Atonement means making amends or reparation for something that happened in the past. Since Christians believe that Christ is God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, we believe he is perfect. He exists, from everlasting to everlasting, in total perfection. For what would he need to atone?
To understand, we must consider the nature of God who is love. As we know from our own experience, love desires to be shared, to be given and to be received in return.
So it is with God. He first created angels. They were highly developed, spiritual beings who lived in heaven. They had great intelligence. They were given free will, in order to be able to return the Creator’s love.
Unfortunately, some of them became proud and rebelled. Lucifer and his followers started a great war in heaven. They were ultimately cast out by Michael and the good angels. Still desiring to share his infinite love, God then created another race of beings: humans.
He made a special place for them called Earth. It wasn’t heaven but it had every amenity for the humans to be perfectly happy. After they had proven their love and loyalty, God planned to receive them into his heavenly home.
Unfortunately, the first two beings he made, often called Eve and Adam, disobeyed God. Because they were not as intelligent or as highly evolved as the angels, they were not punished as severely.
However, they were indeed punished with sickness, death, and other grim realities, which plagued them every day of their earthly lives. Worst of all, after Adam and Eve sinned, the gates of heaven were locked to humans.
The all-perfect God had been seriously offended. Furthermore. Adam’s and Eve’s descendants, tainted by their first parents’ sin, added to the ever-growing accumulation of offences against the Creator.
However, the all-loving God did not give up on his creatures. He promised to send a Savior to save the people from their sins.
He chose a small group of people, the Israelites, and gradually revealed his presence and his laws. The Savior was to come from this small, select band of nomadic people.
Who would be great enough to atone for all the transgressions? Certainly not a human, everyone, as soon as he or she reached the age of reason, sinned. Even the angels lacked the holiness and perfection necessary to make amends for humanities’ transgressions.
Only God himself could be a perfect-enough sacrifice to atone for sin. It was agreed that Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, would come to Earth, and suffer and die to make up for the sins of the humans. It was done.
Jesus’ sacrifice was so great that it not only made amends for all the sins from the time of Adam and Eve, but also for all the transgressions of everyone who would ever live on Earth until the end of the world.
Now, we need only express sincere sorrow for sin and God, who loves us, immediately forgives them and we return to his friendship. If we die in this happy state, we are received into heaven. Because of suffering and death of Jesus Christ, atonement for sin has already been made.
Jesus is the Savior of everyone who has ever lived on earth, or who will ever do so in the future. His love for humanity equals that of the Father and the Spirit. We should never cease to thank him for his sacrifice.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13