“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16)
To those of us who have accepted Christ and been born again, God has bestowed upon us His unmerited favor and put us in the position of grace because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
And because we are in this position of grace, God wants to manifest the power of grace so that we can abound to every good work.
He wants to give “grace for grace”.
This is helped by our understanding and having faith in the “atonement”.
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Rom. 5:11)
In the Greek, the word translated “atonement” in the King James Version actually means “the exchange”. This “atonement” or “exchange” happened at Calvary.
The Bible teaches us that before a new covenant can be established, the old covenant has to be fulfilled. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the old covenant which was the Law of Moses.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Mat. 5:17)
The Bible says that sin is “the transgression of the law”, but that Jesus committed no sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Therefore, Jesus fulfilled the law in all points.
The Law of Moses promised that there would be certain blessings bestowed upon anyone who kept or fulfilled the law and did not transgress it.
“And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” (Deu. 28:2)
Among the blessings that would be given to those who fulfilled the law were long life, prosperity, health, and righteousness.
The law could not be fulfilled and blotted out of the way in order that a new covenant could take its place until these promises were bestowed. God says, “If you do this, then I will do this.” This is what constitutes a “covenant” or “contract”.
And yet we see Jesus, who rightfully earned these blessings by fulfilling the law, but not receiving them.
The law promised long life, yet Jesus gave His life at the young age of 33. The law promised prosperity, but Jesus said that “the son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.”
The law promised health and sickness removed from their midst, yet Jesus “took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses”.
Jesus earned these blessings but did not receive them. Why?
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Cor. 5:21)
Because all of mankind had transgressed the law, man deserved the curses of disobedience. By being the only man to fulfill the law, Jesus deserved the blessings.
Jesus willingly rejected the blessings contained in the law and accepted the curses, so that He could transfer the blessings of His fulfillment to those of us who have believed on Him through the cross.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10)
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” (Gal. 3:11-12)
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (Gal. 3:13)
This is the atonement, the “exchange”.
This is where faith for grace lies.
I am not blessed because I was faithful to pay my tithe or give an offering. I can expect to be blessed because Jesus fulfilled the law for blessings but rejected the reward for that fulfillment in order to pass it to those who believe.
I cannot expect to be healed because I have been faithful to work for God and now He owes it to me. I can expect to be healed because Jesus earned it by fulfilling the law and rejected it so that I can receive it.
I am not righteous because of my holy lifestyle, but I am righteous in the sight of God because Jesus became cursed so that I could have His righteousness.
What freedom from all self- dependency! This answers all of my questions:
Why would God hear me?
Why would God answer my prayers?
How could God use me?
The answer is because of the atonement, because of the exchange done through Calvary.
As the Apostle Paul said,
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Php. 4:13)