We recommend this book for further reading.
Updated March 2023
Everything you thought you knew about the gospel is about to be turned upside down!
The Penal Substitutionary Theory is the most popular way of explaining the gospel in Christian circles. It teaches that “God is not willing or able to simply forgive sin without first requiring a satisfaction for it” (Wikipedia).
To solve this problem, a popular Christian website called gotquestions.org explains: “Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross takes the place of the punishment we ought to suffer for our sins. As a result, God’s justice is satisfied, and those who accept Christ can be forgiven and reconciled to God.”
Another famous theologian, John MacArthur, adds: “The reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God … We must remember, however, that sin did not kill Jesus; God did. 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 … He fully satisfied justice and put away our sin forever through the death of his Son.”
And Jon Bloom of desiringgod.org writes: “Jesus was primarily the object of his Father’s wrath — the most just, righteous, and terrible wrath there is.”
But is this really the gospel of the kingdom Jesus came to demonstrate? Did Jesus really come to satisfy God’s justice and wrath to save us from being killed by our heavenly Father? Have we been duped by Satan and others to frame the murder of Jesus on God in order to suppress our own wrath and enmity (hostility) towards God, free ourselves from our own guilty conscience, and to satisfy our own sense of justice?