Lewis: Jesus Thought Penal Substitution was Gross (But Still Necessary)

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.” -C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Why the Atonement Isn’t Divine Abuse

“Objection: But to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty is also repugnant to the justice of God.
Answer: This objection would have force, 1.If the innocent one were unwilling to
endure the punishment which would be required.
2.If he were not of the same nature with the guilty.
3. If he were not able to undergo a sufficient punishment.
4. If he could not come forth from this punishment; for God would not have the innocent to perish for the guilty.
5. If he were not able to renew and regenerate the sinner, and give him faith so that he might embrace his benefits. But all these conditions meet in Christ, as is clearly evident from. the following portions of Scripture: “Christ has loved us and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor.” “I lay down my life for
the sheep.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquities.” “Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “I lay down my life that I might take it again.” “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it.” “Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” -Zacharias Ursinus, Heidelberg Catechism Commentary

What Modern Self-Atonement Looks Like

“Very few, if any, of us have ever tried to atone for our sins by shedding the blood of an animal. We view that system of sacrifice as unthinkable, archaic. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t try to atone for our sins in other ways. When we see that we’ve failed again we make resolutions.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross

 

Nobody Outside of Us, No Atonement

“[Ian] McEwan leaves us where he left Briony [from Atonement], with the grim realization that without something beyond us, outside ourselves, there can be no atonement. Such a message might not have been palatable for a mass movie audience because it goes against our cherished assumption that we can atone for our lives by the choices we make. But McEwan, a professed atheist, is more honest. No God, no atonement. We may yearn for it, but that’s all we can do. As he says, “The attempt was all.”” -Rankin Wilbourne, Union with Christ

 

The Cross Makes It Possible To Confess Our Sins

“On the cross Christ paid the debt for every selfish desire, thought, word, or deed to which you will ever give yourself. You no longer have to be afraid to own up to your selfishness. You do not have to whitewash your thoughts and motives. You do not have to cover your sin by blaming others or by self-atoning logic. You do not have to give yourself to acts of penance (self-atonement) that make you feel better about yourself. You do not have to search for biblical passages that will give ease to your conscience. No, your debt has been fully paid. Your punishment has been borne by Another. There is One who has taken your place and been condemned instead of you. Paul says, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2: 13b— 14). As God’s child, you have been forgiven for every act of self-focused independence and rebellion. You have been freed from the debt of your every failure to love God above all else and your neighbor as yourself. You no longer need to live in hiding. Forgiving grace welcomes you out of the darkness to lift the burden of refusal, guilt, fear, and shame off of your shoulders. You have been invited to confess and receive the forgiveness that is yours.” -Paul Tripp