Open Forum Notes for April 29, 2015

The following are the notes for the Open Forum scheduled for April 29, 2015, at 11:00 AM CT.  We may be making adjustments to these notes.  Please keep checking back.  Feel free to leave comments below the post which you feel would help us in our study on April 29, 2015.  

*Update I have incorporated Wayne Welsh comments into these forum notes.*


Open Forum Notes for April 29, 2015

Question:  Was Jesus’ Death a Substitute Punishment for Our Punishment?

Discussion Notes:

Explanation of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory:

  1. “Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.”  (http://www.theopedia.com/Penal_substitutionary_atonement)
  2. Time for Bob Myhan and Bryan Garlock to go into a somewhat brief explanation of the theory.
    • Explain meaning of substitution.  Bob: To “substitute” for someone is to do or be something in that someone’s place. e.g., the designated hitter bats instead of the pitcher so that the pitcher never bats.  [I think the trouble you run into [similar to Wayne’s question later] is that “substitution” does not naturally carry an idea of permanence or being an eternal state, i.e. your use of “never bats”; further it does not naturally demand an identical exchange, e.g. apples in place of apples. It could be a nonidentical exchange, e.g. apples in place of oranges.]
    • [[WW] Is the question under discussion specifically the “penal substitution” model, or is it all substitution models in general? If the issue is the latter, then Theopedia’s definition seems oversimplified. Wikipedia (to refer to an equally credible source) notes that there are many different models of “substitutionary atonement,” of which penal substitution is just one. For instance, there is the “satisfaction theory” where Christ pays God an honor he is due in our place (since we cannot). This is distinct from “penal substitution,” where Christ is specifically being punished for sins in our place. Both are forms of substitution, but only one involves vicarious punishment. There is also a less technical use of the term ‘substitution’ in discussion about atonement when it is used in ‘the sense that [Jesus, through his death,] did for us that which we can never do for ourselves’(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substitutionary_atonement).]
    • [JD]  Wayne, the subject under question is specifically “penal substitution.”  (See definition in subpoint 1, found above.  It is not “all substitution models in general.”  Thanks for the clarifying question.

God’s Punishment for Sin.

  1. The quote above reads, “God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve.”
  2. Consider the following questions?
    • According to scriptures, what punishment did mankind deserve because of his guilt of sin?
      1. Romans 6:23 – wages of sin is death
      2. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 – Those who do not “know God” and who “do not obey the gospel” will “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord”.
  3. Did Jesus bear the same punishment we deserved?
  4. How did God impute the “guilt of our sins to Christ” when God requires each person to bear the guilt of their own sin?
    • Ezekiel 18:20 – the soul who sins will die
    • James 1:17 – God does not change
    • Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus does not change.  Jesus is the Word.  (John 1)

Did Jesus bear the same punishment we deserve?

Discussion of passages used to support this theory.

  1. Isaiah 53:6 – “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.”
  2. Isaiah 53:12 – “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.”
  3. Matthew 20:28 – “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Could be translated as “in place of many,” depending on how one takes the preposition ἀντὶ)  (Wayne Welsh) (cf. 1 Timothy 2:6; the background for “ransom” is a substitutionary payment is made in order for a slave/prisoner to be set free; “in place of” can be used for either substitution or exchange language. -DD)
  4. Romans 3:25 – “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,”
  5. Romans 8:1-4 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  (Wayne Welsh)
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (In verse 14, a substitutionary sense is implied, “therefore all died”. The death of Christ was the death of all human beings. “Yper” carries the idea of “on behalf of” and “in the place of” here, Harris’ preposition reference work; Wallace’s grammar; Trench’s synonyms book; BDAG lexicon. Sin is a synonym for guilt. For our sake Jesus who was not guilty was treated as guilty. -DD)  Bob Myhan: F.F. Bruce wrote “this remarkable expression…can best be understood on the assumption that Paul had in mind the Hebrew idiom in which certain words for sin…mean not only sin but ‘sin-offering’; in this case we have a parallel here to Rom. 8:3, where God is said to have sent his Son ‘as a sin offering’”. He also relates this verse to Isaiah 53:10. Also “…if one has died for all, certainly all have died; and that he has died for all, that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who has died and rose again for them…. And all these things of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation – namely, that God was, by Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting to them their trespasses, and has committed to us the word of the reconciliation. We, therefore, execute the office of ambassadors for Christ, as of God beseeching you by us; we pray you, in behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For he has made him, who knew no sin, a sin-offering for us; that we might become the justified of God, by him.” (The Living Oracles, 1826)  (1- apart from this “disputed” meaning, hamartia does not mean “sin offering” in any other NT book except Hebrews. – DD)
  7. Galatians 3:10, 13 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. . . Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”  (“Yper” or “for” is both “in our place” and “for our benefit” Wallace’s grammar; Trench’s synonyms book; Harris’ preposition work, which interestingly rebukes A.T. Robertson for going too far with his substitutionary imagery in Robertson’s grammar.)
  8. 1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit”  (Wayne Welsh)
  9. Hebrews 10:1-4 – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”

Questions Pertinent to the Discussion.

  • Question:  Is there a difference between a sacrifice and a substitutionary punishment?
    1. Jesus was the one sacrifice, the one offering, for sins forever.  (Hebrews 10:1-14)
    2. Jesus’ sacrifice was an antitype of the sacrifices instituted under the Law of Moses.
    3. Is there evidence God considered the the sin offering (Leviticus 4:1 – 5:13), the guilt offering (Leviticus 5:14 – 6:7) , and the yearly atonement offerings, to be substitutionary punishment for the sins of the people?  In other words, were the bulls and the rams punished for the sins of the people or sacrificed for the sins of the people?
    4. The sin and guilt offerings (and more importantly the yearly atonement offerings) were shadows of something better to come.  The offering of Jesus is the antitype or the real image which cast the shadows which were those Old Testament sacrifices.  (cf. Hebrews 8:1-6; 10:1-4)
    5. Therefore, . . .
      • if the sin and guilt offerings under the Law of Moses served as substitutionary punishment, then the death of Jesus served as a substitutionary punishment.
      • However, if the sin and guilt offerings under the Law of Moses were sacrifices seeking God’s forgiveness for the people, then the death of Jesus was a sacrifice seeking God’s forgiveness for those who would come to Him.
    6. In other words, . . .
      • If the bulls and rams were punished and not sacrificed, then so was Jesus.
      • However, if the bulls and rams were sacrificed, then so was Jesus.
    7. *Comment from Wayne Welsh:  To points 5 and 6 under the second listed question, why can’t it be “both/and” rather than “either/or”? Even if there is a difference between sacrifice and substitutionary punishment, are they necessarily mutually incompatible ideas? If so, why?
      • [JD] The challenge for me is this:  The Bible clearly calls Jesus a sacrifice, an offering for sins.  However saying Jesus suffered substitutionary punishment is man’s explanation of the passages relating to Jesus’ death. (Under Galatians 3, I am proposing the language chosen is language that is substitutionary in nature. Therefore, it’s not something read into the text, but from the very language choice of the Holy Spirit- DD)
  • Question:  Is there a Bible passage which clearly says Jesus was punished as a substitute for my punishment?
    1. If so, then we can view all the Bible passages which speak of Jesus’ death with the understanding they are describing He who was a substitute for our punishment.
    2. If not, then all passages which speak of Jesus’ death should be viewed in the context an offering for our sins.
  1. *Comment from Wayne Welsh:  I think the two listed responses present a false dichotomy. Just because one passage says that Jesus’ death was a “substitute” and / or “sacrifice” does not necessitate that we read the image of substitution and / or sacrifice into every passage that discusses the death of Jesus. I have seen this mistake made on both sides of the debate, where someone picks a dominant metaphor for the atonement and magnifies it to the point where it subjugates all of the others and drowns them out. One can become so fixated on substitution and / or sacrifice language to the point where one misses other equally prominent purposes for the death of Jesus (such as his triumph over Satan and the forces of evil; John 12:30-33; 16:7-11; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Pet. 3:18-22; 1 John 3:8)
    • [JD]  Wayne, I agree there are many passages which offer different purposes for Jesus’ death.  However, allow me to illustrate my point with Isaiah 53.  The following statements are made regarding Jesus:
      1. vs 3 – He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      2. vs 4 – He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
      3. vs 5a – He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
      4. vs 5b – The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
      5. vs 6b – the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all
      6. vs 7 – He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
      7. vs 8 – For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken {killed, jmd}
      8. vs 10a – it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
    • For me, verse 10 appears to summarizes everything which happened to Jesus, all the way from Him being despised, rejected, and wounded all the way to Him being “cut off from the land of the living” by saying, “When You make His soul an offering for sin, . . .”
      1. (In verse 11, the thought of a judicial “accounted righteous” substitution “bear” is combined with the idea of an offering. Scripture combines the ideas we are trying to separate- DD)
    • All the statements regarding how Jesus was to be treated seem to be summed up in the Father’s decision to make Jesus an offering for sin.  What I do not see in this text is the suggestion or implication that Jesus would be punished as a substitute for the people’s punishment.

Additional or Submitted Thoughts . . .

  1. Submitted by Wayne Welsh:  Second, the OT sacrificial system isn’t the only background to the death of Jesus. If there is time, it would be good to see discussion of the numerous precedent examples of “substitution” in the OT.
    • The substitution of the ram for Isaac (Gen 22), which was clearly a type of Jesus. Isaac was supposed to die, but the ram died in his place. (The typology is turned on its head a little bit in the NT, where Jesus is both the beloved son, and the ram provided for replacement death). (In 22:13, Abraham offers a ram instead of Isaac. The exchange is the ram’s life instead of Isaac’s life. Is this an exact exchange? No. A ram’s life is not the same as a human life. Jesus’ human life being taken instead of our spiritual life being taken is not an exact exchange either. Identical replacement is not required for substitution.- DD)
    • The substitution of the Passover Lamb for the firstborn (Exod 12), which was clearly a type of Jesus. The firstborn were supposed to die, but the lamb died in their place.
    • The substitution of the Levites for the firstborn (Num 3:12, 41, 45; 8:16, 18), so that they could “bear guilt” in connection with the sanctuary (Num 18:1, 22).
    • The atonement “scapegoat” (if such a translation is appropriate) bore the sins of the people (Lev 16:22), when the people would have ordinarily borne their own sins (Lev 5:1, 17; 7:18; 17:16; 19:8; 20:17, 19, 20; 22:15-16; 24:15).
  2. Submitted by Wayne Welsh:  Third, I want to add two pertinent questions that I think need answering:
    • Why are we forced to the conclusion that a substitutionary view of atonement and the literal “forsaking” of Jesus on the cross are really the same issue? Brian stated last week that the removal of this idea makes PSA “fall apart,” and I notice this assumption throughout both Donahue’s and Myhan’s debate charts, but I do not see how this is necessarily the case. I know plenty of brethren (myself included) who affirm the former and deny the latter. Is there a reason why this linkage between the two is absolutely demanded?
      • [JD] – For me, this is how I have understood the two subjects to be intertwined:
        1. Jesus took on the guilt of every sin committed by everyman who has lived, who is living, and who will ever lived.  God cannot be in the presence of sin.  Therefore, God turned His back on Jesus, leaving Jesus all alone while He died upon the cross.
        2. Jesus, by taking on the guilt of every sin committed by everyone, of necessity had to take on the punishment of those sins for which He had taken on the guilt.
      • However, I can see a way where in someone may separate the two, embracing one and rejecting the other.  [WW – I guess the question I would have here is the same I have for the Calvinist: does taking on our punishment (or even some aspect of our punishment) necessarily require the imputation of our guilt to Christ? If a death was provided where death was demanded (substitution), does it necessarily follow that Jesus was literally guilty of our sins?]
    • Should substitution be taken to mean that Jesus’ punishment was like ours in every respect? Or is this pressing the legal / forensic language of the Bible too far? I’m not convinced that just because a substitute “life for life” transaction takes place that this would automatically let us “off the hook.” I agree that many have erred in pressing the metaphor of substitution beyond what the text allows, but is it possible that the logic that is used to outright deny PSA is sometimes guilty of the same kind of “pressing”? (There is at least one OT example I can think of where an animal and its substitute are both sacrificed because of man’s improper motives (Lev 27:10, 33). Couldn’t that have also been the case with Jesus’ sacrifice?)

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  1. Wayne Welsh April 27, 2015

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