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13 Places Where the Bible Uses the Word ‘FOR,’ And Why It’s Important To Your Salvation

A half-truth is a whole lie – Yiddish proverb

Beware of the half-truth; you may have gotten hold of the wrong half – Anonymous

It is true we should try to imitate Jesus (I Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:7-18). But beware of the notion that ignores or denies the fact Jesus is primarily our substitute. For while Jesus is the perfect man to imitate, trying to be like Him is not what saves. The Gospel is the good news He was a substitute – that He died in the place of sinners. The good news is that He did something on behalf of sinners they could not do themselves. This essential doctrine is called the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. And many people downplay it, ignore it, or outright deny it.

This doctrine is that Christ was punished (penal), in the place of sinners (substitutionary), when He died on the cross (atonement). People who ignore or deny this doctrine tend to do so for two primary reasons:

First, they cannot fathom a God who is altogether pure; they reject the God who would be unjust if He did not punish sin. Some have even called the biblical record of God delivering up His own Son (Rom. 8:32; Acts 2:22-24) ‘cosmic child abuse.’

Second, many think we humans are essentially good, and penal substitutionary substitution denies the innate goodness in all humans. They reject that we are enemies of God, helpless and hopeless in our sin. Those who deny Christ as a substitute argue that, whatever Jesus did, it didn’t have anything to do with us being sinners rightly deserving of God’s righteous judgment. Rather, Jesus was an example for us to follow, but He certainly wasn’t a bloody sacrifice.

Here’s an example of a popular writer who rejects penal substitution: William Paul Young, author of The Shack and The Lies We Believe About God. CLICK HERE for a review of Young’s latest book that documents this.

Why is this important? For sake of space I’ll give two reasons.

First, because Jesus Himself said His coming into the world was a rescue mission for those already under judgment (John 3:16-21; 36). To deny that Jesus came to save sinners from judgment is to claim Jesus was at best mistaken, at worst a liar.

Second, to claim Jesus’ death was not a penal substitution, then what was it? What exactly are we supposed to believe or understand about the cross if it wasn’t an atoning sacrifice? Years ago when the Vietnam Conflict was at its height, two 17 year-old Americans killed themselves for world peace. They were trying to make a statement with their deaths and bring change to their world. Is that what Jesus did: Try to make a statement that might bring change? The biblical answer is a resounding, NO. It is a disingenuous reading of Scripture to teach Jesus’ death was anything less than an actual, successful substitutionary sacrifice {See Romans 3:21-30; 4:25; 8:1-4; I John 4:10}.

Here are 13 verses that speak of Christ’s death as a substitution:

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep

John 11:50 – nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish (Caiaphas)

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends

Romans 5:6 – For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly

Romans 14:15 – For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

2 Cor 5:14 – For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.

2 Cor 5:15 – And He died for all, that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

2 Cor 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I Thess 5:10 – who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him

Hebrews 9:28 – So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

I Peter 2:24 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and life to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed

I Peter 3:18 – For Christ, also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

Believers, we should love that tiny word, ‘for’! Christ is our substitute!

Depending on Christ alone,

Pastor Tedd


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