I’ve been reviewing the grand doctrine of propitiation recently, and I came back across a powerful quote from Spurgeon regarding the need for God’s wrath on sin to be appeased. He’s speaking of his pre-conversion thoughts on the matter:
“When I was under the hand of the Holy Spirit, under conviction of sin, I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin, whatever it might be to other people, became to me an intolerable burden. It was not so much that I feared hell, but that I feared sin. I knew myself to be so horribly guilty that I remember feeling that if God did not punish me for sin He ought to do so. I felt that the Judge of all the earth ought to condemn such sin as mine. I sat on the judgment seat, and I condemned myself to perish; for I confessed that had I been God I could have done no other than send such a guilty creature as I was down to the lowest hell. All the while, I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honor of God’s name, and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it would not satisfy my conscience if I could be forgiven unjustly. The sin I had committed must be punished. But then there was the question how God could be just, and yet justify me who had been so guilty. I asked my heart: “How can He be just and yet the justifier?” I was worried and wearied with this question; neither could I see any answer to it. Certainly, I could never have invented an answer which would have satisfied my conscience.” (All of Grace)
The dilemma is a great one. How can a just God pardon the guilty? The answered is provided in Romans 3:21-26. God cleared sinners by condemning His Son. God appeased His own wrath, devising and executing the only plan that would enable Him to be both “just” and “justifier.” Christ died for sin, paying in full its dreaded wage. This is the doctrine of propitiation, the heart of the gospel.
I preached on propitiation in this sermon, probably one of the most important messages I’ve ever preached, or at least one of the most important topics on which I’ve ever preached. I hope it will exalt Christ as you consider it. Grace.