March 22, 2009


   There are several positions taken by different denominations regarding the Atonement of Christ. The true biblical position is known as Jesus Christ’s “vicarious atonement”. Another term for what we believe about this doctrine is “the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ”. Christ was a substitute for sinners in that He took our place and suffered our punishment.

   In this particular study, we will look at two important aspects of  Jesus death on the cross of Calvary.




   Is it truly biblical to say that Jesus Christ took our place and suffered our punishment? Yes it is. Let us trace the doctrine of substitution throughout the bible.

   Genesis 22:1-13 Notice in verse 13 that the ram was offered in place of Isaac. This was a substitutionary sacrifice which is exactly what “vicarious” means. This true story is also a perfect “type” of the atoning work of Christ at Calvary.

   Isaiah 53:4-6 We can see in these Old Testament verses that Jesus was prophesied to be our substitute and bear all our punishment which we were due because of our sinful ways.       

   II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:5 In these verses of scripture we can plainly see that He was made sin on our behalf. Just like the ram that was substituted for Isaac, Jesus was offered in substitution for us.

   I Peter 2:24-25 Jesus did what we could not do, in that He took our sins upon Himself and through His suffering and dying was able to pay the price for our sins and bring us to a favorable position with God the Father. This act of putting us in favor with God is called “propitiation”.

   Romans 3:24-25; I John 2:2; I John 4:10 These are but a few verses that indicate the great love that God has for us. God takes great care in removing His wrath toward us and putting it on our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.




   In addition to Christ’s atonement being substitutionary, it was also a legal payment that needed to be  made. Legality deals with the law, sin is breaking the law of God.

   Romans 3:23 The bible is very clear regarding the sinfulness of all mankind and how it leaves us short of meeting the holiness of God, which is the mark that we must obtain to be with God.

   Romans 6:23; I Corinthians 15:56; II Corinthians 1:9 Paul tells the church at Corinth and us also that we had the sentence of death upon us because of sin in our lives that broke God’s law. Therefore, we were legally guilty before God because we had broken His law.

   John 19:30 When Jesus was ready to die on the cross, He said in His last breath “it is finished”. This phrase that He uttered was  in the Greek language “tetelestai” which is to say “it is finished”. Ancient Greek  papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered from archaeologists finds that have the word tetelestai” written across them, meaning “paid in full”. This very distinctive phrase or word that Jesus uttered was very significant. When He said “it is finished”, He meant that His redemptive work was totally complete and “paid in full”. Jesus knew that His words were used in legal statements and documents in Israel when a legal debt had been fully paid. Those listening would take notice.

   The whole atoning work of Christ was a legal action where Jesus substituted Himself in our place and paid the legal requirements of the punishment for sins, which was death. This is what the scriptures tell us and that is what we believe.