The Orthodox church categorically denies that Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice, and they also deny that a believer's righteousness is centred entirely in Christ, and the belief in the imputation of "the righteousness of Christ" that is "The Lord Our Righteousness." The imputation of Christ's righteousness is the fulfilment of "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20.
As usual the Eastern Orthodox church make the false claim that such beliefs (or any other beliefs that are not theirs) do not appear in the writings of early writers, but these claims are false. Thus once again they lead people away from the Holy Bible, into a world of dusty old history books and debates about what early writers may or may not have said, when the entire issue is there settled completely in holy writ itself.
Is it necessary for salvation?
The big question is - is it necessary to understand that Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice to believe the "good news" and thus be born again? And is it necessary also to understand the concept of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to believe the gospel?
My answer to this you may surprise you, but my answer is no. The gospel of salvation in 1 Cor 15:1-4 and Luke 24:44-48 does not say so. We believe in Christ, crucified to wash away our sins, and that he was raised from the dead for our justification. It is more important that we believe that Jesus was God in the flesh in respect of believing the true gospel and thus being born again. I do however believe that understanding these issues should be natural to a true believer as he or she studies the word of God and grows in the Faith, and if at some (unspecified) point they remain unable to grasp these truths it is of great concern as a quality indicator of their relationship with Christ. A "babe in Christ" does not understand every aspect of the Faith at first. It is no use throwing out the baby with the bath water and being a harsh judge on those who have been recently saved. There are some people who seem to think that if you have not "yet" picked up a rattle snake and drunk deadly poison to so called "prove you have been saved" then.... you are not. "The Lord knows those who are his." 2 Timothy 2:19.
"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Genesis 3:21.
"Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son." Genesis 22:13.
"It shall be on Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD." Exodus 28:38 .
"But now, if you will, forgive their sin--and if not, please blot me out from your book which you have written!" Exodus 32:32 .
'He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf." Leviticus 1:4.
Leviticus chapter 4 .
Leviticus chapter 5 .
"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness." Leviticus 16:21-22 .
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Leviticus 17:11.
"for you to be accepted--it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. 'Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you." Leviticus 22:19-20. (a bone of him shall not be broken - John 19:36, Exodus12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:20,)
"Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. "For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the LORD." Numbers 3:12-13.
"But I have taken the Levites instead of every firstborn among the sons of Israel." Numbers 8:18.
"If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us." 1 Samuel 17:9.
"He said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people." 1 Kings 20:42.
"For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me." Psalm 69:9 .
"Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities." Lamentations 5:7.
"As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it." Ezekiel 4:4 .
"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him." Isaiah 53:4-6 .
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." Daniel 9:26 .
NEW TESTAMENT SUBSTITUTION:
This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES."
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36 .
"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."
"nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23
"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
"For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,"
"For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died."
"For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;"
"and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf."
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--
"who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him."
"who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."
"who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."
"But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Hebrews 9:22 .
"Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 9:25-26 .
"so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,"
"and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
"and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;"
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
From Thematic Bible