Saturday, May 10, 2014

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross"

Working on a sermon for this Sunday, I was once again struck by this precious truth regarding the work of Christ for our salvation from the Epistle lesson (1 Peter 2:24): 
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Over the years I have been surprised and saddened at the number of learned individuals and clergy whose educations had taught them to hold the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ for our sins in disdain.

It seems that the denials I have encountered are from individuals who find it hard to believe that God has a righteous indignation (wrath) toward our sins that needs to be assuaged; and that there is a justice in God that needs atonement in order to forgive our sins.

But what do verses such as these say to us?
For Christ also suffered [died] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit... (1 Peter 3:18).
It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).
 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 do the redemptive analogies of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12) and the Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:9-10) teach us?  That, like the Passover Lamb and the Scape goat, Christ took the penalty for our sins that we might live.

Make no mistake, the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins is the heart of the Gospel message, and if it is not the heart of your theology and your personal beliefs, you are in big trouble.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4).
This is our only hope.  And if you are one of those who has been led to think differently about the meaning of Christ's death and your salvation, then what more can I say other than to suggest respectfully that it is not too late to think again?

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