Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Cleanses Us From Sin? Lessons On Atonement


"What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"

In a recent conversation with a friend and fellow pastor, I was compelled to share some insights on the atonement and under what basis and process that our sins are forgiven. In this dialogue, we look at Leviticus 16 as the backdrop for understanding what the bible calls the Day Of Atonement, or the day by Jewish tradition, the annual day when the sins of the nation would be forgiven. 

The Day Of Atonement or Yom Kippur was an annual day established in Lev. 23:26. The commands regarding the day and what sacrifices were supposed to take place were actually given in Lev. 16. This day,

the most holy day of the Jewish calendar, the sins between man and God are atoned for or removed. Therefore, it is a day of expiation (removal) of sins and union with God. The services begin and end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah with the shofar or ram's horn. The next two annual celebrations are as follows:
 
Jewish Year 5772: sunset October 7, 2011 - nightfall October 8, 2011  
Jewish Year 5773: sunset September 25, 2012 - nightfall September 26, 2012

Although during the 1st and 2nd temple period, there was supposed to be what was called daily sacrifices, the Day Of Atonement dealt with the ongoing condition and judgement of the person and nation annually for the complete year. In other words, it was the time to get right with God. Before I go into the dialogue, here is what the Jews themselves thought of the process and the work of the High Priest:

"For through this day, He will atone for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins before Hashem you will be cleansed."
(Vayikra 16:30)  

The Dialogue:

Now, the conversation that we were having centered around baptism. The assertion was that baptism in conjunction with faith and obedience, is the process by which one is made clean. Of course my position was in opposition to that assertion. Here is what I stated:

"If freedom from sins can be gained in a pool, with a blessing said over it, then there was no need for the shedding of Jesus blood. Most specifically, in traditional Apostolic doctrine, there is no consideration for the type of atonement that Jesus atonement was. A substitutionary atonement for all people. This type of atonement is found in Lev. 16. This would have been the precedent for not only Jesus actions, but also for what the disciples understood about sacrifice and blood atonement in general. In this chapter we find a bullock and ram of the first year, goats of the first year, a High Priest and a person who leads the scapegoat into the wilderness. You want to know why Peter preached baptism? This is the key and I am willing to believe that you have not heard this preached or taught before..."

{To stop there for a minute, what is in question is the understanding that Peter taught that repentance along with baptism brought about remission of sins according to Acts 2:38. Unfortunately, there are layers of confusion and assertions that have been developed as a result of the misinterpretation of Peter's message, but I will focus on one reason, the primary reason, why Peter could not have possibly preached or set forth the notion that a baptismal pool had regenerative power or authority. This is important and speaks directly to the work of Christ on the cross.}  

"In Leviticus (16), Aaron had to gather a young bullock fora sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.(v. 3) He was to do a ceremonial washing and put on his priests garments (v.4-5) [Now, you say...SEE...there's the baptism!] I say keep reading, because if that's baptism, it only reinforces my case because not one ounce of SIN has been removed yet..."
{Now this is very important and is in accord with what Paul clearly taught regarding the remission of sins. Remember Romans 10: 10 ~ "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Confession or( הִתְוַדָּ֣ה  or  yadah  or vehitvaddah or giving of thanks) was a Jewish concept based on the sins that had been atoned. Once the sacrifice was received within the heart, an open confession could be made. This "confession"  was where the symbolic transfer of sins occurred for the nation and for the people. Paul would have certainly understood this concept as it pertains to the day Of Atonement. This is why he includes it in his dialogue on the subject.}
"Let's proceed, then he (The High Priest) is to get 2 goats to place them before the tent (1 scapegoat and 1 sacrificial goat)(v.7)...Next we start dealing with sin...1st he takes the bullock and makes a "sin offering for himself and his house (v.11) and after some sprinkling of blood (not water) he kills the 1st goat "for the people" (v.15) and enters into the holy place to "make atonement for the holy place because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel" (v.16) He then goes further and sprinkles more blood to remit sin. Then look at verse 20-21. Aaron comes back to the live goat, and does this: "confess over him all the iniquities of Israel" (v.21) and gives him to a "fit man" to lead him out of the camp and into the wilderness alive."

"In verse 24 Aaron return(ed) to another ceremonial washing BEFORE he can continue into and among the congregation. But look back...SINS were remitted BEFORE this. In fact neither ceremonial washing even addressed sin. Only the shed blood did."

"Now look at the "fit man". He had taken out the goat right? When he comes back in v.26 he had to not only wash his clothes, but also bathe his flesh. What is the key here? The key is that the sins were remitted by the blood, the bathing came afterward, not to complete the remission, but for those who had done these things to enter into the camp. This is the exact understand that Peter, as a Jew, would have had...JESUS through his sacrifice had remitted the sins already!!! for the Nation!!! all one had to do now is get baptized as a means of entry into the body of believers NOT in order to be saved. I propose that every Jew present understood this and knew that baptism WAS NOT to remove sins...never had been and never will be...baptism was for entry into the camp AFTER the sins of the nation had been atoned."
{This was the focal point. Jesus taught the disciples to baptize in accordance with those who were made converts Matt. 28:19. That is without question, however the purpose for that baptism is rooted in 1- his work of atonement both for the nation and all mankind and 2- the scriptural directive regarding that atonement. The New testament commands were not done in a vacuum.} {This is about as clear as it can be. There was no remission of sins ever provided by ceremonial washing within scripture. the only thing that ever remitted sins was shed blood that was acceptable to God.}{The Day Of Atonement is full of ceremonial washings. However as I note, none of those washings or resultant baptisms remove or expiate sin. This is further evidence that baptism has a different purpose all together and can only be symbolic in it's purpose as it pertains to sins and sins being removed or covered}

Conclusion:

"As I stated the Victorian and King's English doesn't give us a good understanding of this, only when we look back can we find the jewel...Jesus said search the scriptures, for in them ye think you have eternal life, but they testify of HIM...That's what the atonement was about...a foreshadowing of what Jesus did and why he did it. This is what the Apostles knew and taught. Remissions of sins was always by blood, not natural water."
We'll simply conclude by scripture because it says it even more clearly now having this understanding:

Hebrews 9:19-28 ~"19-For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20-Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21-Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23-It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24-For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25-Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26-For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27-And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28-So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Blessed!

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