Also blogging at

« Putting My Jobs on the Line | Main | Sunday's Hymn »
Monday
Dec292008

Theological Term of the Week

sacrifice
Used as a description of the work of Christ on the cross, this is a way of looking at Christ’s death that recalls the Old Testament system of sacrifices in which the blood of animals was shed and offered to make atonement for sin. Viewing Christ’s death as a sacrifice emphasises that it is the fulfillment of the pattern set out by the Old Testament sacrifices and “accomplishes in reality what the old sacrifices pointed to but could not do.”1

  • From scripture:
    And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 ESV)
    [Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26 ESV)
  • From The 1689 London Baptist Confession, Chapter 8, Of Christ the Mediator:

    The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.

  • From The Atonement: It’s Meaning and Significance by Leon Morris:

    No more than any of the other ways of looking at the cross does this one tell us the whole story. But it is an important chapter. It brings out the meaning of the cross in its own distinctive way. We may say that it puts emphasis on these things at least.

    1. Sin is defiling
    In an ancient sanctuary everything was arranged to put emphasis on the holiness of God. Even ceremonial faults were seen as defiling and sin was much more so. Sin stained the worshipper and made him unclean. Sin meant that he was not fit to approach the holy God.

    2. Purification
    When a sacrifice was offered the worshipper was cleansed. Whether it was a ceremonial defilement or a moral lapse, the offering of sacrifice was seen as purging the sin so that the worshipper was now in a state of purification. His sin was completely removed.

    3. The death of the victim counts
    In a sacrifice the blood must be manipulated in prescribed ways and part or all of the animal must be burnt on the altar. All this speaks of the necessity for death, nothing less, if sin is to be put away. Sin is not some trifle, to be airily dismissed with no effort. Sin means death and nothing less suffices to take it away.

    4. Salvation is at a cost
    David showed an insight into the meaning of sacrifice when he said to Araunah, ‘I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offering that cost me nothing’ (2 Sa. 24:24). The use of the terminology of sacrifice means that the way of forgiveness is costly. It is not until we come to the death of Jesus on the cross that we can see the full meaning of costliness. but inherent in the concept is that forgiveness comes only at cost.

    5. Spiritual sacrifices.
    The New Testament writers look for a response to the sacrifice of Christ. The believer must offer himself as a living sacrifice, which certainly means that his whole way of life is to be different because of what Christ has done for him. The sacrifice of Christ means that the way of salvation is free; but it does not mean that it is cheap.

    But the really important thing is that Christ has made the perfect sacrifice, and ‘there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.’

Learn more:

  1. J. I. Packer in Concise Theology: Sacrifice: Jesus Christ Made Atonement for Sin (pdf)
  2. Shawn M. Hall: The Death of Christ: Fulfillment of the Old Testament Sacrifices
  3. Michael Lawrence: Biblical Theology: Sacrifice (mp3)

1 The Atonement: It’s Meaning and Significance, Leon Morris, page 63.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend