Examination of the penal substitution view has also raised questions about what is the nature   of God’s judgment and how is it experienced by humans. Instead of speaking of specific punishment from God, another view involving substitution speaks of a broken relationship between God and humans because of sin. “In the Gospels we find Jesus speaking of God’s judgment not so much in terms of penalties imposed by divine retributive justice but in relational terms, in terms of being in or out of God’s presence. . . .”[29] Sin separates humans from God, and sinners experience God’s judgment in the separation. The cross provided a solution to the problem of sin and separation. “At the cross God did not suffer punishment from God and thereby avert his wrath; he entered into humanity’s experience of sin’s consequences so as to destroy sin and thereby to restore relationship with God.”[30]

              In this view of substitution, the idea of unlimited atonement is upheld. The Son of God became human, lived and died in the midst of the human condition caused by sin. He became human in order to mend the broken relationship between God and humans—a divine initiative of restoration, intended for all of humanity. “There is something objective about what the cross achieved, something which happened there before, and apart from, any human response.”[31]

          In any case, it is important not to lose the significance of God in Christ as our substitute. It affects
how we see ourselves in relation to God and how we see ourselves in relation to others.

[29] Stephen H. Travis, “The Doctrine of the Atonement: Popular Evangelicalism and the Bible,” Catalyst, November 1995, 1.
[30] Travis, “Doctrine,” 2.
[31] Travis, “Doctrine,” 2.

2Co 5:18-19  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

The Atonement

Faith in  Christ   leads to action


If the essence of the atonement is substitution, at least two important inferences follow, the first theological and the second personal. The theological inference is that it is impossible to hold the historic doctrine of the cross without holding the historic doctrine of Jesus Christ as the one and only God-man and Mediator. . . . The second inference is personal. The doctrine of substitution affirms not only a fact (God in Christ substituted himself for us) but its necessity (there was no other way by which God’s holy love could be satisfied and rebellious human beings could be saved). Therefore, as we stand before


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