Propitiation (Atoning Sacrifice)In the study on Atonement we find that
Sin creates a debt between a human, the sinner, and the
Almighty God who is sinless. The debt must be paid. The
sinner has nothing to offer as payment. Sin doesn't just
create a debt between humanity and Deity; it also elicits
the wrath of God. God is Holy and Righteous, therefore, sin
is absolutely foreign to His nature. He detests sin and
when sin comes near to God, it is something that angers
him. Look at Adam. He sinned by doing what he desired
rather than what God commanded. Consequently, Adam was
driven out from the presence of God and from Eden, the
place where God originally placed him. By inspiration Paul
tells us "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God" (Romans 3:23), "the wages of sin is death, but the
gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"
(Romans 6:23) and "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who
suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). A
little bit later Paul states "because of your stubbornness
and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath
against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his
righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each
person according to what he has done." (Romans 2:5-6)
Consequently "because of these things the wrath of God
comes upon the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 5:6; also
reiterated in Colossians 3:6).
What are some of the things God classifies as sin or
disobedience? "But fornication and all uncleanness or
covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is
fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish
talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but
rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no
fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an
idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and
God" (Ephesians 5:3-5), "But now you yourselves are to put
off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy
language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another,
since you have put off the old man with his deeds"
The wrath of God is against sin (disobedience). That wrath
will occasionally be manifested in our current times as God
puts His foot down and draws the line and says I will allow
sin to go no further and what it's doing to siege the
earth. But more than that, the wrath of God will be
revealed most fully when Jesus comes again and there will
be the final judgment. The Bible says that those who were
faithful to the Lord will go to live with Him and yet at
the same time it says that those not faithful will be cast
into a place that the Bible calls Gehenna in the original
language. Gehenna was a garbage dump outside the walls of
Jerusalem that was open and burning almost continuously. In
that kind of context you have eternal punishment compared.
The Bible uses weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over
and over again in describing the eternal punishment
Many people detest the notion of our God demonstrating
wrath. These people believe there's a God, they believe God
is love, they believe God is merciful, and they believe in
the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. But frankly, they think
the doctrine of the wrath of God is beneath them or they
have come to accept the lie that wrath is unworthy of God.
Others think of rage when wrath is mentioned, somebody
seeing red and just absolutely going berserk. They say
surely God wouldn't do that. Jonathan Edwards in the 17th
Century saw God toying with humanity, holding humanity out
over an open fire. But these are not biblical depictions of
God's wrath. To the contrary, in the Bible it says God's
wrath is never out of control, nor is his wrath cruel.
When God comes His wrath can be characterized as: 1.
Judicial. It is the wrath of the all-perfect judge
administering perfect judgment. "But in accordance with
your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring
up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of
the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5). You see that
God's judgment and His wrath are going to be righteous.
God's wrath will be no more raging, or no more cruel, than
a prudent, honest judge pronouncing sentence against
someone who deserves that sentence. It's not out of
control. It's judicial.
2. Chosen. "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the
sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 5:6). God's wrath comes to
the disobedient. They chose their desires rather than
obedience "the works of the flesh are evident, which are:
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry,
sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of
wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy,
murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I
tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past,
that those who practice such things will not inherit the
kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21). Colossians 3:5-8 adds
the following to the above list: passion, evil desire,
covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy and filthy language
out of your mouth. So when someone chooses to do these
things they choose disobedience, sin.
God made us human. We are frail, we are vulnerable, and
everyone of us matures to the point that when we
distinguish right from wrong, we generally will choose to
sin. In fact, Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fallen
short of God's glory." So can one really be responsible for
choices that, in their weakness, God knows they are going
to make. How could He really send them to Hell (Gehenna)
for their sin when all of us sin? What kind of choice is
that? That's where our word propitiation comes in.
God does not want to see a single one of us suffer from His
wrath and knowing that He still made us all vulnerable
giving us the ability to choose. We have a choice for
"Whoever believes in the Son (Jesus) has eternal life, but
whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath
remains on him" (John 3:36). "But God demonstrates His own
love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ
died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by
His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him"
(Romans 5:8-9). You see the Bible makes it clear. When one
chooses to believe in Jesus, obeys the gospel, comes up
from the waters of baptism as a Christian and continues to
obey the teachings of Christ, they are saved from God's
wrath. But how does Jesus make the difference? Where does
Christ come in? He propitiates for us.
The word propitiation means deflect wrath or let it bounce
off. In another form the word was used to define a shield
that a warrior would take into battle. What would you do
with a shield? When the enemy would rare back the bowstring
and let an arrow fly, the shield would go up to deflect it
to keep you from harm. When a sword would come crashing
down the shield would go up so that it would hit the air
and it would mar the shield, but you would be saved. Now do
you begin to see the relationship with Jesus?
Jesus deflected our wrath. "He is the propitiation for our
sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the
whole world" (1 John 2:2). Isn't that something? He is the
shield; he is the deflector of wrath for our sins, for the
sins of the whole world. "Being justified freely by His
grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom
God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through
faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His
forbearance God had passed over the sins that were
previously committed" (Romans 3:24). "Herein is love, not
that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to
be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice in the NIV) for our
sins." 1 John 4:10). Isn't that great? Jesus not only paid
my debt to God, [atoned the debt caused by my sin], He
shields [propitiates] the wrath God is aiming at us caused
by our sin.
Now let's piece it all together. When Jesus was dying as he
hung on the cross He said, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" At that moment
for the only time in eternity, God the Father had forsaken
the Son. He had turned his back on him. Jesus, who as God
and before the world was created, had always had perfect
communion with God, could no longer sense his presence. Why
not? Because, he was being our propitiation. He was taking
the wrath of God in that separation and burying our sin so
that when we come to that cross obedient to the gospel by
dying to sin, being buried with him in baptism to rise a
new creature and claim his righteousness, would be freed
from sin. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new
creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things
have become new. Now all things are of God, who has
reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ" (2
How can this be? By propitiation. "For God made him who had
no sin to be sin for our sakes, so that in Him we might
become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The
one who had no sin became sin and in doing so deflected
God's wrath away so that we could live.
What does all this mean to me?
1. I am a sinner.
2. The wages of sin is death.
3. I have nothing to remove my sin.
4. Unless something can be done I will perish.
5. Jesus was God and in Him everything was made.
6. Jesus became flesh and lived among mankind.
7. Jesus was without sin.
8. Jesus' purpose in coming to earth was to become an
atoning sacrifice and a propitiation for our sins.
9. Jesus accomplished his mission when He willingly gave
himself to be crucified.
10. Through Him and in Him; that is, in Christ, I can be
free of sin and God's wrath.
11. I must be obedient to his Gospel and live according to
Amazing Grace # 1066 Steve Flatt