Propitiation; The Wrath of God Appeased
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 3/6/05
Over the past several messages we have been examining important words
from the Bible. We have examined and explained the following wordsÖ
Justification = To declare righteous. Justification is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands.
The New Birth = Regeneration is the spiritual change produced in man or woman by the Holy Spirit, by which he or she becomes the possessor of a new life.
Redemption = The release of a captive upon the payment of a ransom. Redemption is "deliverance from the enslavement of sin and release to a new freedom by the sacrifice of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The death of Christ is the redemptive price."
Today our focus will be propitiation.
The English word propitiation is a translation of the Greek word ilasthrion hilasterion (hil-as-tayí-ree-on). Generally speaking, propitiation is the turning away or the appeasing of wrath by an offering. Biblically speaking, propitiation is the atonement or atoning sacrifice offered to God to alleviate his wrath and render him propitious (favorable) to sinners. Christ is the propitiation for the sins of men.
Sin arouses the wrath of God. Our sins have offended a just and holy God who hates sin. Paul in writing to the Ephesians that "by nature we are the children of wrath." (Ephesians 2:3). While it is hard for us to understand, particularly in this day of watered down Christianity, I remind you that God is an angry God! He is angry with sin and sinners! Turn to Psalms 7:11 "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day." As I mentioned a few words ago sin arouses Godís wrath. Not because He is malicious, spiteful or vindictive. Or, not because He is an bad-tempered being or because He is a peeved diety, but because His perfect holiness, integrity and justice demands that he must hate, judge and punish sin if He is to maintain His character. Sin leaves the sinner hopeless and helpless. The future for the sinner is one of punishment and destruction. We read in the Scriptures, "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:4
Jonathan Edwards said it articulately in his famous sermon Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God Ė
To be sure, sinners are in a precarious position, hanging by a slender thread with the flames of divine wrath ready at any moment to singe it, causing them to plunge into Hell!
The PRESSING question is, can anything be done to appease the wrath of the God that we have offended?
I will answer the question by sharing an illustration I read recently. In the 14th century, Robert The Bruce, next in line to the Scottish crown, led the fight to gain independence from England. At one point in the conflict, the English were about to capture him. He escaped into the forest, so they put bloodhounds on his trail.
When Bruce heard the dogs baying loudly as they closed in on him, he headed for a stream that flowed through the forest, plunged in, and waded upstream a distance. Coming out on the other bank, he was now in the depths of the forest.
Within minutes, the hounds, tracing Bruce's steps, came to the bank, but they went no farther. The English soldiers urged them on, but the trail was broken. The stream had carried the scent away. A short time later, the crown of Scotland rested on the head of Robert Bruce.
The anger of God pursues us like those baying dogs. But a stream flows red with the blood of God's own Son. This stream breaks the trail of God's anger.
We have seen that there is NOTHING that people do to turn aside Godís wrath. It is God Himself who provided the means for His wrath to be propitiated (appeased). The Apostle John writes, 1 John 4:10 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
Jesus Christ appeased the wrath of God by shedding His blood and dying on the Calvaryís Cross us. Turn to Romans 3:23-25 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 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;"
The Prophet Isaiah indicates that God wrath was abated by the sacrifice of His Son - Isaiah 53:10-11 "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 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."
Do you understand the significance? It is the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross that appeases Godís wrath and turns away His anger from the sinner! But, there is more. Turn to 1 John 2:2 - "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
No man or woman need experience the wrath of God.
Christís sacrifice was more than adequate to satisfy Godís holy and just
demand for judgment and appease his wrath. However, if you have never
received Christ as your personal Savior, you are the object of
Godís wrath. That does not need to be the case! Repent of your sins and
turn to Christ right now.