Loch Awe in Argyll photographed at sunrise. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10 (NKJV)

In yesterday’s post I gave what I hope was a fair explanation of sanctification, which is in a group of words not often used or heard in the 21st Century church. While answering comments on that post I suggested I would follow up with another word similarly not well used today, propitiation. Propitiation comes from the Greek word “hilasmos” in the New Testament, meaning “atonement.” In today’s verse our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is presented as our Propitiation (the Atonement for our sins). Earlier in 1 John 2:2 John shows us the immensity of His propitiation for sins in that it is not just for the sins of a select few, but “for those of the whole world.”

In recent generations there has been a move away from using propitiation in favour of the word “expiation,” the reason being that some theologians had a problem with propitiation’s focus on the appeasement of an angry God. Bear with me as I try to explain the subtle differences between the two words. Canon L. L. Morris (in the New Bible Dictionary) states that expiation relates to an object where propitiation relates to the act of an individual. In my simple thoughts on this I see expiation as the penalty (fine) paid for our sin by God, and the propitiation is our pardon for our sins – Jesus Christ was our pardon on the cross at Calvary, thus He was our propitiation.

To understand the immensity of this salvation we need to know what God’s reaction is to sin. There can be no debate on the fact that God is perfectly righteous in all His ways, thus He cannot overlook sin of any size. Psalm 7:11 clearly says “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” As a loving Father God He is not quick to anger (Nehemiah 9:17), but in His righteousness He ” is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.” (Numbers 14:18).

Dear reader, our God is a compassionate Father willing to forgive us our sins if we repent (Psalm 78:38). He has provided a way for us His children through His Son Jesus Christ, as our propitiation (pardon). Through our Saviour we can turn away the wrath of God for our sins. Let us look on our Lord Jesus loudly proclaiming with John the Baptist ““Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

24 thoughts on “Propitiation

  1. Thank you. Thank you. Both of us here are grateful for you. Excellent Post. We have a rich traditional background and a life where Pentecostal extremes have also intruded but the TRUTH has been expressed so clearly by you. Expiation waters down the idea of God being ABSOLUTELY HOLY/. In the Light of His Holiness He must be a God of Judgment as well as Love. Only the Blood only those who have accepted that the life of God through HIS SON ‘s sacrifice as a substitute Lamb could ever prepare us to face His Holiness and not be struck down by His Glory. Clothed in His Blood we move onwards ever being sanctified by confession and His FORGIVENESS. Again thank you and also for the reminder in your music selection. Blessings!

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    1. I am truly blessed by your comments Faye, all glory to our God Almighty. It is His guiding that leads my pen in these posts, I am but His scribe happy to do my little part for Him.
      I too got the impression of modern trends watering down the riches of His Redemption for mankind, let us hold fast to the Solid Rock, Christ our Propitiation! God bless you and your family richly sister.

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      1. Absolutely yes Mandy, you are always welcome to submit a guest post! To be fair so are all previous writers, each one has always written Spirit inspiring blog posts. Let me know when you are ready sister.

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    1. Thank you Beth. I think the advent of more versions of the Bible and the misguided reading of them by some theologians has a lot to answer for, as well as the growth of laziness amongst congregations wanting to be spoon fed the Word. The problem being that there is no way of checking what you are taught is accurate unless you read it yourself as well. I was blessed to be taught such terms as a young man. May God bless you and your family, dogs as well!

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