Born out of God’s love for all of His image bearers [John 3:16] and according to His creational purpose of the man who was made as body and soul [1 Cor. 6:13], God purposed the redemption of all of Adam by means of a second Adam, of the same humanity, born under the Law [Gal. 4:4], so that the fulfilment could be obtained by all those who humbly subject themselves to a justification by faith, according to the Spirit [Rom. 5:1,2; 8:1-4].
The Eternal Son of God took upon Himself our nature by means of an Incarnation through the virgin Mary [Luke 1:35] and lived His life to the complete satisfaction of the Father [Matt. 3:17; 17:5]. This sinless life, unstained by the seed of original sin from Adam and in perfect obedience to the Law, He did freely and voluntarily offer in a death counted by the Law as one cursed of God – being hung upon a tree.
Gal. 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–
This completely exhaustive and satisfactory sacrifice of Himself [Heb. 10:14], as an offering for sin, resulted in a universal and effectual reconciliation of the Father toward the world [2 Cor 5:19] and legitimised the Son of Man’s inheritance of all of Adam’s posterity, making Jesus of Nazareth, both Lord and Christ (in an Adamic and Davidic sense) over all creation, to the glory of the Father [Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 15:45].
The backbone of Jesus’ death and resurrection is Jesus’ personal fulfilment of the Law of God. Regardless of whether or not men believe in Jesus, it is a certainty that Jesus has fulfilled the Law of God. In this sense, it is an objective or impersonal atonement for all mankind.
2 Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 8:3,4 …He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us….
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Jesus’ atonement is effectual, without any qualification being met on the part of mankind, in its objective fulfilment of the Law of God, thereby taking captive death in all of its power, so that Jesus Christ now holds the keys of death and hades [Rev. 1:18].
Jesus’ sacrificial life and death is twofold. It has secured a way of salvation, so that now because the Father has been reconciled to the world, the appeal to be personally reconciled with the Father may be freely offered [2 Cor. 5:20]. The corollary result of Christ’s work being that all judgment has been given to the Son of Man and that all who do not honor the Son, even as they honor the Father, shall know the wrath of the Lamb on that final day of judgment [John 5:23; Rev. 6:16].
Consequently, Jesus’ death must be universal and effectual as an objective reality over all of Adam’s posterity, even as He is named the ‘last Adam’ (i.e., Second Adam). Not only does this secure the way of salvation, but it also secures God’s perfect justice upon sinners by means of an impersonal atonement. By an impersonal atonement we mean that this has concretely resulted in the certainty of a complete annulment of the first death at the general resurrection on the last day regardless of any individual’s personal state in Christ. In order for justice to be fulfilled sinners must be punished for sins done in the body for all eternity, and yet this cannot occur unless an atonement has secured their certain resurrection in immortal bodies.
Consequently, the atonement was fully and perfectly accomplished in Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, as an offering for sin. It is a substitutionary or vicarious atonement [2 Cor. 5:21], effectually reconciling the Father toward the entirety of the human race impersonally [Rom. 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:19] and providing for a subjective personal reconciliation of sinners through faith in Jesus Christ [John 3:14,15; Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:20].
This impersonal or objective aspect of the reconciliation of the Father toward all mankind is the basis on which the promise of eternal life can be made (i.e., ‘the word of reconciliation’ 2 Cor. 5:19). This is the very reason that a sinner can obtain forgiveness of personal sin, resulting in their personal reconciliation with God, which is salvation. The personal application of the objective reality of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, is solely by faith in Jesus [1 Pet. 1:9].
Under the heading of Redemption we must give priority of place to that one thing needful which determines salvation, namely faith. We are saved not because Jesus died for us, but because we have believed in Him. Just as the Law of God is objectively fulfilled by Jesus, so His death stands as an objective reality, that cannot benefit us unless we are of faith. This is the ‘word of faith’ [Rom. 10:8] and the ‘word of reconciliation’ [2 Cor. 5:19] that Paul and his companions were preaching.