Soteriology: The Doctrine of Salvation – Part 10
by Jonathan Hamilton
Let’s dig into these terms a bit deeper: Redemption | Propitiation | Reconciliation
Hebrews 9:23-28 Romans 7:14 Ephesians 2:1-3
The idea of redemption with the particular Greek word, “agorazō,“ is purchasing a slave from a slave market, a common NT picture of redemption. In order to redeem, the redeemer has to take the place of the slave and the ransom price is blood (1 Tim 2:5-6 and Rev. 5:9).
We are redeemed, purchased, by the blood of Christ. Not only are we purchased in the market, we are purchased out of the market, exagorazō (Gal 3:13). He has not only purchased us, He has taken us off the market. We cannot be purchased again. Christ is no slave trader.
Titus 2:14 uses “lytroō,” a different Greek word translated as “redeem.” Christ has not purchased us to perpetuate our slavery. Why does a person usually buy a slave? So he can have a slave. That is not what Christ did. He purchased us to set us free. Christ is no slave master.
Redemption also means release from the judicial debt of sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are dead to sin. You can beat a dead slave but he doesn’t have to serve you anymore. Redemption also sets us free for holy purposes. If the flesh lusts against the spirit, the spirit also lusts against the flesh (Gal 5:17). We can serve God meaningfully. We are free to do that now. An unsaved person can’t do that in any way. But we can.
The extent of redemption
Christ was given as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6). This means all humans.
Why do we need propitiation?
1: We’ve all sinned and failed to meet God’s standard of righteousness. Romans 3:23
[By the way, God not only hates the sin, he also hates the sinner. I know this is not what you’ve heard. Yes, God hates sin. And yes, God loves sinners. But God also hates sinners. And if God were altogether such an one as I, He couldn’t do that. Psalm 5:4-5, 11:4-5; Hosea 9:15]
2: The sinner becomes the object of God’s wrath: John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6
God is in the business of executing justice. And only when justice has been served can we be restored. It is a satisfaction of justice that is required, and that satisfaction is rendered by Christ. When Christ took our guilt through imputation (impute: charge or credit) He became the object of God’s wrath. God exhausted His anger for sin, His wrath, His retribution, on His own Son. These have now been satisfied. Since this is true, we never, ever, ever have to fear the wrath of God. It has been dealt with once for all at the cross.
[NOTE: Sometimes, the innocent get caught in the crossfire of God’s retributive justice; think Daniel, Hanani, Mishael, and Azariah. Think of Tribulation saints. When the water is turned to blood, the saints won’t have anything to drink either. This is one way in which the Church receives more than other peoples of God throughout history, since we will not have to go through the Tribulation (1 Thess 5:1-11). Unlike other peoples of God throughout history, we have been delivered, as Church saints, from every manifestation of the retributive wrath of God. How? By Jesus Christ.]
What’s the source of propitiation?
Ultimately, it is sourced in the love of God (directive source). The effective source is the blood of Christ.
The reason we have to be reconciled to God is because of our hostility toward God, and His toward us. Not only does our sin place us away from God, but additionally, we are rebels who have joined an opposing force (Romans 3:9-18). We don’t care how much damage we do to God in our natural state, in fact, we kind of like the idea of doing so.
What has to happen for us to be reconciled?
1: Christ has to take away sin through redemption, eliminating the cause of hostility.
2: God has to be propitiated through the blood of Christ.
3: God can now put the sinner in a place of nearness where He can offer salvation to him.
All sinners (not just believers) have been reconciled in the sense that God has done something so that He doesn’t have to judge them all right here and now for their sins. 2 Cor. 5:19 speaks to this, and it is clearly talking of unbelievers. (Remember the provision side of salvation. It is provided to all men, but only applied to believers, i.e. the elect.)
4: The sinner who trusts Christ for salvation discovers that his enmity toward God no longer exists.
Remember: It is always the sinning party that must be reconciled, and it is always God who does the reconciling.
In the long run, God is going to reconcile all things that have been broken by sin (internal, social, environmental, etc). This is not the mission of the Church. The mission of the Church is to preach the Gospel, and in fact, the whole counsel of God, and Christians can then take their Christian worldview and live life in light of the Gospel.
When we believe, we experience reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:20).