J.I. Packer wrote this about the greatness of Christ’s penal substitution, and I agree, there is not much to add to it to improve upon it.
Thirty years ago I wrote an analysis of insights basic to personal religion that faith in Christ as one’s penal substitute yields. Since I cannot today improve upon it, I cite it as it stands.
- God, in Denney’s phrase, “condones nothing,” but judges all sin as it deserves: which Scripture affirms, and my conscience confirms, to be right.
- My sins merit ultimate penal suffering and rejection from God’s presence (conscience also confirms this), and nothing I do can blot them out.
- The penalty due to me for my sins, whatever it was, was paid for me by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in his death on the cross.
- Because this is so, I through faith in him am made “the righteousness of God in him,” i.e., I am justified; pardon, acceptance, and sonship [to God] become mine.
- Christ’s death for me is my sole ground of hope before God. “If he fulfilled not justice, I must; if he underwent not wrath, I must to eternity” (John Owen).
- My faith in Christ is God’s own gift to me, given in virtue of Christ’s death for me: i.e., the cross procured it.
- Christ’s death for me guarantees my preservation to glory.
- Christ’s death for me is the measure and pledge of the love of the Father and the Son to me.
- Christ’s death for me calls and constrains me to trust, to worship, to love, and to serve.
Only where these nine truths have take root and grow in the heart will anyone be fully alive to God.