This week we explore what atonement means for us and how we respond to this free gift of salvation. Some excerpts are from The Meaning of the Gospel by Tim Keller.

Monday – Ephesians 2.8-10. We believe that Jesus made a full atonement for all our sins. Paul says that human redemption is not brought about by works. While there is no room for boasting, there is a place for our working. Before creation, God prepared for His children to do good works as an expression of their love for Him, appreciation of His grace, and the natural result of taking on His character. Do I believe that my practices (prayer, Bible reading, church attendance) are earning me favor with God rather than positioning me to receive more of Him?

Tuesday – Isaiah 53.4-6. Jesus lived the life we should live, not the rebellious life we do live. He did this in our place. We are not reconciled to God through our efforts, as in all other religions, but through His efforts. The atonement made it possible for us to trust in Christ for our acceptance of God, rather than in our own character or performance. Thank you Father that even though “we are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe, yet we are more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope” (Tim Keller).

Wednesday – Luke 15.25-32. Without this unique understanding of grace-salvation, God becomes a demanding taskmaster who is placated by back-breaking moral effort. If I think I have a relationship with God because I earned it, this is legalism. There is no joy, amazement, gratitude, tears, or celebration. Any effort to take away the idea of Christ’s atonement and replace it with simply living a moral life robs the gospel of its power to change us from the inside out. Begin your day dwelling on such a amazed and express your gratitude. Return here often.

Thursday – Titus 2.11-14. Religion operates on the principle: “I obey, therefore I am accepted.” The gospel operates on the principle: “I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey.” Keller expresses that a lack of deep belief in this gospel message is the main cause of spiritual deadness, fear, and pride in Christians. We do not get saved by believing the gospel and then grow by trying hard in our own efforts to live according to Biblical principles. God, help me to realize the gospel offers me not only the way to be reconciled to you, but also the way to become like you.

Friday – 1 John 2.1-2. The gospel is not just a wonderful plan for my life, but a wonderful plan for the world. It is about the coming of God’s kingdom to renew everything. This pattern creates an alternate kingdom, where there is a complete reversal of the values of the world with regard to power, recognition, status, and wealth. Father, as I know you more fully, may Your values become my values so that I may help to bring about Your alternate kingdom on earth.

Saturday – Luke 6.20-26. When we understand that we are saved by sheer grace, we stop seeking salvation from other things. The reversal of the cross liberates us from bondage to the power of material things and status in our lives. The gospel creates a people with a whole alternate way of being human. Racial and class superiority, accrual of money and power at the expense of others, yearning for popularity and recognition–all these things are marks of living in the world, and are the opposite of the mindset of the kingdom. Dear God, show me where I may be seeking salvation from anything other than You and the free gift you offer.