Mar

29

2013

Kevin DeYoung|12:00 pm CT

What You Can’t Sing Without Penal Substitution

The notion that Christ died as our sin-bearing substitute who bore the curse for our sakes is considered, by some, too primitive, too violent, and too narrow. Penal substitution is only a theory of the atonement, just one idea among many, maybe not even a good theory, at the very least not the best or the most important once. I would argue that texts like Isaiah 53, Mark 10, Romans 3, 2 Corinthians 5, Galatians 3, and Philippians 3 demonstrate that Christ is not only our wrath-sustaining Savior, he is also the Lord our Righteousness. The Son’s propiatory sacrifice for sinners is the best news of the good news, the biblical truth that holds the gospel together.

But besides the testimony of Scripture in support for penal substitution, I would point to the history of our hymnody.

Man of Sorrows! What a Name
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned he stood,
Sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinner’s gain:
Mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! Tis I deserve thy place;
Look on me with they favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace.

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended
Who was the guilty who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee.
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
I crucified thee.

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed
Was it for crimes that I had done he groaned upon the tree!
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
Tell me, ye who hear him groaning, was there every grief like his?
Friends thro’ fear his cause disowning, foes insulting his distres;
Many hands were raised to wound him, none would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced him was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load;
’tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.

What Wondrous Love is This
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

A Debtor to Mercy Alone
A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with your righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

And Can it Be That I Should Gain
And can it be, that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me!
Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me!

Without penal substitution there is no salvation. And there isn’t nearly as much to sing about.

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