What Happened at Golgotha

Jesus absorbed God’s wrath for us.

Among the many other happenings during the most important hours in the history of the world — as the Son of God was crucified outside Jerusalem at a place called Golgotha (Mark 15:22) — this accomplishment is the center and foundation and heart.

Jesus had no sin of his own. It was not his own penalty that he bore, but he was a substitute for others, for those who would be joined to him by faith. This we call penal substitutionary atonement — Jesus reconciled sinners to God by being their substitute punishment. He absorbed in his person God’s righteous wrath against us, because of our sin, that we might be free from sin and its penalty and liberated to enjoy such a person forever.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, this most precious of Christian doctrines is under great assault in many quarters. It’s no new assault, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The wrath of God, and its manifestations in hell and penal substitution, are the revealed truths the natural man seems to find most repulsive (for good reason). Penal substitution is a doctrine conscientious pastors and Christian leaders must stay fresh on and be ready to winsomely answer when the attacks come.

In this new episode of Theology Refresh, we were privileged to talk with Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Campbellsville University. Penal substitution is one of his fortes, and we think you’ll be helped as Jarvis takes us right to the heart of the gospel in less than 10 minutes.

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org, pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and adjunct professor for Bethlehem College & Seminary. He has edited and contributed to several books and is author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.