(Article for publication week of 10-10- AD 2012)
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10).
Fundamental to the doctrine of justification is propitiation. Propitiation means that God’s holy anger toward a believing sinner has been appeased. God’s justice has been satisfied by the death of Christ.
God is rightfully angry with sinners. Sin is an affront to His holy nature. It is nothing less than rebellion against the Ruler of the universe. Sin is treason against the Creator. In His righteous and holy anger, God is determined to punish sinners. Mark it down, God will punish you, poor sinner, unless His anger is turned away. The sharp sword of God’s justice hangs over you and will eternally and infinitely cut you down, unless God be reconciled.
Our text tells us that God’s love for His people moved Him to make a Covenant of Grace, whereby His Eternal Son agreed to be a propitiation for all the elect of God. It is not that we loved God, but rather that He loved us. Indeed, His love was set upon His elect from all eternity. God loved us before He ever created us. Though God loved His people unchangeably and eternally, He would not relax His Holy standard. God MUST punish sin. God is too holy not to punish sin. He is too just not to punish sin. Sin must be dealt with, and God’s holy justice must be satisfied.
So, our text says, the Eternal Father sent His Eternal Son to satisfy the justice of His broken Law. Christ was sent, because He eternally agreed with the Father about the matter of the eternal redemption of His elect. Christ said in John 6:38-39, “I came down from heaven, not to mine Own will, but the will of Him that sent me, and this is the Father’s will that hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up at the last day.”
God hath devised means whereby His banished be not expelled. He appointed His Son to be a Substitute for all that He purposed to save. God will either punish the sinner, or He will punish the sinner’s Substitute. The believer has Christ for His substitute! “The chastisement of our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ suffered in His soul. This was the beginning of His sufferings, which would end in His death on the cross. God dealt with Christ as a sinner, because He was bearing the sins of His people. Divine justice was satisfied by the propitiation made by Christ as blow after blow of God’s justice was dealt to Him. God poured out His wrath upon His Own dear Son. Christ is an Infinite Person, so in a moment of time, he suffered infinitely for all who would ever look to Him by faith.
Since Christ was made a propitiation, God’s anger is eternally appeased regarding His people. The believer is at peace with God, because His justice has been satisfied by Christ. This is a wonderful Gospel indeed! Our God is reconciled! When you are able by grace to believe that, you will be the happiest person on earth. May the Lord give you faith to believe that today.