R. C. Sproul – What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words.

Expiation and Propitiation

Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement. By contrast, propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. The prefix pro means “for,” so propitiation brings about a change in God’s attitude, so that He moves from being at enmity with us to being for us. Through the process of propitiation, we are restored into fellowship and favor with Him.

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Michael Boling – The Difference Between Knowing God and Knowing God

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It would be hard to reject the reality of the explosion of knowledge in recent years. I remember a mere 20 years ago the thought of having a phone I could carry around, play games, listen to music, and let along watch movies was an idea that existed in the realm of science fiction. Certainly Captain Kirk or Captain Picard may have had such a device, but not me. Today we have all manner of technological devices available to us allowing for the stream of information to flow seemingly nonstop.

Even in the realm of theology, technology has increased. We have wonderful study tools such as Logos Bible Software and we have access to all manner of websites, blogs, podcasts, and online reading material through Kindles, iPads, and other electronic media avenues. The information flow has gone from a mere trickle to a veritable geyser.

At times I wonder in the midst of this technological revolution if we really know God any more. We certainly know about Him and we have all sorts of books, podcasts, YouTube videos, and television programming that speaks to the issue of God. But I have to think that in the midst of knowing we really do not know like we should.

Such a statement is based on the fundamental difference found in Scripture between knowing God on a pure cognitive basis and knowing God in a relational fashion. We regularly find individuals in the Bible that knew about God. The pagan nations in the Promised Land knew of what God was doing on behalf of Israel; however, those nations did not know God. They knew His actions and feared Him, but they did not have a personal relationship with Him as a called people.

The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew about God. In fact, they had the entire Torah memorized. With that said, Jesus described them as being whitewashed tombs – not exactly the kind of term one would use to describe people to which you are in a loving relationship. They had a great deal of head knowledge about God and His commands but little if any aspect of knowing God.
So what does it mean to know God in the relational sense of the term and for that matter, is head knowledge of God wrong to have?

Let’s address the second question first. There is nothing wrong with having a desire to learn more about God. We are told in several locations in Scripture to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5, 10:12; Matthew 22:37). The term Greek noun translated as “mind” refers to “the mind as a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring”. Basically there is nothing wrong with using our God given mental faculties to know more about Him. For that matter, it would be very difficult to follow the command in 1 Peter 3:15, namely to always be ready to give a reasoned defense for our faith if using our brains was not involved. Studying, memorizing, and declaring the truth of Scripture involves the mind. It involves growing in spiritual knowledge and maturity, moving from the milk to the meat of the Word.

However, one can know God and never know God. Even the most hardened atheists know about God or at least have developed their perception of what they think God is like. For example, Richard Dawkins quipped in his book “The God Delusion that the God of the Bible (or at least the Old Testament) is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Regardless of how incorrect this assertion may be, it is based on Dawkins use of his mind, albeit to a rather warped end when it comes to who God is and what He is all about. Clearly Dawkins does not know God in the relational sense of the term.

To know God relationally means just that – having a relationship with Him. Having a relationship with someone has a number of important components such as communication, love, respect, commitment, listening, transparency, service, patience and I’m quite sure a number of other factors. When it comes to a relationship with God, those same issues apply. Prayer is our method of communication with God. We are to love God. We are called to fear God meaning we understand He is our Creator. We are committed to our relationship to Him and thus will refrain from chasing after other gods. We listen when He speaks. Our hearts are open to Him and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We serve Him by doing what He has commanded us to do. We are patient, understanding that God has a perfect plan He is enacting to the letter.

As we engage Scripture with our minds, let us never lose sight of the reality that such knowledge must drive us to the feet of our Creator each and every day. The more we know about God the more we should desire to know God. The more theological acute we become, the more it should help us realize we need to also grow more in love with God. For example, as you study a doctrine such as election, it should draw you ever more in love and relationship with the God who chose you to be His adopted son.

I am reminded of those old G.I. Joe cartoons that ended with a public service announcement that said “Knowing is half the battle.” The same can be said in regards to the difference between knowing God and knowing God. Head knowledge is half the battle.

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Trevin Wax – The Beauty of Spiritual Struggle

In North America, we have been trained to assume that if a process does not come easily to us, there must be something wrong. From the way we use technology, to the way we make shopping decisions, and even the way we learn and work, we often assume that struggle is bad. Everything should be intuitive and simple, with clear and easy steps toward achieving your goals or receiving whatever it is you want.

When we apply this mindset to Christianity, we start to assume that if the Christian life ever seems hard, there must be a problem. This, in spite of the many words of Jesus and the apostles that indicate we will face difficulty and obstacles in living according to the gospel.

Christianity and the Runner’s High

It is true that, while sins and struggles may hinder us, they do not define us. The author of Hebrews puts it this way: Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1, CSB). I love the emphasis here on casting off weights, putting struggles and obstacles behind us, untangling ourselves from the sins that would cause us to slip up.

Christians still slip and fall, but we should be best known for running. We are saints who sometimes sin, or racers who sometimes stumble. But sins and struggles no longer define us. The Christian is not defined by the sins of the past, nor the struggle of the present, but by the vision of the future. You see the finish line, and you run to win the prize.

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John Broadus – The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed he thy name. Matthew 6:9

The prayer which thus begins, which for many ages has been called among Christians “the Lord’s Prayer,” is above all eulogium for its sweetness. No wonder this is so! For our Lord presents it as a specimen, as a model of prayer. He said, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking,” saying over the same thing a thousand times. “Be ye not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Thus then do ye pray-this way and not with vain repetitions, not with much speaking, thus do ye pray! He gives it as a sample, as a model. So on a later occasion, recorded in the 11th Chapter of Luke-probably a long time after this, most likely in quite another part of the country, certainly on a later occasion-our Lord was praying himself, and when he ceased, the disciples asked him “Teach us to pray” and he said “When ye pray, say:” and then he gave them substantially the same prayer as the one here before us.

Now it very naturally occurs to many persons that our Lord has given this as a form of prayer; that when we pray we ought always to say these words. I do not object to using these words whenever anyone thinks them appropriate, that they express his sentiments; but it is very certain that our Lord did not give this as a form of prayer. If you will notice a moment I shall prove it. On the second occasion the prayer is very different from that which we here read. Even in the common text, it is different in several expressions; but if you will take any revised text as furnished by any competent scholar of the day, you will find that the prayer on that occasion is quite different. Allow me to repeat it as it is there. You all know the words as they occur here but on that second occasion this is what he said: “Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.”

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Geerhardus Vos – The Ordo Salutis

1. What is understood under the ordo salutis, the “order of salvation”?

The series of acts and steps in which the salvation obtained by Christ is subjectively appropriated by the elect. In Scripture σωτηρία, salus, has a double meaning, one more subjective and one more objective, according to whether it includes the act of saving or of being saved. In the first sense it naturally extends much farther than in the subjective appropriation of salvation. Christ is called σωτηρία not merely because He applies His merits but because He has likewise obtained them. His satisfaction was the principal act of salvation. In the second sense it is narrower in scope and in fact covers what one understands under the designation “soteriology.”

2. What is further contained in the term ordo salutis, “order of salvation”?

That the subjective application of the salvation obtained by Christ does not occur at once or arbitrarily. In the abstract, it would be possible for God to take hold of and relocate each one of the elect into the heaven of glory at a single point in time. He has His good reasons that He did not do this. There are a multiplicity of relationships and conditions to which all the operations of grace have a certain connection. If the change came about all at once, then not a single one of these would enter into the consciousness of the believer, but everything would be thrown together in a chaotic revolution. None of the acts or steps would throw light on the others; the base could not be distinguished from the top or the top from the base. The fullness of God’s works of grace and the rich variety of His acts of salvation would not be prized and appreciated.

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Paul Tripp – 7 Gospel Promises To Embrace Today

You may have heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating again: I’m deeply persuaded that many Christians, myself included, have a big gap in the middle of our gospel theology.

Let me break it down and then apply it in a fresh way:

I think we have a strong understanding of the theology of gospel past – meaning, we trust deeply in the historical sacrifice of Jesus which paid the penalty for our sins.

I also think that we have a strong understanding of the theology of gospel future – meaning, we trust eagerly in the eternal promise of heaven that’s coming.

But there’s something missing in the middle. We either don’t understand, or fail to embrace, the theology of the “now-ism” of the gospel. In other words, we don’t take full advantage of all the benefits of the work of Christ today.

In this post, I want to briefly outline 7 gospel promises that are offered to us right here, right now. It’s my hope that you would save this link or print off the post and come back to these promises regularly!

1. The Gospel Promises Forgiveness Today

Even though we believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, we don’t fully embrace his forgiveness today. Many of us carry around our sins in a metaphorical backpack of regret, bruising our spiritual shoulders and breaking the back of our faith.

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Tim Challies – The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write about ever-present amusements, the proliferation of porn, the rise of sexting, the sense of meaninglessness that so often pervades the minds and spirits of young men.

I love to spend time with young men, to counsel them, and to assure them that this time in their lives has great significance. As we speak, I find a number of common temptations they face while passing through their teens and twenties.

Purposelessness. Purposelessness may be the foremost struggle for young men, the one that feeds so many other vices. I don’t think we, as older Christians, have done well in communicating the purpose of these years. I don’t think we have helped young men see their importance in laying a solid or shaky foundation for the years to come. In the years of youth it may be difficult for young men to know their purpose, to know how best to fill their time. Enthusiasm often outstrips opportunity and ability. They have not yet proven themselves worthy and capable of accepting significant responsibility, so we give them little to do, we entrust to them only the simplest and least significant tasks. We fail to teach them that even today they are building the house they will have to live in for the rest of their lives. With little sense of purpose, they wile away the years instead of embracing them. They squander the years instead of making the most of them.

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W. Robert Godfrey – Can Christians Pray the Imprecations of Psalm 69?

Psalm 69 presents familiar elements of lament and praise, but in a particularly pointed and vivid way. The suffering is poignant, the praise strong, the imprecations severe, and the anticipations of Christ detailed. The psalm is primarily a series of supplications with elaborations explaining the circumstances that have produced these prayers (vv. 1–29). The psalm concludes with a call to praise God as the One who hears and answers prayer (vv. 30–36).

The first prayer is an individual cry for rescue: “Save me, O God!” The psalmist presents his need in the poetic image of a man who is drowning. The waters surround and threaten him so that his life seems at its end (vv. 1–2). Added to the imminence of death is the sense that God has not heard his prayers. He is worn out in calling on God. His misery is highlighted by the irony that although he is drowning, he is thirsty (v. 3). As another poet said, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” The psalmist clarifies the danger he faces by speaking of enemies of great number who hate him for no reason (v. 4 NIV). By “no reason,” he does not mean that the enemies have no allegations against him, but only that they have no valid accusations. Yet the psalmist does acknowledge that he is suffering for his sin against God (v. 5).

The second prayer is for the people of God, that the psalmist’s suffering would not bring shame and confusion to God’s people (v. 6). The psalmist recognizes that he is scorned and abused and that he is alienated even from those closest to him (vv. 7–12). But he knows that he suffers for God’s sake (v. 7) and in His service. He is zealous for God (v. 9) and sincerely repentant for his sins (vv. 10–11), yet he is ridiculed by many, from the exalted judges in the gate to the most contemptible members of society: “I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me” (v. 12). But this abuse is malicious and unfair. He hopes it will not deceive those who love God.

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Richard Greenham – Reading and Understanding the Scriptures

Introduction

Those things that God has joined together no man may sever asunder. Therefore, preaching and reading of the Holy Scriptures, being of God joined together in the work of our salvation, may not be severed asunder. In all sciences, arts, and trades, teachers and masters are ordinarily required for the sound learning and profiting of them. We must be persuaded much more that it is necessary to have guides to go before us in the way to salvation.

That preaching is the most principal means to create and beget faith and repentance in God’s people must be granted (Deu 18:18; 33:10; Lev 10:11; Mal 2:6-7; 2Ch 36:15; Isa 50:4-5, 7-8; 53:1; 55:10-11; 57:19; 58:1; 61:1, 62:6-7; Mat 13:3; 28:19-20; Eph 4:11-14; Rom 10:14-15; 1Co 1:21; 1Pe 1:23-25). And where this ordinary means of salvation fails, the people for the most part perish (Pro 29:18; Hos 4:6; 2Ch 15:13; Isa 56:9-10; Mat 15:14; Luk 11:52). But it is likewise proved that the reading of the Scriptures publicly in the church of God and privately by ourselves is a special and ordinary means, if not to beget, yet to increase faith in us (Deu 6:6; 11:18; Neh 8:8-9; Psa 1:2; Joh 5:39; Acts 13:15; 15:21; Rom 15:14; 2Pe 1:19). The manifold fruit that comes of the reading of the Scriptures prove the same.

Reading rather establishes than derogates from preaching; for none can be profitable hearers of preaching that have not been trained up in reading the Scriptures or hearing them read. Many inconveniences come from the neglect of reading, as that the people cannot tell when a sentence is alleged out of the canonical Scriptures, when out of the Apocrypha; when out of the Scriptures, when out of other writers; or that they cannot discern when he speaks his own or a sentence of the Scripture.

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