Good afternoon! Today we are going to look at the Gospel – the good news – that despite our failing, our evil desires and deeds – God has chosen to heal and restore the broken relationship between Himself and Humanity. Yes, you too can know God for yourself. You don’t need anyone to make intercession for you when you can go to God for yourself. How did God do this? That is what we are going to explore today.
Truth is that we are going to skim the surface and some of you already know these things and some of you don’t. If you can’t articulate and explain salvation, you have to learn how – and I don’t mean the way I do it. I mean the way that God has given it to you for your mission field and must reflect what the scripture actually says. Here is a way. About 500 years ago, the protestant reformers wanted a term to summarize their understanding and convey what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross based on what they understood from the Old and New Testaments. In a nutshell, what the Bible teaches and what we affirm today is that Jesus Christ offered himself as a propitiatory sacrifice on the behalf of his people to atone of our sins. He took our place and the full wrath and suffering we deserve for our sins – past, present, and future – was poured out on him. The church calls this idea – this truth – “Penal Substitutionary Atonement”. Because of what Jesus did, I have peace with God. I get to know God. I get to communicate with God. I get to become everything God had purposed in His good and perfect will for me to become! And if you turn your life over to God and serve him, you get all of that too!
I’m not going to stand here and tell you that every saved person in the kingdom looks at how salvation works and is actualized the way I am going to convey it today. Not everyone agrees that Penal Substitutionary Atonement accurately explains how God’s salvation works. They agree that Jesus’ sacrifice saves us and is sufficient for salvation but they do not agree the Jesus took our place as individuals or that his sacrifice satisfies a debt we owe. At some point, I will address this and some other objections, but for now I will be talking about how scripture teaches Penal Substitutionary. Atonement.
1. We are all born into this world as sinners. Incapable living up to God’s standards on our own.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. –Romans 3:22-24
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8
These passages gives us an idea of not just what God thinks about us and our capabilities to be moral and kind and live up to the standards that we agree is how we should live.
2. Yes, Sin is really so bad that it takes blood to mend what it breaks
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. - Hebrews 9:22
3. The Laws given to ancient Israel was given with the idea in mind that no one keep them. That is why they were given a sacrificial system to atone for their sins. And God promises them a better covenant.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” - Jeremiah 31:31-34
5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”[a] 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. – Romans 8:5-7
4. Break one commandment is the same as breaking them all.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. – James 2:10
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. – Galatians 3:10-14
5. There is no more sacrificial system because Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice was for once and for all.
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. – Hebrews 9:12
6. The sacrificial system symbolizes what Jesus Christ ultimately did. The idea of substitution was built-in from the start. The innocent sacrificed for the guilty.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. - Hebrews 7:26-28
7. Jesus sacrifice was indeed voluntary
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
8. Worship the true God not some idealized version that you have based on what makes you comfortable. It pleased to God to crush him.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities. – Isaiah 53:10-11
9. Deep down, no matter what anyone says, we want sins and wrong doing to be addressed and made right. For example: Think of the worst thing anyone has ever perpetrated against you. (Don’t stay there too long). Was it made right? Did they get away with it? If there is no hell and If there is no God to administer justice, a lot of people will get off free – no obvious consequence to everyone for the evil done against you and the people you love. Think of it this way: without God, Hitler got away with the evil he did. He wasn’t arrested. He didn’t stand trial. He committed suicide before he was captured (most likely). I just recently heard Oprah, in her Golden Globe speech bring up a woman she knew who has recently died. When this black woman was young some white men grabbed her while she was walking home from church. They brutalized and raped her and threatened her to not tell anyone. Although she tried to turn them over to the authorities, none her attackers spent a day in jail nor were they punished in the legal system. This isn’t right. She died seemingly without Justice. I cannot imagine a just and loving God allowing things like that from being punished. Someone(s) should pay for that. God has promised to do exactly that no matter what we think we see and understand in the here and now.
It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." – Deuteronomy 32:35
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. – Romans 12:19
10. I think we all agree that rapists, murders, thieves, genocidal despots, and other criminals deserve punishment and retribution. What about you and me? Remember point 1? We have all sinned. God does not consider one sin worse than another like we do. People like to mitigate their own sins by pretending that others are worse than we are. Maybe you have not outright killed another human being but if you have ever refused to forgive someone you are just as likely to find yourself in hell as a murderer – eternally separated from God. Not one of us is good enough to deserve heaven and all of us deserve hell.
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:25-31
11. We need an atoning sacrifice – blameless and perfect to pay the price for our evil. None of us is pure enough to pay for our own sin. And the other side of that is that we’d be dead but God wants us to be living sacrifices.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (KJV)
Here is a video from an Atheist completely butchering Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Following are arguments raised in the video and my rebuttals against it.
1 1.. It’s not fair that the innocent suffer for the guilty
Jesus volunteered to be our propitiation. God did not force Jesus. This isn’t child abuse. None of us was innocent enough – pure enough – to satisfy the scales of justice. Through mercy God chose to bless us with salvation. No it isn’t something we deserve or can be earned. Remember the saying “Favor is not fair.”? This is not from scripture but if you are going to understand what God considers love and justice we have to let go of what our society says love and justice are.
Eating fruit does not equate to sentencing all of humanity to sin. Adam’s sin was not about him eating fruit. The problem was that he disobeyed God.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5: 12-21
22. God should be able to forgive sin without blood
4. God did not have to put the fruit in the garden in the first place.
These last two objections can be answered at once. At bottom, they rest on the idea that we can tell God how he should run reality. We are not worthy. With these objections is stupid question about what gives God the right to set the price of sin so high? And how can he hold us accountable since we are not in control and we didn’t put the Tree in the garden? God gives us an answer through the Apostle Paul.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? – Romans 9:19-24
We must remember that God is not a human being equal to you and me. He is not obligated or beholden to us for anything. God is not accountable to us.
I thank God for choosing to save me. It’s completely unmerited. It’s completely up to him. No credit belongs to me. If you are not saved today, I would encourage you to reach out to God. Tell God that you want a relationship and you want to right. Accept that God is right about us in general and you in particular. Admit your sin and evil and ask for help to put them aside. Agree that Jesus died on the cross in your place and thank Him for that. Believe that He rose from the dead 3 days later with all power in his hand. Because He arose…so will you.
Here is how Paul put it!
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
Want to see two Christians debate this? Watch the debate below between Dr Michael Brown vs Pastor Brian Zahnd.