Nevertheless, we can affirm some truths on the basis of Scripture.
Christ accomplished this by offering himself as a sacrificial substitute for us to appease God’s wrath (Isa 53:6; 1 Pet 2:24; Rom 3:24–26). Thus, he removed our guilt and defilement (Rom 5:18; Tit 2:14). In addition, he released us from sin’s power (Rom 6:6–7; Rom 8:2–3).
Redeeming love and divine justice converged at the cross. No analogy can fully express what Jesus has accomplished through his crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore, we can best describe the atonement with several complementary metaphors.
A different metaphor utilizes the concept of OT religious rituals. Here the emphasis falls upon Christ’s sacrifice as a just restitution to mitigate our violations against God’s holiness (1 John 2:2).
Scripture describes Jesus as our Passover lamb (Exod 12:3–13; 1 Cor 5:7), as a burnt offering (Eph 5:2), and as both our high priest and the sacrificial victim (Heb 7:27; Heb 8:3; Heb 9:11–14; Heb 10:12).
Thus, he absolved our sins with his blood (Heb 9:18–28; Heb 10:22). In addition, our legal status has changed. God declares us righteous on the basis of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, a term called justification (Isa 53:11–12; Rom 4:25; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:21).
Penal substitution comprises another aspect of our salvation. Before Christ came, God required the annual sacrifice of a scapegoat which imperfectly atoned for the sins of the people (Lev 16:20–22; 1 John 4:9–10).
As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, we can also experience right relationships with one another (Matt 5:23–24; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 2:14–22). Indeed, God is reconciling all of creation to himself, a process which he shall complete on the day of Christ’s return (Col 1:19–22).
The Lord did all of this “according to the riches of his grace which he abundantly lavished upon us.”
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Read Eph 1:7–8. How do the various metaphors explain different aspects of our atonement? What is the result of Christ’s death and resurrection in your life? Why does it matter that Paul employed a present tense verb to describe our redemption as a continuous state?
[Related posts include Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Creation’s Eager Expectation (Rom 8:19); Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22); Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); and Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21)]
[Click here to go to Chapter 3: The Image of God (Genesis 1:26–31)]
 Lincoln, Ephesians, 27.
 “We have” occurs in the present tense, which in Greek signifies a continual state or repetitive activity.
 Friedrich Büchsel, “ἀπολύτρωσις” (apolutrōsis), TDNT 4:351–6, 352.
 Snodgrass, Ephesians, 51.
 Büchsel, “ἀπολύτρωσις” (apolutrōsis), 353.
 Snodgrass, Ephesians, 51.
 Erickson, Christian Theology, 714–29, 744–52.
John Jefferson Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts: Every Key Passage for the Study of Doctrine and Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 79–81.
 Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, 259–60.
 Lincoln, Ephesians, 29.
 Arnold, Ephesians, 86.