The following is taken from the Introduction by J.I. Packer, “Penal Substitution Revisited.”
As Galatians 2:20 declares, his life of responsive faith was wholly formed and driven by the knowledge that his Savior had revealed divine love to him by giving himself to die on the cross in order to save him.
Accordingly, this text starts to show us how faith in Christ, our penal substitute, should be shaping our own lives today, which will be my final point for reflection. Thirty years ago I wrote an analysis of insights basic to personal religion that faith in Christ as one’s penal substitute yields. Since I cannot today improve on it, I cite it as it stands.
- God, in Denney’s phrase, “condones nothing,” but judges all sin as it deserves: which Scripture affirms, and my conscience confirms, to be right.
- My sins merit ultimate penal suffering and rejection from God’s presence (conscience also confirms this), and nothing I do can blot them out.
- The penalty due to me for my sins, whatever it was, was paid for me by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his death on the cross.
- Because this is so, I through faith in him am made “the righteousness of God in him,” i.e., I am justified; pardon, acceptance, and sonship [to God] become mine.
- Christ’s death for me is my sole ground of hope before God. “If he fulfilled not justice, I must; if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity” (John Owen).
- My faith in Christ is God’s own gift to me, given in virtue of Christ’s death for me: i.e., the cross procured it.
- Christ’s death for me guarantees my preservation to glory.
- Christ’s death for me is the measure and pledge of the love of the Father and the Son to me.
- Christ’s death for me calls and constrains me to trust, to worship, to love, and to serve.
Only where these nine truths have taken root and grow in the heart will anyone be fully alive to God.
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In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement