The Glory of the Atonement

In the twenty-first century there are few concepts as offensive to modern ears as the wrath of God. The reason why has more to do with us than God. We do not really believe we deserve such wrath. Failing to come to terms with our own sin, depravity, and condemnation, we do not think we stand under God’s righteous judgment. However, Scripture repeatedly tells us that all of mankind stands guilty before a holy God, deserving eternal punishment from his hand for our rebellion against our Creator and King. But that is not Scripture’s last word. While God would have been just to leave us in our condemnation, the Father so loved us that he sent his Son to become incarnate and die for us. His death is not only substitutionary—Christ taking our place on the cross—but penal, meaning that our Savior took upon himself the wrath that was ours. As Isaiah says, this suffering servant was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. In this issue of Credo Magazine, we are reminded that we need a Savior who not only substitutes himself for us but does so in order to be our propitiation, bearing the penalty that was ours. Any other cross simply will not result in the forgiveness we so desperately need.

Feature articles by premier thinkers

Getting the God of the cross right...and very wrong
A response to Fleming Rutledge
by Stephen Wellum

It is surprising to see so many evangelicals rally behind a book that denies one of the core, biblical, and evangelical commitments, namely, penal substitutionary atonement. That demonstrates not only that our doctrine of the atonement needs work still, but that our doctrine of God remains weak and in need of correction.

The Day of Atonement
by Michael Morales

The Old Testament sacrifices pointed a bloody finger to the blessed assurance of the salvation found in Jesus Christ alone, the all-sufficient Savior. Because Jesus’ suffering was as a vicarious penal substitute, sinners can find rest for their souls. The dark and thunderous storm of divine judgment that ever threatens a guilty conscience, casting its gloomy shadow over every frivolity and pretense of happiness, cannot be dispelled by mere wishful thinking, hollow forgiveness, or deeply false notions of divine carelessness….

The Cross of Christ and the Problem of Evil
by Scott Christensen

How can such malevolent conditions persist under the hand of a perfectly righteous God who abhors all manner of wickedness and yet has the requisite power to quickly dispense with it?

What Really Happened on the Cross? Part 1
by Mike Riccardi

The atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross stands at the very epicenter of Christianity. …

What Really Happened on the Cross? Part 2
by Mike Riccardi

In Christ you have the precious blood of a spotless lamb paid as the ransom price of your redemption. …

The Beauty of Christianity and its Cross

Mark Mattes and Martin Luther bring beauty back to our Reformation theology

10 Questions with Peter Lillback
What this president loves about seminary, enjoys most about history, and misses most about pastoral ministry

As I look back on those days, I most enjoyed ministering in the church in the context of my weekly preaching on Sundays. I truly miss that now that I labor as an administrator and my preaching takes me from place to place. This means I lose the continuity of seeing God shaping families through generations in the differing circumstances of their lives. I enjoyed leading the faith community in helping to shape its vision, equipping people to engage that vision, and seeing it come to pass whether it was an evangelism program, a missions conference, a new building, a missions trip or an educational effort. It has been a privilege to serve the people of God as a pastor. I like to remind younger pastors never to forget what a great privilege it is for them to minister on behalf of God to His people. …

Biblical theology without unity
Goldingay’s recent work is impressive but riddled with unbiblical assumptions
Review by Richard M. Blaylock

The past two decades have proven to be a fruitful time for the field of biblical theology. Even as scholars continue to discuss the precise nature of the discipline, both the church and the academy have remained invested, even excited, about its potential. This momentum has resulted in the publication of several whole-Bible biblical theologies –– an impressive feat when one considers that a “pan-biblical theology” was thought to be an impossibility not so long ago. In his most recent work entitled Biblical Theology: The God of the Christian Scriptures (IVP Academic, 2016), John Goldingay furthers this trend by seeking to answer the question, “What understanding of God and the world and life emerges from these two Testaments” (13)? But does he succeed in capturing the Bible’s own message? 

The Value of Biography
The best way to learn about leadership is by reading good biography
Review by Gary Steward

Few kinds of writing have the potential to inspire and instruct as historical accounts of wise and godly leaders of the church.  For such biographies to be spiritually helpful, a wise and discerning biographer is needed to selectively weave biographical material into an engaging narrative that instructs even as it engages and inspires.  As Charles Spurgeon wrote in 1870, “The value of a biography depends far less upon its subject than upon its author.” 

Does Christ really matter in everyday life?
A key counseling book for faithfulness in ministry
Review by Michael Nelson

As people, we are a lot more complex than we often realize.  There is not one formula that fixes all of our problems, nor is there some sort of heart evaluation we can take to get to the core of all our issues.  We are dynamic creatures that reflect the beauty of a magnificently intricate and multifaceted God.  What this means then is that to understand others, we must understand them as a reflection of their Creator.  But, as anyone can tell you, this is not always easy.  Essentially, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience (New Growth Press, 2016), by Jeremy Pierre, was written in order to show “how God designed people with dynamic hearts to experience the world only when connected to Christ.” …

The Core of the Gospel

Penal Substitutionary Atonement
Resolution by Owen Strachan

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