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Sin Didn't Kill Jesus — God Did

  • John MacArthur Grace to You
Sin Didn't Kill Jesus — God Did

[Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament by John MacArthur.]

The reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God—the central theme of Isaiah 53.

We must remember, however, that sin did not kill Jesus; God did.

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A Shocking Truth

A Shocking Truth

The suffering servant’s death was nothing less than a punishment administered by God for sins others had committed. That is what we mean when we speak of penal substitutionary atonement. Again, if the idea seems shocking and disturbing, it is meant to be. Unless you recoil from the thought, you probably haven’t grasped it yet. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). This is one of the major reasons the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews, and it’s sheer foolishness as far as Gentiles are concerned (1 Corinthians 1:23). “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, [the message of Christ crucified embodies both] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24).

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Look at Isaiah 53

Look at Isaiah 53

There’s no way to sidestep the fact that the doctrine of penal substitution is unequivocally affirmed in the plain message of Isaiah 53. It is also confirmed and reiterated by many other passages throughout Scripture*. The servant of Yahweh, though perfectly innocent, bore the guilt of others and suffered unspeakable anguish to atone for their sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 3:13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

Hebrews 9:28: So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

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The Necessity of Christ’s Death

The Necessity of Christ’s Death

Despite the unsettling overtones in that message, it is good news. In fact, there is no more glorious good news. It explains why God “does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). He has not compromised his own righteousness. He does not merely overlook our transgressions. Rather, he fully satisfied justice and put away our sin forever through the death of his Son. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Now grace can truly reign through righteousness (Romans 5:21). And God can be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

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No One Need Wait

No One Need Wait

Israel’s national salvation is still in the future. But no one (neither Jew nor Gentile) need wait for some future event in order to turn from sin and trust Christ. You can be saved “today, if you hear his voice” (Hebrews 3:7). The righteousness of God is available even now “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). And “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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"The Gospel According to God"

"The Gospel According to God"

In The Gospel according to GodJohn MacArthur walks readers through the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 verse by verse, pointing readers to the passage’s fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where he has served since 1969. He is known around the world for his verse-by-verse expository preaching and his pulpit ministry via his daily radio program, Grace to You. He has also written or edited nearly four hundred books and study guides. MacArthur serves as the president of the Master’s University and Seminary. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children.




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