I don't understand how anyone can deny the penal substitutionary atonement. I understand why you can add in Christus Victor, but I see no biblical way to remove substitutionary atonement:
Penal Substitutionary Atonement
Jesus Achiever of Peace (Heb. 13:20) – The wickedness of the human condition is so deep and so nefarious that we often do think that we know best. God has stamped his image on every single one of us, every one of us. This is what makes humans valuable, this is what makes abortion or other forms of murder such a grievous blasphemy and sin, and this is also why we are capable of such foolishness to think that we are in charge. Because we have the power of the image of God, but often without the wisdom of God. Jesus was God’s means of achieving this peace with sinners like us: “20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,…”
For a warrior God, a God who is angered by arrogance and pride, to make things right, he could not just choose to overlook our sin. Many people have asked the question about why did Jesus have to die? Because God’s enmity with mankind comes from our sinful rebellion against him. This cannot just be over-looked. It needed to be dealt with, and it was dealt with by the blood Jesus shed for us.
To account for our sins a death was owed, and it was either our death or his death. Either we suffered for our sins, or he suffered for us. Praise be to God that he paid the price for us otherwise we would have been in big trouble.
The technical term for this is ‘penal substitutionary’ atonement. This is just a fancy term for: Jesus took our place and took the lawful punishment that we deserved. God punished our sins in Jesus.
Did you know there are Christians who deny that Jesus took the penalty for our sin?
They do not deny that Jesus redeemed us. They instead emphasize that he achieved victory over sin, death and the devil on the cross. That he triumphed over evil and redeemed us from evil, which is all true. They do not deny that we needed Jesus to die to save us, because the Bible is too clear about this. They however find the idea that God needed to punish someone else for our sins to be an unbiblical idea. This may sound strange to your ears, but such is the way of theology in this world. But the scriptures are clear: Jesus took our place and he was punished for our transgression -
He took our place - Mark 10:45 makes it clear that Jesus took our place, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” What is a ransom? It is a price paid in the place of someone who is being held captive for that ransom. It is something which is exchanged for the captive. Sin held us captive, the Devil held us captive, judgement was hanging over us, God’s justice demanded we should pay our debt of sin.
Think of our debt of sin like a credit card with 100% interest that you have racked up beyond your means to pay. It is too much, you cannot even pay it if you take 5 jobs and win the lotto. But you must pay it, otherwise you suffer judgement.
Jesus paid that debt. Jesus made himself that payment for us, for you, for me, for all who believe. So, the idea of taking our place as payment is established.
Was punished for our transgression - Isaiah 53 shows that he was crushed, punished for our sins – Isaiah 53:6, 10 - “6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
God laid on his Son our iniquity, and Jesus, the son of God took this willingly. I don’t know how you could not get a more clear statement of “penal substitution”. He was punished, or crushed, for our sins. This was God's will. This was the Son's will.
These points go to the core of the gospel – we were enemies of God because we sought to try and take control of his throne and we owed him a debt for our sin that we could not pay with any price other than our own lives, and so Jesus gave his life to pay the price for us. This is how God achieved for us peace.
Peace with God – the blood of Christ pays the debt we could not pay.
Peace with our fellow man – if God forgives our sins, then we too should forgive others their sins.
Peace on earth – Jesus has defeated all of his enemies, through his victorious death and resurrection and this will eventually lead to the establishment of God’s peace on earth.
Peace with creation – The creation was subjected to decay because of mankind’s sin, and Jesus will reverse this. (the lion will lay down with the lamb, children will be able to one day play with snakes and not get bitten).
Peace with ourselves – You do not have to live in guilt and shame. If you confess your sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
God truly is the God of peace.
This is an excerpt from a sermon, you can listen to the whole message here.