The propitiation for your sins, was not theoretical, hypothetical, and it was not a mere potentiality, but rather it was an actuality. Christ saved men on the Cross by satisfying the wrath of God through the sacrifice of Himself.
I am going to preach on the doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation will be our word. In the Greek, we have a verb form and a noun form. Hilasterion is the noun form. Hilaskomai is the verbal form. I’ll get to all that in just a moment. But propitiation shall be our subject. Let me bring you up to date real quickly. Our first text will be Romans 3. And we will pick up somewhere in there twenty something, Romans 3:20 something. Just to bring you up to date in case you haven’t seen; this is the paper before I left home. The Presbyterian Church, you do realize there are two different strains of Presbyterians; Reformed, and a little bit more liberal obviously. But they are making a new hymn book, and putting that together. And they wanted to include the song by the Getty’s. And that song is “In Christ Alone”. I looked in this hymn book and they didn’t have it. This is a different era. But anyhow, in that song there is a specific line. And it says, “That the wrath of God was satisfied.” And so the Presbyterian Church contacts the Gettys, and wants to have that line changed. And change it to something else, in order that they can include the song. And so instead of “the wrath of God was satisfied”, they wanted to change that line to, “the love of God was magnified”. Because to sing that the wrath of God was satisfied is just too offensive, you know, for our culture. So can we not sing the love of God is magnified. And so, thankful to the Getty’s, they said, no. You cannot change our song. We wrote this song to illustrate the Gospel, so no, you cannot do that.
And then to take you very briefly, very quickly, this is not my work, this is thanks to Dr. Mohler, but to take you through just a little bit of Southern Baptist history, back in the days of great liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention, especially in the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. There was a man by the name of Theodore Clark. In 1959, Clark published a book. The book was entitled, “Saved by His Life”. A study of the New Testament doctrine, of reconciliation and salvation. He was a seminary professor, at a Southern Baptist Institution in 1959. And Clark argued that Christians put far too much emphasis on the death and resurrection of Christ, as the foundation for the salvation of sinners. He actually wrote a book as a Southern Baptist Professor, and that is in his book.
He also denied, listen to this: He denied that the righteousness of God, and the righteous demands of the law required a penal sacrifice. He openly rejected theologies of the cross, that proposed that the crucified Jesus was regarded as man’s substitute or as man’s sin-bearer, taking man’s place so that God’s wrath would fall on Him, rather than on sinful man. He rejected all of that. I’m thankful, they fired him. Leo Eddleman fired him in 1960. But there were three of them there at the time. The other one was Frank Stagg. I have read Frank Stagg’s theology book on this subject and so just pulling some excerpts here, but I have read it for myself and it’s worse than what I am going to tell you. But Stragg said as he taught in New Orleans, in 1964, he said, “He stridently denied any penal or substitutionary character of the Cross,” denied it. Professor Stagg repeatedly and emphatically rejected what he called, “the bloody cross of religion”. He vociferously denied the necessity of the cross; insisting that God did not have to arrange a killing at Calvary in order to forgive sin. “God did not have to do that.” And so that was his argument.
And he goes on in his New Testament theology. This would be the opposite of what Mr. Leiter preached last night. He says, Stagg says, “God is free to forgive.” “The Father does not need to punish the Son, in order to win the right to forgive. Where the Father paid off, then there would be no forgiveness God Himself forgives and in so doing He assumes responsibility for the sinner.” Terrible.
Now, the one who took his place is Fisher Humphreys. This brings us up to about 1978, and Fisher Humphreys published the book “The Death of Christ.” “The Death of Christ”, in that book, he emphatically denied that the Father punished the Son for our sins on the Cross. He said there is no way that the God of heaven punished His own Son on the Cross. He couldn’t have done that, there is no way. That’s what Humphreys was making as his case. That cannot be possible. Today in our terminology they would call it cosmic or divine child abuse for the Father to punish the Son this way. So if God didn’t do it, you can guess the rest. If God didn’t do it, in Humphreys words, “Men punished Him for alleged crimes, probably blasphemy and revolution, but God who knew He was righteous, did not disapprove of Him at all. He approved of Him.” “To put it another way, Jesus experienced the pain, which a man might feel, if he were being punished by God for great sins, but He was not punished by God.”
So these are three theologians, if you want to call them that, back in those years, in the Southern Baptist Convention teaching at New Orleans and one of them, Humphreys, I believe went on to teach at Southern before it was reformed, and taught there for some time as well. I think when he published that last book. And you can look, there was a great debate between Dr. Page Patterson and Humphreys and they debated this very subject and Dr. Patterson roundly defeated him in that debate, at least in my opinion. And then, in case you want it to be more modern, even this day, Bob Terry, the editor of the Alabama Baptist Paper, August the 8th He says that, “Some popular theologies do hold that Jesus’ suffering appeased God’s wrath. That is not how I understand the Bible. That is why I do not sing the phrase, ‘The wrath of God was satisfied.’ Even though I love the song, “In Christ Alone”.” So even today Bob Terry, an editor for a Baptist paper, has written publicly “I will not sing that song, because I do not hold the view that God’s wrath was satisfied upon the person of Jesus Christ.” That was just this past week that he made that statement. Now he has been roundly rebuttaled by Dr. Denny Akin and many others who have said, “Look, what are you doing? This is blasphemy, what you are teaching.” I just bring that to your attention because I want you to know; you may not have a position on propitiation, maybe you have not studied propitiation. I just want you to know that there are many in our day and age that do not hold, believe, or adhere to the way that I would preach or adhere to the doctrine of propitiation. And so as we look at it, you will have to determine where you are on this issue. But this is still a very volatile issue in the world of religion.
Now, there are three words. I love languages. I am kind of a Greek guy, and I love to work through the language things. Now, there are three words, this is not my sermon, but these are three words that have overlapped and I just want to bring them to your attention. The three words are atonement, expiation, and propitiation. Three words. They are all good words. I would love to preach on any one of those three. But there is at least a distinction between them. The word atonement means to cover over, to cover over our sins. It’s a great word, and a joy to preach that. Expiation is a word that has the distinction of taking away. To take away, like they would lay the sins upon the scapegoat and symbolically place the sins there. And the scapegoat would go off into the wilderness and not come back. He would carry the sins away. So in a sense your sins were covered, and then your sins were taken away.
And then, there is this word, propitiation. What is the distinction between propitiation, expiation, and atonement? Propitiation has this distinction: the distinction is that it has to do with wrath. There is wrath, that wrath has to be applied, and something or someone has to absorb that wrath. So if we understand, the doctrine of propitiation, we have a God with wrath, His wrath is to be satisfied upon an object, His Son, in order that He can be appeased for His wrath. I am telling you that why? It is because people do not like that concept. You can pull your pew Bible out if you wanted to, and you can look at all the texts that I am going to give you, they will not use propitiation in that translation. They won’t use propitiation, like an NIV, or some other translations along the way. I just want you to know that there is a reason that they are not using propitiation. It’s not just simply that they like the word expiation better, or they like the word atonement better in that sense. The reason they won’t put propitiation in those translations is because they reject the theology that a God with wrath has satisfied that wrath upon His one and only unique Son for the forgiveness of sinners that we may have the righteousness of Christ. They cannot envision a God with wrath and that wrath satisfied on His Son. They cannot envision Abraham on top of a mountain with a knife in his hand ready to slaughter his own son had not the angel stopped him. They cannot see that there. They certainly cannot see the end of the story on Calvary’s hill where the hand of the Father comes down and slaughters His own Son. Propitiation shows a violent death. It’s not pretty. It’s ugly. It is the wrath of God unmitigated. It is fully poured out. It is the totality of the cup of the wrath of God, and it is absolutely and totally satisfied upon the person of His Son.
Now, you may or may not hold that view. You may not want to receive that view. I am just telling you, that is what the word propitiation means. If you want to go in depth and do a lot more than a sermon, then look at Leon Morris and his book, upon “The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross”. He has got two chapters dedicated to the study of the word propitiation; from the Hebrew and from the Greek. And so, take that into consideration if you would like to do further reading. But, for this morning, just in the sense of wrath and propitiation let us begin.
First of all, you must know that God does have wrath. I know that we live in the age of love, and everybody wants to say God is love. I am well aware of 1 John 4. But our God is love, and our God does have wrath. Both are equally true. In the Old Testament, there are at least twenty words, at least twenty, that express the wrath of God. If you were to count all of those words and their uses in the Old Testament, you would come up with at least 580 references where God demonstrates wrath. At least 580. Then, you can read the stories that don’t implicitly have the word wrath but the whole context of the story shows God’s wrath towards sinners. And then you would be up to about 1000 references in the Old Testament alone. When it comes to the understanding of propitiation, it is one of the three main categories in the New Testament to interpret the death of Christ. God certainly has wrath and His wrath certainly must be satisfied.
Imagine if you will, imagine if you will, if you can work with your imagination, imagine a man standing at the bottom of the Hoover Dam. You have the Hoover Dam in your peripheral here, it’s huge. There’s a lot of water on the other side. Here’s this man standing at the foot of the Hoover Dam. A man comes to him and says, “The dam is breaking, and you must flee, or you shall be destroyed.” The man looks at him and says, “Look, people have been saying that for years. And I’m just fine.” He goes on to say, “But by the way, if the dam breaks, don’t worry about it.” And he pulls out his umbrella and he says, “I have an umbrella, I’ll be just fine.” The other man says, “Look sir, when that dam breaks, you are going to need far more than the umbrella you are holding in your hand. You’ll need something far greater than that! In order to save you from what’s coming.”
Just hold that thought, we’ll return to it later. Simply, if you want to write down a definition, here it is as simply as I can put it. Propitiation means: the removal of wrath. That’s what it means. The removal of wrath. What does that imply? Wrath exists. You can’t remove something that doesn’t exist. So, if propitiation means the removal of wrath, then there is wrath. Well then, the next question is who has it? Well God has wrath. God has wrath toward sinners. If the wrath of God is not removed from the sinner then the wrath of God will be applied to the sinner. You get into all these dichotomies where people say, “Well God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” Really? Is that true even logically? I know it’s not true Biblically. But is it true logically? Let’s say that God loves the sinner and hates the sin. Then please tell me why did He put a person on the Cross? Why didn’t He just put sin on the Cross and pour out His wrath on sin? Why didn’t He just send sin to hell and take people to heaven? You say, “He hates sin.” Okay, then punish sin. But you and I both know that God’s wrath is satisfied on a person that people go to hell people die people have to suffer under this wrath. Psalms 5:5, Psalms 11:5, God hates the wicked. Psalms 5:5, Psalms 11:5, you can read those things there. God has wrath.
Now, Romans chapter three. Romans chapter three, picking up at end of verse 22. And it says what? “For there is no distinction,” There is none. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And are justified by His Grace as a gift. Justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God put forward…” It is a necessity, it is the act of God. It is not the result of sinful man. “Whom God,” Himself, “put forward” God did it. God’s action. God’s invention. So many people say, “Well is there not another way?” I agree with Augustine. There is no other way, because we have an infinitely wise God and everything He does He is always infinitely wise. And if God did it this way, this was the wisest way to do it. “God put Him forward as a propitiation by His blood.” “Propitiation by His blood to be received,” as we heard last night, “by faith.” Why would God do that? This was to show God’s righteousness. The whole purpose of the cross of Calvary was to demonstrate publically to the world the righteousness of our God because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. What are we going to do with Abraham? What are we going to do with Isaac? What are we going to do with Ezekiel? What are we going to do with Isaiah? What are we going to do with all of these prophets? What are we going to do with all of these people of God? How in the world do they get to go to heaven when their sins have not been dealt with, that’s not fair! God, you passed over all of their sins and You said, “I forgive you, and you can go to heaven.” That’s not just! God says, “I will show you my justice.” I will show you my righteousness and it’s all going to be culminated on the cross of Calvary. Justice is going to be had. It was to show His righteousness at the present time. So that God might be just, and the justifier, of who? “Of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Don’t you see how this grand scheme becomes individualized and brought down to a personal level. Just and the justifier of who? “The one”, you! Your neighbor, your family member. The one who has faith in Jesus. Why in the world does a hardened sinner get to go to heaven? Because of faith in Jesus Christ, the substitute, who died upon his behalf. This is God’s perfect righteousness.
Romans, very lightly, Romans 1. Just to substantiate my claim. The apostle Paul, Romans 1 through Romans 3:18, makes a distinct case. What is the case? He is dealing with the wrath of God and the sinfulness of man. Just to illustrate, Romans 1:18. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven.” The apostle says God has wrath, it’s revealed from heaven. It’s revealed against what? All ungodliness. Then if you will turn to Romans 2. Romans two, verse five. “But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.” Men who reject the cross are storing up wrath that wrath they are storing up there is going to come a specific day and that day is going to be a day in which God’s wrath is revealed, it’s going to be revealed by the personal application of God’s wrath upon them and for the rejection of His Son. That wrath is building every day. You say, well look the whole world is doing all this and God doesn’t do anything. You just hold on, you just hold on, the day is coming. The day is coming. For the believer the day has come in Christ. But for the unbeliever, it just keeps building. There are waves, and waves of wrath. You say, “How in the world does Joel Olsteen and the pope get away with what they are doing?” They are not getting away with nothing! They are not getting away with a thing. God’s wrath is building. It will be executed unless they repent. It’s a payment made in the aspect of propitiation. There’s a debt, there’s a transgression. There’s a breaking of the law. Something has to be paid. You got to pay a ransom. Somebody has to have their debt paid for. There has to be some kind of thing that has offered in order to bring appeasement for wrath.
There’s a bunch of wacky theologies out there, so let me help your theology in case it’s wacky. When it comes to payment for sin, let me assure you that in the aspect of payment for sin, let’s get this straight, who is the offended party? God, is the offended party! If there is any paying going on here, then the payment is to be payed to God, because He’s the one who is offended, and we are the ones who have offended Him. You want an Old Testament illustration? The people of Israel were in captivity in the land of Egypt, and they were under the tyrant Pharaoh, and they were in bondage and so we send a man by the name of Moses to redeem my people. Are you with me? Now let me ask you this. How much did Pharaoh profit from that exchange? What did he get? He lost it all! Even all the jewels were taken away. God didn’t pay Pharaoh in order to set His people free, nor on the cross of Calvary did God pay Satan. Satan got nothing out of this deal. This is not about Satan. God’s the offended party and He paid Himself. The difference between God and pagan religions, where they have these mean, evil gods that must be appeased in order that we may have peace. We have a rain god, sun god, the crop god, and the child god, and all the different gods, and we have got to appease those gods so that they will be happy with us. There is a great difference here with this propitiation. God is satisfying Himself. God is supplying the means for His own satisfaction. We are not doing something in order to appease God’s wrath. God has appeased Himself. And He is free to do so. Is not our God in the heavens and does whatever He pleases? He has wrath, and He has chosen to appease Himself, and He has chosen this way to do it in His Son on the behalf of sinners. God’s righteousness is perfect.
So, there is your text in Romans. By the way, there are four clear texts for the word propitiation. That’s one. The second one, I put them in order. Hebrews 2 and verse 17. You can mark these, that way at least you will know where they are. By the way, as you are turning to Hebrews 2:17, I believe that propitiation is the very center hub of the gospel. You lose propitiation, you lose the gospel. You have no gospel left. And this is disturbing to me why? Because almost everywhere I go, I begin and ask them what propitiation is, and people have yet to give me a definition. The other day I did an interview by phone, and we had this conference call to do an interview process for a man that they were making an elder in the church. So in the conference call, “Brother Randall, you have a question?” Yes, I have a question. What is the definition of propitiation? He had no clue. Well, that’s concerning to me if the elder of the church doesn’t know the definition of propitiation. I think it’s the very center and hub of the gospel! If we lose it, we lose it all. Hebrews 2:17. “Therefore, He had to be made like His brothers in every way, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God,” for what? “to make propitiation for their sins” For the sins of the people. Here is our Lord Jesus Christ being made in every fashion like unto a man where he can be a merciful and faithful High Priest.
Now I know that many of you are probably aware of this concept, so not to belabor the point. But we look at the Old Testament, and we have priest, after priest, after priest, after priest. What is the main function of the priest of the Old Testament? The priest of the Old Testament is to go and make atonement, expiation for the sins of the people. Is he not? We come, once a year, we gather around. We kill the sacrifice. The blood is poured out. He makes atonement for his own sins. He makes atonement for the sins of the people. He sends out the scapegoat as a form of expiation. And the priest does this. He makes not only atonement for them, but he makes atonement for himself. And this goes on and on and on. You come to the book of Hebrews you know the text, you know the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient to deal with the sin issue. We need something greater than an animal. And so Jesus Christ Himself, becomes the Lamb. Becomes the Priest. And He is going to make propitiation for the sins of the people by the willing, purposeful, necessary step to the cross in order to receive the wrath of God in order that you can go free.
Do you not see it? There you are. In the Biblical days, And there is this crazy guy, he is probably from east Texas, He has got camel’s hair. He is eating locust and wild honey. He’s crazy! He is telling everybody out there, “Repent! Repent! The wrath of God is coming!” And then all these people are flocking around everybody is gathering together. Man what a great preacher! And then he says what, “Behold!” Look! Get all of your attention together. You see that one there? He has got two legs, two arms, and a head, He is dressed like everybody else. But that one is the Lamb. That’s the Lamb. Well you know good and well that don’t make any sense unless you read the Old Testament. There’s a lamb. That’s not a lamb! That’s a human. No, no, no. That’s the Lamb of God. You remember back in Genesis 22? “I will provide.” There is the Lamb of God who does what? He takes away the sin of the world. He is identified there as the Lamb, and this Lamb is the Lamb that would willingly lay His own life down averting, or turning God’s wrath.
The propitiatory work of Jesus. In Hebrews 2:17, “Is and forever will be accepted as a perfect work.” You cannot add to it. And God will never need another sacrifice. His wrath was satisfied in this one time event.
Note, the death of Old Testament sacrifices was violent. The animal was slaughtered. Jesus was surely slaughtered. I remember in the center of Mexico in the desert as we were working and preaching there years ago, and I remember one of the things the pastor did is he wanted to be nice to the missionary and so he got a goat. He got the goat and he tied it up there in the courtyard. And all week long we knew he is going to cook that goat so we can have something to eat. He is going to be nice to us, and that’s the best he could offer. We started naming the goat, and we had all kinds of stories about the goat, and there was one little girl there, she wasn’t converted, and she hated the whole idea of being there, hated Mexico, hated the whole thing. And so, she was mad the whole time, and we kept telling her, she was going to have to eat Freddy. and she wasn’t too excited about that. Five o’clock in the morning you hear, “Baaaaa, baaaaa!” screaming out as the pastor cuts the throat of that goat. Violently taking the life of that goat. Don’t make it pretty. Don’t spruce it up. This gospel is not for Hollywood. Mel Gibson got the whole wrong. Okay, I’ll talk about that in a moment. But what happened on Calvary’s tree is a bloody issue, that’s why we sing about blood. That’s why we sing about sacrifice. Why? Because this is what happened. God had slaughtered His own Son. The entirety and the fullness of God’s wrath is poured out and Jesus absorbed it to the last drop. All of it. For you!
There’s Jesus in the garden. Do you see Him there? He’s praying. Sweating as if it were drops of blood. “Oh God, if it be, if there is anyway this cup, if there is anyway this cup can pass from Me…” Do you honestly believe that Jesus is sweating drops of blood in great fear and trembling because He is afraid of the Romans? He is afraid of Pilot? He is afraid of Caiaphas? Or He is afraid of Herod? Or He is afraid of the Jews? And all of these men, He is just so scared of them He doesn’t know how He can make it? Do you honestly think that the Captain of our salvation was in fear and trembling before His death when people like Michael Sadler went to be burned at the stake singing as his wife is going along aside saying, “Don’t deny the faith, don’t deny the faith!” Are His followers more brave than the Captain of their salvation? There’s no way. Then why is He praying this way? Why is He in dread? Why is He asking for the cup to pass? Because He knows that on Calvary it is going to be the place that He becomes the curse of His Father. He knows and understands the wrath of His Father. And He knows the entirety of that wrath is going to be applied to Him. He has no fear of Pilot. Listen to how He talks to him! “Who, what do you mean? You would have no authority at all, unless my Father from above gave it to you.” He’s not afraid of Pilot. He’s not afraid of the Romans or the Jews. He knows He’s about to drink the cup of the wrath of God.
God’s only answer. is our next reference. There are only four of these. . Very short verse. “He is…He is. The (definite article) He is ‘the’ propitiation. He is not ‘a’ propitiation. He is ‘the’ propitiation, for our sins. And not for ours only but also for the sins of the entire world.” Boy, could you get an Arminian to preach that last line? He died for the whole world! Pause, pause, pause. Here a pause, there a pause. Pause, means all. He died for the whole world! Yeah, yeah, I get it. Are you all with me? Are there any reformed people here? Am I at the wrong convention? No. He is the propitiation for our sins. That’s all of my hope. All of my confidence, is that He is the propitiation for my sins. Obviously, this phrase “for the whole world” has been understood in numerous ways and been debated for years, and will continue to be debated. I think, the key to rightly understanding the phrase lies in a correct understanding of the word propitiation. If God’s wrath has been satisfied, then it has been satisfied. If it’s satisfied, it is satisfied. If it’s not, it’s not. But if it is, then it is! God’s wrath has actually, fully, completely, been satisfied. If God’s anger has been placated, then it has been… come on! Help me! Placated! If God has accepted the sacrifice of His Son then He has accepted! Satisfied, placated, accepted. When John says that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world He is saying that if any person in the entirety of this globe, past, present, or future is to have their sins propitiated they will have to come to Christ because there is not another! There is no one else. He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Buddha is not working. Look, King Tut’s not going to get it done, the Dalai Lama is not going to solve the day, and higher powers and Karma, and all of this stuff is not going to work because there is only one who has satisfied the wrath of God. Let me say it in theological terms if I could. The propitiation for the sins of the world was not theoretical, it was not hypothetical, and it was not a mere potentiality. Propitiation that Christ did, not theoretical, hypothetical, or a potentiality. But rather, it was an actuality. Christ saved men on the cross. God through Christ redeemed a people for God. Everyone that was given to Him by the Father He had redeemed. He has a people that are elect. What does it say? “Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect exiles of the Dispersion, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God in sanctification of the Spirit for obedience unto Jesus Christ and sprinkling with His blood.” There’s an elect people scattered abroad the world, and He hath propitiated their sins. Or we can say it like the great missionary said, “The Lamb will have the reward for His suffering.” Why would you preach on the street? Why would you come to Maine and preach? Why would you go to, I got a deacon leaving in the morning to go to the jungle down by Guatemala. Why in the world are you going to swim over a river and go up a mountain seven miles straight up to go to a village, they don’t even speak Spanish they speak another native language. Why in the world would you do that? Because the Lamb will have His reward for His suffering. He may have a people there. And He has a means for attaining them, and it is the gospel. That’s God’s only answer. There is no other answer.
God’s love displayed. . , we see it one more time here. “In this is love…” Probably the most misdefined, messed up, construed word that has ever been known in the English language. “In this is love.” What in the world does love mean? I love coffee, I love donuts, I love to ride my bicycle, I love green eggs and ham, I love my wife, and I love God. Somehow it has to have a different definition somewhere in there. If I love my wife or I love God the same way I do green eggs and ham, something’s messed up. Love’s just one of those words that needs to be defined. “In this is love” is what John tells us. And here’s the thing we know. It’s not this: It is not that mankind originally sought out and loved God. Whatever love is, however you define it, you cannot start with man to get a definition. You cannot. Because we know this, here’s love; it is not that anybody of humanity loved God. Romans would tell us that we are at enmity with God. Angry with God every day. That’s the very nature that we have. We are opposed to the living God, and if it was in our grasp to do, we would help nail Him to a tree. It’s not that we loved God. That cannot be the answer. But, oh I love the “but God’s” of the New Testament. Ephesians 2, other Scriptures there. “But God, He loved us,” Therein lieth all my Calvinism today. God in and of Himself, because He is free to do whatever He wants to do, He decided in the counsel of His Trinity. He said, “You know what? I am going to display My love, and I am going to shed it abroad to My people, I am going to redeem them for My glorious name sake, that I may be forever praised. And I am just going to do it because I want to.” God, is free. I love free will. I would love to preach a three point message on free will. I even have a poem for it I could make up. You know, I mean it would be great. But the free will, the only free will I know is God’s free will. God is the only one who is free. God can do anything He wants to do. And there is no one that can stay His hand. None. Thanks be to God that He freely chose to love us. You say, “Well how do we know that?” Because the rest of my text. “And He sent His Son” “to be the propitiation” “for our sins”. Don’t you just love that? That’s how I know.
By the way, let me just, this has nothing maybe to do with the sermon, but let me just throw this in just for fun. Because I’m one of those goofball preachers that have pity parties. You ever had a pity party? Anybody? Nobody loves me, nobody cares! Everybody’s against me, the world’s bad. It’s all going downhill, I can’t survive. Nobody cares, nobody cares about me! Nobody loves me! You’re a liar. You’re a liar and I’m a liar. To make a statement that nobody loves me is to shake your hand in the face of God and say, “God, Your word is wrong.” “Herein is love that God hath loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” So if I am going to have a pity party, I may have one, but when I verbalize my pity party I must say, “Nobody loves me, well except for the very one that I need to love me, which is God Himself, and He has proved it on Calvary’s tree.” Whatever you may want to say about love, I can at least give you a few hints. Love is an action, it’s not a feeling. Love is sacrificial. Love sheds blood. Love dies. Love does not think of self. Love does that which nothing else will do. Love redeems the unredeemable. Love forgives the unforgivable. Love gives life to those who deserve nothing but death. Therein is at least a hint of what Biblical love is.
Now, there are four texts. If your Bible does not say propitiation, throw that thing away and get a real one. Now, there is one other text that is at least disputed for different reasons that I don’t have time to go into today. However, I have ended my dispute, and I think that the word propitiation ought to be here as well. So, now, let us go to our final text, and it is in Luke chapter 18. You got two guys. You got a Pharisee and you got a tax collector. You remember the story, it won’t be new for you. You remember those guys. They go to a prayer meeting. I like prayer meetings. And this old Pharisee goes, and he goes up to pray, “I thank God I am not like this bum! I am a lot better than him. I mean I fast twice a week, I do all of these good things. I am not an extortioner, I’m not unjust, I’m not an adulterer, and I am certainly not like this tax collector. I’m a whole lot better than this guy.” That’s the way he prayed. Now if you can just focus all your attention down to this sorry, despicable, no good tax collector. And this tax collector standing far off, he wouldn’t not lift his eyes to heaven. And he beats his breast saying, “Oh God, be propitious to me, the sinner!” Not “a” sinner, “the” sinner. Not be “merciful to me”, but be “propitious to me”. Here’s a man who gets the gospel. Here’s a man who understands the reality of the word propitiation. He doesn’t strike a deal, he doesn’t make a bargain. He has no exchange of working out a plan with God. He doesn’t have a four step formula, you know that somehow God wonderfully loves me, and a I know that I’m a good person. He doesn’t work out any of that. Here’s a man who comes to wit’s end. Here’s a man at the end of his rope, and there’s no knot. Here’s a man who has no strength left. Here’s a man who is absolutely convinced that he is “the” sinner. Where Paul said that he was the chief of sinners, he said I am greater than him in sinning. I am the number one sinner, and that’s all I am. I deserve God’s wrath. I should get God’s wrath, and God would be perfectly justified to pour His wrath upon me. I only have one parting plea, “Oh God!” He is not like the man in the hospital that I left at 65 years of age with triple bypass surgery, who was unconverted laying on his death bed, and I am pleading over him to repent and believe the gospel. And he looks at me and says, “As soon as I get up, as soon as I get up, I am going to go to church.” Well, great. I am sure God will be happy. He doesn’t strike a deal. God heal me, and I will go to church. God do this for me, and I will do that for you. No! He says, “I have nothing.” “Oh God, if you don’t turn your wrath from me, I’m done.” There’s a lot of debate in the Southern Baptist Convention about the sinner’s prayer. I agree with this one. “Oh God, You have wrath. I deserve it to be applied to me. Is there any way that You would turn it. I have heard in Exodus that You are gracious and merciful and long-suffering. I have that You are kind, I have heard that You are good. I have heard that You came to save sinners. And I am the sinner! Would You have mercy on me, and would You be propitious?” That’s his only cry. “I tell you this man”, I am just quoting the text. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For every man who exalts himself shall be humbled. But every one who would humble himself shall be exalted.”
Do you remember the man who was standing at the bottom of the Hoover Dam? Perhaps that man is you, in all your self-righteousness, don’t you know. Perhaps that man is your wife, or your child, family member, coworker, or friend. There they stand. The wrath of Almighty God builds every day, and before long the dam of His mercy is going to break. And there you stand, with your umbrella. Your umbrella of good works, self righteousness, and man-made religion. It’s a pathetic looking sight. Your umbrella’s not going to work. You need someone to turn God’s wrath away. The good news of the gospel is that God hath put forward His own Son for the propitiation of your sins. Whoever would repent and believe will be saved. Whoever comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out! Just as a side note, Upon whoever comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out, three times in the Greek it uses the double negative, which expresses the impossibility of an action taking place. If you come to Him, you won’t be hungry. If you come to Him, you won’t thirst. And if you come to Him, He won’t cast you away. It’s not even possible you’ll be cast away. What should you do? Well you should do the same thing the tax collector did. You should cry out very specifically, you should cry out in despair, dependence, and definitiveness.
Despair–I have no other hope! Nothing in my hands do I bring. Dependence–I am depending my soul, and all of its eternity upon God and apart from Him I have no other resource. I am totally dependent.
Definitiveness–I am not looking for another. If Jesus Christ can’t save me, I am going to hell. If Jesus Christ’s righteousness is not good enough for my account, I have nothing else. I have staked my life, my soul, my eternity, my wife, my children, my church, and everything I have upon the definitiveness that Jesus Christ is sufficient. He goes down to his house justified. The Pharisee, he is standing there holding his umbrella.