Language of the Cross (1): Overview

Posted by Nathan Moore on

My stated goal in the forthcoming series is to describe as clearly and briefly as possible the “nature of the atonement,” or what I am calling, The Language of the Cross. I will give a brief overview in this first post and then briefly expound upon each descriptor in future posts.

I will explore four important words that are packed with meaning in the Scriptures. Without these four words, one is unable to understand what really happened on the cross and why Jesus had to die. These four words are: Sacrifice, Propitiation, Reconciliation, and Redemption. Together they make up the Language of the Cross.

Briefly, here is what each of them mean:

  1. Sacrifice – Christ suffered and died as the completion of the Old Testament picture of sacrifice in which there was no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.
  2. Propitiation – Christ’s sacrifice pacified or satisfied the wrath of God that was aimed towards sinners.
  3. Reconciliation – Christ’s death undid the separation between Man and God that was caused by sin.
  4. Redemption – Christ’s work served as a ransom by which He purchased sinful man out of captivity caused by sin. 

The work of Christ on the cross cannot implore too much thought, gratitude, or awe. But as 1 Cor. 13:12 reminds us, we only know how in part and in fact our knowledge of Christ’s work on the cross is really as J.I. Packer says, “knowledge of a mystery.”

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