1 John 4:10-11 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (ESV)
This is one of those verses in the Bible where you have to look up the definition of a certain word. In this case, ‘propitiation’ is the word that needs to be defined and, if you do a Google search, this is what you discover:
‘Propitiation is the act of appeasing or making well-disposed a deity, thus incurring divine favor or avoiding divine retribution.’
In recent years, I’ve heard and read a lot of people and pastors who reject the theory of atonement (which is another word for ‘propitiation’). Their idea is that it would be too mean for God to actually sacrifice His Son in order to acquit us of our sins. Jesus, then, came to show us Divine love and that we should peaceably get along with another. They also say that atonement is a theology that was only developed a couple of hundred years ago, and was never a part of the original Christian message. But that is so untrue – fake news or alternative facts, if you like. Re-read the verse again – what does it tell us?
It tells us propitiation is real and that because it was written by the Apostle John, it was and has been ever since a crucial part of the Christian message since it was first proclaimed. I would rather believe the Apostle John, who knew Jesus personally, than any modern or post-modern commentators. I may not like the aspect that God willingly sacrificed His Son for my sins, but I am very thankful for it. I can only trust that if God felt it was necessary to do this, then it must have been the right thing. It makes me love God and people even more which I think is what John was expressing in this sentence.
So, folks, please know this: no matter what you’ve done or how many regrets over past mistakes you carry in your heart and are constantly on your mind, God totally forgives you because Jesus has perfectly paid the price and taken away the eternal consequences.
Prayer: Lord God, we are merely human and think in limited ways. The mystery of Your love astounds us and the mercy that Jesus obtained amazes us. We know we are not worthy of such sacrificial love, but we are thankful and will be for all of eternity. In Christ’s Name, we humbly pray. Amen.