Pentecostals and Penal Substitution

What did Jesus accomplish through His death on the cross? The traditional Protestant answer held to by Evangelicals and Pentecostals is often called penal substitution. That means that Jesus died in our place (as our Substitute), taking the penalty we deserved for our sins. Penal substitution is also sometimes called vicarious satisfaction. I'm not going to go into lots of detail about the doctrine here (if you're looking for that, you can always have a look at the chapter on the Atonement in my book Apostolic Theology), but rather I just want to think about what Pentecostals believe. 

You see, more and more, I'm encountering claims either that Pentecostals don't really believe in penal substitution or that, even though most Pentecostals do believe it, it's only by accident that they do. But is that what we find in official Pentecostal statements of their beliefs on the atonement? Not at all! So I thought it might be useful to collect a number of official Pentecostal statements here for reference. Some are very explicitly statements of penal substitution, others are only explicit about the substitutionary aspect, but the wider context and their customary interpretation in denominational writings imply this substitution is a penal substitution. All of the following are excerpts from official statements of doctrine. And this isn't an exhaustive list, just a variety of examples from all over the world.

The Apostolic Church

The Father, in His infinite mercy and love, has sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world to be the Propitiation ... and sin-offering for us on the Cross of Calvary ...  by bearing our sins in His body on the tree.

(Athrawiaethau Sylfeinol yr Eglwys Apostolaidd, iii)

Christ in His death took our place in the bearing of the punishment for sin.

(Introducing the Apostolic Church: A Manual of Belief, Practice and History, p.129)

It was a sacrificial death in that He died for the sins of the whole world. It was according to the will of the Father who laid on Him the iniquity of us all ... The Blood of Christ is ... the Propitiation for sin.

(Fundamentals of the Apostolic Church, On Tenet 3)

How did Christ atone for our sins? By offering Himself as the sinless Lamb of God, a vicarious sacrifice to God, thus shedding His blood and giving up His life for us once and for all ... and bore in His own body the penalty [of the transgressed law].

(Asked and Answered: A Catechism of Apostolic Principles, On Tenet 3)

His Atoning and Substitutionary Death. 

(Belgian Apostolic Church Confession of Faith)

The Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission

The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual. 

(Articles of Religion XX, in Doctrines and Discipline)

A sure trust that Christ died for my sins, that he loved me and gave Himself for me.

(Catechism on Faith, 4, in Doctrines and Discipline)

The Elim Pentecostal Church

His substitutionary and atoning sacrifice through His blood shed.

Through the death and risen power of Christ, all who believe can be saved from the penalty and power of sin. 

(1928 Statement of Fundamental Truths)

All who receive salvation through Jesus Christ have deliverance from the penalty and power of sin through His precious blood.

(1916 Elim Christ Church, What We Believe)

The Foursquare Church

We believe that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, the Just for the unjust; freely, and by divine appointment of the Father, taking the sinner’s place, bearing his sins, receiving his condemnation, dying his death, fully paying his penalty.

The World Assemblies of God Fellowship

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune Godhead, who was and is the eternal Son of God; that He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary. We believe in His sinless life, miraculous ministry, substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, triumphant ascension, and abiding intercession

We believe in salvation through faith in Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day. By His atoning blood, salvation has been provided for all humanity through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

He died upon the cross, the Just for the unjust, as a substitution sacrifice.

Salvation has been provided for all people through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. It is the only perfect redemption and substitution atonement for all the sins of the world, both original and actual.

The Church of Pentecost

The vicarious death of Jesus Christ.

The Church of God of Prophecy

We believe that salvation is by grace through faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross and that He died in our place. The believer’s sins are forgiven by the shedding of His blood.

The Church of God in Christ

The death of Christ is a sacrificial one for the benefit and even in the place of His people.

(Articles of Religion, Official Manual, p.76)

Assembleias de Deus, Brazil

Vicarious death means substitutionary death ... transfer of guilt from the sinner to the victim ... The iniquities of all sinners were transferred to the Suffering Servant mentioned in that oracle of Isaiah. His death was in our place ... The Lord Jesus offered himself as a voluntary sacrifice, and this pleased the Father.

NB With 22.5 million members, the Brazilian Assembleias de Deus is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world.


We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ as both God and man is the only One who can reconcile us to God. He lived a sinless and exemplary life, died on the cross in our place, and rose again to prove His victory and empower us for life.

The Pentecostal Church in Indonesia

We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born as man (from the anointed Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit), was crucified and died on the Cross to bear our sins.

(Statement of Faith, 4)

Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America 

His vicarious sufferings and atoning sacrifice though His shed blood.

Pentecostal European Fellowship

His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood.