For Whom Did Christ Die?

by Jerry Shugart

Substitution

Let us look at an example of "substitution" in the Scriptures:

"Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish: And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: it is a sin offering" (Lev.4:23-24).

Sir Robert Anderson writes, "In the case of the sin-offerings, the offerer came to the door of the tabernacle to give his life as the penalty for his sin, and there, having identified the victim with himself by laying his hand upon its head, the death of the sacrifice was accepted instead of his own. And this is what we understand by substitution; the sinner laid his sin upon the animal, and the victim died instead of him. And here the death was everything. Whatever ceremonial followed was the care of the priest, and not of the offerer; that is, of God, and not of the sinner" (Anderson, The Gospel and Its Ministry [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996], p.89-90).

This provision was only for the Jew who was already redeemed by the blood of the passover lambs in Egypt and sprinkled with the blood of the Covenant. In The New Scofield Study Bible we read that the Law was not "proposed as a means of salvation but as a means by which Israel, already redeemed as a nation, might through obedience fulfill her proper destiny as a people for God's possession, an holy nation, and a kingdom of priests" (The New Scofield Study Bible, note at Exodus 19:3).

Christ Our Passover

Now let us examine how the children of Israel escaped the death penalty that went out against all of the firstborn living in Egypt. Moses told the people the following:

"Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning" (Ex.12:21-22).

Then Moses told the children of Israel the Gospel message that he had received from God:

"When He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not permit the destroyer to come into your house to smite you" (Ex.12:23).

Anderson points out that the way which the children of Israel were "redeemed" in Egypt was not the same as the "substitution" revealed in the ordinance of the sin offering":

"The dread death-sentence had gone out against all the land of Egypt. None were excepted from it. It embraced alike king and captive, Hebrew and Egyptian. But for Israel that sentence was fulfilled in the blood of the paschal lamb. But how? There was no laying of the hand upon the head of the victim, as with the sin-offerings. The death of the lamb, though doubtless the foundation of every blessing, would in itself have brought no deliverance. Beyond the threshold of the blood-stained door, the Israelite would have shared in Egypt's doom; beneath the shelter of that blood, the Egyptian would have shared in Israel's redemption. The death upon which their deliverance depended was accomplished; but their participation in the benefits of that death depended entirely upon the sprinkling of the victim's blood. There was no question of substitution, in the sense of the sin-offering" (Anderson, Ibid., p.90).

Their "participation in the benefits of that death depended entirely upon the sprinkling of the victim's blood." This is showing that the death of Christ by itself brings no redemption to anyone. The "type" illustrates the following truth--"The death of the Lamb, though doubtless the foundation of every blessing, does not in itself bring deliverance."

Death Applied

As shown previously, the "type" illustrates the truths associated with the believer's deliverance from the death sentence. The "passover lambs" symbolize the Lord Jesus, Who is our Passover. The death sentence that went out against all the firstborn in Egypt symbolizes spiritual death, the death that the Lord Jesus experienced on the Cross when He was separated from God. Then what does the "blood" symbolize?

Anderson answers this question, saying that "in the symbolism of Scripture 'blood' means death 'applied.' Therefore it is that we are said to be justified by the 'blood' of Christ" (Anderson, Redemption Truths [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2003], p.85).

In Egypt it was not until the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses that the death of the passover lambs were actually applied to those inside those homes. It was not until the "blood of the covenant" was sprinkled upon the children of Israel (Ex.24:8) that the nation was sanctified by the deaths of the burnt and peace offerings (which too were "types" of Christ).

It is not until the sinner applies the death of Christ to himself by "faith" that he is identified with that death. Anderson states that "when thus identified with the sacrifice of Calvary, but only then, the sinner may adopt language, of the sin-offering, and say 'He self bare my sins in His own body on the tree'" (Anderson, The Gospel and Its Ministry, p.93).

Likewise, it is only after the sinner believes the gospel that it can be said that Christ died as his "substitute," and that only because of the believer's total identification with his death, the same death into which he is baptized when he believes.