Merry Wednesday Dear Church,
I hope and pray you are doing well! I am excited because tonight at Bible Study we are reading through one of the richest parts of the Bible, Romans 3:21-31. However, one of the problems we often have in understanding that passage is that some of the vocabulary is a little bit, well, dense. In particular, there are three words which are often difficult to understand. Yet, I think when we do come to understand them, we will see that they are some of the precious words in the whole Bible.
The first one is justification. Justification is a term that simply means someone is "declared" just. Nobody can be in God's presence unless they get this justification. The trouble is none of us are just. In fact, all of us are under the righteous condemnation of God. Here is the good news: Christ was condemned so we might be justified. We give him our condemnation, and we get his justification. We only get this by believing and trusting in him.
The second word is redemption. Redemption is actually a financial word. It means to "buy" something. Of course, before Christ, you and I are all slaves under sin. We could not get our way out. The price to redeem us was simply too high. But Jesus redeemed us by his own blood. The price for our freedom was the cost of his death. He was sold so we might be freed.
The third word is propitiation. Now, the Bible teaches that all of us are under God's wrath because of our sin. In the Bible, only a sacrifice could pay the penalty for our sins. Then, the wrath of God would be "propitiated" and the sinner would have peace with God. The problem was, of course, as Hebrews 8-10 teaches us, the sacrifices of animals could never pay for the sins of man. Here is the good news: Jesus Christ gives himself up as our sacrifice. Jesus Christ bore our wrath, and we get his peace. He is our propitiation, our sacrifice, our atonement.
You are probably noticing a common theme, what we might call "substitutionary atonement." This is just the idea that what happened on the cross was an exchange, a glorious exchange in fact! Jesus took our guilt, our estrangement, our sin, our wrath, our condemnation, our slavery, our death. In exchange, we get his relief, his reconciliation, his holiness, his peace, his justification, his freedom, his life. In other words, we give him our sin and we get his salvation. We give him our guilt we get his grace. All that these words, these precious words, are trying to tell us is this: Jesus is our substitute, our sacrifice, our salvation. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Southern Heights Christian Church
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