Book Review: The Great Exchange

Book by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington

Review by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Books on the atonement of Jesus Christ are many, with titles such as The Cross of Christ by John Stott, and more recently with much fanfare, Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach. The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington recently came out with hardly a peep from among evangelicals. The issue of the imputed righteousness of Christ for our sins does not seem like a fitting topic to gain popularity or monetary gain, but these authors deemed it worthy of spending time to give the church a gift that glorifies our Great God who has redeemed us by the sending of His Son to die in place of sinners.

This book is fitting for us to delve deep into and look back at the source of our coming to Christ. There are many today who are unwilling to discuss, or are completely oblivious to the fact that Christ died as a substitute for sinners, and that his death truly brings dead men to life. Seen as a stark doctrine, many deride or even sneer at the concept that God the Father would punish His own Son, calling it a form of child abuse. God has blessed these men of God to write with passion the glory of this exchange that reconciles wicked sinners who were enemies of God to be able to dwell in His presence, voluntarily acted upon by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Following the same outline as Scottish author/theologian George Smeaton’s The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement, both authors give a somewhat biblical-theological study of this great exchange through the majority of the New Testament. From Acts on to Revelation this subject is given treatment in how the apostles Paul, John, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews explain the importance of this transfer of Christ’s righteousness for the sins of those who believe and place their trust in Him. Insight after insight is sweetly interspersed throughout, as these authors give glory to God in how they present this loving act of crucifixion throughout Scripture. Bridges and Bevington do give introductory material for the reader to chew on before jumping in to explain the testimony of God’s Word upon this glorious act of divine mercy. My favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 5:21, is given as what summarizes and crystallizes this exchange: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (ESV).

The doctrine of sin is treated for us to consider the wicked nature of our sin and our deserving punishment of eternal damnation, in order that we may understand and cherish the grandness of God’s grace in overcoming this separation to bring reconciliation to the most broken of relationships: between us and God. Reading of the lengths with which the Israelites in Old Testament times had to go through to in terms of rituals performed by the priest on that Day of Atonement seemed staggering in that their sacrifice was inadequate to completely remove sin, knowing that it was a picture of the once-for-all sacrifice so beautifully explored in Hebrews. At the same time, you catch a glimpse of God the Trinity planning this act of demonstrated love that satisfies His wrath, upholds his holiness, and ultimately, gives Himself glory. Having Adam as our head and representative, he sinned, bringing death into the world (Romans 5:12), while we continue to sin personally, bringing more condemnation upon our own head. Yet Christ, the new Adam, represents a new group of humanity in living a sinless life and dying in our place as a substitute and sacrifice that gives a pleasing aroma to God, resurrecting Him from the dead to show the approval of the work of Christ.

Reading the apostles who witnessed Christ here on earth and then preaching to sinners with boldness gives me pause to consider whether I have truly treasured the atonement of Christ, the sin-bearing substitute of my own sins, being imputed to Him while I’m credited with His perfect righteousness, that I may give glory to God. I strongly recommend this book to those who are ever searching for a deeper picture into what the cross of Christ truly displays, and ever increase to have a high view of this God who loves us beyond comprehension. May God be glorified.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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