This week we begin with Question 25 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 2 (questions 21-35), which focuses on Christ, redemption, and grace.
Question 25: Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Answer: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
Under the covenant God made with Israel, there were many sacrifices for various purposes, but they all culminated in the annual ceremony of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). In this annual ceremony, the high priest was allowed to bring the blood of a goat into the inner sanctuary in order to cleanse the tabernacle, purging the stain of Israel’s sins from the preceding year and ensuring that God could continue to dwell with them. After making atonement for the holy place, the high priest would lay his hands on the head of another goat, a living one, and then confess the sins of the people over it before sending it out the wilderness as a vivid picture of God’s grace in removing Israel’s sins from them.
The sacrificial system of the old covenant was a gift of grace to Israel, but it was also a constant reminder to them of their sins and of their ongoing need for atonement. With every passing year, Israel learned over and over again that the final, permanent solution to their sin problem had not yet come. But when Christ died, everything changed. His sacrifice was offered once for all, putting an end to all further sacrifices. As a result, for those who belong to Christ and have come into the new covenant, God remembers their sins no more (Jer. 31:34).
Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Hebrews 10:1-18. What does this passage teach us about Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins? How should we respond to it?