Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Cross of Christ @ Easter (Part 4)

"Moved by the perfection of his holy love, God in Christ substituted himself for us sinners.  That is the heart of the cross of Christ. It leads us to turn now from the event to its consequences, from what happened on the cross to what was achieved by it. Why did God take our place and bear our sin? What did he accomplish by his self-sacrifice, his self-substitution?"
John Stott; The Cross of Christ, p195
The Salvation of Sinners:

The theological understanding of how the cross provides salvation for sinners hinges on one's understanding of propitiation. The word literally means to "appease or pacify" someone's anger.  The question then is, 'Does God get angry?', and if He does, does that redefine our understanding of His nature?  Stott, in his book, discusses the idea of an 'impure' idea of anger, wrath and propitiation and concludes that it is only once we purge our crude concepts can we get to a pure biblical idea of wrath and propitiation.

"What is revealed to us in Scripture is a pure doctrine (from which all pagan vulgarities have been expunged) of God's holy wrath, his loving self-sacrifice in Christ and his initiative to avert his own anger.  It is obvious that 'wrath' and 'propitiation' (the placating of wrath) go together."
John Stott; The Cross of Christ, p197

From this idea we see that it is God himself who is the answer to our question of salvation, through the fact that it is God who acts in the ways of propitiation.

"It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself who in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the person of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us. "
John Stott; The Cross of Christ, p204

Because of propitiation we can now use the word 'redemption'.  If propitiation was an act not unlike a court room when the judgement of one is taken and placed on another, then we can see how that person who was once found guilty would now be seen as innocent.  Their innocence has been redeemed through the condemnation of another.  This idea of redemption then removes the guilt of our sin.  We receive salvation because we are no longer seen to be condemned by our sin.

Yet because of Jesus' substitution God's holy righteousness is upheld (He has not been untrue to himself) so another big theological word, 'justification', can also be used.  Justification is this idea that we are found innocent in the judicial mind of God, He makes the rules, but they are rules he has to keep to as well. So when we break the rules He must judge, but when the judgement falls on Jesus (who was our propitiation on the cross) then we are justifiably innocent of our sins.

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