What is the doctrine of Substitution?
The American Baptist Churches USA website defines substitution this way:
Jesus could have saved himself; could have chosen not to go to the cross and die. But he chose to die in order to pay the price for our sin! Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for us, dying in our place, taking the punishment for our sin. He sacrificed himself so that we might be reconciled with God (http://www.abc-usa.org/QuickLinks/Salvation/tabid/441/Default.aspx).
The majority of Christendom would agree with the above definition.
Christ did not give His body in our place. Our place was NEVER upon the cross. Contrary to the views of the majority of Christians, Christ is not our substitution like the ram was for Isaac (Genesis 22:10-13). Jesus is the SACRAFICE (Ephesians 5:2 and Hebrews 10:10-12), not a substitution. No person or animal could have had the place on the cross where Christ died. No person or animal could shed their blood for the remission of sins like Jesus was able to do (Hebrews 9:8-14, Hebrews 9:23-28, and Hebrews 10:1-18). The Scriptures plainly declare that Christ was the one given to die in His place, not ours. Notice what the Bible shows us: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Just think about what a substitute is. In the fourth quarter of a football game the coach may substitute one player to take the place of another player who is failing. Was Jesus approaching the cross stiff-arming people away from their duty to die on that cross? If Jesus were the substitute for you or I, that means you once were headed to that same cross. That cross He died on would have had a spot reserved for you. As we noted above, you could not have done what He did. The cross at Calvary was Jesus to bear: Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst (John 19:16-18). Simply put, Jesus came to do His work that the Father instructed Him to do, not our work (John 5:17; 30).
Look, the punishment for sin is not the cross. Many Christians believe that Jesus: took our punishment by dying on the cross. What happened on the cross was the bridge between God and man that only Christ could build. The punishment for sin still exists ( Romans 6:23, Ezekiel 18:4;20). Death, that began when Adam and Eve sinned (Romans 5:14-21), still exists today (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, this common premise of the substitution doctrine is false.
The death of Christ does not remove the penalty for your sins which is death (Romans 6:23), we will all die (Hebrews 9:27). Moreover, the death of Christ on the cross does nothing if He wasnt buried and resurrected (I Corinthians 15:12-23). So, not only is the substitution theory illogical, unbiblical, and foolish; but it is also built upon the false premise that salvation lies in the death of Christ alone. Most denominations, and religions like to ignore clear passages when it comes to redemption. The death of Christ was not the end of Gods plan (I Corinthians 15:11-28). God did not abandon that plan, nor did He abandon Jesus on the cross.
Quotes like this are all over the Internet on Christian websites: With your sins and mine on His own body, against His own record, I think He said, There is one place where I can look. My own family has forsaken Me; My own race has forsaken Me; My own synagogue has forsaken Me; My own disciples have forsaken Me; My beloved Peter has forsaken me; Judas, the treasurer, has forsaken Me; man has forsaken me, but there's One Who will not forsake me-the Father. He always looks down and smiles upon Me. Jesus looked up to see the Father, but there was no smile on His Father's face. In fact, His Father wasn't even looking at Him. All He could see was the Father turning away. Jesus said, in so many words, Father, I expected My nation to forsake Me; I expected My synagogue to forsake Me; but Father, my God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me? (http://faithbiblebaptistchurch.com/messages/hyles_jesus_friend.htm).
Let me begin with some things we all should know and then we will make this very plain and clear. For one, we should all know that the righteous will NEVER be forsaken by God (II Samuel 22:2, Psalms 37:25, Psalms 94:14, Romans 8:28, and Hebrews 13:5-6) in any dispensation. Secondly, we should also know that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-16 and I Peter 2:21-22). What Jesus did, and came to do, were those things that were pleasing unto the Father (Matthew 17:1-5 and II Peter 1:16-18). Therefore, saying that Jesus was literally forsaken by the Father makes God a liar. We should know that is not the case (Hebrews 6:16-20 and Titus 1:2).
Now, just letting the Scriptures speak, we shall see that Jesus was not literally abandoned by the Father. In fact, using deductive reasoning, we know that Jesus quote of the Psalmist in Psalms 22:1 (cf. Matthew 27:46) could not mean that Jesus literally was abandoned by His Father based on what we have seen above and what we will see now. Notice the evidence that Jesus was never abandoned by His Father: Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man [certainly referring to His death John 3:14 and John 12:32-34], then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me (John 8:28-29 and John 16:32).
God the Father and God the Son are one (John 10:30). As we too are promised, Jesus knew that doing the Fathers will kept the unity of He and His Father (II John 9). Jesus would not have been asking God why He was forsaken if God had intended to do so from Psalms 22:1 forward. Jesus certainly knew the word. Jesus is the word (John 1:1-5; 14). What happened on the cross was not a question to Jesus. In fact, He showed everyone that He knew what was going to occur on that horrible, yet glorious day (Mark 10:33).
When we read through the Scriptures we see that Jesus was a sacrifice that was without spot or blemish (I Peter 1:18-19). Such was required of a sacrifice made unto God for sins (Leviticus 22:21-24 and Numbers 19:1-9). Had Jesus literally become sin or had He literally taken on our sins, He would not have been an acceptable sacrifice. Yet, some will say this is the very reason God forsook Jesus.
What has led many Christians to conclude that God forsook Jesus is the idea that Jesus literally took on our sins. Notice this statement: Jesus paid the price for our sin by giving His life on the cross. But because Jesus was sinless and took on our sin as a sacrifice, and because He is God, He rose from the dead and showed that He is Holy, worthy of our worship, and loves us so much. This is what paved the way for all humans to have a personal relationship with Him (http://www.cbbaptist.com/heaven.html).
As we consider this false foundation to the idea of Jesus being forsaken, we have to remind ourselves what sin really is. Is sin something I can walk over and hand someone and ask that person to take from me? Is sin something I wear? Of course, we realize that those two questions are absurd. Yet, many take the view that Jesus became or took our sins on Himself. If that were true, youd never have to do anything to be saved. You could not sin. Sin would be gone. Yet, we know that sin is something you do. Sin is the transgressing of Gods law and / or unrighteousness (I John 3:4 and I John 5:17).
The argument you get from the average Christian in return of what we saw above is a misunderstanding of II Corinthians 5:21. Let me state, this is not an easy passage. When I first studied it, I knew what it couldnt mean, so I had to dig deeper. The verse says this: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (II Corinthians 5:21). Certainly Jesus literally being made sin does not jive with I Corinthians 1:30 where we find He was made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. So, some digging shows that II Corinthians 5:21 is telling us that Jesus was made a sin offering just as the Scriptures foretold (cf. Isaiah 53:10 and Hebrews 10:5-10). Even the NIV footnotes this passage saying: Or be a sin offering. God did not turn His back on Christ nor did Jesus take on our sins! Religion has this, and many other things, all wrong!