Salvation: Atonement is Union

“You are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, provided you share in His sufferings so that you may also share in His glory.”

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign upon the earth.”

“All things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Salvation is union with God in the Incarnation of the Word. It is called salvation because we have fallen from that union, because being restored to that union for us now means being saved from sin, being healed from the disease of sin.

God is Real. God is Truth. God is not less real, less true, less substantial than the physical things we meet around us, but more real, more true. He is YHWH, the One Who Is. He is Love. The purpose for which He made man is union with Him in Love, in Truth.

Sin is the rejection of this union, the rejection of Love, of Truth, of Life. It is man’s desire to live in, of, and by himself, to know good and evil for himself and so to become a little god, instead of to know Love, to know the Good, and so to be united with the Godhead forever. Sin is not a merely or primarily legal offense. It has nothing to do with human legal systems and human penal systems which are the result of the Fall, built out of the fact that sin has made us live in a lying and illusory world, where to be and to say are not the same, where something may be declared and not be true, where something may be considered as if it were one thing and be another. Human penal systems are affected and effected by sin throughout; they involve the fact that justice in our world is broken by sin; things are often not seen for what they are; penal, human punishments are not inherently, but only superficially or tangentially related, if they are related at all, to the crime. Penal ‘justice’ is not like God’s justice, which is the declaration and revelation of a thing as it is.

The Atonement means that God, in Love, through Christ the Word, has joined Himself to the human race and to human persons in that race. The Atonement means the Incarnation: perfect Holiness taking on Himself the nature of the race that sinned that His perfection, which being true perfection is immutable, should restore the nature, the race, whoever in that race will be joined to Him. It means that He suffered the sin, the horror, the diseases and sorrows, of the Fall, and that by His Holy Suffering the unholiness is burned up in the purity of His triumphant suffering and all that remains is redeemed and made a way of redemption: when the King has suffered, suffering is royal; when the Holy has suffered, suffering is holy. Immutable Life became one with the Dying and the Dead. Being one with them, He suffered and bore their Death. Being Life Immutable and Eternal He conquered Death and became the Resurrection of all who are one with Him: for the oneness of Immutable Life with the Dying assures His death, how much surely will the oneness of the Dying Ones with the Resurrection become their Life!

The Atonement is not a penal atonement. A penal atonement could not heal our sin. A penal atonement could not unite us with Life. Certainly, He bore our iniquities and our diseases: but it was not arbitrary. He suffered by oneness with us: not by taking on a punishment that was distinct enough from our sins that we could be delivered from the punishment without the sins themselves being done away with so that they are no more!

We could not be freed from sin, we could not be made alive with Christ, by a justification that is merely forensic or legal. The declaration of God that those in Christ are just is not a legal declaration: it is a true declaration: it is truth: it is, in fact, nothing else than the fact that those who are one with Christ must be and are one with Christ, one with the Incarnate God, all-pure, all-holy, all-just. It is the very fact that to the extent that we are in Christ – that is, in Truth – we are just, for there is nothing unjust in Christ, in Truth.

It is not for nothing that God made marriage to be an image of Christ and His Church. That bond wherein “they shall be one flesh” is a faint image of the far closer union of Christ with His Bride, the Church, with each soul of whom the Church is made, each soul united to Him. St. Paul writes about how the man and the woman are one flesh, but “you are one spirit with the Lord.” That means the union with the Lord which is salvation is something of which marriage gives us only the slightest glimpse! It does not and cannot mean anything blasphemous, for righteousness is truth and immutable but sin is untruth and mutable. When immutable righteousness is joined to mutable sin, the sin is burned away and the righteousness is all. When immutable life is joined to mutable death, the death is overcome and the life is all.

This is the salvation into which we are invited by Jesus. He wants to make us so one with Him that all that He is, is ours and all that we are is His. “All of you who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into His death.” When we are saved, then in Jesus – remember always that He is Truth – we suffered and died on the cross; we were buried in the tomb; we rose and shall rise from the dead, we reign, kings and queens of Heaven and earth. His sufferings are made ours. His merits are made ours. His resurrection is made ours.

There can be no healing of sin which is not union with God. There can be no deliverance from the punishment of sin which is not union with God. There can be no deliverance from sin which is not union with God. There is no way out of death except the Resurrection – and the Resurrection is resurrection in Christ. Indeed, the Resurrection is Jesus Christ. If we are to be raised with Him, it must be because we are His Spouse: part of His own Body!

Salvation is Atonement.


Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale

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