A More Complete Vision
The question, Did Christ die for my sins so that I can go to heaven? assumes something that is correct, but not complete. Christ died for our sins, and we do go to heaven when we die, but that’s not the ultimate vision of Scripture.
The problem is that that’s working with a two-chapter story: fall and salvation. We have sinned, God saves us, and we go to heaven when we die. But the problem is when you look to Scripture, you have the fall and salvation, but you have creation and redemption outside of that.
And so we have to remember that we’re created by God, the earth is good, and we are fallen, but the story of Scripture is not one of removing our souls from earth so that we can dwell in heaven for all of eternity in a disembodied experience. No, Scripture is not about taking us from earth to heaven. It’s about the renewal of heaven and earth under the kingship of Christ.
So when we talk about the doctrine of atonement, we understand that Christ died for our sins, making us at one with God. That’s where the word atonement comes from. We’re made “at one” with God.
But we have to remember that it comes within a broader story of bringing heaven and earth together. So you could say that through the cross we experience atonement with God within a broader story of the at-one-ment of heaven and earth. Through the cross God is uniting all things in his Son under his gracious reign.
Jeremy Treat is the author of The Atonement: An Introduction.
What is the doctrine of atonement and what does it mean for us?
In our sin, we—who were created to know, love, and obey the God of all glory—stand guilty and condemned before him; we cannot save ourselves.
Definite atonement has practical applications for life and mission
The Reformers laid the foundation, helping the next generation or two to present a mature doctrine of definite atonement.