Friday, 28 February 2014

What happened at Christ's Atonement?

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It is sometimes hard to grasp that Jesus Christ did more than one thing for us; what he did cannot be reduced to a single explanation or principle.

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What Christ did could not be done by God the Father; and it could only be done by the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension - and also the atonement. It could not be done any other way except the way it was done.

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What Christ did could only be done voluntarily, by Christ's free choice to be incarnated as a mortal man, and to experience all that came after - step-by-step all the temptations, joys, sorrows, love and suffering - all chosen.

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Without Christ, when Men died their spirits would remained severed from their bodies (always maimed, no resurrection), their 'selves' would be incomplete, and their sins would be retained and have effect through eternity.

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If there had been no atonement, Men would have been resurrected to eternal life; but that life would not be Heaven, but instead an endless perpetuation of earthly life - with a continued accumulation of sin and the effects of sin, and no ability to escape the worst of people and the worst of their acts - it would therefore become an ever-worsening Hell.

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Christ's atonement freed us from that horrible possibility, and now we may be resurrected with perfected bodies and cleansed spirits: Christ absorbed our sins.

But what does this mean, how can it be understood?

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The atonement does not really make sense as a physical process - because it is essential that our acceptance and love of Christ be a voluntary choice.

That is the clue - it is a choice of a relationship.

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I understand the atonement to be a matter of making it possible for us to join the divine family of God.

It is a matter of a new, and perfected, and eternal, set of relationships as Children of God; living in the Family of God - potentially enjoying relationships with God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, our families, 'neighbours', and any Men who choose (or rather, who accept) this Heavenly life.

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The atonement makes it possible for these divine family relationships to be permanent (once we have chosen to accept them).

Without the atonement we might 'change our minds' or exercise our freedom of choice, our autonomous agency, to reject and attack these relationship (and make Heaven into Hell).

Without the atonement we might destroy good and embrace evil by our future choices.

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However, our cleansing and perfection done by the atonement makes it possible for our choice of good to be a permanent and binding choice - it is not just about Christ having absorbed and negated all past sins (wrong choices), but all possible future sins (wrong choices).

The atonement thus negates all false and fake realities.

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The atonement made it possible for us to be both free and safe. It made our salvation irrevocable.

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