E30: Atonement and propitiation – Why our lives depend on it

PODCAST: Have you thought about just how amazing the implications of Jesus’ sacrifice are for your personal life?

Atonement vs propitiation – What they mean and why we need it

Atonement. Propitiation. Big words. Immeasurable impact on our lives. Join Milenko and Eunice as they talk about just how monumental Jesus’ sacrifice is, and what that means for us on a personal level.

Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 30: Atonement and propitiation – Why our lives depend on it

This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

Milenko: Welcome to this episode. I’m Milenko and I’m in the studio with Eunice, and Eunice, this is our 30th episode. So, that’s quite a milestone.

Eunice: Yes! Thanks to everyone who’s been following along so far, making this podcast a success. Specially to our regular listeners; I hope the 15 to 20 minutes you spend every week with us on the train or at home doing chores or whatever, I hope that it’s been worthwhile for you and I hope that you’ve been inspired to live and practice God’s word in the normal situations of daily life from these podcasts.

Milenko: Because it’s definitely inspiring for me to talk about these things!

Eunice: Yeah, actually doing this podcast has really helped me be a lot more aware of the many little opportunities that I have in daily life to practice God’s word. Like the … one of the last episodes from Kathy and Julia about comparison, that one was really good for me. It really hit home and I was really thankful for that episode.

Milenko: It was really practical, right? But this episode, the 30th one – what’s the topic?

Eunice: Yeah, today we’re going to talk about a concept that’s really central in our faith – atonement. It’s kind of an old-fashioned word I associate a lot with people committing a crime and having to make things right in that way. What does it actually mean in the Christian sense?

Milenko: As you say, atonement has got to do with a transgression, like a crime or a sin that has to be made right. There’s a price that has to be paid. In the Bible, it’s used for different things, amongst others purification, whether that’s a building or garments or different things, but in the Old Covenant, it was that atonement was made to cover the sins of the people. To take away the guilt of the people, and that was a sacrifice they made. And in the New Covenant, it’s also the same thing. It’s got to do with our sin, and we all need atonement because we’re all sinners.

Eunice: Right. It started out with Adam and Eve when the first sin came into the world and that separated God and man.

Milenko: Exactly. Because God’s creation was perfect. But then sin came into the picture and destroyed that relationship between God and people. And God is furious against sin. He loves people, He loves His creation, but He hates sin. And that’s the theme that goes through the whole Bible. If you see, it’s God’s love for people, God’s longing to have all people saved but His absolute fury against sin. The problem is that we are sinners; we have willfully, all of us have committed sin. If you think that there is a warfare between God and sin and then we have actually, by giving in to our temptations, our lusts, we’ve chosen the side of sin. That’s actually terrible; we’ve actually come into that position where we are in opposition to God. It was the same in the Old Covenant: His people, they wanted to serve Him but they transgressed the law. How could that relationship between God and people be made right again? Because sin was in the way, and the only thing that will appease God is that there is a death over sin.

Eunice: The wages of sin is death …

Milenko: The wages of sin is death, and He gave the people of Israel, He gave them a special opportunity. He said, “I don’t want to destroy you, even though you’ve chosen to sin, but what I’ll do is, I’ll give you an opportunity that you can sacrifice an animal, and that blood of that animal will be the sign that a death has taken place in your stead, and that will atone for your sins. So that will actually pay that debt.” So, there had to be blood; there had to be a death that took place. That was an amazing thing, that people could actually restore their relationship with God to a certain degree. The problem with it of course, was that they kept sinning. So, they had to come with a new sacrifice again and again.

Eunice: Right. There’s another word that sometimes is used in, for example, 1 John 4:10. It says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” So, it’s saying here that Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and that is the difference between, like you said, in the Old Covenant with the animals.

Milenko: There you see, it’s God’s love for us that He sent His own Son to atone for our sins, and to take that, to be that sacrifice.

Eunice: So, one man’s sacrifice and death covers the sin of people forever?

Milenko: It’s amazing, isn’t it? And that could happen because Jesus Himself, He was a human being – it’s written that He came in the form of the man, He was tempted in all things as we are but He never committed sin. So, He was actually blameless. And that was the thing in the Old Covenant, the sacrifice that had to be brought, had to be blameless, had to be …

Eunice: The animals had to be “blemishless” …

Milenko: With no blemish, no …  They had to be a perfect specimen. And Jesus, it says in Hebrews, He learned obedience through what He suffered. So, Jesus actually had to carry out God’s will in order to become that propitiation. So, He had to sacrifice something, and that sacrifice, that was His own will, and because of that, He never sinned. And that made the perfect sacrifice that God could accept. And then Jesus said, “This sacrifice, this I’m making for the whole world, for all people. It’s not just for a few.” It wasn’t for Himself; He didn’t sin. He made it for the world and that includes you and that includes me, and it covers all sins. He was blameless but He took the blame. So He made atonement; He was the propitiation for our sins.

Eunice: What is actually propitiation? Is it the same thing as atonement?

Milenko: There’s a slightly different distinction. With atonement, it’s a covering of the sin, so it’s making up for the sin, whereas the propitiation also includes this deflection, or turning away, of God’s anger.

Eunice: But it wasn’t turned to Jesus or anything, or … I mean, where did the anger go?

Milenko: Well, God’s anger is still there against sin.

Eunice: Right.

Milenko: But because Jesus has paid for our sins, that anger is taken away from us. But what it does mean, is that that anger has to be channeled somewhere else. And we see how it was channeled if you read Isaiah 63, from the beginning; it’s a prophecy about Jesus, how He in His fury trampled the winepress. How He really was full of God’s anger, and that anger that God had was channeled through Jesus against sin itself. And there, sin was condemned in the flesh, it says in Romans 8:3. That was what He did in Jesus. So, here you see this … how Jesus could be that perfect sacrifice. Because He didn’t sin Himself, but God’s righteous anger, that was now directed at the very root of sin.

Eunice: And that’s the main difference between Jesus as a sacrifice and the sacrifice with the animals, right? That the root of sin has been conquered. Before, you said that people had to go back and offer the animals again and again. And what that means for us, is that also as Jesus’ disciples we can learn from Him in that way, right?

Milenko: Exactly, yeah. And we learn to follow Him! Our starting point is that we are separated from God, but when we come to this, that we repent, and we receive Jesus as our Savior, then we receive Him as our atoning sacrifice. And that’s actually the basis of our salvation, is that we believe; we get faith for Jesus as our atoning sacrifice.

Eunice: Start on a clean slate …

Milenko: Start with a clean slate, so it’s actually a huge thing. We start with that forgiveness. It gives us … There’s not a sin we’ve committed that can’t be forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice, and we have to believe that; we have to accept that. And we can start without the burden of guilt weighing us down. That actually, what it says there in Hebrews chapter 12. It says there from verse 1. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” And then I can look forward to getting fellowship with God again. That my spirit can have fellowship with God. That’s what He wants; it’s His dearest wish, and it’s mine as well because now I’m a Christian; now I’m one who wants to follow Jesus.

Eunice: So then, as I learn to do God’s will by being obedient to His word, then I get that fellowship with God as well.

Milenko: Then He can speak to me. Then I can get revelation. I can get inspiration from Him. I can feel His love. I can boldly serve Him without being accused of things I’ve done before. Satan tries; he’s called the accuser, and he tries. But Jesus is there, and He’s standing there and saying, “I’ve paid the price. Those sins, I paid for it; it’s atoned!” So, this atonement is, it’s the very basis. It’s that solid rock where we can start on, and then we start building. Then we can follow Jesus, and we can come into that same life that He had. That anger against sin that God could channel through Him can come into us as well. That we see the sin in us through the Spirit and then through that same Spirit, we also can take up that battle. Then we’re on the side of God, instead of on the side of sin.

Eunice: Because it is not the point with our lives that we keep having to ask for forgiveness like in the Old Covenant, right? That’s not the point of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Milenko: Right, exactly. And then, when we think of what Jesus did, He voluntarily came to earth as a person, as a human being to be this sacrifice. That’s really important: He did it of His own accord. It’s written there in Philippians 2; of Himself, He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant as a Man, and there He humbled Himself unto the death of the cross, and He did that for my sake! So when I get … When I start thinking about that, that He’s actually saved me and saved the world, all those who believe in Him, from certain death by dying Himself, then I’m so filled with gratitude, and it’s this that drives me. It actually says that, the same there in 2 Corinthians 5; I can just read that as well, “For the love of Christ compels us …” So it’s not my love for Christ, but Christ’s love for me; “… the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” Who’s that? That’s me. I’m the one He died for, and now I live, and I should no longer live for myself. The same as Jesus now: “Not my will, but Your will be done.” That gratitude there, that becomes that driving force, that Jesus loved me so much. What else can I do? I have to serve Him, right? That’s my life now. If I fall, that sacrifice was strong enough to cover that as well, but my attitude is to follow Him.

Eunice: So, I hope that hearing this has also awakened that gratitude in you, as it has for me. That gratitude for what Jesus has done. And I think the first thing we have to realize is, that we don’t deserve it. That we have sinned.

Milenko: And we can’t do anything to deserve it. We have to accept it by faith.

Eunice: It takes an acknowledgement of the truth.

Milenko: And that’s the first step – that we acknowledge the truth: where we were, that I need atonement, I am a wretched sinner, and humble myself, ask Jesus to come into my heart and accept Him as that atonement. To really accept that by faith, and then I can start.

Eunice: So, if you’re interested in reading more about atonement and propitiation, we have a few articles on this topic. We have an article called, “What is atonement and why do we need it?” and another one called, “What is propitiation?” So, you can look that up on ActiveChristianity.org. We will also include links to these articles in the episode description.

Milenko: If you’re listening to this podcast on an app like Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can also download the episodes so you can listen to them offline whenever you like without using up data; that’s a good thing! The download button is usually a little circle with a down arrow, in case you didn’t know!

Eunice: Remember that you can always go back to catch up on the episodes that you’ve missed out on and … Hope that you join us again next week.

Milenko: Goodbye everyone!

Watch a 3-part video series on forgiveness here!

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