What does the cross mean? What did it accomplish? How does the Christian meditate on such a thing?
How does theology inform our devotion to Christ? Isn’t it something written, consumed, and understood by people who appreciate reading three-inch-thick books and dead men of yore?
What about Reformed theology? Isn’t that the worst of all? Doesn’t it turn God into an arbitrary meany?
The most controversial point of Reformed theology has been and likely will remain particular redemption or definite atonement, usually known as limited atonement. In the TULIP acronym, it is the L. It describes the plan of God for the accomplishment of the crucifixion of Jesus. It states that the extent of the atonement reaches only those God elected to salvation.
Ephesians 5:25 states that Jesus died for his church, and John 10 speaks of Jesus working specifically for his sheep. When thinking about these texts in conjunction with God’s election of fallen people to salvation, one logically concludes Jesus’s cross served to save only those whom God foreknew.
My purpose today is not to defend the doctrine exegetically. I’m taking that as a given based on the above texts. Instead, I intend to provide encouragement for the Christian despite his sin in light of the cross.
All orthodox believers agree the cross paid the price for their sins. Often, this is spoken of generally, somewhat abstractly. On a good day, this proposition satisfies our hearts and causes us to give glory to God. But what about the bad days? What about the days when a memory seems to randomly come to mind? Maybe the memory recalls a failure or an old habit the Holy Spirit has helped one overcome. Perhaps the worst moment of one’s life surfaces in the mind. ‘
Many of us think in these moments, not me, my sin is too great. The cross surely cannot cover such a thing. Our heads know the falsehood of these verdicts, but our hearts remain troubled.
Enter our third doctrine of grace, the disputed L, better expressed as particular redemption or better yet, definite atonement. For the one who repents and believes, the work of Jesus on the cross specifically covers the sinner. God, who knows all, specifically sent Christ to atone for those he’s chosen. The repentant sinner’s sins, whatever they have been or will be, have been intentionally and unthwartably overwhelmed by the blood of Jesus.
The definite atonement accomplished by Jesus says, “Yes, sinner, that sin. Your worst moment.”
On this Good Friday, the day Christ Jesus hung cursed like an enemy of God and his people, the day the wrath of God came down on the Son of God, meditate on the fact that those sins you cannot overcome were crushed by the wrath of God they fully merited.
Your pornography habit.
Your gossiping tongue.
Your shady business practices.
Your harsh words to your spouse.
God has seen each of these and said, “These I will destroy with fury.” And he has; he purposed to do so on the cross. Salvation from these has not been made possible, Christ made salvation actual. Your sin’s severity will not surprise Almighty God. He saw, and he acted.
Sinner, take refuge in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you repented, turning from your sin? Have you believed Jesus is God’s Son, slain for you and raised by God from the dead? If so, the cross shouts down the accusations of the devil, for it has merited your freedom.
If you have not, make this your own. Call upon the merciful Son of God. Abandon your sin; receive the forgiveness of God. Possess the confidence found in Christ alone.