 
        sin.  The conclusion is universal salvation.
II.  Atonement.
     A.  The word atonement is an Old Testament word.  It occurs 70 
         times in the King James Version; 76 times in the American 
         Standard Version; and 86 times in the New King James Version.
         1.  It never appears in the New Testament in either the 
             American Standard Version or the New King James Version; it 
             occurs only one time in the New Testament in the King James 
             Version (Rom. 5:11), and translates a word that everywhere 
             else in the King James Version in the New Testament is 
             translated reconciliation.
     B.  Atonement means to cover; the radical, root meaning of the 
         word is to conceal.  (See Strong's Exhaustive concordance).
         1.  The word is translated in the Old Testament pitched, appeased, 
             be pacified, purged, disannulled, and such like.
         2.  When God told Noah to build the ark he told him to "pitch 
             it within and without with pitch" (Gen. 6:14).
            (a)  The word here translated pitch is the same word 
                 translated atonement throughout the Old Testament.
            (b)  The idea was to cover it up with pitch -- hence to conceal.
     C.  The book of Leviticus frequently uses the word atonement to 
         describe the various sacrifices of the Mosaic Law.
         1.  The sacrifices of the law of Moses could not fully remove 
             all sin, and the unforgiven sins were passed over, 
             overlooked, or covered.
         2.  There was a passing-over of the sins done aforetime in the 
             forebearance of God (Romans 3:25). The times of ignorance 
             God once overlooked (Acts 17:30).
     D.  The sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary is not an atonement because 
         it does not passover sins, but forgives sins.  In Christ our 
         sins are removed--not covered.
         1.  The glory of the New Law is that is brings the removal, 
             washing away, of sins, whereas the Old Law could not do 
             that.  This is the major difference between the two 
             covenants, and explains why it is said that law came by 
             Moses but grace and truth by Jesus (See Heb. 8:8-12).
         2.  Under the Old Law sins were atoned (passed-over); under the 
             New Law sins are forgiven.
         3.  When Jesus died on the cross his blood flowed back to Eden 
             and all atoned sin was forgiven; his blood flows forward to 
             the end time and gives the possibility of forgiveness to all 
             (See Titus 2:11 and John 3:16).
         4.  "And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, 
             that a death having taken place for the redemption of the 
             transgressions that were under the first covenant, they 
             that have been called may receive the promise of the 
             eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15).
         5.  Vine says of atonement: "The explanation of this English 
             word as being at-one-ment is entirely fanciful." He calls 
             it "mercy-seat -- the covering of the ark of the Covenant."
     E.  Under the law of Moses there was a passing over of sins.  Under 
         Christ there is a forgiveness of sins.
         1.  When we obey his commands to believe and be baptized (Mark 
             16:16), we are actually forgiven.  Our sins are not just 
             covered over, but are removed. "And now why tarriest thou? 
             arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on 
             his name" (Acts 22:16).

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email: had@worldnet.att.net
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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