From Anger to Favor
To understand the concept of propitiation and the doctrine and implications of what we call The Atonement.
Rom 3:21-26, Heb 2:17, I John 2:1 , I John 4:8-10 , Rom 3:22-26 and many others.
Packers, "Knowing God", chapter 18
The Back Door:
Do you know any stories from Greek Mythology? In order to introduce this lesson lets look a story from Greek Mythology. Do you remember the story of Helen of Troy? In it -
You see the Greeks believed in the existence of many gods. Each one had the ability to make a humans life easier or harder. These gods would take offense certain things and then decide to manipulate circumstances against you. The wise Greek business man would see his only choice was to accept this and do something to make the gods happy again. The rule here was the bigger the better and the sacrifice of an innocent loved one was not only big, but it was considered highly effective. After the sacrifice, the angered god would then make life easier on the one who offered the sacrifice, at least for time being.
Now what does this have to do with our of the true God? The Bible condemns Greek polytheism, human sacrifice, and other Greek beliefs as paganism. It speaks of the true God, the Creator. But no sooner have we start reading Genesis chapter 4 than we find the concept of sacrifice. From Cain & Abel all the way to Christ the sacrifice of an innocent animal is being used to allow God to forgive the sins of Gods people and avert Gods wrath.
This is the concept of "propitiation". This big word means; the enabling of someone who was wronged to look upon the wrongdoer with favor. It includes not only the forgiving of the wrongdoer (expiation) but also the quieting of the anger of the one who was wronged.
Students Teach Students:
Lets go look at models of propitiation in scripture.
Key Message: You see throughout biblical history, since the beginning of sin, man has been sacrificing something as propitiation to keep God from deploying his anger.
Often a history or literature teacher will suggest that Christianity borrowed the concept of sacrifice to atone for sins from Greek mythology or other religious systems. They are quick to point out that since the concept is obviously borrowed, Christianity is just one more poor copy of a myth. Well, the Bible tells us that the concept of sacrifice substantially predates Christ's death as well as Greek civilization. It is as old as man's sinful state. The one who instituted it as soon as Adam and Eve left the garden was God. The Greeks had the "poor copy" and pitifully applied it to gods of their own imagination.
-> Now See if you can answer the following questions
Q1. When did sacrifice stop in Israel?
A1. Just after Christ's death and resurrection (AD70) when Israel was destroyed and scattered abroad. About the time of the Church began.
Q2. When will sacrifices resume ?
A2. Just after the rapture at the end of the period of the Church when the time of Israel resumes. Israel is preparing to start this now.
Q3. Why did God institute the concept of atoning sacrifice as propitiation? Why have such a ritual built into the commandments?
A3. To point the way to Jesus. To build the concept so when Christ died, people would understand and believe.
Q4. Did animal sacrifice really remit sins?
A4. No animal sacrifice did not remit sins but God used them as a model so men would look forward to the Cross. (Heb 10:1-6 & Rom 3:22-26)
All through scripture we find hints, models and prophecy pointing the way to Christ. Can you think of any? Consider .
Well that enough of a quiz, lets go on find out more about Gods act of propitiation which is called "the Atonement" in scripture. The word atonement occurs 4 times in the new testament associated with Christ death.
First in Romans we see that God allowed man to remain alive (wages of sin is death) and in Gods relative favor through looking forward to the sacrifice of Christ by using a substitute. This word is key SUBSTITUTE.
When Christ came & died (for dying is the reason he came) he abolished the need for animal sacrifice.
The Jews came to see sacrifice as something God desires; but
Lets look in more detail at the "atonement"
1. It was the work of God .. It was God on that cross just like it was God in that manger 33 years before. God averted (propitiated) his own wrath through his own act. This is the meaning of mercy. Those Christ loved, he loved so much, (desired so much), that he gave his own son to take their punishment. And in his union with the son gave of Himself to do the same. (John 3:16)
2. One died for all . Lev 17:11 teaches us that the life of one is in his blood. Rom 5:9 tells us the aversion of Gods wrath is through his spilt blood. This is why we say Christ came to die. It was not his life or teaching that saved us. It was his death. The death of a worthy SUBSTITUTE. (also 2 Cor 5:14, Isa 53:4-10, Mark 10:45)
3. The result of the Atonement for man is "peace with God". Without it we could not choose salvation by any means, for God and evil can have nothing in common.
4. The result of the Atonement for Jesus was Lordship. Everything in creation has now been made subservient to Jesus. (Eph 1:10, Eph 1:20-22, Heb 2:6-8, Phil 2:9-10, Phil 3:21, 1 Cor 15:27, Dan 7:11)
Now there is a doctrine common to some churches to day called Universalism. It teaches that Christ's death paid for all sin and therefore all humanity has been saved. Even though hell may exist, they say, there will be no one in it. But this is not the doctrine of the bible. Hebrews 9:26 tells us that God has done away with the sin barrier. But now the rules have changed. A new requirement is added in its place. Belief in Jesus Christ is now required for eternal life. Acceptance of him and his act as savior is a prerequisite for salvation. This is what we call the Gospel.
Who can be saved, who can have eternal life? The following verses make the answer very clear. Those turn to Jesus.
The Dividing Edge
Have you ever considered why God made belief in Jesus Christ a requirement for Salvation?
Well, certainly it is it is because the only way God can look on sinful beings is because Jesus paid our debt. I'm sure sending his Son to die was a big deal to him. Being crucified by His creations wasn't going to be something the Father or the Son would easily forget. Since Jesus gave Himself for us, God has given all dominion over creation to Him. If you add to this the realization that all of creation has been about growing and refining men for Christ, I think we can begin to see that allegiance to Christ is something very important to God. I think that Believing in Jesus and His sacrifice is the beginning of allegiance.