Penal Substitution

Lamb0210 things that every Christian should know about the penal substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Jesus. – Dr. Sam Storms (Original source Pierced for our Transgressions: “The doctrine of penal substitution states that God gave himself in the person of his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin” (Pierced, 21). John Piper offers this explanation of its importance: “[I]f God did not punish his Son in my place, I am not saved from my greatest peril, the wrath of God.” We have only one hope and it is “that the infinite wisdom of God might make a way for the love of God to satisfy the wrath of God so that I might become a son of God” (Piper, Foreword to Pierced for our Transgressions, 14).

(2) Contrary to some critics, penal substitution is found in the early church fathers and throughout the writings of theologians in church history. I point to Justin Martyr (c. 100-165), Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275-339), Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300-368), Athanasius (c. 300-373), Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330-390), Ambrose of Milan (339-397), John Chrysostom (c. 350-407), Augustine (354-430), Cyril of Alexandria (375-444), and Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), all of whom advocated penal substitution in one form or another. Other significant figures who understood the atonement in this way include Thomas Aquinas (cf. 1225-74), John Calvin (1509-64), Francis Turretin (1623-87), John Bunyan (1628-88), John Owen (1616-83), George Whitefield (1714-70), Charles Spurgeon (1834-92), D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), as well as Billy Graham, John Stott, and J. I. Packer. These are only representative thinkers and represents a small fraction of those who have embraced the truth of penal substitution. Continue reading