Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: The Great Exchange

The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington. 2007. Crossway. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Great Exchange is a wonderful, wonderful book. It is a book that celebrates the atonement in each and every chapter. I loved this one cover to cover--from introduction to conclusion. Yes, I could see how some readers might feel it is a bit repetitive: the glorious, amazing truth is shared many times per chapter. But why would that ever be a bad thing--to hear "the old, old story" again and again? This book savors the truth--celebrates and glories in Christ: what he has done, what he is doing, what he will do. Here is the stated goal of the book:
This book, then, is about Christ's glorious work of atonement culminating at the cross. There are no stories inserted to illustrate points. There are no anecdotes added to entertain the reader. None of this is needed, because a rightly understood view of the cross as the treasure of all time can never be boring, trivial, or lacking in excitement. Our goal is to assist the reader in exulting in the unfathomable riches of Christ's atonement as contained in God's Word. (26)
So you may have heard the word atonement in the past, but might be a little fuzzy on what it is exactly, so, what is the atonement?
Simply stated, atonement is the price paid to reconcile enemies.
In the biblical context, we have the following:
  • The offended party is God--the holy and omnipotent sovereign
  • The offense is sin of any kind, as defined by the Bible
  • The offending party consists of sinners, that is, all humanity
  • The penalty is the full force of God's inconceivable eternal wrath
  • The price paid on behalf of sinners is the atoning death of Christ.
Because Christ made atonement for our sins by suffering in our place as our substitute, we speak of the substitutionary atonement of Christ. A similar expression used to sum up the work of Christ is penal substitution, meaning that as our substitute, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. (23)
The book is appropriately titled The Great Exchange. So what is this great exchange?!
The Great Exchange that results from the death of the perfect sacrifice is a twofold substitution: the charging of the believer's sin to Christ results in God's forgiveness, and the crediting of Christ's righteousness to the believer results in his justification. More than being declared not guilty, in Christ believers are actually declared righteous. (41)
I'm going to share the table of contents to give you an idea of what to expect. I would say that just by looking at it you can conclude that the authors are very thorough!
Part One: Christ's Atonement: Overview and Context
1. The Unique Qualifications of the Apostles
2. Christ's Atonement: The Apostles' Summary
3. Atonement Foreshadowed: The Old Testament Sacrifices
4. Atonement Expected: The Old Testament Prophecies
Part Two: The Apostle-Authored Scripture on Christ's Atonement
5. The Acts of the Apostles
6. The Epistles of Paul on "the Righteousness of God"
7. Romans
8. 1 Corinthians
9. 2 Corinthians
10. Galatians
11. Ephesians
12. Philippians
13. Colossians
14. 1 and 2 Thessalonians
15. 1 and 2 Timothy
16. Titus
17. Hebrews
18. 1 Peter
19. 1 John
20. Revelation
Appendix: An Outline of the Doctrine of the Atonement
The more a nonfiction book relies on the Word of God, the more I love it. I expect my theology books to be grounded--well grounded--in the Bible, rich in Scripture, and focused on unpacking the meaning of Scripture. The Great Exchange is rich in Scripture. Verse after verse, passage after passage is explored in great detail. Did you notice that there are whole chapters of this one dedicated to exploring what New Testament books of the Bible have to say about Jesus? about the atonement? about the great exchange--that is imputation?

Chapter 7 (Romans) -- Main Verses Explored In Detail

  • Romans 3:23-26
  • Romans 4:22-25
  • Romans 5:6-11
  • Romans 5:12-19
  • Romans 6:1-12
  • Romans 8:3-4
  • Romans 8:31-34

The gospel is something that believers never outgrow. Never. The gospel is something we need to be refreshed in every single day of our lives. Christ can not be treasured too much. This book does a marvelous job in keeping Christ at the center of our hearts and minds. It is an amazing book. It does explore big ideas and amazing doctrines, but, it does so clearly. By the end of the book, you will have learned something.

Christ died for our sins. The gospel is the solution to our sin problem. So, before we can understand and appreciate the gospel, we need to understand the doctrine of sin. (19)
Sin is a rebellion against God's sovereign authority, a despising of his Word and his person, and even a defiance of God himself…We would like to think that, as believers, such descriptions of sin no longer apply to us. We look at the gross and obvious sins of society around us, and we tend to define sin in terms of those actions. We fail to see that our anxiety, our discontentment, our ingratitude toward God, our pride and selfishness, our critical and judgmental attitudes toward others, our gossip, our unkind words to or about others, our preoccupation with the things o this life, and a whole host of other subtle sins are an expression of rebellion against God and a despising of his Word and person. The truth is that even the most mature believers continue to sin in thought, word, deed, and especially in motive. (20)
All of our efforts toward spiritual growth should flow out of the realization of what he has already done to secure for us our perfect standing before God. (25)
At the cross, forgiveness was achieved by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. What are these demands? They are the demands that the lawful penalty be actually and fully executed. What is the penalty? The penalty is the punishment that sinners rightly deserve--death. This penalty must be executed by a holy God. Yet, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) While we were still sinners, God nailed the record of our legal debt to the cross of Christ's death. Man's sin was not a mere paper debt. It was not hypothetical debt. It was an actual legal debt. It was Christ's own flesh that was nailed to the cross, as he was made sin on our behalf. (2 Cor. 5:21). (37)
All our blessings were blood bought. (43)
Everything we need for life and eternity is provided by virtue of Christ's great atonement. (45)
The Bible makes it clear that God requires a personal and moral obedience and righteousness from all, yet no human has ever met the righteous requirements of the law (Rom. 3:10). Only Christ, as the holy and righteous law keeper, could offer a perfect sacrifice for sins, because he perfectly obeyed God's law. By his sinless life (his active obedience) and his substitutionary death (his passive obedience), God's requirement--that is, his will--was fulfilled on behalf of those whom Christ represents in the new covenant. (63)
The Bible uses the expression the righteousness of God in two distinct ways: the first as it applies to God, and the second as it applies to man. As an attribute of God, the righteousness of God refers to who God is in his holiness and perfect justice, and it ultimately means God's unswerving commitment to display his glory and uphold his name. As it applies to man, the expression refers to the righteousness that God requires from man, a righteousness no sinner can provide on his or her own. Thus, this phrase ultimately refers to the righteousness that is transferred from the sinless Christ to sinners as a result of his finished work on the cross. (82)
We will never exhaust this joy. Throughout the endless age of eternity, we will continually discover and experience more and more of God. And since our joy is directly proportional to our experience of God, our joy will never plateau; our delight and pleasure and satisfaction and happiness will increase forever and ever. If that does not take our breath away, what will? (107) (Romans 5:11)
The personally sinless Christ perfectly obeyed all of God's moral will, and, as our representative, Christ fulfilled the law in our place. He loved for us when we hated God and man, he gave for us when we were selfish, and he was pure for us when we were polluted with sin. So, as we've noticed, Jesus not only died for us, he also lived for us. All that Christ did in both his life and his death, he did in our place as our substitute. (111)
God's gift of the crucified Christ becomes all the righteousness we will ever need, for in the Great Exchange, we are seen by God to be as sinless as Christ himself. This would be impossible for us sinners were it not for two essentials. First, a qualified sacrifice must be made on behalf of our sin, and second, a perfect and alien righteousness must be credited to us. Both of these requirements were met in Christ on the cross. In a mind-boggling twist of grace, God credits Christ's death as payment in full for our sin, and he credits us with the real, lived-out righteousness of Christ as if we had personally, perfectly fulfilled the law. The value of this transferred righteousness is also incalculable. (131-2)
Jesus offers no prosperity gospel. Christ is not a means to an end for the Christian--he is the end. (154)
Our sin killed him, and no amount of fixing or patching ourselves up can change that fact. (157)
Our redemption is as real as his blood. It is a real deliverance from a real captivity by a real ransom paid in blood. We really were captive to the dominion of sin and its resulting condemnation. Our sin nature dominated us, and the law condemned us to death. But Christ the beloved, as our representative, intervened on our behalf by dying a real and cursed death in our place. The ransom price was paid to God to satisfy his justice, and we were redeemed from our old owner to our new One with a perfect blood sacrifice acceptable to the Father. (173)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: