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Christ's Death Distinctives


The distinctives of Christ's death on the cross (such as predetermined, voluntary, substitutionary, expiatory, propitiatory, redemptive, etc.)


  • Biblical distinctives of Christ’s death.
    • Predetermined by God in eternity past (Acts 2.23; 1 Peter 1:18-20).
    • Voluntary or by free choice (John 10:1-18; Galatians 2:20).
    • Substitutionary (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
    • Sacrificial or an offering for sin of others (1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 9:14).
    • Expiatory or taking away guilt (Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:4-6).
    • Propitiatory or satisfying the Father (1 John 2:2; 4.10; Romans 3:25).
    • Redemptive or paying the price (Ephesians 1:7).
    • Unlimited or for everyone; available for all, applied to believers (1 John 2:1-2; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9).
    • Absolutely complete or we do nothing and add nothing (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:14, 28; Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14).
    • Two aspects of His death: spiritual (3 hours of darkness when He was being judged for sins (Matthew 27:45-47; Mark 15:33-36; Luke 23:44-45; John 19:28-30) and physical when He voluntarily accepted physical death because He had completed His work (Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-38; Luke 23:46-49; John 19:30).
  • Wrong theological explanations of Christ’s death--see Elemental Theology, Bancroft 169-176
    • An Accident: The claim is the Jesus was a victim of circumstances, therefore He died because of an unexpected accident. Refutation: Jesus knew the Old Testament and the Father's plan for His life and death (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:25-35; Isaiah 53).
    • A martyr: The claim is that His death was simply like that of any other well intentioned martyr. Refutation: There is no mention of this in the Bible, while the New Testament used this word to describe other Christian's deaths. Christ died forsaken by the Father; Paul was joyful (Philippians 1:23 and 2 Timothy 4:6-7); Stephen died, but no one used him for forgiveness.
    • A moral influence: The claim is that Christ redeemed people through His example, therefore influencing people to reform and better his condition; God can forgive when people repent and reform. Refutation: Just knowing about His suffering and life does not change their status of spiritual death. It did not in His time and does not now.
    • An expression of God’s anger at sin (governmental theory): The claim is that Christ’s death showed God’s displeasure at sin in the world. (God was angry at sin and took it out on His Son [Tod Kennedy's addition]). The help is in Christ’s suffering. This shows God’s moral support of justice, not a substitution of penalty for sin. Refutation: God did not need His perfect Son to show His anger at sin. He could and did show this with many people.
    • To show man how much God loved them: The claim is that man would always have this proof of God’s love. Refutation: God has said over and over that He loves man, but because He loves man He sent His Son to pay the penalty for their sin (Romans 5:8).