“God put forward Christ 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.” Romans 3:25
Liberals and Neo-orthodox have historically blanched at the idea of Christ’s sacrifice being a propitiation for the sin of the elect. … a means by which the turning away of God’s just wrath is accomplished.
Their objection is with the idea of an angry God who needs be appeased. The find in the idea of propitiation the idea of a volcano God who needs a fair virgin to be cast into the volcano before the volcano God can be satisfied. They are offended by this kind of God.
The Biblical Christian responds by noting that unlike the volcano God the God of the Bible is a God of justice who has promised that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. If God forsakes His opposition to sin … His anger against sin then God forsakes His attributes of Justice and Holiness. If God is not angry with and against both sin and sinner God is not God. Besides all this we have the explicit testimony of the Scripture that God is angry with the wicked every day and that God hates the wicked. Becuase of this God needs be propitiated and the Cross of Jesus Christ is where we find the propitiation of God that man could never provide.
The liberal and neo-orthodox still tend to see this as not only unbefitting of God but also as not fair. Some have even styled the Son providing propitiation as “Divine child abuse” by the Father. A few things are missed though.
1.) Jesus is not just some aimless wandering Jewish Rabbi that God seizes and throws on a cross. The Son came to do the will of the Father. The Father and the Son in eternity past covenanted to redeem a people. The Father agreed to send the son to do the work of Redemption and the Son agreed to do the work of Redemption so gaining the inheritance of a people by His own name.
2.) The Liberal and neo-orthodox are appalled at the anger of the Father but they miss that it is the love of the Father who sent the Son to be the appeasement (propitiation) for a people who without the work of the Son would never know the comfort of God’s love nor relief from the Father’s just anger.
3.) The liberal and neo-orthodox miss the fact that God’s anger is spilled out on God Himself as incarnated in the God-Man Jesus the Messiah. God loves us so much that He bears His own Just anger against us upon Himself there at and in the Cross. This is why we can say that we are saved by God, from God, for God to God, to God be the Glory.
4.) Of course, all this bears upon the reality that unless one closes with the Son, that is, unless one looks to the Son for safety and for mediation with and introduction unto the Father that person is eternally without hope and without God. God will not provide salvation for anyone who is not under the umbrella of the Son’s Cross Work because apart from Christ the Father’s wrath abides.
Unless Christ is a propitiation for our sins on that Good Friday Cross we are still in our sins. Expiation alone (the removal of sin) is not enough. God is a personal God who is personally angry with personal sinners. God must be propitiated or we of all men are to be pitied.
Those who reject propitiation, while doubtlessly well intended, are not Christian.