Adding to the Atonement, Part 1

Sin, Sickness and Shortage

When Christ died on the cross for our sins, what things did he make available to us? Was it just sin that He atoned for? Or, was it sin, sickness, and financial shortage? In a recent conversation with a man whom I greatly admire, these questions arose.

His thoughts on the matter were that Jesus’ atoning work on the cross effectively put things back as they were before the Fall for those who believe. In other words, it did not place you in a right standing with God only, it also made your earthly life parallel the experience of life that Adam and Eve experienced before their sin.

We didn’t get into much detail about the specifics of what it meant to experience such a life, but I could safely assume that he didn’t mean that believers were placed back into the garden to eat the fruit and run around naked (Gen. 2:8-25). Eden was demolished and it is illegal to run around in your birthday suite. Of course, there are other things like: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9), enjoyment of interaction with all animals and beasts (Gen. 2:20), talking snakes (Gen. 3:1), and more.

These things are not made new (or made like they were) as man is since they are not able to believe (or don’t even exist today). God cursed the ground and it will remain cursed until it is “burned up and dissolved” with fire (2 Pet. 3:7,10). The same goes for the animals and the rest of our natural world. Rather, I think he is referring to the state of enjoyment that Adam and Eve once experienced in their bodies.

Admittedly, I have a hard time understanding how one could enjoy the pre-Fall state of life without other things like nature and animals being changed as well. If Adam was not in a state of sin, but everything else was, then he would still suffer the thorns and thistles, sweat of labor, and eat the plants of the field (Gen. 3:17-19). He would also suffer the attacks of wild animals, winds of catastrophic storms, and other calamities.

Then, if it were not enough to suffer nature and animals, Adam would also suffer his wife, his friends, his family, and those whom he has never met. If people around him were not made new then Adam would still have to endure robberies, persecution, murder, and just plain meanness.

I think that if we should enjoy life as it were before the Fall, then God would also need to make all things new outside of our bodies. Of course, this is not to mention that Adam also enjoyed in-person visitation and conversations with God which we do not experience (Gen. 2:17; 3:8). However, if he means that believers can experience such tranquillity within, he may be closer to a good point than initially considered.

Consider that today, believers can experience a joy and peace that might be comparative to the joy and peace that Adam experienced. I would assert that in one sense, we have a greater joy and peace since we are on this side of the cross. But the nature of such joy and peace might be similar – namely, not arousing God’s anger but enjoying Him.

The joy that we have now is divinely given. That is to say, that is produced and derived by what Jesus has done for us by reconciling us to the Father. This kind of experience is not the product of our current living conditions. A fleshly joy comes from when we score the winning touchdown for the team or accomplish some feat to be admired. Fleshly joy is dependent upon our living situations and is subject to change.

The new joy, that we have in Christ, is not subject to change. It is firmly grounded in the soil of the atonement. Christ paid the price for our sins once for all. So for eternity we are joyful because our eternity matters most. For this reason, we can have joy even when we fail at our earthly endeavors, are mocked by our peers, or suffer a terrible illness like cancer.

If that is what he means by being made like Adam before the Fall, then he has a good point. However, it was suggested that the joy is not just the fruit of having eternal security and future glory. It is also the fruit of earthly pleasure. In specific, he remarked that sin, sickness, and financial shortage was atoned for by Christ. He believed that Christ made available good health and wealth as much as He did salvation.

In other words, he added sickness and shortage to the atonement for sin. He argued this by referring to Isaiah 53:5, John 10:10, and 1 John 3:8. And using these in reverse order, he pointed out that Jesus destroyed the works of the devil which include sickness and poverty, gave Christians abundant living which is enjoying healing and prosperity, and this was all accomplished on the cross because Christ suffered it for on our behalf.

In the next few articles, we’ll take a look at these passages and the logic provided in order to distinguish what we do have from what we don’t have in Christ.

Posted by Jacob Abshire on July 16th, 2009 - 11:10 pm
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