Is a clear understanding of the atonement an academic preserve to which only theologians and scholars have access? Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington don’t think so.
Thus, they have written The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness, which seeks to explain the way that the Old Testament prepares the way for Jesus’ death, then looks at every text on the atonement in the New Testament. Crossway has provided a text-interview with Bridges and Bevington here. They describe their primary audience as “mainstream . . . believers.”
You can check out the book’s website, which includes study guides on the book. This book and these study guides will be ready tools in the hands of disciplers.
Oh that mainstream believers would watch less football this fall so they could have time to read books like this one!
(HT: For His Renown)
Here’s some thoughts about the book from the authors:
Jerry Bridges (JB): The Great Exchange refers to the way Christ’s sinless life and sacrificial death in the gospel works to benefit the sinners that are united to him by faith: their sin is charged to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness is credited to them. In essence this is a transaction, an exchange, namely, our sin for his righteousness. This is the essential message of the entire Bible, but it can be seen in its most concise form in our key verse, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Bob Bevington (BB): Since the death of Christ is the central event in human history, anytime is a great time to write a book on the subject! But many within today’s church are following a dangerous trend away from the historical gospel of substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness in favor of a fashionable brand of “new” Christianity that defines a genuine Christian as one who simply follows the example of Jesus. We would never object to robustly seeking Christlikeness. But this recent trend at times appears to neglect the central fact that we have a sin problem that can only be dealt with by the application of Christ’s death on the cross. No one can truly think and speak and live like Christ unless their sin dilemma is first solved by faith in Christ in the Great Exchange, as Jerry described above. So our book aims to assist a resurgence of the centrality of the historic gospel as both the cornerstone and the all-encompassing proposition of today’s Christian church.
JB: The value of the gospel is equal to the price paid by Christ to provide redemption to believing sinners. In releasing his grasp on equality with God, taking the form of a servant, and becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross, Christ paid an infinite price. Thus the gospel is infinitely precious. And like a diamond, the gospel has many facets that display its glory and brilliance. All these facets have one common essence in the stone itself. For example, Christ is our sinbearer, our wrathbearer, our cursebearer, our righteousness, our ransom, and our redemption. All these facets proclaim the same glorious message: Christ died for our sins.
BB: Anyone who believes it was a form of cosmic child abuse must either believe God is evil or that the cross was metaphorical and not historical. But I see several reasons for substitutionary atonement to be truly just. First, it is just because the sovereign God, the creator of all things, including justice, says it is just. The clay doesn’t argue with the potter. Second, it is clear that Jesus came to earth voluntarily, with full understanding and agreement with the Father about his mission. Thus, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Third, the mechanism by which it is just for God to punish Christ instead of us is our union with Christ by faith. That is, God sees us as one with Christ; therefore, Christ’s sinless life is justly credited to us as though we had lived it ourselves, and Christ’s death for our sin has the same effect as if we had died on the cross ourselves to serve God’s justice. Lastly, it is just because, on the third day, God raised Christ from the dead and highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. In the gospel, in the end, justice is served on every conceivable level.
JB: No other contemporary book that I know of covers the topics of substitutionary atonement, the righteousness of Christ, and the believer’s union with Christ quite like ours—within the context of the Old Testament and then in the same order of the books of the Bible from Acts through Revelation. As we unpack each passage, the reader’s appreciation of the grace and truth of the gospel broadens and deepens, while any overlap between the passages serves to reinforce the message.
BB: The Best “good news for believers”? That’s easy. We get God himself. The gospel announces many aspects of good news, such as eternal life, freedom from guilt, and victory over Satan. But the best good news of all is that in the gospel we are restored, favorably accepted, and reconciled to our infinitely holy God. Nothing could be better than that, because nothing can be better than God. He is more glorious, more satisfying, and more to be desired than any and all created things.
You can read the entire interview with Crossway Bibles and Books here.