Our Propitiation

by Mike Ratliff

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

I had a good friend stop by my office today to offer his condolences and comfort me with the loss of my dad. It was much appreciated. However, he walked in just as I was reading a comment I had just received on last night’s post The Atonement of Christ. WordPress had automatically flagged the comment as spam and it was by chance that I saw that there was a comment in that queue. He asked why the inscrutable look on my face when he had first came in. I let him read the comment. He shuddered and looked puzzled for about 30 seconds or so. I asked, “Does your brain hurt yet?” His response nailed it. He said, “Well, that is certainly a different spirit…” He then asked how often I get “comments” or “emails” like that (I will deal with it below). I told him that I usually get at least one like that a day when I teach things about the Atonement or the Gospel, but there are times when they just flood it. I find it interesting that they often are especially virulent when I am dealing with things in the midst of the fiery trials God has me in at that time. I will never forget Steve Lawson’s statement during his sermon at the Shepherd’s Conference this year that the closer we get to the front lines in our obedience in ministry the more we will find ourselves in the crosshairs of our enemy in the battle for the truth. God will allow him to attack us in order to humble us so that we can be usable clay vessels in the hands of our Lord (paraphrase). 

As you read the comment from the anonymous commenter below please remember that this is in response to my post The Atonement of Christ. What this tells us is that the move into “a new type of Christianity” in line with Brian McLaren’s latest book is based entirely in the realm of the unbiblical. It is not of God because it is extra-biblical. Here is the comment (pardon the profanity):

crap mike(no suck up from me).

we are not disputing that christ died for our sins. what we are disputing is your concept of sin which led to the wrong interpretation of the purpose of christ death.

first and foremost, there is nothing sinful about man’s humanity – which is condemned by your theology. we are what we are because we are born the way we are so, the vicarious death of jesus is an insult to god for creating mankind.

no, jesus was not a substitute for our oersonal guilt or failures in life.

the sin of the bile is the sin of hegemony rule, both religious and secular.

christ death denotes the breaking from the power of hegemony rule that bears down on the people with their rigid laws.

salvation in this case is to change the BODY of this rule = which is also depicted by his resurrection

when you don’t see that, mike, you build on the idolatry of religious hegemony and became the anti christ.

now i know you are not going to like what i have written which is expected because, it blows your theology to kingdom come.

but hey, the change is coming and you wont be able to stop the HANDS OF GOD.

The anonymous commenter followed that up with this one:

btw, that word was for you

let the blood of these people you mislead be on your hands – according to the book of Ezekiel.

Just to be certain what I was dealing with here, I looked up “hegemony” in my Oxford New Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus. Hegemony is simply another word for “leadership.” This person is a sold out disciple of Brian McLaren my brethren and this is the mindset of those who claim that they are taking Christianity away from those of us who have messed it up with our doctrines, et cetera. As I said in The Atonement of Christ, this paradigm shift from God’s biblical doctrines to these doctrines of demons is only possible with rejection of Sola Scriptura. Therefore, they continually attack God’s absolute truth. They are like the one who owns them. He is a liar and a murderer and these people are spiritually blind and deceived into following their pied piper right into the Lake of Fire.

You may ask, “How can I be so blunt about this?” or “How can it be so certain that these people are not Christians?” They reject the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the necessity of Him being our Propitiation before God the Father. However, before we look at the relevant passages from God’s Word about this, please notice in the comment above that these people reject what Ephesians 2:1-10 clearly says, especially v1, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.” I ask you my brethren, isn’t it blatantly apparent to the eyes that see and the ears that hear God’s truth that only servants of our enemy would echo his vile lies against man’s desperate need for a Saviour and then attempt to confuse everyone with lies about the Atonement which is God’s very plan for the redemption of His People? Notice also, that this person assumes that it is perfectly legitimate to counter Biblical proof with the smoke and mirrors of the Humpty Dumpty language of humanism disguised as a form of Christianity. Before I begin the study on our Propitiation, I challenge the writer of these two comments to try again, but be warned, if you continue to do so anonymously, your comments will continue to be rejected. Use your real name and your real email address or forget it. Also, I suggest that you read the rules for commenting here before you do so. Either follow those rules or your comments go in the trash.

The following definition is also from my Oxford New Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus:

propitiate v.  appease (an offended person, etc.) propitiation n.

In other words, propitiation is an acceptable sacrifice that appeases or satisfies one who is righteously offended.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

In v24 above the words “and are justified” is the word δικαιουμενοι, which in this context is describing the declaration of “all who believe” not guilty but righteous by God, the divine Judge. Not one of them deserved it for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but because they believe God, believe the Gospel, believe that Christ died in their place on the Cross, these are the ones δικαιουμενοι as a gift, δωρεαν, or freely, by His grace, τη αυτου χαριτι, through the redemption, δια της απολυτρωσεως, that is in Christ Jesus, της εν χριστω ιησου. Our salvation is undeserved. It is a gift by God’s χαριτι, grace. Notice that this gift is given through the απολυτρωσεως or redemption. What is this? This redemption, this απολυτρωσεως, is speaking of those God is saving by their being purchased or redeemed. This is their salvation. They were dead in their trespasses and sins, but God had mercy on them and, by His grace, He justified them through this wonderful απολυτρωσεως. What was the acceptable price? What was the price paid that satisfied God on their behalf? This απολυτρωσεως is in Christ Jesus Himself, whom God προεθετο or put forward as ιλαστηριον or propitiation.

Ιλαστηριον is an interesting word. It is pronounced as hilastērion. It is the Greek word for the mercy seat and is used to refer to the lid or covering of the Ark of the Covenant made of pure gold. It was on this lid or mercy seat that the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of the expiatory sacrifices on the great Day of Atonement. It is where the Lord promised to meet His people (Ex. 25:17, 22; 29:42; 30:36; Lev. 16:2, 14, 15). Paul’s usage here in v25 of Romans 3 asserts that Christ was the true mercy seat, the antitype of the cover of the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:5). Therefore, hilastērion means a place of conciliation and expiation; an altar or place of sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus Christ is clearly revealed in Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5 as the hilastērion because He is designated not only as the place where the sinner deposits his sin, but He Himself is the means of expiation. He is not like the high priest of the Old Testament whose expiation of the people was accomplished through the blood of another and not his own (Hebrews 9:25).

Again, as we see in v25, our απολυτρωσεως is through Jesus Christ whom God put forth as a ιλαστηριον through the faith in His shed blood, δια πιστεως εν τω αυτου αιματι. This is very clear my brethren and so let us praise our God from grateful hearts for the propititation put forth for our redemption which is Christ Himself by His blood to be received by faith.

My brethren, we all find ourselves in the fires of sanctification if we truly belong to the Lord. Tests and trials come upon us and sometimes it seems as if our prayers hit a bronze gate that is locked tight and we are on our own. However, be encouraged. I would like to share with you a devotional I read this evening from Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening for March 29th.

Prayer sometimes tarrieth, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King cometh forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeketh. The Lord, when He hath given great faith, has been known to try it by long delayings. He has suffered His servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased Him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to His own pleasure. If it pleases Him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall He not do as He wills with His own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials: God’s long-dated bills will be punctually honoured; we must not suffer Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers-they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every prayer is recorded. Tried believer, thy Lord hath a tear-bottle in which the costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which thy holy groanings are numbered. By-and-by, thy suit shall prevail. Canst thou not be content to wait a little? Will not thy Lord’s time be better than thy time? By-and-by He will comfortably appear, to thy soul’s joy, and make thee put away the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition. – C.H. Spurgeon

Therefore, when we find ourselves continually dealing with those who hate God’s truth yet insist that they are the ones who possess it while revealing they know nothing of it by their misuse of God’s Word, then we must take that to throne of grace. We must seek God and His truth. I wrote a post not long ago about how God has designed our spiritual growth. It is through prayer, meditation, and trials. When our trials start stacking up and we find the enemy is pummeling us even as we are grieving over the loss of parent, for instance, then we must understand that God has asked Satan, “Have you considered my servant…?” Put your name there. Be encouraged my brethren, look at the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ and rejoice that He is our propitiation for, in these things, we are declared righteous by God and our place in Heaven with our Lord forever is secure for our sins were atoned for at the Cross.

Soli Deo Gloria!

21 thoughts on “Our Propitiation

  1. Thank you Mike for what is becoming daily encouragement for me! I listened to that message by Steve Lawson about Job just this morning….still chewing on it. I’m almost at a lack of words to describe it, stunning, amazing. Wow. I don’t think I will ever look at trials the same again. Didn’t he quote Spurgeon as saying that God’s sovereignty was the pillow that he laid his head on? How true and marvelous and wonderful and I could go on and on and on.
    This may be off topic, but did you hear Al Mohler preach “No little sermons, no little people” also from the Shepherd’s Conference? We are all born blind and only God can give sight. That’s one of the reasons we worship and praise Him, now and forever.
    God’s Word is such a treasure and so are the true preachers and teachers of it! Take heart, brother, stand firm! Count it all joy… :o)


  2. Angie, You are most welcome my sister in Christ. When I heard Steve Lawson preach that it was as if I was speared by God and pinned to this chair. Yes, it was amazing. I am glad I got to hear those wonderful, encouraging messages before losing my dad. Those wolves who are making all the noise and attempting to discourage us are nothing in light of God’s Sovereignty. That and his promises are deep comfort to me and I am determined to stand firm, counting it all joy. Soon, we will be with our Lord forever. That is our blessed hope and I am determined to finish well, all for God’s glory!


  3. Hi again Mike. All I can say is, does this person have a totally different Bible to us???

    I really don’t get get it – until I read 2 Corinthians 4:4 – that the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!

    That is indeed a sobering verse – especially when you consider these attacks – that this heretical twisting of scripture is coming from those who profess to be believers!!


  4. Sandra, yes, it is quite sad, but I am quite pleased that your reaction to it was nearly identical to mine and some other friends. God is good and gives His people the mind of Christ and as we mature in Him we can spot these things very easily while those in the fog of unbelief refuse to believe the truth is the truth.


  5. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (King James Version)

    14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    This is why we servants;

    2 Timothy 2:24-30 (King James Version)

    24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

    25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

    26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

    Anything other than this (Holy Spirit led) only gives the enemy our flesh and thier (the lost) flesh to work with and that is where the enemy and his children operate.

    Mike keep up your Spirit led teaching while being gentle to all men in spite of thier flesh.


  6. Thanks Brent!

    I agree with you completely hence the offer to debate this person. However, I will also contend earnestly for the faith against those who attempt to deceive the brethren. We must balance this. Yes, be gentle with those who disagree and pray that God leads them to repentance, but when they reject all truth and go the heresy route then we must warn the brethren about that.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  7. I can see how that made your brain hurt. Wow.

    It’s hard for me to understand sometimes how people can think that way, and it causes discouragement…then I’m reminded that you can’t know the truth unless God Himself intervenes and shows it to you when He saves you.


  8. Hi Mike,
    It is sad to read what the anonymous commentor wrote. It is sad to see the delusions that men embrace and seem to want. It really is all such silly writing that it is a stretch to even take this person that attempted to attack you seriously. The enemy really does pervert the rational thinking processes of those who refuse to obey and know the truth of God as how He has revealed Himself in His word.
    We appreciate all you do and the stand for the pure truth that you take. I thank Him for the strength He gives to us so we can not be easily moved by such attacks as this one.
    God bless you this day!


  9. Hey everyone, it’s great to see your use of Paul’s letters in refuting these idolaters but let us not forget: these guys do not believe that Paul’s letters are inspired; therefore, they are not useful for us today. It is impossible to argue theology with the emergents because they do not believe that the New Testament, aside from Jesus’ own words, is applicable to us.

    Excellent article, Mike. No offense, but it’s just basic Christian doctrine — Christianity 101. Kinda scary that so many “Christians” wouldn’t understand any of what you wrote.


  10. Thank you Carol, yes, it is Christianity 101, but we are at a stage in the Church that is biblically ignorant. All believers should know this, but they don’t so we must teach them the truth so that the enemy cannot deceive.


  11. If I ever fail to recognize my sin then I am to be most pitied. It cost the Father everything to cover each and every sin of mine and for this I praise Him and thank Him daily. Only at the cross of our beloved Lord and Savior can we find forgiveness and healing. But we must call it what it is!

    Thank you, Mike! God bless you.


  12. As we are told in Genesis, the serpent said, “…hath God said…”
    It is always an amazment to me how some can read the very same scriptures we do, and yet come away with a totally different interpretation. One reason may be that the literal truth of God’s Word is a mirror, and makes them uncomfortable. Therefore, they “re-interpret” it to mean something that is less or none self-judging, and keeps them unaware of their own sin nature, and thus their need for propitiation.
    Well done Mike, keep up the good work. And God bless. The negative and scathing comments are your proof that you’re making the enemy nervous.


  13. Read John 8 and 9 and read what Jesus experienced with the attacks of the unbelieving Jews of His time. They sound much the same using denial, intimidation, scorn, mockery, twisting of the scriptures, you name it. It is is the same now as then because the evil one keeps using the same old tactics. And, unfortunately, he always has his victims.

    Mike, be courageous. Please keep up the good work. Your tone is gracious and your wisdom, comfort and encouragement are really helping fellow believers. Thank you.


  14. Another fine article, Mike!
    I wonder how many of your readers are now going through just such trials and sanctification…since here is encouragement for such a time as this!


  15. Amen and thank you Julie! I pray each day that God would use me for His glory and that Christ’s character be manifest through me to His Church. If you and all those who read this posts are blessed and encouraged then God be praised for it is His good work. I am nothing, He is everything.


  16. Thank you Kathy! I think God is preparing His people through these trials. What that is I do not know, but it will be for His glory and what a privilege it is to be part of that!


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