The following is written by East-West’s Executive Vice President of Ministry Engagement.
“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” -1 John 2:1b, 2
I am a sinner who has offended the perfect, holy, righteous, almighty God. He cannot overlook my sin and still maintain His character and holiness. As a sinful, unrighteous being I cannot be with this God. I have no way that I can personally correct this problem. I am hopeless and helpless. I am facing eternal pain, punishment, darkness, and torment outside the presence of God. Not only am I doomed for all of eternity but I have the rest of my life to dread that.
How could existence get any worse than this scenario? I submit that the scenario could not be any worse. It is as bad as it can be.
When I direct wrath toward a driver who dangerously cuts me off in traffic, my wrath is not just. I am not a perfect driver who has been put in charge of all drivers in the world. It is not my right to direct wrath at other people.
I am under the wrath of the perfect and almighty God and it is wrath that I deserve. This just Being is acting in absolute justice and holiness and rightness when He directs His wrath toward me. He is not being fickle or unjust or capricious. He is justly focusing wrath on me, all sinners, and sin, because He is utterly holy.
Even the most mature and wise believer does not fathom the holiness of God. He is completely holy and totally separate from all that is profane and all that is common. Angels fly around him for eternity covering their eyes and their feet and say, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” for all of eternity. That is holiness that we do not fully comprehend. He is justly focusing wrath on me, all sinners, and sin, because He is utterly holy.
In His generosity, God did something about this! He gave His Son as the “propitiation” for our sin. Propitiation is a word that means that Jesus appeased the wrath of God and reconciled us to God. My sins and yours and those of the entire 107 billion people who ever existed were placed on the shoulders of Jesus on the cross. The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus as He hung there.
Second Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way: “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus’ most obvious relationship to the Great Commission is that He delivered it to us and commanded us to carry it out. But first Jesus made the Great Commission message a reality by paying for our sins on the cross. Without the propitiation there is no message. There is no Great Commission. There is no hope. There is nothing but waiting for eternal pain.
“Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” -2 Corinthians 15:57
What a great message to carry to the over 3 billion who have no connection with the message—no Christians, no churches, no Bible, no media gospel presentations, and no way to know God. At least until we show up with the message of Jesus’ propitiation!