Over the next several weeks we are going to follow the story line of Scripture from Creation to Jesus’ return in an effort to deepen our understanding of the Gospel and how Christians are to live after they have professed Christ as Lord and Savior. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
Jesus as our Penal Substitute and Propitiation
(1) Jesus as a Penal Substitute
The word substitute tells us Jesus took our place and died instead of us having to die. The word Penal tells us Jesus took our punishment paying the penalty for our sins. If we put these together, we learn Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin as He died in our place.
Several scriptures speak to Jesus’ penal substitution.
- Galatians 3:13 tells us Jesus became a curse for us as He died on the cross. He accepted the curse of the Law, which is death. A curse we deserve because of our sin.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us Jesus, who was sinless, was made to be sin for us. On the cross, He took our sin on Himself. He died our death, so we could experience salvation.
- Isaiah 53:4-6 tells us Jesus bore our grief and carried our sorrow. He was stricken, afflicted and wounded, not by man, but by God for our sins (transgressions). He suffered in our place so we might be healed.
What an amazing thing Jesus has done for us. All so we might experience eternal life.
(2) Jesus as our Propitiation
The word propitiation, while it is a big word, tells us a big truth. It means Jesus, through His death on the cross, satisfied the wrath of God against us. Not against Him, but against us.
As sinners, we deserve God’s wrath. We deserve His anger to be directed at us in punishment. Jesus, however, satisfied God the Father’s wrath. Since Jesus satisfied the Father’s wrath, when He looks at His Son’s (Jesus’) death, He sees a full and complete payment for sin.
Several scriptures speak to Jesus as our propitiation.
Hebrews 2:17 says,
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Heb 2:17)
1 John 2:2 says,
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jn 2:2)
As well as 1 John 4:10 says,
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10)
So we learn Jesus is our propitiation, the One who satisfies the wrath of God.
The amazing fact in all this is that God Himself sent Jesus to be our propitiation. Isn’t it amazing that God makes a way for us to be saved? And that His way is by sending His own Son to die in our place, taking our punishment, and satisfying His wrath against us all so that we can enjoy everlasting life. God really loves us!
Declared Right By God Through Our Belief
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says,
“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 Co 5:21)
And in Romans 4:5 Paul also writes,
“And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” (Ro 4:5)
These verses teach us we are declared right by our belief in Jesus. In other words, we are declared to be righteous, right in our standing before God.
How can that be? Especially since Romans 3:23 tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are told that as sinners we cannot be righteous. Here, however, we are told we are. So how?
As sinners we have broken God’s commands, rebelled against Him, chosen our own path to walk, so we aren’t made righteous by our own efforts. It’s not according to our own work or good deeds.
Instead of our righteousness being based on our work, it is based on Jesus’ work. He is the One who lived a perfect life. Imagine that. Imagine that Jesus perfectly kept the Law. He didn’t sin once, nor did He ever rebel against God. Since He never sinned, Jesus is considered righteous.
When we believe in Him as our Lord and Savior, His righteousness is put on us. It is, and here is a big fancy word, imputed to us. That’s how we can say we have been given Christ’s righteousness. We have been declared righteous. Again, that doesn’t occur through our work, but through our faith in Jesus’ work.
So when sinners (that’s you and me) place their faith and trust in Jesus, they are declared righteous.
- What does the word propitiation mean?
- What is the biggest problem we have? What has God done to correct our problem?
- What does imputation mean?
- Why is it true that when God looks at Christians — those who have placed their hope and trust in Jesus — He sees His Son, Jesus, instead of unrighteous sinners?
Some posts’ structure influenced by Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware