“Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament, it is central. The love of God, the taking of human form by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ’s heavenly intercession, the way of salvation-all are to be explained in terms of it and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testament standards.”J.I. Packer, Concise Theology
This past week in preparing to preach through Romans 3:21-26, the greatest paragraph ever written, I was caught up into worshipping Jesus and in preaching on v25-26 on Sunday, May 23, 2021, I made the case that only one who knows our God who put forward Jesus the Son as a propitiation has a God worthy of worship. This work of propitiation (satisfaction/appeasement of wrath upon sin) makes God both just and the justifier. As I follow the flow of Paul’s argument to its conclusion, it spiritually takes my breath away.
See the selection below from John Bunyan on propitiation in his collected works Volume 1:161-162. Notice how as Bunyan describes this work of God he moves from explanation of God’s work to the worship of God! This is what we hope for each and every Sunday at our church! Enjoy the quotation.
“Christ stands as our advocate (1 John 2:2) alone before God’s bar and pleads before the Father. Whatever can rightly be charged to us, he accepts the whole charge upon himself, acknowledging the crimes to be his own. And this, he must do. If he hides the sin, or lessens it, he is faulty; if he leaves it still upon us, we die. He must then take our iniquity to himself, make it his own, and so deliver us. Having thus taken the sin upon himself, as lawfully he may and lovingly he does–‘for we are members of his body’ (it’s his hand, his foot, his ear that has sinned)–it follows that we live id he lives; and who can desire more? What comfort is this in a day of trouble and distress for sin!
There is a harmony between Christ’s offices. As a sacrifice, our sins were laid upon him (isaiah 53). As a priest, he bears them (Exodus 28:38). As our advocate, he acknowledges them to be his own (Psalm 69:5). Having acknowledged them to be his own, the quarrel is no more between us and Satan, for the Lord Jesus has adopted our quarrel, and made it his. O blessed God! What a lover of mankind are you! And how gracious is our Lord Jesus in thus managing matters for us! The Lord Jesus after having taken our sins upon himself, and presented God with all the worthiness that is in his whole self for us; in the next place he calls for justice, or a just verdict upon the satisfaction he has made to God and to his law. Then the proclamation is made in open court, saying, ‘Remove the filthy garments’–from him that has offended–‘and I will clothe you with pure vestments’ (Zechariah 3). Look then to Jesus if you have sinned. Look to Jesus as an advocate pleading with the Father for you. Look to nothing else for he knows how, and that, by himself, to deliver you; yea, and he will do it in the way of justice, which is a wonder; and to the shame of Satan, which will be God’s glory; and also to your complete deliverance, which will be your comfort and salvation.”