THE DOCTRINE OF PROPITIATION

(Lesson 17 on Bible Doctrines) 



"Whom God hath sent 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" (Rom.3:25).

"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).

Definition: The word propitiation means mercy-seat or covering. The mercy-seat covering the ark of the covenant was called a propitiation (Ex.25:22; cf. Heb.9:5). The mercy-seat was sprinkled with the sacrificial blood on the day of atonement (Lev.16:14) Ė this pointed to Christís atoning death on the cross. Christ, therefore, is the propitiation for sin (cf. Heb.2:17).

"In fulfillment of the type, Christ is Himself the hilasmos, `that which propitiates,í and the hilasterion, `the place of propitiationí Ė the mercy-seat sprinkled with His own blood Ė the token that in our stead He so honored the law by enduring its righteous sentence" (Scofield Study Bible, p. 1195).

  1. PROPITIATION MEANS THE TURNING AWAY OF GODíS WRATH BY AN OFFERING
    1. To appease the wrath of God was not a matter of vengeance but of justice, and it required the sacrificial death of the Son of God (cf. Isa.53:10a).
    2. There is a distinction between propitiation and expiation. "Expiation is the removal of impersonal wrath, sin, or guilt. Expiation has to do with reparation for a wrong; propitiation carries the added idea of appeasing an offended person and thus brings into the picture the question of why the offended person was offended. In other words, propitiation brings the wrath of God into the picture while expiation can leave it out" (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology).
  1. PROPITIATION ALLOWS GOD TO PARDON GUILTY, HELL-DESERVING SINNERS
    1. Christís substitutionary death on the cross is set forth in the Bible as the ground on which a righteous God can pardon guilty sinners without in any way compromising His righteousness.
    2. The publicanís prayer was literally, "God be propitious to me, the sinner" (Luke 18:13). By His vicarious death on the cross, Christ appeased Godís holy wrath against sin.

Pastor James Barker
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