Summary: Three facts about propitiation
Woodlawn Baptist Church
December 11, 2005
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
How would you define propitiation, and what does it mean to you? Tonight I want to speak to you on the subject of propitiation and have you consider three facts about this great doctrine and pillar of our faith. What exactly is propitiation? What does it mean and how is it connected to our salvation? Like the doctrine of justification that we discussed a couple of weeks ago, here is a wonderful truth found in the Scriptures that has been largely overlooked in the Lord’s churches, whether because the word is big or because we feel like we don’t need to understand it for our Christian faith. However, once we come to a clearer understanding of this Bible doctrine not only will we grow in our knowledge of what the Word teaches, but I believe we’ll have a better appreciation for the God of our salvation. Three facts about propitiation for you to consider:
Propitiation Satisfies God’s Justice
Simply put, propitiation means a covering for the sins of men and carries the idea of complete satisfaction for our offenses. In our society we have a set of standards which we call the law. When one of these laws is broken we have a judicial system that requires vindication for the crimes committed. We call that justice. A judge cannot look at the evidence, see the person is guilty, and say, “Well, we love you so we are going to let you go scot-free.” No! Our laws state clearly that certain crimes are to be punished by certain penalties.
God’s justice is the same, only He treats all sin alike. God’s justice must be vindicated. The penalty for breaking His laws must be satisfied. Death is that penalty which God’s justice demands. It will accept no other. As guilty law breakers we cannot do anything to correct our wrong, and because God does love us He wants to declare us forgiven and free from the penalty of our sin, but He cannot unless the demands of justice are met. There must be death. It is that death that is under consideration in this matter of propitiation. According to Romans 3:25 it was God who provided propitiation, and that propitiation was through nothing but the blood of Jesus.
I want you to turn with me to Leviticus 16. In the Old Testament, the word propitiation is used in the sense of atonement. It has to do with the act of getting rid of sin which has come between God and man. In Leviticus 16 we have the instructions for the annual Day of Atonement. After Aaron took care of his personal sin, two goats came into consideration: one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. You might say that one was for the Lord and the other was for the people. It is this goat that was for the Lord that has to do with propitiation. Read verses 15-19.
Now Aaron took the blood and sprinkled it upon the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat. But below that lid or below the mercy seat was the box that contained the Ten Commandments, which were representative of all the Law. Now this Law condemned the people. Remember that without the mercy seat, this box was an Ark of Judgment. It judged the people as sinners and guilty. These tablets demonstrated that the people had violated the commands of God. However, on the Day of Atonement the High Priest stood before God’s judgment representing the people, sprinkling the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat. The blood came between the violated law and the violators, the people.
What a beautiful picture of the blood of Jesus Christ which was offered for us! There was God in perfect righteousness and holiness before a sinful humanity. In his sin man stood condemned. God’s justice required it. But the blood of Jesus satisfied the just requirements of God’s holy law which mankind broke, paid the penalty for man, and thus removed the guilt and penalty for sin which had separated a holy God and sinful man.
This truth is communicated in Isaiah 53:10-11.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul and offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”