Monday, February 01, 2010

You can be God's friend

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Hebrews 2:5-18

TO CHEW ON: “So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins. - Hebrews 2:17 – Amplified.

In many ways we moderns have adapted God to our culture. We are soft on sin in ourselves, saying we can’t help sinning for a myriad of reasons. In such a thought climate it’s hard to view realistically God's holiness and inability to tolerate sin.*

But if God possesses all the attributes we credit Him with, His holiness, which can’t bear the presence of sin, and His mercy, which loves us, can only coexist if the price for sin – death – is paid.

Bronze crucifix by Donatello - c. 1448

That’s where the concept of propitiation comes in. When Jesus, who was human (like us), and sinless (unlike us) took the punishment for our sin, God was appeased or propitiated and we are reconciled to Him.

In our tolerant-of-sin culture, I don’t think we begin to appreciate the hugeness of what this means. H. C. Thiessen, author of a favorite old systematic theology textbook I own says it simply yet profoundly:

“The thought is something like this: At first God and man stood face to face with each other. In sinning, Adam turned his back upon God. Then God turned His back upon Adam. Christ’s death has satisfied the demands of God and now God has again turned His face toward man. It remains for man to turn round about and face God. Since God has been reconciled by the death of His Son, man is now entreated to be reconciled to God.”
- Lectures in Systematic Theology by H. C. Thiessen (1949), p. 328.

PRAYER: Thank you God for making a way for me to be reconciled to You. Thank you Jesus, for dying for me. Amen.

MORE: How can we respond to such good news but with praise?
Worship along with Matt Redman in “Worthy, You Are Worthy.”



* Some parts of Christendom have such a problem with this they have played down the atonement aspect of what Jesus did, questioning whether it really happened and using language like “cosmic child abuse” (the heading “Penal Substitution”) to describe God sending Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins .

Also:
J. I. Packer’s response
Adrian Warnock

2 comments:

  1. I like the Thiessen quote. I've never seen it before. I couldn't help but think of 2 Cor. 5 when I read your post:

    "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

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  2. Thanks, Barry! You quote an excellent companion verse. I find all these theological terms (like propitiation, redemption, reconciliation) wonderfully interlocking. It's hard to talk about one without referencing the others too!

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