In the cross God does two things, which would be otherwise impossible.
First, he pardons those who believe in Christ. Although they have sinned and deserve only condemnation, he pardons sinners. How can a just God pardon sinners? Only because all of our sin was transferred to Christ. This lays the ax to the roots of every religious person’s endeavors to make himself acceptable to God by trying harder, attending more, praying more intensely – as if by some mechanism we might be able to tip the scales in our favor.
God pardons sinners even though they have sinned and sinned and deserve only condemnation. And if he didn’t we would be forever excluded from his presence.
Second, he displays and satisfied his perfect, holy justice by executing the punishment our sins deserve. Without this God would not be true to himself.
Here’s the gospel in a phrase. Because Christ died for us, those who trust in him may know that their guilt has been pardoned once and for all.
What will we have to say before the bar of God’s judgment? Only one thing. Christ died in my place. That’s the gospel.
From Jesus Our Substitute by Alistair Begg, included in Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, edited by Nancy Guthrie, p. 25.
In the cross God does the impossible.
March 10, 2012 by John Knight