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THE ANGER OF GOD AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, August 25, 2002


"Being justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).


This verse lies in the very heart of the Book of Romans. It clearly sets forth and explains justification, redemption, and propitiation "through faith in his [Christ's] blood." These two verses are among the strongest in the Book of Romans. They ought to be meditated on, thought over carefully, by every lost sinner. Do you have saving faith in the Blood of Jesus?

To help you think about the great truths in these verses I will ask three questions, and then answer them:

1. Is "propitiation" the appeasement of an angry God?

2. Is "through faith in his blood" the correct translation?

3. Are justification, redemption, and propitiation received through faith in the Blood of Jesus?

I. First, is "propitiation" the appeasement of an angry God?

The Greek word "hilasterion" is translated here as "propitiation." The Scofield note on this word gives the incorrect view of Charles G. Finney when it says, "There is no thought in propitiation of placating a vengeful God, but of doing right by His holy law and thus making it possible for Him righteously to show mercy." Finney's false idea of propitiation is repeated in the note on "righteousness" in verse 26. The atonement is presented as Christ obeying the law and thus making it possible for God to show mercy. But Finney's view, presented in the Scofield note, is unscriptural. It is called the "governmental theory" of the atonement. The governmental theory, held by Finney and the Scofield Bible, teaches that God does not need to be propitiated. Christ died only to do "right by his holy law" (Scofield).

But Isaiah 53:10-11 gives the Biblical explanation of propitiation:

"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his [Christ's] soul an offering for sin…He [God the Father] shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…" (Isaiah 53:10-11).

The word "hilasterion" is translated as "propitiation" in our text. Theologian William G. T. Shedd tells us that the word means this: "By the suffering of the sinner's atoning substitute [Jesus], the divine wrath at sin is propitiated, and as a consequence of this propitiation the punishment due to sin is released or not inflicted upon the transgressor" (Wm. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1889, volume II, p. 391). Dr. Henry C. Thiessen says, "The New Testament represents Christ's death as appeasing God's wrath. Paul says, God set Him forth as a 'propitiatory' sacrifice (Romans 3:25)… By His death Christ appeased God's holy wrath against sin" (H. C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949, pp. 326-327).

I particularly like John Wesley's exposition of the word "propitiation" in Romans 3:25. Wesley says:

Propitiation - to appease an offended God. But if, as some teach, God was never offended, there was no need for this propitiation. And so Christ died in vain! (John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, volume II, Romans to Revelation, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, note on Romans 3:25).

The Bible says:

"When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…" (Romans 5:10).

We were enemies of God. God saw us as enemies of Him. God had to be reconciled. As Strong puts it, "While we were enemies - 'when God was hostile toward us' - reconciliation is therefore the removal of God's wrath toward man" (Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology, Judson Press, 1985 reprint of the 1907 edition, p. 719). Strong goes on to show that the death of Christ reconciles God to us, not us to God, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, not Christ (ibid.).

Simply stated, Romans 5:10 teaches that God considers you His enemy. God's anger hangs over you. God must be reconciled or He will punish you as His enemy. Right now God is your enemy. God is against you because of your sin. Nothing that you do can turn away the anger that God has toward you. Christ's Blood alone can do that.

"For he [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (II Corinthians 5:21).

Christ was punished by God on the Cross, as a sin offering. The anger of God was poured out on Jesus to make possible God's reconciliation to you. God could never have been reconciled to a sinner like you unless Jesus had been punished by God on the Cross.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ "is the propitiation for our sins" (I John 2:2).  God poured out His anger and judgment on His own Son, on the Cross, to make it possible for Him to be reconciled to you.

"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…" (Isaiah 53:10-11).

"Propitiation" is the appeasement of the wrath of God by the Blood of Jesus. God's anger against you is quieted by the Blood of Jesus. God's rage and fury against you can only be calmed by the Blood of Christ. The furious rage of God against you can only be tranquilized by the satisfying payment of Jesus' Blood.

"…Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25).

So, we ask, "Is 'propitiation' the appeasement of God's wrath?" - And our answer is, "Yes it is."

Adam committed the greatest criminal act in human history. As a result, God justly turned His back on Adam's race, humanity as a whole. God now remains man's judge. The only thing a human being can expect to receive from God is punishment. Man is an incorrigible criminal in the sight of God. God must be reconciled before He can turn to man in acceptance. God could only be reconciled by the vicarious work of Christ on the Cross, in which Christ became the substitute for our sins. The Bible says, "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5). J. Oliver Buswell puts it this way: "Christ died for our sins in our place as our substitute" (J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., Ph.D., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, Zondervan, 1971, p. 72).

Yes, propitiation is the appeasement of the wrath of God by the Blood of Jesus. God's rage and fury against you for your sin can only be calmed by the satisfying Blood of Christ.

"…Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

II. Is "through faith in his blood" the correct translation?

Several of the modern translations make Romans 3:25 unclear. For instance, the NASV translates it this way:

"Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith…" (Romans 3:25).

The New King James Version translates it as,

"Whom God set forth as a propitiation by his blood, through faith…" (Romans 3:25).

This may make some people wonder if the KJV was correct in translating the verse as

"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…" (Romans 3:25).

I do not claim to be an expert in Greek, but I looked the verse up in the Interlinear Greek English New Testament by George Ricker Berry (Baker, 1981). I found that the Greek words of the text are

     dia          tays        pisteos      en      toi autou haimati!
(through)    (article)     (faith)      (in)         (his blood)

This is literally translated, word for word, by George Ricker Berry, as "through faith in his blood." It would be difficult to find greater experts on Greek than Luther or Calvin, yet both of those great scholars translated the verse exactly as you find it translated in the King James Bible.

Luther says:

He [God] forgives them to show forth His righteousness and justification of sinners which they receive through faith in his (Christ's) blood (Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, Kregel Publications, 1976, pp. 78-79).

John Calvin gives these comments:

A propitiation through faith in his blood. I prefer thus literally to retain the language of Paul; for it seems indeed to me that he intended, by one single sentence, to declare that God is propitious to us as soon as we have our trust resting on the blood of Christ; for by faith we come to the possession of this benefit (John Calvin, Commentary on Romans, Baker Book House, 1998, p. 143).

Again, it would be difficult today to find a greater Greek scholar than Spurgeon's predecessor, John Gill, who gave these comments:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. Redemption by Christ is here further explained, by his being "a propitiation"…Christ is the propitiation to God for sin, which must be understood of his making satisfaction to divine justice…through faith in his blood. The "blood" of Christ is that, by which Christ is the propitiation; for without the shedding of that blood, there is no redemption, no peace, no reconciliation, or remission of sin; and "faith" in his blood is the means by which persons become partakers of the benefits of his propitiation, such as peace, pardon, atonement, justification, and adoption (John Gill, Commentary on Romans; The John Gill Library, Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000).

Thus, according to Luther, Calvin, Gill and George Ricker Berry, the KJV translates Romans 3:25 both literally and accurately.

"Being justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

Clearly, in the Bible, the word propitiation speaks of the appeasement of God's wrath. Plainly "through faith in his blood" is the correct and literal translation of what the Apostle wrote.

III. But, thirdly, are justification, redemption, and propitiation
received through faith in the Blood of Jesus?

If they aren't, then I don't know how these marks of salvation are received. I know they are not "infused" into a person through the "sacraments" of "baptism" or "communion," as the Roman Catholics teach. I know that the marks of salvation are not received by "infusions" of the Holy Spirit, as Pentecostals often say. I know that the marks of salvation do not come by learning a catechism, nor by learning a few Bible verses, nor by memorizing the "plan of salvation." I know that these salvation marks cannot be received by merely "going forward," nor can anyone receive them by chanting a "sinner's prayer." And the Bible does not tell a ruined, helpless, dead sinner that he can merit these marks of salvation by making Christ the Lord of his life, because he has no life. Only death reigns within him! He is full of death (Ephesians 2:1,5), and as putrid as a decaying corpse (Isaiah 1:6).

But Jesus can call the dead forth from the grave. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Already his body stank (cf. John 11:39). But Jesus called him with a loud voice:

"Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43).

"And he that was dead came forth" (John 11:44).

When Jesus calls you, you can come out of death, out of ruin and decay. Then you will be able to do the only thing necessary to receive the blessed marks of salvation,

"through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25).

Today these words are mistranslated, the Blood is downgraded, and many believe that the Bible is wrong when it lists that "blood of sprinkling" as one of the things in Heaven (ref. Hebrews 12:24). Why? The answer is simple: they are either still bound in death, in the darkness of the tomb, or they are confused by those who are, usually the former. Bound up in the death of nature's night, they have no faith in the "blood of sprinkling" in Heaven. Yes, and they have no real faith in the physical body of Christ, raised flesh and bone, bearing five wounds, into the Third Heaven. Upon careful examination, you will find that they have no faith in His wounds, no faith in His resurrected flesh - and bones. They have merely believed in a spirit, and so they have no more faith than a Gnostic, or a Christian Scientist - or a Unitarian! To Hell they must go, for they have no saving faith in any part of Christ - not His body and not His Blood! They have believed in nothing but a ghostly Christ (cf. Luke 24:37-39). A Gnostic Christ can save no one. A spirit-Christ can forgive no sin, for a spirit has no flesh, no crucifixion-marks - and no Blood! Away with ghosts! We need the resurrected Christ! We need the resurrected wounds! We need the translated Blood!

When Paul told the jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," he was not telling the man to believe on a dead body or a shadowy spirit. He was telling that man to believe on the flesh, and bones, and Blood of the resurrected Christ --the man Christ Jesus - Son of God and Son of man. Only the literal Body and the literal Blood can wash away literal sins from literal people who are headed for literal fire in a literal Hell! Only literal Blood can save you from that literal fire!

"Being justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

I end this sermon by quoting great Spurgeon, prince of preachers, from his sermon, "Christ Set Forth as a Propitiation":

Brethren, we must show forth Christ in prayer, and then God will look upon our prayers. The Methodist cry which was once heard at the prayer-meeting when a poor Methodist brother could not go on, and someone at the far end of the chapel cried out, "Plead the blood, brother, plead the blood," - that old Methodist cry has force and power in it, - "plead the blood." God cannot, cannot, cannot resist the cry of the blood of Christ. Abel's blood demanded vengeance, and it had it; Christ's blood demands pardons and shall have it, must have it; our God cannot be deaf to the cry of his own Son's blood; and if you and I and all of us together can plead the precious blood of Christ…[we will see Him answer our prayers].

Yet once again, and here with all affectionate earnestness, I come to plead personally with each of you. Soul, art thou this [evening] sick of self and longing to be saved; do thy sins condemn thee; do thy lusts accuse thee; does thy conscience flog thee? Come I pray you and obey the word of God which I utter in your hearing; come and take Christ and show Christ's blood to God; if you cannot come before God with any feelings, come with Christ in your hands. "Can I trust Christ?" someone says. Can you? Why you are commanded to do it! "But," "but," someone says. Away with your "buts"! So God thinks the precious blood to be a sufficient price, and you think it is not? Oh fool, and slow of heart, how darest thou to think that God has not set forth enough but thou must add to it. Instead of this…whoever you are, whatever sin you have committed, entrust your soul with Christ; and God declares that your sins are put away -propitiated.

"God hath set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." I ask you - look to Christ bleeding, to Christ sweating drops of blood, Christ whipped, Christ nailed to the Cross, and if you believe in Christ's blood he is the propitiation of your sins (C. H. Spurgeon, "Christ Set Forth to be a Propitiation," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume seven, pp. 201-208).

Just as I am, without one plea;
But that Thy Blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
   ("Just As I Am" by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

As John Calvin tells us:

God is propitious to us as soon as we have our trust resting on
the blood of Christ (comment on Romans 3:25).


(END OF SERMON)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Romans 3:21-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Saved by the Blood of the Crucified One" (by S. J. Henderson, 19th century).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE ANGER OF GOD AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Being justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

I.   Is "propitiation" the appeasement of an angry God?
Isaiah 53:10-11; Romans 5:10; II Corinthians 5:21;
I John 2:2; Isaiah 53:5.

II.  Is "through faith in his blood" the correct translation?
Romans 3:25.

III. Are justification, redemption, and propitiation received
through faith in the Blood of Jesus? Ephesians 2:1,5;
Isaiah 1:6; John 11:39,43-44; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 12:24;
Luke 24:37-39.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."