"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied." (Matthew 13: 24-28)
Have you noticed that there are two different versions of atonement presented in Christian literature?
1. Jesus atoned for all sins on the cross. Our sins have been forgiven with a single sacrifice.
2. Jesus atoned for all sins on the cross. Therefore, God forgives us every time we confess and ask for forgiveness.
The definitions resemble each other and have appeared side by side in Christian teaching throughout centuries. In reality, though, these crops are very different and entirely incompatible. They come from a different source, and they bear different fruit.
Only one is a gift for which we can do nothing but give thanks to Jesus.
Seeing the difference between these two crops is difficult because practically all Christian literature and music we know has been written after the fifth century. The non-historical interpretation of atonement has soured much of the teaching we have received.
That being the case, you could think Christians would understand things better in the circles least keen on theological doctrines. Unfortunately, we can quickly become legalistic without knowing anything about doctrines if there is only bad teaching available.
Luckily, the atonement and full forgiveness through the cross are valid no matter what. Our beliefs and correct or flawed views do not have the slightest effect on what Jesus did two thousand years ago. However, our interpretation has a significant impact on the message we share with others. And what we believe God thinks about us.
Are you in favor of version one or two? You can pick only one.
(Excerpt from RETURNING TO GRACE by Markku Sarento)