Lent Day #34 | Propitiation

This could very well be the one word that has impacted my understanding of Jesus’ life, sacrifice and resurrection. In short, this word incapsulates the central promise of the Gospel. There are three realities that converge in the universe requiring the Gospel. The first is divine holiness. The second is human sin. The third is the resolution of the first two realities. We will look at each of these briefly so we can understand how Propitiation provides the answer.

The Divine Nature

When we talk about divine holiness we are talking about the nature of God’s existence. We are trying to describe how God exists within the divine essence. Basically, we are trying to say something meaningful about how God interacts with the world he created, and then how that creation responds to God’s presence in it.

The reason it is important to know something about God’s nature is because if we get this wrong we will make errors in evaluating God’s response to sin.

The hardest part of what the bible says about God regards his holiness. God is not just perfect, God is pure and undefiled. What this means is anything not equalling God’s divine standard is not only worthy of punishment, but also of damnation. The reason we have to go this far is because of the value and worth of God. We have to esteem God because he is worthy of it.

Human Sin

Here we begin to see the problem keeping humanity from a relationship with God. Sin is not just an act, it is also general inclination of the heart. Our hearts are not naturally focused on God, but rather toward ourselves or the things of this world. We would rather do our own thing than what God would ask or command us.

The human sin problem is more than we can comprehend. Not less. Things are worse than we would like to admit, not better. This is what causes many to take lightly the sacrifice of Jesus. If Christ’s sacrifice is what it takes to redeem a lost soul, how can we make so little of God’s love?

What we have to understand is this: sin is a real and ugly problem. No one leaves this world unscathed by sin. We all suffer, and some of us suffer more than most.

The Gospel = Propitiation

We have now arrived at the third reality of why we need the Gospel. God’s divine nature and human sin cannot co-exist. It is like oil and water.

The wonder of the Gospel is that God has made provision to fix the problem. When Jesus came into the world his mission was to take the penalty of our sin and then transfer to us (each of us who put our trust in God) his righteousness. What God required from us, Jesus fulfilled on our behalf.

When we talk about propitiation we are saying that when God punished our sin in Jesus’ body on the cross, God did not hold anything back. God unleashed the full weight of his wrath upon his son, so we could become the righteousness of God in Christ. If God does not fully punish sin, he cannot love or forgive fully. Propitiation is the evidence that God has not withheld anything of himself from us when it comes to our redemption.

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Lent Day #33 | Grace

We will take a theological turn for the next couple of days. I hope it is helpful to you. It tends to be to me.

Theology is the discipline where we study God, who he is and what he is doing. There are a variety if different areas of study in theology. We won’t be looking at all of them here. What we will do is look at a few terms that are foundational to our growth as believers of Jesus. Each of these words are simple to learn and require patience to understand. It is through the process of understanding that we deepen our appreciation of God’s love for us.

Today’s word is Grace. One of the best definitions for grace is “unmerited favor.” The idea here is recognizing God’s gift as something we cannot earn. But, more importantly, it is something we do not deserve, even a little bit. There is nothing that we can do to merit God’s grace. As a matter of fact, we could spend an infinite number of lifetimes and we would never do enough.

The question that often times emerges is, “Why not?” The answer is not always satisfying. The reason we cannot earn and do not deserve grace is due to the fact we can never undo any mistake we have made. Our grade point average will never be a 100% ever again. Even if we only committed one sin in our lives, that would be enough for us to need God to send Jesus to earth to die on the cross.

When we talk about God’s grace we are saying something in particular about how God interacts with us. We are saying God does not line us up and grades on a curve. We each are being measured against the perfect standard of Jesus, not each other. When God offers and gives us grace he does so knowing full well who he is giving this precious gift to. This is both a reason to rejoice and be thankful.

God has never gone back on a promise and he does not intend to start today. I am thankful that God does not change, has not changed and will not change. The consistency of his character is the guarantee of his ability to accomplish what he proclaims to us.

Amen and amen!

Lent Day #32 | Retreat

I am serving on a Christian retreat for youth this weekend. I have done this for the past several years and each time I see God do something I didn’t expect. There is something about meeting with fellow believers in places dedicated to serving God. I can’t explain it, but I have this feeling that God has places he likes to visit. Places where his people can experience his presence in ways that can almost be described as tangible.

One of the curiosities of Jesus’ ministry was how he often would retreat from the disciples and the crowds to spend time with his Father. He would disappear and get away from it all so he could focus and hear more clearly. There is a lesson for in Jesus’ example. We too need time of retreat. Time of stepping out of what we are doing so God has our concentrated attention.

Can I say I do this like I should? No! Part of it is I am not as disciplined as I need to be. I find my mind wandering. But, I also think part of my problem is I may not be in a place where God likes to visit. I have thought about this before, but this could be part of the reason I love sitting in the sanctuary of my church. I feel close to God there. There is a marked difference in the space.

One of the gifts we get during Lent is the opportunity to get alone with God. It would be wise for us to take some time in the days we have left of this Lenten season to step out of our typical routines and spend some time with God. Go to a place where you have felt close to God and give Him your undivided attention. Put it on your calendar and keep the appointment.

I am excited about this weekend. Both because of what He will do in and for these young people. But, also for what he will do in and for me. I am glad to be in a place where God’s presence abides.

Could you help with some suggestions?

I am beginning my planning for what subjects and topics to discuss next. I would love to get some feedback from those of you who read the blog. What would you suggest? I have a couple of ideas, but am open to others. Cast you vote below.

NOTE: If you want to suggest something else type it into the third option and then vote. Thanks.