Arminian Today

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Jesus Bore My Sins, The Wrath of a Holy God

The gospel causes me to do two things.  First, the gospel makes me realize my utter sinfulness before a holy God.  I have no righteousness apart from that which He imputes to me (Isaiah 64:6).  I cannot earn the favor of this holy God.  My sins have buried me in despair and I see how wicked I appear before this holy and just God.  How can I approach this holy One?  How can I find peace with Him who is perfect and I a sinner?

But the gospel also shows me the grace of God, that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, this wicked sinner.  The gospel is the goodness of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel is the love of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel does shout that I am sinful, condemned to die for my sins against this God but the gospel also shouts, “Grace to it” (Zechariah 4:7).  I see my wickedness but I see His beauty when I look at the gospel of our God (Romans 1:1).

The gospel reveals to me that Jesus has bore my sins.  He took the wrath of God in my place.  Isaiah prophesied about this Christ and His work in Isaiah 53.  I will place the entire passage here for us to mediate upon and see the wonder of the grace of God at work in His Son:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Notice verse 10.  It was the will of the LORD to crush Him!  The will of God was that His perfect Son would bear my sins.  2 Corinthians 5:21 reads,

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:22-24 says,

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 2:9 reads,

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The perfect, holy, blameless, righteous Son of God bore my sins on the cross.  He died in my place.  He suffered for me.  His blood was shed to wash away my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and by His stripes I am now healed.  He bore the wrath of a holy God for me!

Romans 5:8-9 reads,

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 assures us that Jesus has saved us from the wrath to come.

On the cross, the Lord Jesus died so that I might live.  He offered Himself to God for my sins.  In that moment, on the cross, the holy Son bore the wrath of a holy God against me.  That is the glorious gospel!  The gospel is not a picture so that I can feel moved to obedience.  I cannot obey a holy God enough to please Him nor can I perfectly obey Him all my life (Romans 8:8).  I need forgiveness.  I need grace.  I get both in the Son.  The cross is not a mere example of a holy God honoring His Law but it is the perfect Son bearing the wrath that the condemned sinner should bear and will bear if they don’t repent.  The sole reason that I can now be saved from God is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that we all would honor the Son for His glorious work on the cross!  Salvation is available only because of His work (Romans 3:21-26).  Jesus died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).  We can now be forgiven and justified before a holy God because of the work of Christ and the work of Christ alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Throughout all eternity we will worship the Lamb who bore our sins (Revelation 5:13-14).

6 Responses

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  1. Wonderful post. It is so sad to see some Christians attempting to lose this aspect of the cross from their theology.


    04/19/2014 at 10:46 AM

    • I agree. Without the cross, there is no resurrection and no forgiveness of our sins. Thank God for the cross!

  2. While I believe it is perfectly legitimate to say Jesus suffered or bore the horrific consequence of sin by dying a painful death on the cross, I am nevertheless reticent to say the Father poured his wrath out on the Son (or something to this effect). In John’s Gospel Jesus says “He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (8:29 ESV).

    What are we to say of Jesus’ “cry of dereliction”, then (Matthew 27:46; Mark 13:34)? It is common knowledge that Jesus partly quoted the first verse of Psalm 22 in his angst on the tree: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. However, lest we be too hasty in concluding that the Son of God was literally abandoned by the Father, I believe verse 24 of the same Psalm will help shed some light on the matter: “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.” I will readily grant that Jesus may have felt utterly abandoned by God on the cross. As our representative, he was identifying with the many suffering servants of Yahweh in times past (e.g., Job, David, Habakkuk). Yet God has never truly forsaken the faithful. Did God (the Father) forsake God (the Son)? I do not believe so. We have no indication that the Father was ever displeased with the Son. Instead, he vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead on the third day. This sounds much closer to how we see the Good News proclaimed by the apostles throughout Acts.

    I find it strange that there is so much talk of the theory of the penal substitutionary atonement in conservative Evangelical quarters, but so little talk of Jesus as the purification offering for sins. This despite the fact that Jesus’ death understood as a purification offering for sins is especially stressed in the Johannine literature (John’s Gospel and First John in particular) and Hebrews. Still, to this day, this aspect of Christ’s atonement is often overlooked.

    Of Jesus, John the Baptist proclaims “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). “[T]he blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (3:5). The focus is on Jesus’ death removing our sins in order to restore us to purity and consequently a right relationship with God. “[I]f we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1:7). The emphasis is on our sins being the primary obstacle between us and God, not God’s holiness or wrath needing to be appeased. The context and the author’s emphasis of sin being cleansed and done away with throughout First John lead me to believe that the Revised Standard Version’s rendering of hilasmos and hilasmon in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 is correct: Jesus is “the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for . . . the whole world” (2:2 RSV); and “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (4:10).

    Any explicit mention of the wrath of God is conspicuously absent from First John. The sanctifying work of the cross in cleansing us from sin serves as a motivation for believers to keep themselves undefiled by sin (1:5-10: 3:2-9; cf. Romans 6:1-14). The objective and the subjective aspects of Jesus’ offering for sin on behalf of the human race are inseparable. If Christ’s blood purifies us of sin and he came in order to remove sin, this should drive us to live a life of obedience, walking as Jesus walked and keeping his commandments (2:3-6).

    Note: The above is not taken to be an exhaustive critique against the penal satisfaction view of the atonement. Overall, however, I do believe the New Testament authors stress Jesus as a sin offering and expiation for sins (see also 1 Peter 1:17-19).

    The Remonstrant

    04/20/2014 at 7:02 AM

    • I have no problem saying that Christ’s death on the cross and His shed blood washes (or cleanses) us from sin. Certainly this is a biblical aspect of the atonement.

      Richard Watson points out that the word “propitiation” means “to appease, to atone, to turn away the wrath of an offended person.” This would be the case with the death of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Christ bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) and our sins were against a holy God who was just and pure. Therefore, the blood of Christ turns away the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9). Apart from Christ, the wrath of God remains on the sinner (John 3:36). But in Christ, the wrath of God is complete when He shed His blood for us to not only wash away our sins but to also bring us peace with God (Romans 5:1).

      The fundamental point of salvation is from salvation from God. We are saved from God Himself. It is against a holy God that we have sinned and violated His just laws. We deserve His wrath for our sins. But God, who is rich in mercy, sent His Son to die for our sins (Matthew 1:21) and the cross He shed His blood for our forgiveness (Matthew 26:28).

      I love how the ESV translates Romans 3:25: “Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he has passed over former sins.” This is the perfect picture of propitiation, the turning away of the wrath of God. This only happens in Christ Jesus.

      While I hold to the penal view, there are obviously various aspects of the atoning work of Christ that we could cover including Jesus’ blood being a ransom for our sins (Mark 10:45) or the defeat of Satan (Hebrews 2:14). One view doesn’t always fit all that the New Testament ascribes to the glorious work of Christ. How could it?

      • TSD:

        Thank you for your response. I confess that I have struggled with the penal satisfaction view on and off for some years. I do not object to the doctrine on philosophical grounds. I suppose my primary concern is how proponents of the penal substitutionary view often articulate the view. As far as humankind being sinful and alienated from God, no one who knows and affirms the teaching of the Scriptures can deny this. The same would apply to God being holy.

        Concerning First John, my basic point is that the context of the epistle lends itself to favoring the concept of expiation more than it does propitiation. Of course, hilasmos, -on may carry the sense of both.

        I do find certain expressions often associated with the theory of penal substitutionary atonement objectionable. May we properly say that God (the Father) “punished” Jesus, poured out his wrath on the Son, or temporarily “abandoned” or “turned his back on Christ” as some claim? I personally do not see the scriptural warrant for such utterances. God is one.* The Father and the Son were acting in accord on the cross. They are/were always in union with each other. Can we not simply say that Jesus bore the terrible penalty or consequence of sin and leave it there? Those outside of Christ will pay the ultimate penalty for their sin: eternal death.

        I do not know if our sentiments greatly differ.

        * I mean “one” in the trinitarian (not the unitarian or Sabellian) sense.

        The Remonstrant

        04/26/2014 at 2:01 PM

      • I think a key point about the atonement is whom did Christ die for? In other words, whom are we being saved from? Obviously the answer is God. Christ then took the sinners place (2 Cor. 5:21). This is why I see the wrath of God being poured out on the Son. The forsaking of the Son was in fulfillment of Psalm 22:1. The Son, on the cross, took the sinners place. He bore the sin and the just wrath of God against those sins. When a person is in Christ, the wrath of God can be complete only because of the cross (Romans 3:21-27; 1 John 2:1-2). This was the will of the Lord Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 53:10. Arminius could write:

        “I affirm, therefore, that faith is imputed to us for righteousness, on account of Christ and his righteousness. In this enunciation, faith is the object of imputation; but Christ and his obedience are the impetratory [procuring] or meritorious cause of justification. Christ and his obedience are the object of our faith, but not the object of justification or divine imputation, as if God imputes Christ and his righteousness to us for righteousness. This cannot possibly be, since the obedience of Christ is righteousness itself, taken according to the most severe rigor of the law. But I do not deny that the obedience of Christ is imputed to us; that is, that it is accounted or reckoned for us and for our benefit, because this very thing — that God reckons the righteousness of Christ to have been performed for us and for our benefit — is the cause why God imputes to us for righteousness our faith, which has Christ and his righteousness for its object and foundation, and why he justifies us by faith, from faith, or through faith.”

        But he could only do this if in fact Christ has bore the sinners sin and took our place.

        I appreciate your graciousness in our discussions. Much grace be upon you!

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