Todays Gospel Word –  propitiation

“Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” – 1st John 4:10

Another great “Gospel Word” is propitiation. Like most of the terms we’ve dealt with, this word is one that if you’ve been in a Gospel centric Church for any number of years you’ve heard often (if you haven’t heard this term and have been in Church a while…you may want to respectfully and lovingly ask your Pastor “why not?”) and if you haven’t been in church much this term may be brand new to you.

Either way, it’d do us all some good to be reminded of the role “propitiation” serves in making the Gospel good news.

The English word translated propitiation comes from the Greek word hilasmos, meaning “to render favorable, to satisfy, to appease”

According to our base text (1st John 4:10), God loved us, so He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The fact that this took place leads us to understand that propitiation was a necessity when it comes to our strained and broken  relationship with God the Father. Truth is, God is just, and His just wrath against sin must be satisfied. (Covering all our bases: wrath can be defined this way…”the just and stern reaction of the divine nature to evil in man”).

“For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” Romans  1:18

“Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things” Ephesians 5:6

“Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient” Colossians 3:6

So here we are so far…man has rebelled against God, he has sinned against a Holy Father. Because of His just and perfect nature, God must punish sin. He must pour out His wrath. I mean really, what kind of God doesn’t punish evil? That’d be like a judge who after hearing a case where all the evidence confirms a man guilty of murder and the judge saying, “I know you did it but I’m a loving  Judge and would never punish you for crime. Go free“. What would you say about that Judge? You’d say he’s unjust. You’d say that he’s evil. In the same way, a god who’d allow sin with no consequence is not a good judge and is patently evil. The God of the Bible is loving, gracious, merciful and kind…and also just (and those traits never contradict themselves).

So, if we know that God will pour His just wrath out upon sinners and we know that all men have “sinned and fallen short of Gods glory” (Romans 3:23) so where then does propitiation take place? How is Gods just wrath satisfied? How is His judgement appeased?

In The Old Testament, there was a temporary place of propitiation – The Mercy Seat in The Tabernacle

“I will meet with you there above the mercy-seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites” Exodus 25:22

In The New Testament, There Is A Permanent Place Of Propitiation – The Cross of Christ

“For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!” Romans 5:10

“and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven” Colossians 1:20

To satisfy His just wrath, God The Father poured out His punishment (that we deserve for our sin) on One who knew no sin, God The Son. Concerning propitiation, this accomplished two primary things….

1. God is Justified In Forgiving Sin

2. God Is Justified In Bestowing Righteousness

“God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus” Romans 3:25-26

The very fact that Gods just wrath against sin was appeased as He doled it out in full force against His only begotten Son helps us to understand how propitiation makes the Gospel really, really good news. Isaiah 53:10 speaks to this appeasement, “It pleased the Father to bruise the Son”. In other words, Gods wrath against our sin was satisfied upon the cross. That’s propitiation. That’s Good news. That’s The Gospel!

I’ll leave you with my favorite verse concerning propitiation (and encourage you to hide it in your own heart)…

“God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed” Romans 3:25 

Soli Deo Gloria! – Pastor Kyle

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