The Necessity of Believing in the Penal Satisfaction View of Atonement

The atonement is one of the most important and essential doctrines of the Christian faith, for it prompts many other doctrines in Christian theology as laying the foundation. The atonement is not only the foundation for other core doctrines of the Christian faith, it is also, according to Luther, the way in which we know God. “Knowledge of God is not found through human wisdom, human powers, or human achievements. It is found in the foolishness of the cross.”[1]

            The foolishness of the cross is parallel to the way in which the church father, Anselm, communicated this doctrine. It is foolish to think that God became man to die in the place of sinful humanity and reconcile them back to God. The importance of the atonement is climaxed at the simple fact that without it, there is no such thing as Christianity. To echo Leroy Forlines, Christianity is nonexistent without the atoning work of Christ on the cross. And not only is atonement necessary, the satisfaction view of atonement is the necessary viewpoint from which to see it.

The importance of the atonement is climaxed at the simple fact that without it, there is no such thing as Christianity.

            To claim that Christ’s death was simply an example of the wrath of God on sin is to minimize the punishment for sin and the character of God. There is only one way to save the world and it is by the sacrificial, satisfactory death of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, on the cross. Charles E. Hill observes that “the whole world needs saving, and that he (Christ) is the world’s only Savior.”[2] Satisfaction matters because it is the only view presenting Christ as the one who shed his own blood for the elect of God (Acts 20:28).


            Not only does atonement matter for theological formulation, it also matters for correct teaching and preaching. There is always a necessity to preach and teach the penal satisfaction view of atonement from the pulpit. If there is a lack of satisfaction atonement preached, there is a lacking gospel being presented. The only true way to present the gospel is through the lens of the satisfactory death of Christ on the cross.

[1] Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. Why The Reformation Still Matters (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 102.

[2] Charles E. Hill, “1-3 John” in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized, ed. Michael J. Kruger (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 493.

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