About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Who Appeased God?


The word "appease," as it applies to human relationships, means "to pacify someone by giving into his or her wishes or demands."   This results in a peaceful co-existence between the one being appeased and the one doing the appeasing.  With this in mind, it only took a couple hundred of years of Christian history before pagan influences crept into Christian theology and practice.  


The concept of appeasing God through some kind of personal sacrifice was one such pagan influence.  Christian monks, for example, would emasculate themselves, in an attempt to rid themselves of sexual desire that they considered to be sin.  They believed this sacrifice would remove God's wrath from their lives.  As a man, it's difficult for me to imagine, especially with such crude carving tools, castrating myself in order to find favour with God. 


Pagans believed that their gods demanded, even needed, to be pampered and pleased.  They bent over backwards, so to speak, to appease their gods.  In King James vernacular, the removal of wrath in any relationship is called "propitiation."  The Biblical, not pagan, meaning of propitiation is a long-forgotten, but most-important, theological word that needs to be re-introduced into our Christian vocabulary. 


One reason why the word "propitiation" has grown out of use is because many people find it impossible to believe a loving God could exhibit wrath, which is a strong, explosive, form of anger.  Jesus thought differently.  John 3:36 says this:


"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them."


God's wrath is real, but, unlike human wrath, it does not emanate from a spirit of retaliation, prejudice, or any other such  sin.  It is based on righteous justice that demands an accounting from the one committing sin.  Justice that does not pass a verdict is not just.  For this reason, it was necessary for God to exercise justice by exhibiting His wrath as means of punishment for sin.  The apostle Paul commented on this in Romans 3:25.  The KJV says it this way.      


"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"


Okay, the KJV rendering of this verse is not easy to grasp.   The NIV puts Romans 3:25 this way.


"God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished."


The NIV's substitution of "sacrifice of atonement" for "propitiation" is just as confusing because many of us do not understand atonement either.


Propitiation, as stated in Romans 3:25, is the process by which God's wrath has been removed from the life of the believer.  This process occurred when Jesus, in an act of voluntary submission to God's justice, suffered God's wrath for our sin.  The cross of Christ, then, was the demonstration of God's justice.  It provided the opportunity for us to be in peaceful co-existence with God, once we, like Jesus, voluntarily submit our lives to God.               


Unlike the monks of old, we cannot improve upon the cross of Christ by means of any kind of personal sacrifice.  We can do nothing to remove God's wrath from our lives.  It was the love of God that has removed the wrath of God from our lives. 


So who appeased God?  God appeased Himself. 


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