Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Propitiation #2: God’s Amazing Love for Sinners

J.I.Packer in chapter 18 of his classic, Knowing God, has given us an excellent, clear explanation of the term propitiation.  He entitles this chapter, “The Heart of the Gospel” for so it is. If one rejects the truth of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary as God’s propitiation for our sins, then he has cut the heart out of the Gospel. He has no Gospel.  His gospel is false and according to Galatians 1:8-9, he has placed himself under God’s curse.



God is not some kind, soft, sentimental old grandfather who overlooks evil and pats the erring child on the head and says, “That’s alright. You’re forgiven. Just don’t do it anymore.” Our holy God’s wrath upon sinners must be appeased before He can forgive sin and accept the sinner as His spiritual child.  God, in His amazing love for us, proves that love by providing His Son, Jesus, as the propitiation or the appeasement for our sins.



In false, heathen religions the offending sinner with a God-given guilty conscience attempts to  appease his supposed angry gods, which are no gods at all; by offering sacrifices to his offended gods and by doing penance, that is, bringing suffering on himself in a vain, hopeless attempt to atone for his sins.



Packer writes, “Now the Bible takes us right away from the world of pagan religion. It condemns paganism as a monstrous distortion of truth.  In place of a cluster of gods who are all too obviously made in the image of man, and who behave as a crowd of Hollywood film stars, the Bible sets the one almighty Creator, the only real God, in whom all goodness and truth find their source, and to whom all moral evil is abhorrent.  With Him there is no bad temper, no capriciousness, no vanity, no ill-will. One might expect therefore, that there would be no place for the idea of propitiation in biblical religion.


“But we do not find this at all: just the opposite.  The idea of propitiation; that is, of averting God’s anger by an offering  right through the Bible.”



The difference between Biblical Christianity and false religion is determined by who makes the offering.   In all false religions, regardless of its label, sinful man vainly attempts to make himself presentable to God by his offerings and vain efforts of self righteousness.



In Biblical Christianity God is the source of the offering;  and His Son, the Lord Jesus, is the perfect, ultimate offering who, by God’s grace, was sacrificed for us when He shed His blood for our sins on Calvary‘s cross.



According to Romans 5:8  God showed His love to us; not by overlooking our sins, but by sending His Son Jesus to be executed on a cross to pay the penalty that Romans 6:23 declares we deserved.




The Apostle John also teaches the same truth about God’s love in I John 4:9-10  “In this was manifested the love of God for us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might have life through Him. Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  God’s wrath that we deserved was poured out on Jesus who bore it in our stead.  That’s the meaning of propitiation and that’s the heart of the Gospel.   



Without an understanding and acceptance of propitiation, there is no salvation. 



The evangelist or preacher who soft-peddles or ignores this message in his preaching, is withholding the Gospel, which alone saves from the guilt and burden of sin and delivers from hell. 




Romans 3:24 explains this heart of the Gospel.  We sinners are justified freely by His grace, apart from our works through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus- and here it is again in verse 25,  Speaking about Jesus He says, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in Jesus’ blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of our sins.



Dear reader,  are you hearing this message of propitiation in your church?  Have you ever heard it preached?    Paul writing in Galatians 5:11 says that it possible to preach an anemic, diluted Gospel in such away that the offense of the cross ceases.  That is happening in many Protestant churches today.  Whereas a century ago, the Gospel of salvation through faith in the shed blood of Christ was boldly and clearly preached, gradually in this age that declares only “a positive Gospel”  this very heart of the atonement has been gradually removed by false teachers who give the people a more popular, inoffensive message. As a result, churches today are filled with deceived, self-righteous  people who have never seen themselves as sinners and who remain in their lost condition, bound for hell.



Paul warned in II Timothy 3 and 4:1-4  that this would happen in the last days of the church age before the return of Christ.   How did this false teaching creep into churches that were once true to The Faith?  People of the past rejected such preachers and drove them out of their churches and replaced them with preachers and  teachers who would give them what they wanted to hear.



God’s people did the same thing in Old Testament times by rejecting the true prophets of God and following those false prophets who gave the people what they wanted to hear.  Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet who wept as he watched his people Israel reject the truth and follow after false prophets to their destruction.



Jesus’ death on the cross is life-changing for those who trust Him. But that life-changing message begins with a clear understanding of the heart of the Gospel. Paul in II Corinthians 5:21 gives it to us in a nutshell.  Christ’s death on the cross and His bodily resurrection from the tomb three days later enables our Just and Righteous God to remove His wrath from us for our sins, for that wrath, according to I Peter 2:24,  had been transferred to His beloved pure, sinless Son, the Lord Jesus,  who bore our sins once for all  in His body on the cross two thousand years ago. 



Follow along with me as I paraphrase II Corinthians 5:21 for clarity.  “For God the Father made Christ, His sinless Son, to bear our sins in His body on the cross and suffer God’s wrath to fall on Him, so that we guilty sinners who deserved eternal damnation, might be declared and made the righteousness of God through our trust in His Blood sacrifice for our sins.”


That was why God commanded the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament.  They were all types of Jesus who would one day come as the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist announced in John 1:29 when he saw Jesus,  “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”


February 25, 2008 Posted by | Propitiation | Comments Off on Propitiation #2: God’s Amazing Love for Sinners