THE POWER OF THE CROSS
THE ATONING SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement (propitiation), through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3: 25-26)
A sacrifice of atonement, more accurately translated “propitiation” – what does that mean? It is a truth about the blood of Jesus that is not spoken about much these days. Forgiveness – yes. Propitiation – no. Although it is in the Bible, we ignore it because we have no idea what it means.
Propitiation has to do with the wrath of God, something we don’t like to think about because it conflicts with our idea of God’s love. How can God love us and be angry with us at the same time?
“In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul makes the argument that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is under the condemnation of God and deserving of His wrath (Romans 1:18). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All of us deserve His wrath and punishment. God in His infinite grace and mercy has provided a way that His wrath can be appeased and we can be reconciled to Him. That way is through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the payment for sins. It is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice that we can be reconciled to God. It is only because of Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day that a lost sinner deserving of hell can be reconciled to a holy God. The wonderful truth of the gospel is that Christians are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to God not because “we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)”
In order to understand the meaning of propitiation, we must understand the implications of sin. Sin is much more than just the bad things we do that God does not like. Sin, in the Bible involves everything that contradicts God’s perfection. This includes things like disease, deformity and death; bloodshed or the disruption of anything that God created. Even the mildew in the houses of the Israelites had to be atoned for by sacrifice because it was something less than perfect.
Imperfection of any kind is an affront to the perfection of God’s nature. The wrath of God is His settled disposition of anger directed towards sin.
“Wrath is defined as “the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice,” often translated as “anger,” “indignation,” “vexation,” or “irritation.” Both humans and God express wrath. But there is vast difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of man. God’s wrath is holy and always justified; man’s is never holy and rarely justified. . .
In the Old Testament, the wrath of God is a divine response to human sin and disobedience. Idolatry was most often the occasion for divine wrath. . . The wrath of God is consistently directed towards those who do not follow His will (Deuteronomy 1:26-46; Joshua 7:1; Psalm 2:1-6).
“he New Testament also supports the concept of God as a God of wrath who judges sin. The story of the rich man and Lazarus speaks of the judgment of God and serious consequences for the unrepentant sinner (Luke 16:19–31). . .
“The wrath of God is a fearsome and terrifying thing. Only those who have been covered by the blood of Christ, shed for us on the cross, can be assured that God’s wrath will never fall on them. “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9).”
Since God is holy/love. His wrath must be appeased and therefore demands the death of the sinner, but His love cries for mercy. How could He be both just in punishing sin and, at the same time, the justifier of the sinner, declaring him not guilty and allowing him to go free?
God’s solution was Jesus. He came into the world as the Son of God, a human being born without sin because He was conceived, not by a human father but by the Holy Spirit. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. Since He had no sin of His own, His death was unjustified unless He became the substitute for sinners.
God’s wrath against sin was directed at Jesus. Death was the culmination of everything that ,sin could throw at Him, which He absorbed into Himself without rebellion or retaliation. When God’s wrath was spent, Jesus died – but He rose from the dead because death could not hold Him. Unlike sinful man, His death was not for His own sin.
God’s wrath was completely satisfied. Sin’s debt had been paid in full. Sin was atoned for – God was propitiated, and He was free to absolve every sinner from the guilt of sin. Both just and the justified of those who have faith in Jesus.
This is the power of the cross.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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