Substitutionary Atonement

A Roman Catholic (at first both Paul Williams and I also thought he was a Roman Catholic and then he later told us he is a Muslim, who goes by the name Mike. )  and Muslims object to the bloody nature of the atonement and the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  (see more objections in the comment boxes)

“These comments seem to assume that the cross of Christ is identical to substitutionary atonement but there is no reason to make this identification. It is unfortunate that certain forms of Protestantism are more or less obsessed with substitutionary atonement theory but we need to remind ourselves that John Calvin invented this particular theory about 400 years ago. For the first one thousand years of Christianity the two main theories were “Christus Victor” and “Ransom”; and I have been unable to find any Church Fathers who embraced substitution.”   Mike  (who later informed us he is a Muslim)

I wrote in response:

Except the first century AD writings of the NT and the OT clearly taught substitutionary atonement.

John the Baptizer said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29

1 John 1:5-10 – God is holy; the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, if we confess our sins, etc.

Genesis 8:21 – when the Lord smelled the soothing aroma of the sacrifice = He was pleased.

Exodus chapter 12 – 12:12-13 – the passover lamb – when the Lord saw the blood on the doorposts, the angel of judgment was turned away. (appeasement for God’s holy and just wrath) Exodus 12:21-30

Leviticus 16-17 – day of atonement – both slaughter and release into the desert, bearing/carrying the sins away. Confession of sins onto the animal.

“He carried/bore our iniquities in His body on the wood” – 1 Peter 2:24

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Isaiah 53:10 – “the Lord was pleased to crush Him, . . . if He would render Himself a guilt offering.”

Iasiah 53:6 – “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon/ encounter/strike Him.”

Isaiah 53:11
“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied; [satisfaction of the justice and wrath of God]
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:12
“And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.”

He bore our sins – this is clear substitutionary atonement, and fulfilled in Christ in the NT.

“He who knew no sin made Him to be the sin offering,
in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

“the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28)

“for” = “in the place of”, “instead of”, as a substitute for many”

“Christ died for our sins” I Cor. 15:3
in the place as a substitute for our sins

He gave Himself for me, He died for me – Galatians 2:20

He is the propitiation (satisfaction of justice) for our sins – 1 John 2:2

Romans 3:22-26 –

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.

[satisfaction of justice in His blood, and through faith in that work of sacrificial atonement on the cross, one is redeemed and justified]

This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:22-26

The cross demonstrated God’s justice against sin; the satisfaction of justice, and that God Himself justifies those who confess their sinfulness and repent and turn to Christ in faith to save them from their sins.

Hebrews 2:14-17
It was necessary for Him to become flesh and blood (become incarnated – “in-fleshed”)
in order to make the propitiation (satisfaction of justice/wrath against sin) for the sins of the people

Even the Qur’an agrees with the concept of substitutionary atonement:
Surah 37:107

“and We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice”

وفديناه بذبح عظيم

The substitution of the ram in the place of Abraham’s son proves that it (the ransom) means “substitutionary atonement”.

Shows the real meaning of Genesis 22 – it was a prophesy and foreshadowing of the Messiah to come in the future.

and “ransom” reminds us of Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”

Jesus using the illustration of Himself as a servant, reminds of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
Very clear.

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
This entry was posted in Substitutionary Atonement, The Atonement of Christ. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Substitutionary Atonement

  1. Ken – no Roman Catholics have posted comments to this post.

    • Ken Temple says:

      You are right! You at first thought he was a Roman Catholic and so did I, the way he argued. He later admitted he is a Muslim, with the name “Mike”. Ok . . . I will correct my mistake.

  2. θ says:

    Nowhere does the Bible – not even Isaiah – say the sin offering is more greater than God’s Mercy.

    Isaiah 53:10 is about obedience to fulfill the Levite priesthood.
    Absolute obedience to the Levite’s sin offering may be a pleasure for God, even to the extent of unprecedented sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter for fulfilling her father’s vow.

    But, nowhere does Isaiah indicate that God needs any sacrifice to forgive sin, no matter how much perfectly sinless the flesh is.

    Remission by the blood is requirement of the Levite’s way. It is possible Jesus was a consequence of Mary’s vow as much as Jephthah’s.

    Gen 8:21 doesn’t tell that the smokes of the burning meats and fats could forgive the men who don’t ask forgiveness.
    Gen 8:21
    And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

  3. Theo says:

    If substitutionary atonement theory makes sense then can you please answer the following question. How can God be merciful and compassionate if he demands that someone has to die before he will forgive us?

    It seems to me that this theory negates forgiveness. The payment of a debt, even if it is done on our behalf, is not the same as forgiveness; it is just the payment of a debt and no more than that. If you owe me £100 but cannot pay me it would not be forgiveness to demand that someone else pay on your behalf; to forgive would be to let the person off the debt altogether.

    As far as I can see substitutionary atonement turns God the Father into a vengeful deity and his Son into a perpetual victim.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Not if the Son of God voluntarily out of love was willing to give His life and willingly take the punishment that was due to us; and not due to Him. John 10:18 – Jesus voluntarily laid His life down.

      It (substitutionary atonement) is both 100 % love for sinners from all the nations; and 100 % justice against sin.

      “For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

  4. θ says:

    Physical death of Jesus can’t regenerate the dead spirit of the others. Flesh can’t give birth to a born-again spirit.
    By the way, the concept of Merciful loving God doesn’t require the anger (physical death of Jesus is still the Father’s punishment of not sparing the Son).

  5. Ken Temple says:

    God’s wrath against sin is a holy and just anger/wrath. The cross is where perfect holiness meets perfect love.

    God’s justice against sin. (holiness and wrath)
    God’s love for sinners. (God’s love)

    He continues to regenerate believers all through history.

  6. θ says:

    “Ken Temple says: God’s wrath against sin is a holy and just anger/wrath. The cross is where perfect holiness meets perfect love.God’s justice against sin. (holiness and wrath)God’s love for sinners. (God’s love)He continues to regenerate believers all through history.”

    What can I say, you don’t understand your Gospel, do you?
    The first thing Jesus teaches to Nicodemus in John 3 is the absolute difference between the flesh and the spirit.

    Jesus’s physical death is a fleshly matter. Flesh can’t regenerate a dead spirit.
    Jesus never sinned, he never tasted the death in spirit.
    Crucifixion is a matter of flesh.
    As Jesus never sinned, his spirit never died, hence he never experienced the resurrection of spirit. Jesus didn’t know what it feels to get resurrected spiritually.
    Physical resurrection in his flesh can’t resurrect the dead spirits of all his followers.

    A person can’t lose what he doesn’t get the first place.

  7. Ken Temple says:

    It is you who don’t understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    John 3 is that people must be born again – regenerated by the Spirit of God, by repentance and faith in Christ. (verse 15-16 – you must believe in Christ, which presupposes genuine repentance.)

    Christ’s death and resurrection are different issues from mere humans having to be born again. Death is the separation of the soul / spirit from the body. the soul/ spirit always continues – either in eternal life in heaven or eternal torment in hell; but Christ is perfect and as you admitted, never sinned, so it is not an issue of “he never tasted death in spirit”, because when it says humans are spiritually dead, it does not mean literally a “dead spirit”, but it means that they do no have a spiritual relationship with God. They are cut off. The soul / spirit is still there, it is not literally dead; it is cut off from relationship with God. Jesus’ death paid the price.

    Resurrection is when the soul / spirit comes back into the same body; and in the NT, that, in pertaining to Christ, is glorification – a glorified body of Christ never to die again. (Romans 6:10; Philippians 3:20-21; I Cor. 15)

  8. θ says:

    Paid the price? Flesh can’t give birth to the new spirit, so how can the flesh pay for the spirit?

    The problem is on Jesus himself.
    If Jesus never sinned, never lost relationship with God, never had a dead spirit, it means he never experienced the regeneration of spirit. Therefore, how can he offer something that he doesn’t ever know?
    You can’t offer what you don’t know.

    Physical resurrection shall occur universally to all men, both sinners and righteous, but it doesn’t mean at all the sinner’s spirit shall get automatically regenerated – or having a spiritual relationship with God – because, as Jesus says the fleshly born-again can’t give birth to the new regenerated spirit (or new relationship).
    Spirit regeneration is not caused by nor born of the flesh.

  9. Ken Temple says:

    Jesus gives believers the Holy Spirit – John 7:37-39; John chapters 14, 15, 16, Acts chapter 2, Romans chapter 8

  10. θ says:

    “Ken Temple says: Jesus gives believers the Holy Spirit ”

    It has nothing to do with physical death on the cross.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Yes it does, because Jesus was “glorified” by the events of:
      the cross
      the resurrection
      the ascension
      his session (seating at the right hand of God the Father)

      John 7:37-39
      John 12:23-33
      John 13:31-32
      John 16:14-15
      John 17 – the entire chapter
      Acts 2:33-36

  11. θ says:

    “Ken Temple says: Yes it does, because Jesus was “glorified” by the events of: the cross”

    Let me ask: Does he die spiritually on the cross?
    If not, the fleshly glorification is in vain.
    Spirit can’t be born of the flesh.

  12. Ken Temple says:

    You cannot define what “die spiritually” is, since the spirit / soul does not die. You confuse categories. Death is the separation of the soul / spirit from the body. Death is not a category for soul or spirit, since they continue on after death.

  13. θ says:

    “Ken Temple says: You cannot define what “die spiritually” is, since the spirit / soul does not die. You confuse categories. Death is the separation of the soul / spirit from the body. Death is not a category for soul or spirit, since they continue on after death.”

    It is figurative speech. Dead spirit means being sinner, being sinful, getting separated spiritually from Jehovah.
    Now let me ask again: Does Jesus become sinful, getting separated spiritually from God, on the cross?
    If not, his fleshly glorification is just in vain.
    Spirit can’t be born of the flesh. Every humans shall be reborn again in the flesh (on the day of Resurrection). But not everyone shall be reborn of the spirit.

  14. Faiz says:

    I have responded to your claims regarding “substitutionary atonement” here, as promised 🙂 :

  15. Pingback: Does Islam Teach “Substitutionary Atonement”? – A Response to a Christian Apologist – Blogging Theology

  16. θ says:

    Vicarious Atonement is nothing but a theory.
    If Jesus himself failed to convert Paul, James and disciples to the Christian version of Vicarious Atonement, how can he convert Jews?
    Vicarious Atonement is just a theory, but in practice Paul, James and disciples continued to obey the Moses’ Law. Action is louder than words. In certain view of perspective, for the early Christian Vicarious Atonement is a failed theory or obsolete opinion.

    The book of Acts recorded a surprising jaw-dropping action that makes Jesus’ crucifixion in vain:
    Acts.21:24 says: “…purify thyself with them…that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the Law.”
    Acts 21:26 says: “…until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.”

    Gal 5:4
    Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the Law; ye are fallen from grace.
    Gal 2:21
    I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    Early Christians do what Jews do concerning the Law, and they dismissed and frustrated Paul.
    Gal 4
    9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

    The allegiance of Paul to James’ Ebionite belief proves the truth of prediction of Gamaliel. De facto, Paul’s theory of Vicarious Atonement comes to nothing.
    Acts 5
    38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.40 And to him they agreed:

Comments are closed.