Protestant view on christ's sacrifice.

I am trying to understand some more how protestants think a little.

If I said to a protestant, “Christ died that I might have eternal life”, what would they think that means? How would they say that in Christ’s death we are granted salvation?

A quote from the ESV Study Bible, Romans 3:25 entry:

*Jesus’ blood ‘propitiated’ or satisfied God’s wrath ( Romans 1:18), so that his holiness was not compromised in forgiving sinners.Some scholars have argued that the word propitiation should be translated expiation (the wiping away of sin), but the word cannot be restricted to the wiping away of sins as it also refers to the satisfaction or appeasement of God’s wrath, turning it to favor… God’s righteous anger needed to be appeased before sin could be forgiven, and God in his love sent his Son (who offered himself willingly) to satisfy God’s holy anger against sin. *

It should be noted that this particular Romans commentary was written by Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, who is a Calvinist.

After being stuck in Fundamentalism for 20 years they would say, By the blood of Christ you are saved - his death at Calvery.

A few interpretations from my Southern Baptist upbringing:

“Jesus suffered and died for my sins therefore I don’t have to suffer anymore. I claim the promise of health for my family!”

“We don’t have to do anything for salvation; Jesus did it all for us on the cross.”

“When we are covered with Christ’s righteousness we have eternal salvation–we can’t ever lose that salvation because then it wouldn’t be eternal.”

:slight_smile: And money!! better claim that, too!

The Protestant church I grew up in would not disagree with that, they would not promote the “health and wealth” thing and would not say it’s all faith–but faith and works. Christ died and rose for our sins…one reason I departed was because at home what I was taught (Communion truly is the Body and Blood of Christ, we should have reverence for Mary, and other things) was more in line with Catholicism and so as a teen I searched for what my dad and mom taught me–my parents being always right :smiley: and found the Catholic Church was a perfect fit!

I hate to call the church I came from “non-denominational” in view of the many unreleated churches that have sprung up. The church came from the Presbyterian church (the Campbells) and the Church of Christ (non-instrumental) split from them as well as the Disciples of Christ church. They have union with each other across the country for missionary efforts but have no authority figure other than the local pastor and elders. In fact when I became Catholic the only “problem” the Protestant pastor raised to me when I told him my plans was “praying to Mary” which I explained to him—he and his family and several other friends from the church came to my Confirmation and First Eucharist.

Can’t speak for all Protestants, but I think this pretty well summarized what I was taught and believed as an evangelical:

Jesus death was a* substitutionary *atonement:

The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23)

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin: He took our sins on Himself and died in our place.
(The wrath of God that should have been poured out on us was poured out on Jesus Christ instead.) I John 2:2

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin our behalf–that we might become the righteousness of God in Him…” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

There is a Protestant hymn that goes “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.!” Also some pentacostals teach that Jesus suffered for our sins and our sicknesses. “By His Stripes We are Healed.”

Hi all,
1689 London Baptist confession of faith.
Heidelberg Catechism, specifically questions 10-19.

I reckon these should give you a good idea as to what we think.



most evangelicals accept the penal substitutionary view of the Atonement, a outworking of Anselm’s Satisfaction View.

This is how it was explained to me by non-denom, protestant evangelicals (whew, what a mouthful!).

  1. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
  2. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
  3. For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son… that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

To them, it’s this simple. Sin activates the divine punishment machine. Sin has occurred, punishment MUST be meted out. Only a spotless, pure unblemished sacrifice can stand in for the sinner in said divine punishment machine. Christ volunteered to be that sacrifice, traded his perfection for our sin and accepted the punishment and torment due to all sinners throughout history. We believers make out like bandits on the deal because we trade in those sins for the ‘imputed’ righteousness of Christ. God looks at believers and does not see who they really are, but sees only the perfection of Christ (due to the switcheroo mentioned above).

Personally, I find the above a horrifyingly juvenile simplification. Distortion really. It reduces God to a mechanistic automaton who is compelled to mete out punishment and pulls a lawyer trick to beat on himself instead of we who are guilty.

The catholic version I learned is beautiful instead of grotesque. God’s justice isn’t about the need he has to mete out punishment for sin, it is about his LOVE. Sin creates its own punishment and WE humans would be the ones who make up everything that is unpleasant about hell. Christ died because he became incarnate among sinful men. He didn’t have to die to satisfy the Father’s wrath, he had to die because it was the outcome of OUR sinfulness. Fallen man inevitably kills God given the chance. The “Jews” didn’t do it, MAN did. We did. By being willing to suffer that unwarranted murder, Christ reveals in full glory how great is the love of God for us. That he loves is STILL is the greatest source of hope humanity can ever know. We look forward to eternal bliss in heaven not because we’ve deluded God (with his help) into seeing us as perfect, but because we believe that by his Grace we really WILL be perfect by then. That transformation is something that we can’t achieve on our own power and needs a lifetime (and beyond) of cooperation with Grace to complete. That calls for an AMEN! Amen to eternal bliss with the inventor of love!

The catholic explanation fits the fullness of Scripture too. Look it up!

I don’t think many evangelicals would disagree with your definition except for maybe this part… “Sin creates its own punishment and WE humans would be the ones who make up everything that is unpleasant about hell.”

Your first definition is simply a caricature. I guess I will speak for myself and not for a general group, though. You would consider me an evangelical Christian and yet I do not believe God is an “automaton” “punishment machine.” I don’t personally know anyone that has that view, either.

God is perfect love and mercy but he is also perfectly righteous and just. Remember, not all anger is sinful (see Ephesians 4:26). That’s why the cross is so beautiful. It is the complete sacrifice that shows God’s perfect love and mercy while also displaying his perfect righteousness and justice. We are not pulling a “lawyer trick” on God. It just so happens that, out of his love and mercy, our debt has been paid for us and our sins are no more.

I’ve heard it said, “Our sins are like the nails that held Jesus to the cross.” That sure puts it in perspective for me. So I agree with you. While it was the Jews who ultimately yelled for Jesus to be crucified, that is too narrow of a definition. Sinful man yelled for Jesus to be crucified. You and I would have done the same. And if we doubt that, look at Peter and his denials of Jesus. How often do we deny Jesus in our acts of sin? For myself, I’m ashamed to say, far too often.

Yes, most evangelicals would be right at home with St. Anselm’s theology on this issue, but what most wouldn’t realize is that it came from him :slight_smile:

Yes, I do tend to phrase things in such a way as to highlight important or problematic elements. But that’s important in discussions. Evangelicals may not like the way I put it, but their nicer phraseology retains the problem at its core. As a puny, limited human father, I find that I am able to discipline my repentant children and instruct them in the deeper meaning of virtues without having to resort to such a rigid vision of justice as “yes, I can see you’ve learned your lesson, but the rules say that this infraction deserves this many spankings, so let’s get on with it.” That’s what “justice” boils down to in the evangelical definition. I suspect that’s why God describes himself to us as Father, because he approaches us with an even greater love. Perfect justice does not inherently require “punishment.” It requires that the offender be rehabilitated from his inclination towards offending again and that the consequences of the wrong he committed be atoned for. GOD had no inner need for Christ to die in order that sin be atoned for. WE had that need because nothing short of that had the power to reach us in our place of darked sin. That’s the issue I have with the evangelical explanations given to me.

What kind of question is this?

If you think Christ died for you, and you admit he is your savior, and you follow him and worship him, then what do you think you’ll be? You’ll be saved.

If you think he died, that’s one thing. People die all the time.

Its what he died for that counts.

Go on…

Did Christ die to satisfy an inner legal struggle in which God wanted us in heaven, but was unable to do so without punishing somebody for our sins?

Or did Christ die to demonstrate his love for us while we were still trapped in our sin and unable to see a way back to God, or even to know securely of his great love for us? Isn’t the point of his bodily resurrection a further demonstration that the power of sin and death is nothing compared to the Grace and love of God? That because of the Father’s love for us, we have the hope of escaping the power of death that our sins otherwise holds over us?

I’m no theologian and I’m sure there’s problems with the latter explanation. But IMO there’s worse problems with the first one.

That has nothing to do with protestants. The answer is for you to figure out yourself. I can’t change what you think or what you want to believe. I just think what I know to be true. What do you know to be true? Perhaps you’re having problems with your own salvation…

Plus I’d also like to say that there are many branches with protestants. They all think differently. How one interprets the bible is usually the denomination that they choose.

It’s been suggested to me before. Usually in conjuction with something about the Whore of Babylon though. :wink:

But yes, I am aware that one can’t label all protestants the same. One can’t even label all non-denominational, evangelical protestants the same. And I don’t even want to know how many more descriptors are lurking out there for me to learn! :smiley:

Good point. I guess I would assume the OP is asking for a response from an individual Protestant talking about his own creed or the creed of his denomination.

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