When I was young I hated big words and I detested writing. I was a lazy reader and an even worse student. I happily refused to use dictionaries or any book that would assist me in learning and understanding the little that I did read. And then Jesus changed all that. It began as an irresistible desire to understand big words that frustrated me. But I still hated and avoided reading. A few years later my desire to read mysteriously hatched and little by little grew. So, by the age of 24 I enjoyed reading and searching out the understanding of big words.
This Holy Spirit generated desire continued to grow so that I felt compelled to teach what I was learning to others. It only took a few months and that desire motivated me to begin writing for Jesus Christ. Computers were new on the scene then, so, in the mid 1980’s I bought my first Amstrad computer for writing Bible notes and lessons.
Before long I was drawn to the higher doctrines of God and the less common big words that I once avoided. One word especially caught my attention early on, “propitiation.” Ignorant of it’s meaning, I asked around. Most were unfamiliar with it and even less could say the word correctly, including myself. This launched my love for the doctrine of propitiation and the exploration of words and theology.
In my mind, propitiation is the crown jewel of biblical doctrines because it reveals the amazingly merciful and just heart of holy God. Only mentioned 4 times in the New Testament (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), propitiation shows us the most passionate attributes of Yahweh’s holy character.
At the Cross, God does something sinful humanity could never have thought of. God, the righteous judge of sin, sacrificed His Son as the recipient of His divine wrath against mankind’s violation of His glory. God put forward (Jesus) as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith… It was to show His (God’s) righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26). Jesus was sent to the cross by His Father, and Jesus voluntarily obeyed (John 6:38). On the cross, Jesus became the Justifier, receiving the full extent of His Father’s wrath for others sin.
Jesus’ work of propitiation pacified His Father’s wrath for our sin, by calming the Father’s fury down to a state of calm peace. Jesus took our place, as our substitute on the Cross. This was the only way God could accomplish 2 objectives: 1) To be the righteous judge whose demands for justice would be fully satisfied, and (2), to equally be the one receiving the full wrath of His own justice for sins not His own.
God could not violate His holiness, even to save the sinful world which He loved (John 3:16). At the Cross, wrath and justice worked together to display the full extent of God’s mercy. Paul explained that the benefits of Jesus’ propitiation are ONLY applied to “the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Friend, only sinners who place repentant faith in Jesus’ substitutional death will receive the mercy and forgiveness offered in propitiation. Have you done that? Have you spoken those words to God? Pray in your own words, your dependence upon God’s wrath for your sin being calmed by Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, believers in Jesus have much to be thankful for, and much truth to worship with. Propitiation is a great word, telling us of a great God and Saviour.