4 Ways Paul Encourages Us to Love the Church (Even When It’s Hard)

Beauty on the Inside Around the corner from where I live, a house is for sale. In bold green letters, the lawn sign reads: “I’m Gorgeous Inside!” The message is surprising. From the street, the house is thoroughly ordinary, even run-down. It’s a seventies-era raised...

Gently and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund

The most important thing about us is what we think about God. What do you think of when you think about the Son of God? Some might first think about His miracles, the work of atonement, or His teaching. Others may think about His person. Christ is one person with two...

Authentic Christians Are Progressively Sanctified, Part 2

Join Andy as he continues his series through 1 John looking in more depth at 1 John 1:7-10.

Repentance and Leadership in the Home: What It Means to be the Chief Repenter in the Home

On today’s Warriors of Grace show continuing season three, Dave discusses what biblical repentance is and why it matters, persistent sins and biblical repentance, and what it looks like practically for men to be the chief repenter in their home. What you’ll hear in...

A Christian Reading Manifesto

Modern technology has launched us into the stratosphere of learning. With the click of a mouse or a few keystrokes, we can access information from around the world and gain a treasure chest of knowledge. Smartphones are at the forefront of the new technological...

How Paul Led from a Distance: A Model for Pastors Leading From A Distance

The apostle Paul led from a distance. His letters demonstrate deep affection for his readers, a longing to see them again, and his ongoing burden to lead well, even while apart. For example, Paul wrote to the Philippian church from a prison cell in Rome.  But his...
Gospel Series: Christ, Our Substitute

Posted On April 10, 2014

 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)

WHAT IS SUBSTITUTIONARY ATONEMENT?

The cross of Jesus is where the substitutionary atonement happened. On the cross, Jesus served as our substitute and atoned for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

At the cross, our sin became Christ’s sin, our blameworthiness became Christ’s blameworthiness, the wrath we deserve from an infinitely just Being became the wrath He absorbed from an infinitely just Being. It made salvation possible for spiritually dead sinners wrought with guilt. As if this weren’t good news enough, Christ’s blamelessness became our blamelessness, Christ’s reward became our reward, Christ’s perfection our perfection, and Christ’s confident standing before the holy and just Father became our confident standing before the holy and just Father.

We can no more improve on Christ’s imputed righteousness than we can count past infinity.

“This is our acquittal: the guilt that held us liable for punishment has been transferred to the head of the Son of God…We must, above all, remember this substitution, lest we tremble and remain anxious throughout life—as if God’s righteous vengeance, which the Son of God has taken upon himself, still hung over us….[To] take away all cause for enmity and to reconcile us utterly to himself, he wipes out all evil in us by the expiation set forth in the death of Christ; that we, who were previously unclean and impure, may show ourselves righteous and holy in his sight.”
(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2, pp. 506, 510)

“When we think of such an act of grace on God’s part, we have the answer to our question: how can God justify the ungodly? The righteousness of Christ is the righteousness of his perfect obedience, a righteousness undefiled and undefileable, a righteousness which not only warrants the justification of the ungodly but one that necessarily elicits and constrains such justification. God cannot but accept into His favor those who are invested with the righteousness of His own Son.”
(John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 124)

“Religion says, ‘attain’; the gospel says, ‘obtain.’ Religion says, ‘attempt’; the gospel says, ‘accept.’ Religion says, ‘try’; the gospel says, ‘trust.’ Religion says, ‘do this’; the gospel says, ‘it is done.’”
(Ajith Fernando, The Supremacy of Christ, 144)

OTHER ATONEMENT THEORIES

The redemptive suffering of Jesus stands in stark contrast to the following sub—biblical theories:

Origen’s Ransom Theory: Alexandrian thinker Origen taught in the 3″’ century that Jesus’ death was a ransom paid to the devil. As Wayne Grudem points out, “it falsely thinks of Satan rather than God as the one who required that a payment be made for sin and this completely neglects the demands of God’s justice with respect to sin. It views Satan as having much more power than he actually does, namely, power to demand whatever he wants from God.”
(Systematic Theology, 581)

Abelard’s Moral Influence Theory: French thinker Peter Abelard taught in the 12″“ century that Jesus’ death was just God’s way of saying “l love you” to the human race, but there was no payment for sin involved. Although the cross is a powerful “I love you” from God to humans to influence us to a moral life, this view leaves us without a solution to our problem of our objective blameworthiness before a just God. This view has witnessed a resurgence in today’s church as God’s wrath and our guilt have been downplayed (to appease consumers) so that the cross becomes merely an expression of God’s love rather than of God’s love and justice. The cross-work of Christ is the ultimate display of God’s retributive justice and His redeeming love. If either God’s justice or love is compromised, so is the gospel.

Socinus’ Example Theory: Italian thinker Socinus taught in the 16th century, Jesus’ death does nothing more than give us with an example of the kind of obedience God desires from His creatures. While the cross does serve as a powerful example of costly obedience we ought to mirror, this view, along with the Ransom and Moral Influence theories, overlooks that God requires payment for the offense of sin against His holy nature.

Leo X’s Penance Theory: As Pope Leo X and John Tetzel taught in the 16th century, the crosswork of Jesus is not sufficient to save sinners. We must supplement the work of Christ by purchasing indulgences, gazing at relics, and committing acts of penance to work off whatever sins were not payed for on the cross. This view resorts to our own religious performance in a futile attempt to gain God’s favor. It reduces “good works” to insecure attempts to become saved  rather than grateful acts because we are saved thanks to Christ’s work as our Great Substitute.

When the Church loses sight of the good news of Christ’s substitutionary death we slide into performance-based spirituality, embracing the bad news (the anti-gospel) that man must save himself.

Related Posts

Three Reasons Why Christ’s Ascension Matters to You

Three Reasons Why Christ’s Ascension Matters to You

The ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is one of the most important events recorded in the New Testament. But though it occupies an important place in Scripture, it doesn’t get a lot of attention today, even among Christians. My guess is that you probably haven’t...

Justification

Justification

INTRODUCTION The issue of justification has had a lasting influence on the Christian understanding of the topic of salvation and its relationship to eternal security. Biblical scholars have developed numerous stances on this theological understanding often resulting...

Being enamored by the gospel

Being enamored by the gospel

We’ve thus far defined the gospel, talked about its cosmic implications, and last time showed one practical way in which the gospel affects our relationships. I have argued that the gospel is more than just good news—and certainly nothing less—as well as it affecting...

Union with Christ and the gospel driven life

Union with Christ and the gospel driven life

Last time we looked at the “big picture” implication of the gospel message. And it would be appropriate to clarify that yes, it is a message, but it is also more than that. It is a message that has cosmic implications because it deals with the spiritual and natural...

The gospel is a game-changer

The gospel is a game-changer

Yesterday we explored the definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. There are many other passages we could look to in order to understand the gospel, not the least of course, are Jesus’ first words in Mark’s Gospel narrative, “The time is fulfilled, and the...

The gospel is the A to Z of Christianity

The gospel is the A to Z of Christianity

If there’s something I’ve learned about faith, Jesus and Christianity it is this: the gospel is something we need every second of every day. As I open up the Scriptures and study the life of Jesus and the theology of the New Testament, I conclude that we are all on a...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Gospel Series: The Beauty of Holiness - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  2. The Daily Roundup: 12 April 2014 | - […] Gospel Series: Christ, Our Substitute – Thaddeus Williams continues the Gospel Series in his post looking at the topic…
  3. Gospel Series: Right-Sizing Our Affections - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  4. Thaddeus Williams – Gospel Series: Christ, Our Substitute » Christian Apologetics & Intelligence Ministry - […] Continue Reading […]
  5. Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  6. Gospel Series: The Incarnation and High Priestly Ministry of Jesus - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  7. Gospel Series: The Trinity and the Gospel - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  8. Check out these studies | A disciple's study - […] Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the eighth post on Christ, Our Substitute. […]
  9. The Daily Roundup: 12 April 2014 - Servants of Grace - […] Gospel Series: Christ, Our Substitute – Thaddeus Williams continues the Gospel Series in his post looking at the topic…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share3
Reddit
Pin
Share
Email