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“The Atoning Sacrifice for Our Sins”
1 John 2:2


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Second Sunday of Easter—April 19, 2009

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our text is the last verse of today’s Epistle Reading from the second chapter of 1st John: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

You won’t find the words “atone”—A-T-O-N-E—or “atonement” in the King James Version of the Bible.  That’s because in 1611, when the King James Version was translated into English, “atone” as we know it hadn’t yet become a word.  They were still using the original spelling of this English word, which was actually two words: A-T (space) O-N-E—“At one.”  That is actually what the English word “atone” originally meant: to be “at one,” to take some action which brings two parties together, making them “at one” with each other.

That is what Jesus Christ has done for you: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Because of our sin, we were separated from God.  As Isaiah says, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God . . . For your hands are stained with blood and your fingers with guilt.  Your lips have spoken lies and your tongue mutters wicked things  . . . Your deeds are evil deeds . . . Your thoughts are evil thoughts.”

Because of our sin, we deserve to be separated from God for all eternity, separated from God in hell.  “Depart from me, you evildoers, into the eternal fire.”

This year is the 20th anniversary of the breaking down of the Berlin Wall.  Like the historic breaking down of that physical barrier, Jesus Christ has broken down the spiritual barrier separating you from God.  As St. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”  Because Jesus paid for your sins with his life and death, you are forgiven; God does not count your sins against you.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, you are justified, made right in the sight of God.  “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

St. Paul says in Romans, “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”  Trust in the saving power of Jesus’ blood for your forgiveness and salvation.  Through Jesus’ blood and merit, you are at peace with God.  The sacrifice of Jesus atones for your sins, the sacrifice of Jesus makes you “at one” with God.  As St. Paul says in Colossians, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  God is not angry with you; you are at peace with God through your Lord Jesus Christ.  “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

What does it mean to “atone”?  To take some action which brings two parties together, making them “at one” with each other.  That is what Jesus Christ has done for you, by his atoning sacrifice, reconciling you to God and making you “at one” with him. 

Amen.

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