What Really Happened At The Cross?

crossOn this Good Friday Brad and Wayne talk about a growing doctrinal feud over the crucifixion of Jesus. Those who advocate for the view often called penal substitution, see the cross as God expending his wrath on the Son as a stand-in for the punishment we deserved and by doing so satisfying his demand for holiness. Many of them are now claiming that this view is so central to the Christian faith that those who do not embrace it are not truly Christian. But there is a growing voice that sees the cross as God expending his wrath on our sin and shame that Jesus held in his being, to effect a cure for broken and fallen humanity, and by doing so satisfies his love and holiness to bring us back into a valuable relationship with him. That view doesn't negate substitutionary atonement but embraces it in its fullest meaning.


  1. Wayne,

    Is it possible that the blood of an innocent man, Christ Jesus the only begotten son of God was needed to deal with, “the soul that sins must die”?
    In curing (as it were) the “sin” issue, those who were dead in their sins and trespasses, still needed something much more than curing the sin issue and that is LIFE! Maybe its His body being broken along with the shedding of his blood that made it fully possible for us to not only once and for all to Be forgiven, but also made alive in Him.

  2. Wayne,

    I had no idea that the Eastern Orthodox Church (Greek, Russian, etc.) believed that the cross and Jesus were a cure for our sin rather than judgement for our sin.

    Do you have a source of information that contrasts the two? Would be interesting to look into that more a little deeper. I hear that the Orthodox don’t teach tithing either like the Catholic institution does.

    Anyways. This podcast had too much meat in it for my head to contain. You both talked a lot. haha. I will have to listen to again to catch more.

  3. George McDonald that great saint, but seldom acknowledged teacher of C S Lewis spoke often about this pernicious theory of men.

    In Unspoken Sermons – third series “Justice” – he wrote “The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins, is a false, mean, low notion. The salvation of Christ is salvation from the smallest tendency or leaning to sin. It is a deliverance into the pure air of God’s ways of thinking and feeling. It is a salvation that makes the heart pure, with the will and choice of the heart to be pure. To such a heart, sin is disgusting. It sees a thing as it is,—that is, as God sees it, for God sees everything as it is. The soul thus saved would rather sink into the flames of hell than steal into heaven and skulk there under the shadow of an imputed righteousness. No soul is saved that would not prefer hell to sin. Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; he was called Jesus because he should save his people from their sins.”

    and later………..

    “I do not. I believe the notion as unworthy of man’s belief, as it is dishonouring to God. It has its origin doubtless in a salutary sense of sin; but sense of sin is not inspiration, though it may lie not far from the temple-door. It is indeed an opener of the eyes, but upon home-defilement, not upon heavenly truth; it is not the revealer of secrets. Also there is another factor in the theory, and that is unbelief—incapacity to accept the freedom of God’s forgiveness; incapacity to believe that it is God’s chosen nature to forgive, that he is bound in his own divinely willed nature to forgive. No atonement is necessary to him but that men should leave their sins and come back to his heart. But men cannot believe in the forgiveness of God. Therefore they need, therefore he has given them a mediator. And yet they will not know him. They think of the father of souls as if he had abdicated his fatherhood for their sins, and assumed the judge. If he put off his fatherhood, which he cannot do, for it is an eternal fact, he puts off with it all relation to us. He cannot repudiate the essential and keep the resultant. Men cannot, or will not, or dare not see that nothing but his being our father gives him any right over us—that nothing but that could give him a perfect right. They regard the father of their spirits as their governor! They yield the idea of the Ancient of Days, ‘the glad creator,’ and put in its stead a miserable, puritanical martinet of a God, caring not for righteousness, but for his rights; not for the eternal purities, but the goody proprieties. The prophets of such a God take all the glow, all the hope, all the colour, all the worth, out of life on earth, and offer you instead what they call eternal bliss—a pale, tearless hell. Of all things, turn from a mean, poverty stricken faith. But, if you ate straitened in your own mammon-worshipping soul, how shall you believe in a God any greater than can stand up in that prison-chamber?
    I desire to wake no dispute, will myself dispute with no man, but for the sake of those whom certain believers trouble, I have spoken my mind. I love the one God seen in the face of Jesus Christ. From all copies of Jonathan Edwards’s portrait of God, however faded by time, however softened by the use of less glaring pigments, I turn with loathing. Not such a God is he concerning whom was the message John heard from Jesus, that he is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

    God our Father is Light and in Him is no darkness at all………

  4. Wayne,
    Last night, on Easter, our family read from He Loves Me your Chapter on What Really Happened At the Cross…and we are in agreement with how you “say it differently” so to speak. Jesus was the antidote to restoring our relationship with God….and God the Father was very much part of that and didn’t turn his back on his only begotten Son.
    I don’t know why, but I sensed a lot of anger in your podcast today, I think coming from you….especially when talking about those “reformers” or people who follow the theology of Calvinism, predestination, etc. I don’t know how much grief they’ve given you, but, maybe it’s been a lot.
    I was saved in 1988 and fought hard when then friend Michael, shared the gospel with me. You could say, that if the Holy Spirit did not come and wake me up, and show me the truth, I may have never seen it. Mike was not apart of a church at the time. When I got saved, and asked him why…he said, “Welcome to the war” and “it’s complicated…Christians WATCH each other.” He agreed to take me “to church” and I was gratefully discipled in the Reformed Presbyterian Church…and to this day, still consider that doctrine to be true to what is in the Bible.
    Please don’t go away or be angry with me now that I’ve told you that…because I’m “one of those” or as our last minister called Mike and I “those once save, always saved” kind of people.
    Mike and I really get the message of “relationship” in The Shack, He Loves You and So you don’t want to go to church anymore…and we couldn’t be more in agreement.
    You and Paul put into words and allegory the very things that were missing from meeting with one group of believers or another.
    We’re still seeking fellowship, but, haven’t found it. We’ve seemed to creat havoc in “the church” for just being ourselves, and it didn’t matter where we went…reformed, baptist, evangelical, non-denom, you name it, we’ve been there. We never really felt loved and boy it was refreshing to see that we weren’t the only ones “out there” feeling that way.
    Still, we are reformers at heart and will never change. Please do not dislike us for that. We also believe in the love relationship the Bible, John, you and Brad have stressed. That’s what was missing and why we didn’t stay. The programs and institution and religious nature of idolizing “the church” is what didn’t leave room for relationship, and so we left the building, but, not the body. Well, anyway, wanted to let you know that some believers of reformed theology (and yes, like Calvin, a follower of Christ) actually know and enjoy your dialogue; we too would like very much to see love relationships in Christ’s family. Love and peace and a big thank you Wayne. Your sister, Melanie.

  5. Hi Melanie,

    Gosh, I hope it wasn’t anger that you heard. I’m not angry at the Reformed tradition. A lot that I said about Calvin was tongue-in-cheek, but that may not have communicated well. No, reformed folks are more than welcome here and they haven’t given me a lot of grief over my life. I have great friends who live in that tradition. Though I’m not in sync with all that they believe, that is not a requirement for me to recognize the spirit of Christ in someone and enjoy journeying with them. I am real sure there’s lots that Jesus is still teaching me in this journey. So, welcome, Melanie. I’m blessed you enjoy the podcast in spite of their bent. I’ll be glad when we all get to eternity and have all the bents twisted out of us.

  6. Wayne,
    Thanks for understanding, for your loving response and for welcoming me and my family. We too look forward to the time in His kingdom when we all will worship Him in spirit and in truth (without our bents), for Papa so desires that. Thanks to you and Brad for a wonderful podcast!

    Melanie, Mike (my husband), Patrick, David and Anthony.

  7. Dallas,

    Here are some helpful links to the various views of atonement as well as some info on the Eastern Orthodox views. I’m not Eastern Orthodox and can not speak for them. I do find I resonate with a lot of their theology, but not with their institutional practices. I think we can learn a lot from our EO brothers and sisters!




  8. Fantastic! Thanks Andy, I will have a look at those! Appreciate you taking the time to post that.

  9. Hey this is fantastic! If only I could post it in facebook for my friends to listen. Maybe trying a Facebook icon, the one’s that they have on youtube? so its sent directly to your facebook and friends.

    Keep up the amazing work, I have only started to listen to a few, but I totally agree, and have learnt alot aswel.



  10. I also felt I had to say that, whatever God wants to be towards us, however it may be, it should it always be great and holy. Why are we forgetting, just to even be able to finally know God, Jesus, we forget how previledge, how honoured we should be. We should just love God, Jesus, because of the simple fact that he is God.

    Love you guys! x

  11. I heard your last several podcasts and began to rethink my own salvation experience. 12 years ago, at 27, Jesus saved me from sin and brought me into communion with Father through the Holy Spirit. I totally got it. Then, I became a youth minister for three years at an evangelical church and lost that message. It went from “Wow, the God of the Universe loves me” to “God loves those who are busy for Him.” Much of the past 6 years have been challenged and my journey has continued. Thanks for helping the kick start.

    Now, I have a question: I was just listening to another sermon and the pastor focused on Jesus “pleading my case before God” and I realized that “it is finished.” Jesus plead my case before the Cross and now I am living redeemed because of His work. Does that sound grounded?

  12. Thanks for the broadcast. It sounds like the same thing until you really listen to what was done. I had to go through it 3 times to get most of it.
    Keep going! ! !

  13. Guys
    The bottom line to all this teaching is simple. What is the gosple message as you understand it? What is the ‘good news?’ Are you preaching a different gospel? If you are meeting with a unbeliever who is spiritually open, how do you ‘share the gosple’ with that person?

    I love most everything you guys preach, but I have to know this is not a “different gospel.”

  14. That’s certainly what we think, Terry. This is how we understand the Gospel that was first delivered to the saints, an invitation into a transforming relationship with the Father through the work of Jesus. How do I share the gospel? Depends on the person and the situation, but at its heart is to introduce them to Jesus and his Father and the love they have for that person. I help them understand what that life means, and if they want to follow him too, I help them learn how to do it. That all involves a bit of teaching, a bit of praying, baptism and regeneration by the Spirit if they are open to it. I never force it on anyone, but love when people want to know the God I know…

  15. I appreciate listening to this podcast… The points you discuss regarding terminology and interpretation being used in connection with the Cross was refreshing to hear and helps me to reconcile the questions in my mind concerning things which seemed diametrically opposed and irreconcilable. The whole idea of reconciliation of our relationship with Papa through healing being at the heart of the atonement instead of punishment just makes much more sense. It speaks more truly of the nature of Father and Son. So many of the examples and contrasts you both spoke about connected with questions and thoughts I have struggled with trying to make sense concerning. It was as though I was trying to determine if Papa was a ‘schizophrenic’ type personality, which was not an inviting idea. I hope that I will learn to be more prompt in submitting thoughts that seem contradictory to the erroneous teachings I have been exposed to into dialogue with the Spirit for consideration. I have usually ended up taking on angst, confusion, and a position of distancing myself because I fear something is intrinsically wrong with me for having those stirrings. I know I am still steeped in a ‘fear’ based frame of reference, which I need grace to assist in overcoming, that I may be more perceptive to His leadings to draw me in where those thoughts can be processed in the light of His love.

    When talking of the Cross as being a remedy in a medical sense of sin being a disease… it just made so much sense to me. I have been interested in health and healing for many years as a lay person. One the thing that strikes me as difficult to understand is when sick people are treated only for symptoms and not the cause of the illness. Not all treatments are effective and some even lead to further complications. I look at the doctrine which espouses the punishment aspect as being a missed diagnosis and/or treatment plan which lead to conclusions that oppose the nature and words of the Lord and inhibit true healing and restoration.

    Blessings to you and the ‘God Journey’ community

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