Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Jesus as Propitiation (Romans 3:21-26)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, if you are able, please remain standing, and let's give our attention now to another portion of God's word in Romans. This is Romans Chapter Three, Verses Twenty One through twenty six. This is God's word, 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 all 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 and God bless his word to us. You may be seated. Well, if you're at all unfamiliar with the Bible, a passage like this is no doubt going to be a little overwhelming, even if you are familiar with the Bible, even if you've read Romans a number of times, no doubt some of this passage, even as you hear it,...

...will go feel a little bit in one ear and out the other. It's the kind of thing that you can track with, maybe for a few verses, but then, at least for some of us, feels a little bit much. I'm even just a little bit in that's partly because there's a lot of big ideas that Paul is bringing up here all in one place. He's describing Jesus and all of these powerful ways, very deep and meaningful ways, and he's piling them up one after another after another. And if you hit any one of those terms and you feel like you're not entirely sure what it means, righteousness, Glory, redemption, propitiation, if you feel a little bit unsettled, or not necessarily unsettled but just a little ignorant, then soon it can feel like you don't really understand what's going on here. Well, I want to help with that this morning, because what we have here is not a bunch of sort of abstract truths cobbled together and a kind of random way, but we have some of the most important, some of the deepest and riches truths in the scriptures, all focusing our attention on Jesus. Words like I've mentioned righteousness, redemption, propitiation, sacrifice, glory. Now it might be nice if we had shorter or easier, less abstract words to help us remember these things, but we don't. This is how God has spoken to us and we don't need to be afraid of it. And now, of course, this doesn't mean that, though these cont that these are big ideas, that they lack concreteness and earthiness. These aren't ideas that just float around. Their true truths, truth that really matter, truths that affect our...

...lives. They affect us in how we feel our guilt about the past, about our actions and the present, about our hopes and our fears for the future, even the afterlife. The discuss this is so this discussion doesn't have to be overly complicated or philosophical, because ultimately what we're talking about are not ideas but about a person. Ultimately, we're talking about Jesus and what he did on the Cross. And when you think about Jesus on the Cross, a crown of thorns, blood running down his side people mocking and jeering. Well, there's hardly anything abstract about that, is there? Well, the first big idea I want to bring your attention to is the glory of God. It's something this portion of scripture that God says we have fallen short of it. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now, I suspect you can all fairly easily define what it means to sin, but what does it mean to fall short of the glory of God? To fall short of the glory of God? What is the glory of God? How would you describe that? How do you express it? The Glory of God is that Great Quality of God's Majesty, His honor, his praise that is internal to God, that is part of him in his nature, but is also externally evident in the things he's made, in the works that he has done. One recent theologian, James Hamilton, is expressed it in this way. The Glory of God is the weight of his majestic goodness, who God is and the resulting name or reputation he gains from his revelation of himself...

...as Creator, sustain or judge and Redeemer. Another Biblical theologian, Thomas Shriner, has said that the word glory is used in scripture to broadly capture the supremacy of God in everything. You might imagine an earthly example. Imagine a King, a king who is glorious because, well, he's the king, but nevertheless who demonstrates that glory in various ways, the immensity of his palace, the vast store houses of his treasures, the powers of his rule. Now, human kings, we see them in this way, and yet we recognize that they themselves fall short of their own glory, don't they? But here it's not the king who falls short of his glory, it's the people who fall short of the glory of the king. This is both a remarkable and a depressing thought, I think. On the one hand, it means that the glory of God not only belongs to him in his divinity, but the glory of God also belongs to us in our humanity. That's the amazing thing, that's the remarkable thing, that the glory of the King Somehow also belongs to the people, that they can share in that, that they share in that wealth and in that treasure. In other words, as Paul Puts It, in First Corinthians, eleven seven. We are those who have been made in the image and glory of God. This is this remarkable fact. We have been created to be so close to him as his creatures, children, servants, that God manifests his glory in us. It's kind of like if you if you there was a king and you got a job serving in...

...his courts, it would be a promotion right as opposed to just slaving away on your farm. You get to share in the glory of the King, even as a servant. You are part of the palace, you're part of the staff. Perhaps you even get to wear nice clothes and do nice things. You could think of it another way. When you shine a light on a mirror, the mirror is very bright, isn't it? It's maybe even blinding. Perhaps you've been driving one time and a mirror has been shining so brightly that it blinds your eyes. When a mirror shines brightly, though, it's shining because it's reff of its reflective power, and we're like that in terms of God's glory. We shine with the glory of God because his glory is shining on us and we reflect that. That's what we were made to do. It reflects back to him, and this is how we are by nature. And it was to be consummated in an eternal way, in an in a glorious sharing and shining of God and for God forever and ever and in Christ this is what we achieve. John Seventeen, twenty two, Jesus says this amazing thing. He says, I have given them, speaking of his disciples, I have given them the glory that you have given me. Jesus himself is talking about his disciples receiving this glory that the father has given to him. That's the remarkable thing. The depressing thing is that is that in all of this, or in or despite all of this, we've fallen away from it. Adam lost at all. This sharing and shining of the...

...glory of God was lost. The image of God remained, but it becomes darken and broken. The Mirror, so to speak, turns inward and begins this quest of self, glorification, of self shining, of sharing in one's own glory. And what kind of mirror does that? A broken one, sinful, dark, dirty. These are the things that happen when those who are made to reflect and the glory of God to shine and share and the glory of God, begin focusing on their own glorification. Remember what Paul said. In Romans One, twenty one and twenty three, they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal things, worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. Our shorter catechism says that our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But because of sin we fail to meet that end, we fail to obtain our God given goal, a glorious goal, a blessed goal. Because we sin, we fall short of the glory of God. You can see, then, why God says that he's just in condemning our sin. In Verse Twenty Six, we read that God is just. Earlier in that same passage we read in Verse Twenty Three. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, every single one of us, educated uneducated, whatever the color of our skin. Here Paul...

...puts it in the categories of Jew and gentile. Everyone, everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When our first parents sinned, they took all that was glorious about God, all that was glorious about their place in creation, all that was glorious about them, and they threw it away, they spat on it, they despised it, they took his gifts and wasted them. They denied the all glorious God the worship he deserved and gave it to themselves. They refused obedience to his laws and they made themselves sovereign over and against him, against the one who had made them, against the one who had caused them to be these kinds of creatures, glorious creatures. The horror of this is expressed in earthly and common terms in the story of the Prodigal son, the beginning of the story. This is a story Jesus tells about a son of a wealthy man who disrespectfully demands his inheritance even before his father has died. He then takes that inheritance, despises his father and leaves him. Wastes the money then on his own sinful lusts and desires and plunges him into such a state of poverty, in despair, that he longs for the food of Pigs. We hear stories like this and we shake our heads. What a waste, what a fool, but this is our story as those who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is exactly what we did, only far, far worse, because it wasn't just the wealth and in the inheritance of a earthly father, but it...

...was all the blessings and glory of God that we despised. When Adam and Eve fell, they took all the God had given to them and demanded it for themselves and dishonor and disobedience. It wasn't just foolishness, it was treason, it was sin. And, as one commentator puts it colorfully, God is never to be accused of moral flabbiness. He is vigorously opposed to evil in every shape and form, and so when God came up against the sin of his creatures, he did not wink at it, he did not excuse it, he did not ignore it, but he was just and he condemned them to death and through them out of the garden and barred the way to that glory. The present glory that is theirs and is ours now was diminished and the future glory that would be there as was lost forever. This means that falling the short of the glory of God is worse than not getting an eternal reward. It means earning and eternal punishment. It means in our sin we stand before God and he is a just judge and he condemns us for our sins. It means that because we fall short of the glory of God, we also fall under the wrath of God, and God is justines. This is what God has been explaining to us in these first two chapters, over and over and over again, in various ways, impressing on our hearts,...

...reminding us of the things that we know, that his wrath has been manifested against all unrighteousness, a fact we cannot ignore. But here we are reminded that God has not only just. Verse Twenty Six also tells us that he is the justifier. He is not only just, but he is the justife fire. What an interesting way of speaking. It's a way of saying God not only wants to declare the guilty guilty, he also wants to make the guilty innocent. Well, how does one do that? Usually, when we talk about someone, a guilty person, becoming innocent before the judge, were usually talking about a bad judge, right one who has taken a bribe, for example, and said okay, I declare you innocent, or someone who somehow ignores the sin or is it or is just incapable of judging, sees the problems and then just mishandles the whole case. But none of those things could be true of God, because God is perfect and everything that he does, our justice is always, I'm broken and and struggling and incomplete and imperfect. But not so with God. God knows our hearts, he knows our minds, he knows everything perfectly. He knows exactly what sin deserves, what his glory really is. So God is perfectly just. So how does a guilty person become innocent? Well, because God exercises not only the role as judge, but he also becomes a justifier. With God, he does something different and he doesn't hide the evidence or discount the sin or ignore the evil. He doesn't change his judgment by finding some error or mistake in himself.

No, God declares innocent people innocent because he makes them innocent in Jesus, first by this act of justification, second by an act of sanctification and then finally and completely, in as an act of joy, of glorification, in justification. He declares us as righteousness he did, or he declares us as righteous by IMPUTING TO US Christ's righteousness. He gives to us what someone else has earned. You could think of it in terms of money. For example. Let's say you owed a great debt, a great debt. Here someone comes, this someone is Jesus, and he pays off the debt. The money that is belongs to him is credited to your account and you are declared righteous and perfectly righteous. You and in that you are declared innocent. God continues to make us righteous in his act of sanctification, this purifying of US inwardly, so that it's not only our standing before God, this legal standing before God, but personally, he subjectively, he's making us who he wants us to be, an act that's completed and consummated in our glorification when one day we stand before God without any sin, because it's all been removed, personally, legally, in every single way. As far as the East is from the West, God is forgotten. Our Sin, it is gone, it is no more, it has nothing to do with us. Because of Jesus, because of his sacrifice. In this God is the justifier and he does all of this through Jesus, this one who has been manifested apart...

...from the law in a different way. The law, particularly as it comes to us in in Moses, particularly as it comes to us in nature, bears down on us and tells us and reminds us that we are incapable of doing the things that God commands, incapable, and our sinful selves are constantly being stirred up to other sins, sins that surprise us, since that that surprise other people. How could this thing be in me? But there it is, and through the law we comes knowledge of this sin. That's what all we read last time in verse twenty. For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, because through the law comes knowledge of Sin. But apart from the law, although the Law of Moses and the prophets bear witness to it, the revelation of g of another kind of righteousness has come, not a righteousness that we earn and not a righteousness that we can please God by, but a righteousness that is given to us as a gift. God righteous manifests makes known this righteousness apart from the law, in a sacrifice and it's helpful to remember the sacrifices in the Old Testament in this regard. Paul says that the law and the Prophets Bear Witness to this righteousness of God. Well, it's in the sacrificial system that it will one place which witness is born, one place in which the righteousness of...

God that comes apart from the law is manifested. You remember those sacrifices in the Old Testament? Right. There's all different kinds, but they all involved this kind of identification, a kind of offering of something to God that his wrath might be turned away, a saying here, I put my my sins on this animal, for example, in the hopes that you will see my sins, not on me but on it, that that animal would be put to death because of the sins and that your wrath would be turned away. That's what propitiation is. It's God's turning his wrath away because of this gift that is given, this sacrifice that is given. Now, that's all made possible because of God. It's not like human beings invented this thing and said, I know what we can do. We can take all of our sins and we'll put them on an animal and then God will be pleased by that. Right. That's nonsense. That doesn't make any sense that that would work. What did the Animal Do? How could my sins ever belong there? It only works because God has given it in that way, because God made the sacrifices affective for that, not in and of themselves, but because they pointed forward, because they were connected to the once and final sacrifice that Paul is speaking about here, the sacrifice of Jesus. The sacrifices were effective in the old testament because the sacrifices were essentially Jesus being sacrifice fast. They were that intimately connected by the promise, by the design, by the will of God. So when the people gave their sacrifices, they came in faith,...

...not that the animal was somehow special in itself, but that God had made a promise that he would take care of their sin, that he, by his own promise, would turn away his wrath and would consider a person forgiven. They went not in the promises of a lamb but in the promises of the lamb, in the promises of God. It worked because this was God's will. The righteousness of God therefore was manifested in that way to show his wrath against sin and to point forward to this final sacrifice of Jesus. And that's exactly what happened on the cross. Paul uses these terms redemption and propitiation to describe what Jesus did. Redemption refers to a kind of buying back or a bringing something, paying for something to be rescued, redeemed. You remember, this is a something that can as spoken of in terms of slaves, slaves being brought out, and we are very much like this. Under the law, we find ourselves in a kind of debtors prison. God redeems as though he brings us out of slavery. Under the law, we also find ourselves condemned because of our sin. Under God's wrath and in his propitiation, he looks at that sacrifice and he turns it away. Now, the sacrifices of a lamb or a dove or something like that wouldn't seem to accomplish that. But what about the sacrifice of the son of God? Do you think that might be enough to cover for your sins, if God himself died on...

...the Cross in your place? Well, indeed it is. Indeed it was. And when Jesus, God's beloved divine, all glorious, all powerful, eternal son, died on a cross. A sacrifice for sin was made in his blood. Propitiation happen? God puts forward a sacrifice. Jesus presents himself as a sacrifice for his people and says the lamb says, put the sin is on me so that they can be forgiven. And in Verse Twenty Five Paul Says Exactly this, that in Sin Jesus Christ, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood. And so when God, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are trusting in him, whom God looks at and turns his wrath away from us. This is why we don't fear the Judgment Day, this is why we don't struggle and and despair of God judging us for our sins, because we know that all judgment has passed for us in Jesus Amazing Grace. When we look for salvation, therefore, when we feel the weight of our sins, you see how foolish and sinful it is to look anywhere other than the cross, to believe in anything other than the cross. In our sins we fell short totally missed the mark and failed...

...to obtain the glory of God. But we not only felt short of his glory, we also fell under his wrath. We deserved nothing more, and God would have been glorified in punishing us. He would have been glorified in the exercise of his judgment, and he will be on the last day, when those who are judged from their sins are judged for their sins. He would be glorified and will be glorified, as any king would be and is, in conquering his enemies. But out of the goodness of his will and His grace, God also glorifies himself in salvation. He gives to US something else, freedom from the dead of our sins, the joy of seeing his wrath turn away from us and see his fatherly smile of love turn toward us. We received the heart pounding joy of belonging to Christ and knowing that we are those who are declared righteousness. And that's how things, miraculous, things begin to happen, like light shining out of darkness and the darkness not overcoming it, not only in Jesus, but also in us. How is it that ungodly, sinful people like us can be bright and shining lights of the glory of God in the world. It happens because of the power of the light, because of the change is that happens in US according to the promises of God. So when we think of Jesus on the Cross, or when we think of our sins and then think of Jesus on the Cross, let's consider the things that God puts forward here, that God tells us here. Jesus isn't just a story to remember. He's not just an idea that we...

...hold onto or believe in some kind of way. He is our life. He is the thing by which we do not experience the wrath of God. He is the one who justifies us, who makes us righteous and makes us the people that God has saved us to be. So let us put our faith in him. Let's not go bow before God and make excuses or accusations, but freely admit what he says about us. Freely admit what is obviously true, that we have fallen, we have sinned, we have come short of the glory of God, but in the grace of God we are being conformed in the image of his glorious son. Now and unto eternity. This is his promise to us. Let us pray.

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