Why is it so easy to accept some substitutes but not others? This time of year, the Easter Bunny gets a free pass. But the acceptance of Jesus as the one all-sufficient substitutionary atonement for the humanity’s Sin faces continual opposition.
There is no Christianity without the Cross; and there is no Cross without the perfect atoning sacrifice of Jesus. He dies in our stead; making of Himself the offering that we could not make for ourselves. But that idea is offensive to many people today. In the now infamous words of one feminist theologian, Dr. Delores Williams, “I don’t think we need a theory of the atonement,” and, “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses, and blood dripping, and weird stuff.”
People are happy to substitute therapeutic Deism for Biblical Christianity and they are happy to substitute the theory of evolution for the Biblical account of Creation, but they are not willing to accept the substitution of Christ’s blood for their own burden of sin. Why is that?
Particularly worrisome today is the willingness of some to substitute religious pluralism for the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as the only way to authentic salvation. The president of Auburn Seminary, Katherine Henderson is currently on a campaign to “re-brand God.” She says that God needs redeeming and, in her view, the means to that end is the wholesale substitution of an amalgamation of all religions in place of any one, including Christianity.
Why are people willing to accept the substitution of this lie for the truth? Humanity is prone to exchange the truth about God for lies. That’s a storyline as old as humanity itself; and it is a storyline with tragic consequences. God reveals in Romans 1 what happens when people exchange God’s truth for lies of their own imagining. They are given over to depravity and become senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. This is a “not your will but mine be done” approach to life and it is expressly contrary to the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus prays, “Not my will, but Your’s be done,” in full submission to God’s will. Jesus offered His life as a substitutionary atoning sacrifice for your sin and mine. Read and reflect on Matthew 26:36-46.
When you are tempted to believe those who advocate that all spiritualities are equal, consider this: If there had been any other way than Jesus’ death on the cross, wouldn’t God have revealed it in the Garden of Gethsemane? Do you honestly think that post-Enlightment reason somehow trumps the wisdom of God in making a way for sinful, broken people to be restored to a right relationship to their Creator? That not only elevates reason above revelation but it elevates the creature’s opinion above the Creator’s plan.
As Jesus prayed that the righteous cup of God’s wrath against sin might pass from Him, as Jesus asked the Father to consider again if there might be some other way but the Cross, He willingly yielded His will to the Father. If there was any other way to provide for salvation, don’t you think that God would have revealed it right then and right there? How can anyone say that Jesus’ sacrifice was not necessary? Or that there are other ways to salvation? Does that not elevate human opinion above God who clearly reveals in the Garden of Gethsemane that there is no other way?
The issue is, and has always been, idolatry: the substitution of our own ideas, our own desires, our own proclivities, for the revealed will of God.
This week, I invite you to fully accept the substitutionary act of Christ upon the Cross for you – and accept no substitutes for Him.