4 Things for Which Christ Cannot Be Substituted

“Christ is a substitute for everything, but nothing is a substitute for Christ.”

– Harry Ironside

Our Sufficiency

We cannot possibly be saved without repentance and trusting in Christ alone (Acts 4:12). “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). Even when they came to Joseph to ask him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, “I cannot do it, Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires’” (Gen. 41:16). This is the very reason Paul wrote to the church at Rome “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done” (Rom. 15:18).

Our Redeemer

You cannot substitute anything for the Redeemer. There are plenty of false ideas about Jesus and many false religions, but only Jesus can say “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). You cannot have access to heaven until you have first trusted in the King of heaven. There is no substitute because He declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).

Our King

We are subject to those authorities on earth (Rom. 13), but even those to whom we are subject are under the sovereign rule of the King of kings and Lord of lords–and that is Jesus Christ, our King–today and forevermore. Even the wise men who came to inquire of the Lord knew this when they asked, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matt. 2:2). Even Pilate asked, “’Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You have said so’” (Matt. 27:11). Here is Jesus Himself declaring that He is King, not just of the Jews but of all who bend the knee and submit to Him.

Our Good Shepherd

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). As the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, His once-and-for-all sacrifice made all other sacrifices useless because they could only cover sins, but Jesus’ blood takes away sins. The Good Shepherd says, “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). There is no substitute for the Good Shepherd–not a man, a pastor, a church leader but Christ alone.


Indeed, Christ is a substitute for everything, but nothing is a substitute for Christ, for without Him your salvation is insufficient, your redemption is not possible, you’re not a subject of His kingdom and you’re not inside the sheepfold and under the care of the Good Shepherd.