The Good News in Substitutionary Atonement

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

History is not meandering through time. All of history is marching toward a final destination. The Bible calls this final destination of all time the “Day of the LORD” or the “Day of Judgment.” On this day, everyone will face God from the throne of judgment.

The reason why Christians are saved from judgment and damnation is not because Christians are good and righteous. The reason why Christians will be saved from judgment and damnation is because Jesus is good and righteous.

On the Day of the LORD, I will stand before God if I were Christ because Christ stood before God as if he were me.

Theologians call this substitutionary atonement.

Atonement literally means a reparation or payment for sin. Sin is costly. This is the reason why when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Forgive us our debts…” The debt is the payment that sin requires.

Substitutionary atonement means that Jesus pays the debt of sin on our behalf. On the cross, Jesus bore my sins and paid its debt by descending into hell. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus rose again from the dead so that all who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior will rise with Christ as sons and daughters. That’s what the verse of the day means: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

When Christians stand before God on the Day of Judgment what God sees in Christians is sons and daughters because of all that Jesus did for us on the cross.

Jesus paid the debt of sin on our behalf. That is what he meant when he cried on the cross, “It is finished.” Jesus was saying, “Father, for this one, I’ve paid it all. It’s done. It is finished.”

Because of all that Jesus has done for us on the cross, we are now received into God’s kingdom as sons and daughters. Not because we are good and righteous but because Jesus is good and righteous.

This is the gospel. This is Good News.

Thank you Jesus! Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for giving me new life. Thank you Jesus!

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