How do I teach about atonement using colored cards?

heart and red card

heart and red card

Probably the most common visual aid we see in the Bible has to do with the atonement. Although this word is connected with one of the most profound doctrines the Bible teaches, many biblically knowledgable folk have a hard time explaining it.

The word atonement actually embraces a fairly wide spectrum of truth, but when one is teaching, you need not exhaust the subject. If you get the major point of the word across, the finer nuances of meaning will come with time. This is especially true for those who have never studied the Bible.

Here we take a look at a method for teaching one aspect of the word “atonement.” You will be amazed at how well people understand it after you use this one simple visual aid.

When one considers how much God used visual aids, it might be worthwhile for us to pause and consider how often we use them when we teach the Bible.

The following visual aids can be found in the Worldview Rethink Basic ToolBox. But here are the steps you can follow to create your own.

Step 1: Obtain the supplies needed.

  • Bristle board (or card stock) bright red on one or both sides (for blood)
  • Bristle board (or card stock) white on one side, black on the other side (heart) – NOTE: If in your area of the country a “black heart” would imply racism, use a white heart both sides—and smudge the one side with charcoal. Referring to it as a “heart dirty with sin” should remove the problem.
  • Scrap paper to make a template

Step 2: Prepare the tool.

Take a scrap piece of paper the appropriate size; fold it and cut out the shape of half a heart. Unfold it to have a complete heart-shaped template, evenly shaped on both sides.

Cutting the heart patternUnfolded heart

Using this template, trace out a heart on the black side of your bristle board. Cut it out with sharp scissors. You will end up with a heart that is black on one side and white on the other.

Trace a heart

Cut a piece of red bristle board large enough to comfortably cover the heart in its entirety.

red over black heart

Step 3: Teaching with the visual aid

When teaching The Stranger — use these tools, on these pages, at these points:

[Page 78:]

“The Scripture says. . .

…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22b

God was saying that man’s sin-debt could only be paid—or forgiven—if there was death. Normally man would die for his own sin, but now, based on certain future events, God was saying that he would accept an animal’s death in man’s place—as a substitute. So an animal was to be killed and its blood shed. But there was more.

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Leviticus 17:11

[Page 78]

God’s instructions in this verse are very important for two reasons.

  • First: The death of the animal graphically illustrated what God’s law demanded. Sin demands death. The sacrifice pictures the law of sin and death being obeyed and justice being fulfilled.
  • Second: God said that the shed blood would make atonement for sin. The word atonement means covering. The shed blood would (1) cover man’s sin, therefore, when God looked at man, he would no longer see the sin. Man would be viewed as right with God and God in his holiness could then accept man. The relationship would be restored.

Red dotted heart

Through faith in God, as demonstrated by the death and the atoning blood on the altar, man would find forgiveness for sin and a new relationship with God.”


Sacrificing an animal on an altar did not take away the sin. Man was still sinful. The sacrificed animal only provided a covering (1) for sin, and pictured what was necessary for sin to be forgiven —death and the shedding of blood. In the same way that God had covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness with acceptable clothing made of skins, now man’s sins would be (1) covered by the blood of animals that had died in his place. Sacrificing the animal on the altar was an outward demonstration of an inner reality—the inward fact that man was trusting God. It was because man was trusting God, that God provided a way of escape from judgment and man could be restored to a right relationship with Him. Man would still die physically as a result of sin, but the eternal consequences—separation from God and punishment in the Lake of Fire—would no longer apply.

[Page 247:]

Red dotted heart Red over White

The animal sacrifices provided a yearly atonement-covering for sin. God accepted the animals because he was looking forward in history to the time when Jesus would come and die as the final sacrifice. When Jesus died, he did more than (1) cover sin for a year. He blotted it out (2) from God’s sight forever. On the cross He cried, “It is finished”— signifying “the final Lamb is found.”

Staff Writer
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