The Propitiation for our Sin


It is a striking feature of the writing of the apostle John that whatever God is shown to have provided, in His love, for His own glory and the need of man, is also shown to be closely bound up in and with the Person of Christ.

We may see that propitiation is, by John, associated with the Lord's person. He does not present it as the work of the Lord; this we have elsewhere. But in the First Epistle of the apostle of love we read, "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2. 1, 2); and, again, "Herein 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). Jesus Christ, then, is Himself the propitiation for our sins. This is as infinitely blessed as it is simple; for if I, as a poor sinner, needed a propitiation for my sins, and I am told that Christ is that propitiation (however little I may be able to explain the meaning of the term), I can rest assured in the fact that Christ being it, it will be 'more than adequate for my guilt.

But we may gather more than this from the manner of the usage of this truth in John's Epistle. The fact is first introduced in connection with the breach of a believer's communion by a sin. "If any man sin [or, shall have sinned], we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins." John had been showing the intimate place into which the child of God is brought — into fellowship with the Father and the Son. But when we walk thus in the light, it gives us. to see as nowhere else the fearful hideousness of sin. We are not to sin; but, if anyone does, and is then overwhelmed by the sense of the terrible nature of sin in the presence of the holy God, a provision has been made. Jesus Christ, as Advocate, undertakes our case with the Father, duly representing the confession of our sins on our behalf; moreover, He is the propitiation for our sins.

Thus, whatever satisfaction the righteous and holy nature of God demanded because of those sins, Jesus Christ is that satisfaction. And the value and efficacy of propitiation is, therefore, in effect, declared to be commensurate only with His Person. If, therefore, we wish to estimate rightly the basis of our restoration to communion, we must think of the eternal excellency of the Son. However we may magnify the heinousness of sin (and we shall never exceed the truth in this respect), we may be sure that it is more than covered by the propitiation of the Son of God. For He did, and He alone could, offer what our sins needed, and the glory of God. demanded.

But we gather even more from these words in John; we see what a character of holiness is stamped upon propitiation. We are not left to, invest it with whatever degree of sanctity we please. The Spirit of God has hallowed the truth in the highest possible way, and in a way that the Youngest child in Christ can but recognize. The Son of God is the propitiation for our sins. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son, the propitiation for our sins." The work of propitiation is associated with all the Godhead glory of the Son. Can we attach too great importance to a doctrine that is set before us in such terms as these? In the mind of the Spirit, as expressed by John, the work is merged in the Person; and the value of the work is to be measured according to the intrinsic worth of the Son.

It is important for us to remember this, because the human mind is so apt to belittle the things of God. And how terrible to detract from the Person of the Son, Whom no one knoweth (Matthew 11:27). Israel in the wilderness sinned by limiting the Holy One in what He would do for them (Psalm78:41). Shall the Christian with impunity set the bounds of time and space to the Son of God, Who is the propitiation for our sins, and especially by imposing human limitations upon Him in the performance of that particular work? If any would speak or think slightingly of propitiation, let them remember that "He is the propitiation for our sins."

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