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Christ Our Substitutionary Sacrifice
2 Corinthians 5:21
Our blessed Savior was our penal Substitute. As such, he made a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:26 states, “but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Now, if the Lord Jesus put away sins by that sacrifice, he made a substitutionary sacrifice for sins. His sacrifice was for a specific people. A substitute specifically takes the place of another. As our Substitute, the Lord Jesus took on himself the sins of those specific sinners for whom he died and was made sin for them. When he was made sin for us, our guilt became his guilt; and he was justly punished for our sins.
If the Lord Jesus Christ had substituted for all without exception, then all must be saved without exception. Conversely, since not all are saved, he must have substituted for only those who have been, are, and will be saved.
Almost 800 years before the death of Christ, God the Holy Ghost spelled out in Isaiah 53 that which was drawn up in the covenant of grace before the foundation of the world. Every statement in that blessed chapter is talking substitution. Christ our Surety is that Man of whom David spoke in Psalm 15:4. — “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not!” The chastisement that has brought us peace with God was not upon us, but upon him. “Your sin,” as Martin Luther said, “cannot be in two places at one time. It’s either on Christ or on you.”
And does Isaiah say that with his stripes, we may be healed if we cooperate? No, he says, “With his stripes we are healed!” It’s an accomplished work. His substitutionary sacrifice is forever a gloriously effectual atonement for our sins! — The cross of Christ shall never be discovered a miscarriage! — “He shall not fail!” — “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied!”
If a woman goes through labor and birth pains, she would be most heartbroken if her baby were stillborn. She will be satisfied only if and when her baby is held as a living child in her arms. Now, if you believe in universal atonement, you are saying that the cross of Christ is a miscarriage, that the Son of God travailed in the pains of death, only to bring forth nothing, that he travailed for everybody but he cannot bring anybody to life. — Blasphemy!
God the Holy Ghost assures us throughout the Book of Inspiration that every soul for which the Lord Jesus Christ travailed in birth pains on the cross of Calvary will be born whole. In this Exodus, as it was with Israel coming out of Egypt, you will not find “one feeble person among their tribes” (Psalm 105:37). That’s what we mean by limited atonement.