The Substitutionary Death of Christ

The Substitutionary Death of Christ by James Williams for Servants of Grace

Today we’ll continue our study of “Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones by examining chapter 29, “Substitution.”

In our last post, we looked at some of the false theories of the atonement. However, while some of these theories had elements of truth in them, none of them fully dealt with the biblical teaching of the substitutionary element in the atonement. Lloyd-Jones highlights the biblical teaching on the atonement under the following headings: Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament sacrifices, Christ saves us by his death, the vicarious death of Christ, freedom from the law, and God’s initiative in the atonement.

Christ is the Fulfillment of Old Testament Sacrifices

Jesus said, “Do not think that I come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). This includes the rules about sacrifice, as seen in Leviticus. Jesus is not only the promised priest, but he is also the full and final sacrifice.

The book of Hebrews teaches that the purpose of the offerings was to “propitiate God” (318). Many of the false theories on the atonement begin with man and what the death on the cross did to us, however, Lloyd-Jones points out that in Scripture, we see the wrath of God being satisfied when the offering is made. God’s justice is satisfied through a “vicarious punishment of a victim” (319). The animal sacrifices of the OT were not sufficient enough to take away man’s sin, but Christ comes and provides a perfect and final sacrifice.

Salvation through the Death of Christ

Rather than being merely an “example,” the death of Christ on the cross is the means by which God saves. There are many passages that teach this, such as Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” Ephesians 1:7 states, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Also, see Ephesians 2:13Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 10, 1 Peter 1:18-191 Peter 3:181 John 1:7Rev. 1:5, and many others!

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