The comment was posted on an online discussion group that:
“Christ substituted for Abraham and Robert Roberts just as much as you and me.”
In response, we submitted the following citations from various Christadelphian writers which set forth Bible Truth on the matter:
THE doctrine of Substitution is an unscriptural one. Christ did not die as our substitute, but as our representative. If Christ had died as a substitute, there would have been no forbearance on the part of God, for when a debt is paid, there is no room for forbearance. Jesus died as a member of a sinful race. All that can be affirmed of the nature of his brethren can be affirmed of him (Gal. iv. 4; Heb. ii. 17; iv. 15; Job xiv. 4).
“Christ died for (not instead of) us” (Rom. v. 8). All he did was “for us”, in the sense of, “on our account”. But, in order so to do, he had to “partake” of the same nature, and, hence it was, he himself had to obtain salvation (Psalm xci. 16). For evidence that “for us” does not mean as a substitute, or “instead of us”, see the following texts: Luke i. 69; Rom. viii. 32; 1 Cor. v. 7; 2 Cor. v. 21; Gal. iii. 18; Heb. vi. 20; ix. 24; x. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 21.
It is true that “Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:10); “for the Ungodly” (Rom. 5:6); “for all” (2 Cor. 5:14); but “for” here means “on account of,” “on behalf of,” just as in the case of “making intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). Substitution would be unjust. Why should the innocent be put to death and the guilty allowed to live? In the death of Christ God is “just” (Rom. 3:26), for that death of obedience was at once followed by the gift of life, even “length of days for ever and ever” (John 5:26; Psa. 21:4).
When Israel made the golden calf Moses interceded for them, saying to God, “If thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me I pray thee out of the book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exod. 32:31,32). Substitution was not tolerated. Besides this, if Christ died instead of us, why do we die? And why did Christ rise? And how can it be said that God forgives sins for Christ’s sake?
No, it is not substitution but representation and association. Christ’s own references and those of the apostles to his sacrifice and the taking away of sin include allusions to:-
“Flesh,” “Blood,” “Body,” “Life,” and “Death”
Flesh — “I am the bread of life … the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:35,51). “You hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death” (Col. 1:22).
Blood — “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mat. 26:28). “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). “A propitiation through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:25). “Justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). “Made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). “Redemption through his blood” (Col. 1:14,20).
Body — “This is my body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). “He said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you” (1 Cor. 11:24). “A body hast thou prepared me”. “Sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:5,10). “He bare the sin of many” (Isa. 53:12). “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Life — “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life (psuchee) a ransom for many” (Mat. 20:28). “My soul (psuchee) is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mat. 26:38). “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep”. “I lay down my life for the sheep”. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power (exousia, authority; R.V., marg., right) to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:11,15,17,18).
Death — “Sorrowful unto death” (Matt. 26:38). “Signifying what death he should die” (John 12:33; 18:32). “If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). “In that he died, he died unto Sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:9,10). “Jesus, made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man”. “That through death he might destroy … the Devil” (Heb. 2:9,14). God “was able to save him from (or out of, R.V. marg.) death” (Heb. 5:7). “Where a testament (covenant) is, there must also of necessity be brought in the death of the testator (R.V. text, “of him that made it”)” (Heb. 9:16). But this would be the death of God! See the “I will make” of ch. 8:8,10. Christ is the appointed “Mediator” in the case (ch. 9:15) who by God’s gift has “by his own blood entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption” (verse 12).
“What Shall We Do?”
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). So spoke the convicted crucifiers of Jesus. Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins”. Repentance is change of mind and disposition, a confession of, and a forsaking of sin. Baptism is a symbolic participation of the sacrifice of Christ, and by no means to be connected with any idea of substitution. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3,4).
(The Atonement – Salvation through the Blood of Christ)
- In the statement, “Christ died for us”, “for” does not mean “instead of”. See its usage in 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 10:12; Heb. 7:25.
- If Jesus died as a substitute for me, paying my penalty, then why should I die? Why is it that mankind die the same today as before this substitution took place? If I am sentenced to jail and a substitute takes my place instead of me, I do not then go to jail with him!
- If the sacrifice of Christ were a substitute, how can there be real forgiveness with God? A creditor who releases the debtor because someone not his debtor pays the latter’s debt, surely cannot claim to have forgiven the debt! If the debt is paid, then there is no longer need for forgiveness.
- If Christ’s death were a substitution, instead of the sinner, then the redeeming power lay in his death and not in his resurrection, yet Paul declares: Jesus Christ “ . . . was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25). Cf. also 1 Cor. 15:17— “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”
- The Scriptural language is that Christ died that he “should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9). This is the language of representation exhibited throughout the types of the Law of Moses, not substitution.