Whether in Bible doctrine or in common speech, the word substitution means the replacement of one person or thing for another. Though not a Bible word, its specific meaning when related to
the Scriptures is concerning the work of Christ on the cross, and by it is indicated the fact that those unmeasured, righteous judgments of God against the sinner because of his sin were borne
by Christ substituting in the sinner’s room and stead. The result of this substitution is itself as simple and definite as the transaction — the Saviour has already borne the divine judgments
against the sinner to the full satisfaction of God. There is therefore nothing left for the sinner to do or for him to persuade God to do; but he is asked to believe this good news, relating it to his
own sin, and thereby claim his personal Saviour.
The word substitution fails to represent all that is accomplished in the death of Christ. In fact there is no all-inclusive term. By popular usage, the word atonement has been pressed into this
service; but the word atonement:, which does not once appear in the original text of the New Testament, means, as used in the Old Testament, only to cover sin. However, the word atonement
does clearly indicate the divine method of dealing with sin before the cross. In the Old Testament, while requiring no more than a symbolic animal sacrifice for the remission of sins (Lit. toleration, Rom. 3:25), and winking at sin (Lit. to overlook and not punish, Acts 17:30), God was acting in perfect righteousness since He was awaiting the coming of His own Lamb who would in no way pass over or cover sin, but who would take it away for ever (John 1:29).