Or start at the beginning: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 1: God is a Trinity of Persons?
Here’s where we get to the crux of the matter.
The Protestant theory of justification by faith alone is tightly connected with an atonement theory called penal substitution, which was developed by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s. Here’s the basic idea:
5. Jesus Christ paid the price, or penalty, for our sins?
Both because we inherit sin and guilt from Adam and because we sin ourselves, each one of us guilty and sinful. And as Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Every one of us therefore deserves the death penalty—meaning eternal damnation and torture in hell.
Unfortunately none of us is able to avoid that penalty, because as covered in the previous two parts, none of us is capable of being perfectly sinless, which is what God requires.
This means that every single one of us will inevitably suffer the penalty of eternal death in hell, because God’s justice requires that the penalty be paid.
The solution, according to the penal substitution theory of atonement, is that Jesus Christ pays that penalty instead of us.
We are the sinners. Jesus Christ never sinned. Unlike us, he was able to live a perfect, sinless life (see Hebrews 4:15). Further, he was willing to die for us. And in penal substitution theory, this means dying instead of us. So if the price, or penalty, of sin is death, Jesus paid that price, or penalty for us by dying instead of us on the cross. And as long as we believe that he did that for us, we don’t have to pay the price of eternal death because he paid it for us.
There are many problems with this theory.
First, it makes no sense that a relatively brief physical death, even of the Son of God, would pay the price of eternal death for human beings. If Christ had truly paid the price for our sins, then he would have had to suffer the torments of hell forever, just as we were slated to do because of our sins. And obviously he didn’t do that.
Second, the Bible simply never says that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. The whole idea was made up by the early Protestant theologians. You can look as hard as you want. You will not find a single passage in the entire Bible that says that Jesus paid the price for our sins, or that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. It’s just not there.
In fact, the Bible states very clearly that this sort of arrangement, in which an innocent person dies in place of a guilty one, is utterly contrary to God’s will. Here are a few such passages:
Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. (Exodus 23:7)
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:6–7)
The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. (Numbers 14:18)
When people have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty. (Deuteronomy 25:1)
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Lord detests them both. (Proverbs 17:15)
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,” will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. (Proverbs 24:24)
And yet, this is exactly what penal substitution does. It says of the innocent one—Jesus Christ—that he is guilty of our sins, and punishes him for them. And it says of the guilty ones—us—that we are innocent, and will not be punished for our sins.
Penal substitution does precisely what the Lord detests: it acquits the guilty and condemns the innocent. It puts an innocent and honest person to death, while leaving the guilty unpunished.
In short, not only is the idea that Jesus paid the price, or penalty, for our sins stated nowhere in the Bible, but the Bible teaches very clearly that the principle behind the theory of penal substitution violates God’s justice and is entirely contrary to God’s will.
That’s why the idea that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins is the fifth false, anti-Biblical foundation of faith alone.
For Part 6, click here: The Faulty Foundations of Faith Alone – Part 6: Jesus’ Death Appeased the Father’s Wrath?
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