Here is a great extended quote from John Stott’s book, Basic Christianity (p. 92-93), outlining and describing the nature of and importance of truly believing in Christ’s sacrificial death on behalf of men. It begins with a quote of one of the many very clear verses of Scripture that state this doctrine in no uncertain terms.
2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus Christ had no sins of his own; he was made sin with our sins, on the cross.
As we look at the cross, we can begin to understand the terrible implications of these words. At twelve noon ‘there was darkness over the whole land’ which continued for three hours until Jesus died. With the darkness came silence, for no eye should see, and no lips could tell, the agony of soul which the spotless Lamb of God now endured. The accumulated sins of all human history were laid upon him. Voluntarily he bore them in his own body. He made them his own. He shouldered full responsibility for them.
And then in desolate spiritual abandonment that cry was wrung from his lips, ‘My God, my Go, why hast thou forsaken me?’ It was a quotation from the first verse of Psalm 22. No doubt he had been mediating during his agony on its description of the sufferings and glory of the Christ. But why did he quote that verse? Why not one of the triumphant verses at the end? Why not, ‘You who fear the Lord, praise him!’ or ‘Dominion belongs to the Lord’? Are we to believe that it was a cry of human weakness or despair, or that the Son of God was imagining things?
No. These words must be taken at their face value. He quoted this verse of Scripture, as he quoted all others, because he believed he was himself fulfilling it. He was bearing our sins. And God who is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil’ and cannot ‘look on wrong’ turned away his face. Our sins came between the Father and the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ who was eternally with the Father, who enjoyed unbroken communion with him throughout his life on earth, was thus momentarily abandoned. Our sins sent Christ to hell. He tasted the torment of a soul estranged from God. Bearing our sins, he died our death. He endured instead of us the penalty of separation from God which our sins deserved.
Then at once, emerging from that outer darkness, he cried in triumph, ‘It is finished,’ and finally, ‘Father, into they hands I commit my spirit.’ And so he died. The work he had come to do was complete. The salvation he had come to win was accomplished. The sins of the world were borne. Reconciliation to God was available to all who would trust the Savior for themselves, and receive him as their own. Immediately, as if to demonstrate this truth publicly, the unseen hand of God tore down the curtain of the Temple, and hurled it aside. It was needed no longer. The way into God’s holy presence was no longer barred. Christ had ‘opened the gate of heaven to all believers.’ And [then]…he was raised from death, to prove that he had not died in vain.
Be encouraged in God today, Christian! He willingly paid this great price in order to establish a just means of restoring mankind to a relationship with Himself. And if you have received him, then you too have the right to be called His child (John 1:12). The wrath of God toward your own sins has been born by Christ, having been motivated by His own love toward you, a sinner!
Romans 5:8-9 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.