Bad News, Good News?

The Wrath of God and the Atonement

The bad news:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” – Rom 1:18 

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Eph 2:1-3

The good news:

“(Christ Jesus), whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  – Rom 3:25a

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” – 1 Cor 5:

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 Jn 2:2

“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.” 1 Jn 4:10

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the priesthood of Christ, and compares Jesus’ sacrifice to the High Priest’s sacrifices in the OT:

“Therefore he (Christ)had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Heb 9:11-12

Propitiation, as defined in Easton’s Bible Dictionary, is that by which God is rendered propitious (favorably disposed as opposed to wrathful toward), i.e., by which it becomes consistent with his character and government to pardon and bless the sinner. The propitiation does not procure his love or make him loving; it only renders it consistent for him to execise his love towards sinners. Christ is “the propitiation,” because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.

It can be said that the ‘bad news’ (the wrath of God) is central to, and must precede, the message of the ‘good news’ (the atonement of Christ), when we who call ourselves ‘evangelical’ Christians present the gospel message to the lost and dying all around us.

How sad it is that many of us not only don’t precede the good news of the Atonement with the bad news of God’s wrath against sin, we don’t mention it at all!

My friends, to not address the issue of sin, God’s hatred of it, and wrath against it, is tantamount to standing at the foot of theCalvary’s Cross and grinding the  Savior’s blood into the dirt!

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