Kevin DeYoung: There are many biblical ways to describe Christian salvation. Salvation can be understood ritually as a sacrifice, as the expiation of guilt through the death of Christ on the cross. Salvation can be understood commercially as redemption, as a payment made through the blood of Christ for the debt we owe because of sin. Salvation can be understood relationally as reconciliation, as the coming together of estranged parties by means of Christ’s at-one-ment. Salvation can be understood legally as justification, as the declaration that sins have been forgiven and that the sinner stands blameless before God because of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. There is, of course, more that can be said about salvation. But each description above captures something important about the nature of Christ’s saving work. And each description holds together because the death of Christ is—not over and above these images, but inherent and essential to these images—a propitiation. Propitiation is used in the New Testament to describe the pacifying, placating, or appeasing of God’s wrath. The easiest
Christ Our Ransom
Jared Wilson: Like many others, I have been moved over the last several years to repeatedly reassert the biblical emphasis on Christ’s propitiating work on the cross in what is typically called the “penal substitution” view of the atonement—for instance, devoting an entire chapter to it as the “sharp edge of the atonement” in my book Gospel Deeps and another whole chapter defending it from recent critiques in a forthcoming book (2020) with Thomas Nelson. But penal substitution is of course not the whole of the atonement. The gospel is more multifaceted than that, and one of the least considered facets is Christ as our ransom. Psalm 49 establishes a dilemma of direst condition: Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice . . . (49:7-8) The condition of man since the fall is one of bondage to sin and corruption from death. Having
What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?
R.C. Sproul: When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words. Expiation and Propitiation Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt
He became a propitiation for us
The very fact that Christ suffered for us, and through His suffering became a propitiation for us, proves that we are (by nature) unrighteous, and that we for whom He became a propitiation, must obtain our righteousness solely from God, now that forgiveness for our sins has been secured by Christ’s atonement. By the fact that God forgives our sins (only) through Christ’s propitiation and so justifieth us by faith, He shows how necessary is His righteousness (for all). There is no one whose sins are not forgiven (in Christ). — Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids, MI.: Kregel, 1976), 78 (HT: Of First Importance)
What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?
R.C. Sproul: When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words. Expiation and Propitiation Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking
Listening to the Word Preached
Tony Reinke: Today many of us will gather in local churches to hear the preaching of God’s word from faithful ministers. So what is the proper spiritual posture we should take for listening to the sermon? In our recently released ebook, Take Care How You Listen, John Piper offers us help in preparing our hearts on Sundays. At one point Pastor John writes this: Come in a spirit of meek teachability. Not gullibility. You have your Bible and you have your head. But James says, “In meekness receive the implanted word” (1:21). If we come with a chip on our shoulder that there is nothing we can learn or no benefit we can get, we will prove ourselves infallible on both counts. But if we humble ourselves before the Word of God, we will hear and grow and bear fruit. (24) And a little later he writes: As you sit quietly and pray and meditate on the text and the songs,
6 Things Christ accomplished by his death
Here’s a very brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death, by Matt Perman: 1. Expiation Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death. Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” 2. Propitiation Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath. By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact,
Three Precious Words
This piece from Todd Pruitt sums up the thrust of my teaching here in Rwanda. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:21-26 Martin Luther refered to Romans 3:21-26 as, ““the chief point, and the very
No more “. . . or else.”
From Ray Ortlund: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13 What is the curse of the law? It is the or-else-ness of the law: “Do this, or else.” Christ took the or-else-ness of the law onto himself at the cross, so that there is no more or-else for anyone in Christ, as God looks upon us now. Or-else is gone forever from your relationship with God. “We, being delivered from these everlasting terrors and anguish through Christ, shall enjoy an everlasting and inestimable peace and happiness.” Martin Luther, commentary on Galatians 3:13.
The gospel in three words
“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.” —J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: 1993), 214 (HT: Of First Importance)
Penal Substitution By Dr. Greg Bahnsen
If you have been following the conversation in the comments section you may be interested to read this article by Greg Bahnsen taken from Monergism. How can a guilty sinner avert the just condemnation and wrath of God? How can he be set free from the penalty he deserves? Paul wrote: “When the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might redeem them who are under the law” (Gal. 4:4). In order to fulfill all of God’s promises and accomplish His saving design for men, Christ came to do a work of “redemption.” And in Paul’s theologically authoritative conception of this redemption, it carried an unmistakably judicial and substitutionary character: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (3:13). Redemption or liberation is a setting free from a dreaded judicial reality: “the curse of the law.” And this act of
Christ hath so perfectly satisfied
“The doctrine for which we contend is that Christ hath so perfectly satisfied divine justice for all our sins, by one offering of himself, and not only for our guilt but also for both temporal and eternal punishment, that henceforth there are no more propitiatory offerings to be made for sin, and that though, for the promotion of their penitence and sanctification, God often chastises his people, yet no satisfaction is to be made by them either in this or a future state of existence.” Francis Turretin, The Atonement of Christ, page 68. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
Interview with Vaughan Roberts
From Adrian Warnock: Vaughan has been rector at St. Ebbes, Oxford since 1998. We spoke about how a few years ago it would have been surprising to see the heads of the Proclamation Trust and Newfrontiers together. He described meeting Terry Virgo and discovering that they both liked the same books. He spoke about how we all do need to learn from each other since the caricatures we have are not entirely without a grain of truth. We then spoke about the parasitical nature of liberalism. A liberal gospel never converts anyone. People are saved into a context that is serious about what the Bible says, but then they sometimes drift into liberalism. He said he is looking for those who value the authority of the Bible over system and human reason. For some people within the evangelical tradition, the Bible doesn’t drive their ministry. Vaughan said that whilst a new believer might not fully appreciate how the cross saves
“God himself gave himself to save us from himself.”
“According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.” —John Stott, The Message of Romans (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 115 (HT: Of First Importance)
The Gospel – John MacArthur
“He [the Father] made him [the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was guilty of nothing. Yet on the cross, the Father treated Him as if He had committed personally every sin ever committed by every individual who would ever believe. Though He was blameless, He faced the full fury of God’s wrath, enduring the penalty of sin on behalf of those He came to save. In this way, the sinless Son of God became the perfect substitute for the sinful sons of men. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, the elect become the righteousness of God in Him. In the same way that the Father treated the Son as a sinner, even though the Son was sinless, the Father now treats believers as righteous, even though they were unrighteous. Jesus exchanged His life for sinners in order to fulfill the elective plan
What the gospel is and what it is not!
My thanks to James Grant for this. I recommend you read the whole article by Carson. D. A. Carson’s recent editorial for Themelios is well worth your read. In it, makes a fundamental distinction about the gospel that is being lost in our current theological climate. Carson explains: It is this: one must distinguish between, on the one hand, the gospel as what God has done and what is the message to be announced and, on the other, what is demanded by God or effected by the gospel in assorted human responses. This is fundamental. The gospel is about what God has done and not about what I have done. Growing up, this was confused by saying that gospel is believing on Christ. Now this is confused by saying that the gospel is life. The current situation is a reaction to the former. We (at least in evangelicalism broadly speaking) have moved from describing the gospel as conversion to describing
For Whom Did Christ Die? – John Owen
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: All the sins of all men. All the sins of some men, or Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, “Because of unbelief.” I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did
Redeeming love and retributive justice
“God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to His Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.” […] “Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed Himself to be ‘just, and the justifer of him who hath faith in Jesus’. Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace.” – J.I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 40-41. (HT: Of First Importance)
Getting Substitutionary Atonement Right
“The penal substitution model has been criticized for depicting a kind Son placating a fierce Father in order to make him love man, which he did not do before. The criticism is, however, inept, for penal substitution is a Trinitarian model, for which the motivational unity of Father and Son is axiomatic. The New Testament presents God’s gift of his Son to die as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son’ (John 3:16). ‘God is love, . . . Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (I John 4:8-10). ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). Similarly, the New Testament presents the Son’s voluntary acceptance of death as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘He loved me,
Easter Explains Everything!
I love this from Marcus Honeysett: Easter explains everything. Because the cross of Jesus Christ is the centre of everything. And I mean everything! Most amazingly it explains creation. Why creation? So that God can display the glory of his grace for his praise. And he does that in clearest and most extreme splendour at the cross. Picture the vast expanse of creation in all its magnificence with a searing white hot focal point to all time and space. A singularity, a coalescence of all the eternal purposes and infinite power of God in one place and instance. That focus is the cross It explains why the world is the way it is – rebellion that needs atonement; creation subjected to decay and groaning waiting for the glorious liberation of the children of God, supremely accomplished through the cross It explains the depths of distress and degradation in the human heart – the ultimate expression of human evil is the