Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ian Hamilton on Propitiation

This week I am attending a Bible Conference at Eastwood Presbyterian Church (Montgomery, AL). The speaker for these few days is the Rev. Ian Hamilton (see a brief introduction here), and the theme is the Glory of Jesus Christ.

On Sunday evening, Rev. Hamilton spoke on the doctrine of justification from Gal. 1 (for a few notes on this message, see here).

On Monday evening, he spoke on the doctrine of propitiation from Romans 3:25-26. In his introductory remarks, Hamilton quoted one of his favorite theologians, John Owen, who wrote:
Our greatest hindrance in the Christian life is not a lack of effort, but a lack of acquaintance with our privileges in Christ.
The Bible uses three different word pictures to help us understand the meaning of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. Law Court - we are in the dock before God and we need to be acquitted
  2. Slave Market - we need deliverance, redemption, rescue
  3. Temple Sacrifice - the appeasement of God's wrath by the shedding of innocent blood
Hamilton offered the following definition of propitiation: "appeasement; turning away wrath or anger." From Romans 3:25-26, Hamilton developed the following four points:

  1. It is God Himself who put forward His own Son to be the propitiation by His blood.
    • God takes the initiative!
    • Jesus did not come into the world to persuade the Father to love sinners.
    • Rather, it was the Father’s love that sent the Son into the world.
    • We never get beyond this, and we can never explain this.
  2. Why do we need propitiation?
    • Isn’t God love? Does he need to be propitiated?
    • C. H. Dodd could not accept that God needed to be appeased. Thus, he argued for the use of the term expiation (the removal of sin) rather than propitiation.
    • However, there is not linguistic argument to validate this claim.
    • The cross answers both His love and His justice.
  3. In what way is He a propitiation for our sins?
    • By His blood.
    • The marvel: God laid up His Son for us.
    • He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
    • God executes on the Son the wrath that is ours.
    • Jesus Christ is the only covenant against the wrath of God.
  4. How does the Lord Jesus Christ become my propitiation?
    • Faith is a resting grace.
Conclusion - "Your greatest need is for the living God to be for us rather than against us."

Note: For an interesting study on the proper pronunciation of the word propitiation, see Phil Gons' three posts listed below.
  1. The Proper Pronunciation of “Propitiation”
  2. Update on the Pronunciation of “Propitiation”
  3. The Pronunciation of “Propitiation”: The Mystery Solved