(Article for publication week of 7-27-2011 AD)
“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood…” (Romans 3:23-24b). In our recent series of articles on the attributes of God, we have been declaring the wrath of God. God is justly angry with the wicked.
Our text this week tells us how the wrath of God is turned away from the believer in Christ. It is through the propitiation of Christ.
Propitiation is a very delightful word, and a Biblical concept with which every believer should be well acquainted. Most modern Bible translations do not use this wonderful old word, and that is one of many reasons why you should avoid them. Many of the people that have been involved in modern translations are infidels themselves, and deny such truths as propitiation. It is my understanding that the word propitiation came into the English language with William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament
Propitiation means that God’s wrath has been appeased by the atoning death of Christ. God’s wrath has been vented against a holy Victim that suffered Divine vengeance once for all. Propitiation means that Christ made an atoning sacrifice to pay the penalty due for sin, and against sinners.
Remember God is perfectly holy and perfectly just, and so He must punish sin. God will not allow any sin to go unpunished. Unless God’s wrath against the sinner is appeased and Divine justice satisfied, then the sinner must and will be punished for his own sins. This is where every sinner without Christ now stands. The sinner without Christ must answer directly to God for His sins. Poor sinner, can you bear the thought of having to pay the awful penalty for your sins? Unless the sword of God’s vengeance be turned away from you, it will cut you in pieces forever.
But now hear the gospel news! Christ was made a propitiation for all who would ever believe in Him! God made His eternal and coequal Son the victim of His wrath so that His elect people would not have to suffer the penalty for sin. The believer in Christ has a Substitute! God is not angry with the believer, for His wrath was fully appeased by the death of Christ. God is perfectly holy and perfectly just, and so He will not punish sin twice. God will not punish the Surety, and the one for whom the Surety stands good. This is what Christ is for His chosen people- their Surety (Hebrews 7:22).
Those in hell (and there are billions there at this moment, many with whom you were once familiar) have no substitute, and so they are suffering the eternal vengeance of God. You will soon be there also, unless a Fit Substitute be found for you. I beseech you by the mercies of God to flee to Christ, the only Fit Substitute.
Believer in Christ, here your comfort stands. Salvation is all of the Lord from first to last. Christ has made satisfaction for sin. He has died an atoning death. Never can any charge be brought against one who has Christ (Romans 8:33). The believer’s sins are all taken away! Therefore a just and holy God will never exercise His wrath against the sinner who is in Christ. May the Lord give you grace to believe this glorious gospel of salvation by God’s free and sovereign grace.