In my previous series, "The Anatomy of the Gospel", I broke down the Gospel message into five basic components (as an attempt at constructing a helpful witnessing framework) and called them the "Five Pillars of the Gospel". This is the fourth part of a series of posts in which I will biblically defend each of the "five pillars" I laid out as the fundamental elements necessary to faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
DEFENDING PILLAR 4 – THE WORK OF CHRIST
Christ died for our sins. This is what we call penal substitutionary atonement. To be right with God we need pardon for our sin. As impossible as that is we also need something else. We need righteousness to enter into eternal life and God’s presence. Let’s take a look at Proverbs 17:15. Just stop and meditate on this for a moment.
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD (Proverbs 17:15).
This verse reveals the heart of the problem. If God pardons a sinner He becomes an abomination. This is why the Gospel is not about us telling God we’re sorry and being forgiven. God is bound by His law to punish sin. Do you see this problem?
There was only one way and that is why He is the only way!
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
Now the only way that God can forgive sinful men is if God who made the law and God who demands satisfaction, if He Himself comes down, and pays the penalty. This is why God became a man, Jesus Christ, and fulfilled the whole law. So that He could be condemned as a just man, in order that the wicked could be justified. Here is where we find God’s love.
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)
John Macarthur comments on this verse:
As Christ was not a sinner, but was treated as if He were, so believers who have not yet been made righteous are treated as if they were righteous.
Here we see what we call imputation. Jesus takes the sinner's punishment and credits him with His righteousness. The great exchange in order that we may inherit eternal life. This righteousness is a legal statement, not an injection of righteousness or infused righteousness as the Catholics teach:
"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification." (Catechism of the Catholic Church par. 2023)
The righteousness Paul speaks of is not an infused righteousness but an imputed righteousness. It is a righteousness that is a credit to your account – something that you can never take credit for. You don’t become a better man. You become a bad man saved by a good God. Macarthur continues in his commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21:
Christ bore their sins so that they could bear His righteousness. God treated Him as if He committed believers’ sins, and treats believers as if they did only the righteous deeds of the sinless Son of God.
Why not let Paul Washer elaborate far better than I ever could (the guy in the video holding the cross is my good friend Tony "The Lawman" Miano). . .
We can take confidence in this truth because Christ rose from the dead defeating death and proving his Divinity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was proof of God's satisfaction with Christ's penal substitutionary payment (Rom 4:25).
On Friday I will close this series with a biblical defence of PILLAR 5 – THE HUMAN RESPONSE THE GOSPEL DEMANDS.
Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1
Go To "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" Series