Tag Archives: Penal substitution

“If you want to understand theology, you had better begin here” by Charles Spurgeon

“All of us put together, and millions upon millions of our human race, could never equal in value the precious Lord Jesus. If you were to put in all the angels as well, and all the creatures that God has over made, they could not equal Him who is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and the express image of His person.

‘Yet He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.’ And this is the gospel which we have to preach to you every time we stand before you, namely, that Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God, was offered to God as a substitute for ungodly, unclean, unacceptable man.

That we might not die, Christ died.

That we might not be cursed, Jesus was cursed and fastened to the tree.

That we might be received, He was rejected.

That we might be approved, He was despised.

That we might live forever He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

If any man wants to understand theology, he had better begin here. This is the first and main point.

I do not think I should dispute with any of my brethren in the ministry upon what else they hold if they all hold purely and straightforwardly the doctrine of substitution by Jesus Christ on the behalf of His own elect people.

Martin Luther stood out for justification by faith, and rightly so, for in his day that seemed to be the center, where all the battle raged. I think that just now substitution by Christ seems to be the place where the garments are rolled in blood, and where the fight is thickest.

That Jesus Christ was punished in the sinner’s stead, that the wrath which was due to His people was endured by Him, that He drank the cup of bitterness which they ought to have drained, is the grandest of all truths, and so sublime a truth that if all the Christians in the world were to be burned in one dreadful holocaust, the price would be but little to maintain this precious doctrine in its integrity upon the face of the earth.

Now most men know that they are to be saved by Christ, but I am afraid, but I am afraid that it is not always preached plainly, so that men know how it is that Christ saves them.

My dear hearer, I would not have you go away without knowing this. Christ Jesus came into the world to take the sins of His people upon Himself, and to be punished for them.

Well, if Christ was punished for them, they could not be punished afterwards. Christ’s being punished in their stead was the full discharge of their debt which they owed to divine justice, and they are sure to be saved.

Those for whom Christ died as a Substitute can no more be damned than Christ Himself can be. It is not possible that hell can enclose them, or elsewhere are the justice and the integrity of God?

Does He demand the man, and then take a Substitute, and then take the man again? Does He demand the payment of our debt, and receive that payment at the hand of Christ, and then arrest us a second time for the same debt?

Then, in the great court of King’s Bench in heaven, where is justice? The honour of God, the faithfulness of God, the integrity of God are certain warrants to every soul for whom Christ died, that if Christ died for him he shall not die, but shall be exempt from the curse of the law.

‘How then,’ says one, ‘may I know that Christ died for my soul?’

Sir, dost thou trust Him? Wilt thou trust Him now? If so, that is the mark of His redeemed.

This is the King’s mark upon His treasure. This is the mark of the great Sheep-Master upon every one of those whom He has bought with blood.

If thou wilt take Him to be the unbuttressed pillar of thy salvation, if thou wilt build upon Him as the sole foundation of thine everlasting hope, then art thou His, and as for thy sins, they are laid on Him.

As for thy righteousness, thou hast none of thine own, but Christ’s righteousness is thine. As in the case before us, the lamb was offered, the donkey was spared; the unclean animal lived; the clean creature died. There was a change of places.

So does Christ change places with the sinner. Christ puts Himself in the sinner’s place, and what do we read? ‘He was numbered with the transgressors,’ and, being numbered with the transgressors, what then?

Why, He was put to death as a transgressor. They crucified Him between two malefactors. He had to suffer the death of a felon, and though in him was no sin, yet ‘the Lord hath made to meet upon Him the iniquities of us all.’

He was before God the representative of all His people, and all the sins of his people covered Him until He had drunk the cup of wrath, and then He threw off the horrible incubus of His people’s sins, and cast the stupendous load of the guilt of all His elect down into the sepulchre, and there left it buried forever, while in His rising He gave to them the pledge and earnest of their acquittal, and of their everlasting life.

Ah! My hearers, I wish I had a thousand tongues with which to proclaim this one truth! As I have not, I ask the tongues of all those who know its preciousness to tell it forth.

Tell the sick, tell the dying, tell the young, tell the old, tell sinners of every degree and every class, that salvation is not by what they do, nor by what they feel, but that it all lies in that Man who was once crucified, but who now lives in the power of an endless life before the eternal throne.

And if they say, ‘What mean you by this?’ tell them that this man is none other than God over all, blessed forever, and that He condescended to become man, and take upon Himself the sin of His people, and to be punished for their guilt, so that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

The just for the unjust, He died to bring us to God. This is the gospel– the core, the kernel, the marrow of the entire Bible.

You may say of all the book besides that it is but folds and wrappings; but this is what it wraps up—substitution by Christ.

Believe this truth. Believe it as a doctrine, but, better still, cast your souls on it, and say, ‘If it be so, then will I trust in the power of him who loved, and lived, and died for sinners that I might go free.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Redeeming the Unclean,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 61 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1915), 61: 221–223.

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“No Christ in your sermon, sir?” by Charles Spurgeon

“The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ, and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it.

No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “To You,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Volume 50 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1904), 50: 431.

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“He bore my shame” by Charles Spurgeon

“God sees no sin in any one of His people, no iniquity in Jacob, when He looks upon them in Christ. In themselves He sees nothing but filth and abomination, in Christ nothing but purity and righteousness.

Is it not, and must it not ever be to the Christian, one of his most delightful privileges to know that altogether apart from anything that we have ever done, or can do, God looks upon His people as being righteous, nay, as being righteousness, and that despite all the sins they have ever committed, they are accepted in Him as if they had been Christ, while Christ was punished for them as if He had been sin.

Why, when I stand in my own place, I am lost and ruined; my place is the place where Judas stood, the place where the devil lies in everlasting shame.

But when I stand in Christ’s place– and I fail to stand where faith has put me till I stand there– when I stand in Christ’s place, the Father’s everlastingly beloved one, the Father’s accepted one, Him whom the Father delighteth to honour– when I stand there, I stand where faith hath a right to put me, and I am in the most joyous spot that a creature of God can occupy.

Oh, Christian, get thee up, get thee up into the high mountain, and stand where thy Saviour stands, for that is thy place. Lie not there on the dunghill of fallen humanity, that is not thy place now; Christ has once taken it on thy behalf. ‘He made Him to be sin for us.’

Thy place is yonder there, above the starry hosts, where He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Him. Not there, at the day of judgment, where the wicked shriek for shelter, and beg for the hills to cover them, but there, where Jesus sits upon His throne—- there is thy place, my soul.

He will make thee to sit upon His throne, even as He has overcome, and has sat down with His Father upon His throne.

Oh! That I could mount to the heights of this argument tonight; it needs a seraphic preacher to picture the saint in Christ, robed in Christ’s righteousness, wearing Christ’s nature, bearing Christ’s palm of victory, sitting on Christ’s throne, wearing Christ’s crown.

And yet this is our privilege!

He wore my crown, the crown of thorns; I wear His crown, the crown of glory.

He wore my dress, nay, rather, he wore my nakedness when he died upon the cross; I wear His robes, the royal robes of the King of kings.

He bore my shame; I bear His honour.

He endured my sufferings to this end that my joy may be full, and that His joy may be fulfilled in me.

He laid in the grave that I might rise from the dead and that I may dwell in Him, and all this He comes again to give me, to make it sure to me and to all that love His appearing, to show that all His people shall enter into their inheritance.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ—Our Substitute,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Volume 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 6: 195.

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“We believe the old doctrines of grace” by Charles Spurgeon

“Little did I think I should live to see this kind of stuff taught in pulpits. I had no idea that there would come out a divinity which would bring down God’s moral government from the solemn aspect in which Scripture reveals it, to a namby-pamby sentimentalism, which adores a Deity destitute of every masculine virtue.

But we never know today what may occur tomorrow. We have lived to see a certain sort of men– thank God they are not Baptists– though I am sorry to say there are a great many Baptists who are beginning to follow in their trail– who seek to teach nowadays that God is a universal Father, and that our ideas of His dealing with the impenitent as a Judge, and not as a Father, are remnants of antiquated error.

Sin, according to these men, is a disorder rather than an offence, an error rather than a crime. Love is the only attribute they can discern, and the full-orbed Deity they have not known.

Some of these men push their way very far into the bogs and mire of falsehood, until they inform us that eternal punishment is ridiculed as a dream.

In fact, books now appear, which teach us that there is no such thing as the Vicarious Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. They use the word Atonement, it is true, but in regard to its meaning, they have removed the ancient landmark.

They acknowledge that the Father has shown His great love to poor sinful man by sending His Son, but not that God was inflexibly just in the exhibition of His mercy, not that He punished Christ on the behalf of His people, nor that indeed God ever will punish anybody in His wrath, or that there is such a thing as justice apart from discipline.

Even sin and hell are but old words employed henceforth in a new and altered sense. Those are old-fashioned notions, and we poor souls who go on talking about election and imputed righteousness, are behind our time.

Ay, and the gentlemen who bring out books on this subject, applaud Mr. Maurice, and Professor Scott, and the like, but are too cowardly to follow them, and boldly propound these sentiments.

These are the new men whom God has sent down from heaven, to tell us that the apostle Paul was all wrong, that our faith is vain, that we have been quite mistaken, that there was no need for propitiating blood to wash away our sins; that the fact was, our sins needed discipline, but penal vengeance and righteous wrath are quite out of the question.

When I thus speak, I am free to confess that such ideas are not boldly taught by a certain individual whose volume excites these remarks, but as he puffs the books of gross perverters of the truth, I am compelled to believe that he endorses such theology.

Well, brethren, I am happy to say that sort of stuff has not gained entrance into this pulpit. I dare say the worms will eat the wood before there will be anything of that sort sounded in this place.

And may these bones be picked by vultures, and this flesh be rent in sunder by lions, and may every nerve in this body suffer pangs and tortures, ere these lips shall give utterance to any such doctrines or sentiments.

We are content to remain among the vulgar souls who believe the old doctrines of grace.

We are willing still to be behind in the great march of intellect, and stand by that unmoving cross, which, like the pole star, never advances, because it never stirs, but always abides in its place, the guide of the soul to heaven, the one foundation other than which no man can lay, and without building upon which, no man shall ever see the face of God and live.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ—Our Substitute,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Volume 6 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 6: 190.

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“He is one with us and has taken our place” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Because Christ bears our name and our nature even the weakest believer may look to Christ and find assurance of grace and salvation in Him.

Here Calvin’s exposition of the Gospels’ testimony is profound and telling: Jesus’ ministry reveals to us the humanity of a Saviour who can be trusted, who understands, and who is able to bring reassurance of the adequacy and fittingness of His grace.

Much of what He does and experiences is intended to show us how near to us He came. The revelation of His frailty and weakness is all intended to assure us that He is one with us and has taken our place.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, “Manifested in the Flesh: The Reality of the Incarnation,” in Some Pastors and Teachers (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2017), 81.

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“Measure the height of His love by the depth of His grief” by Charles Spurgeon

‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ This cry came out of that darkness. Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded Sun of Righteousness.

There is light in it, bright, flashing light; but there is a centre of impenetrable gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.

Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish. This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone.

Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.

This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord.

You shall measure the height of His love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of His grief, if that can ever be known.

See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be!

What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come?

I do not profess that I can dive into this deep. I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘“‘Lama Sabachtani?’’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 153-154. (MPTS: 36: 133-134)

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“In Thee we see everything fulfilled” by Charles Spurgeon

“What meant the Saviour, then, by this—’It is finished?’ He meant, first of all, that all the types, promises, and prophecies were now fully accomplished in Him.

Those who are acquainted with the original will find that the words—’It is finished,’ occur twice within three verses. In the 28th verse, we have the word in the Greek; it is translated in our version ‘accomplished,’ but there it stands—’After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.’

And then He afterwards said, ‘It is finished.’ This leads us to see His meaning very clearly, that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, that when He said, ‘It is finished,’ the whole book, from the first to the last, in both the law and the prophets, was finished in Him.

There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi, which was not set in the breast-plate of the true High Priest.

Nay, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle-dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself, which was not fulfilled in Him; and not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan; not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea, which was not now fully wrought out in Christ Jesus.

And, brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises, and prophecies, and types, apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one person! Take away Christ for one moment, and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living, and say to him:

‘Take this; this is a problem; go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all that which is herein foreshadowed; remember, he must be a prophet like unto Moses, and yet a champion like to Joshua; he must be an Aaron and a Melchizedek; he must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. Nay, he must not only be the lamb that was slain, and the scape-goat that was not slain, the turtle-dove that was dipped in blood, and the priest who slew the bird, but he must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy-seat, and the shewbread.’

Nay, to puzzle this wise man further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contradictory, that one would think they never could meet in one man. Such as these, ‘All kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him;’ and yet, ‘He is despised and rejected of men.’

He must begin by showing a man born of a virgin mother—’A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.’ He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord doth cause to meet the iniquities of us all. He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground.

Now, I say it boldly, if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies, they could not do it. I see you, ye wise men, ye are poring over these hieroglyphs; one suggests one key, and it opens two or three of the figures, but you cannot proceed, for the next one puts you at a nonplus.

Another learned man suggests another clue, but that fails most where it is most needed, and another, and another, and thus these wondrous hieroglyphs traced of old by Moses in the wilderness, must be left unexplained, till one comes forward and proclaims, ‘The cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate,’ then the whole is clear, so that he that runs may read, and a child may understand.

Blessed Saviour! In Thee we see everything fulfilled, which God spoke of old by the prophets; in Thee we discover everything carried out in substance, which God had set forth us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke.

Glory be unto Thy name! ‘It is finished’—everything is summed up in Thee.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘It Is Finished,’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 218-220. (MTPS, 7: 586-587)

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