Does Penal Substitution Require the Resurrection?

Reflections on the Atonement for Easter Weekend

“The good news of the gospel is that Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross and we are thereby forgiven.”

Jerry Bridges wrote those words in his excellent work, The Discipline of Grace. As a pastor, I’ve recommended that book to many over the years and loaned out my personal copy so much that I’ve had to replace it repeatedly. But every time I read that line I cringe just a bit. I want to write in “and was raised from the dead!” I want his summary of the gospel to include the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. After all, Paul makes clear that Christ’s resurrection is no inconsequential matter, telling the Corinthians that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in yours sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The resurrection is of absolute necessity to the gospel message. But I have to admit, this is an area in which I’m a bit sensitive.

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