The Jews were very familiar with the sacrificial system in which a lamb was offered as a blood sacrifice. His reference of the Lord Jesus as God’s Lamb was speaking of His being sacrificed on the Cross to atone for the sins of the world.
29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NASB)
In my Nave’s Topical Bible there is a subsection under “Atonement” titled “Atonement – Made by Jesus.” It covers half of page 85 and runs through half of page 88. I find it interesting that men such as leaders Brian McLaren focus so much of his energies on trying to deny that the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of His people was the primary mission of His incarnation. Instead, he and those like him point their followers to follow a man-made Jesus whose purpose in His incarnation was to show people how best to live and make the world a better place. At the same time, so many “denominations” are rapidly apostatizing through cultural compromise and moving away from God’s moral standards. Our enemy has planted easily believable lies throughout the visible Church and has given verbiage to the lying mouths of his prophets that are designed to confuse and take away the clarity of God’s Truth. For instance, McLaren and those like him cannot preach a thing without emphasizing that ultimate truth is unknowable while elevating indefiniteness as a virtue. They teach that if solid, defined lines run between professing Christians and God in which doctrines are clearly held and proclaimed then those Christians have made-up what they believe and are no longer in communion with God. Sounds a bit like a post-modern version of Gnosticism to me.
God is very precise. He is perfect and He has given us His Word, which contains His revelation for His Church. One of the doctrines under much attack by our enemy and his seed is the Atonement. Carefully read the passage (John 1:29), which I placed at the top of this post. John the Baptist said this as he saw Jesus of Nazareth approaching. He called our Lord “the Lamb of God.” The Jews were very familiar with the sacrificial system in which a lamb was offered as a blood sacrifice. His reference of the Lord Jesus as God’s Lamb was speaking of His being sacrificed on the Cross to atone for the sins of the world. The word “world” here as well as in John 1:9 is the Greek word κοσμου. The basic sense of this word in Greek means “an ornament.” Peter used in it 1 Peter 3:3 with a “cosmetic” slant. In any case, John used it over 78 times in his Gospel, 24 times in his three epistles, and 3 times in Revelation. He used it several different ways including 1) the physical universe, 2) humanity in general, and 3) the invisible spiritual system of evil that we call the “world system.” John used this word mostly in a very negative way. However, in John 1:29 κοσμου is used to refer to humanity in general, not specifically every person. The word sin, αμαρτιαν, in v29 is singular. Our Lord’s atoning sacrifice, therefore, has the potential to take away the αμαρτιαν of all people in the κοσμου, however, as we see in vv11-13 below, our Lord’s sacrifice is efficacious only for those who receive Him as Lord and Saviour.
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13 (NASB)
Yes, Christ’s sacrifice has ultimate potential to save everyone, but the Word of God makes it clear that most people do not “receive” Christ as their Lord and Saviour. I know that many do want Him as their Saviour, but not as Lord.
14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ Luke 19:14 (NASB)
This rebellion is rampant in the visible Church in our day. This is the root of the apostasy in which Sola Scriptura is rejected thereby allowing aligning the Church with the world and its ways. In the same passage our Lord revealed what will happen to those who rejected His Lordship.
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” Luke 19:27 (NASB)
On the other hand, those who do receive Him as their Lord and Saviour have received forgiveness for their sins because His sacrifice on the Cross paid the penalty for them. This is Penal Substitution. It cost our Lord much.