Each year Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday as the day the hope of the Gospel was shown in the resurrection of Jesus. This is a day of joyful singing as we proclaim that death has died and our King has lived! But in many ways, the beauty and bliss of Easter can be minimized by an overlooking of Good Friday, the day he was crucified, died, and buried. In doing so, we neglect one of the vital doctrines of Christianity: penal substitutionary atonement. “The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while they essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man along.” (John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 61)
Tonight we’ll be looking at penal substitutionary atonement further in our Good Friday Services across Northern Nevada. For a full list of Good Friday times and locations, visit LivingStonesChurches.com
As a devotional for reflection today, we’ve posted a few of the writings from Melito of Sardis. Melito was a pastor around 190 AD. Our hope is that you’ll not only find his writings helpful for reflection, but also find confidence in the historic doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement in the writings of Church leaders from over 1,800 years ago.
He who hung the earth is hanging. He who fixed the heavens in place has been fixed in place. He who laid the foundations of the universe has been laid on a tree. The master has been profaned. God has been murdered. The King of Israel has been destroyed by an Israelite right hand.
The Lord clothed himself with humanity, And with suffering on behalf on the suffering one, And bound on behalf of the one constrained, And judged on behalf of the one convicted, And buried on behalf on the one entombed, Rose from the dead and cried aloud.
I am the lamb slaughtered for you, I am your ransom, I am your life, I am your salvation, I am your resurrection, I am your King. I shall raise you up by my right hand I will lead you to the heights of heaven, There shall I show you the everlasting father.”
He it is who made the heaven and earth, And formed humanity it the beginning, Who was proclaimed through the law and the prophets, Who took flesh from a virgin, Who was hung on a tree Who was buried in earth, Who was raised from the dead, And ascended to the heights of heaven, Who sits at the right hand of the father, Who has power to save all things, Through whom the father acted from the beginning and forever
This is the alpha and omega, This is the beginning and the end, The effable beginning and the incomprehensible end. This is the Christ, This is the King, This is Jesus, This is the commander, This is the Lord, This is he who rose from the dead, This is he who sits at the right hand of the father, He bears the father and is borne by him. To him be the glory and the might forever. Amen