A Study of Luke 18:13
“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful (propitious) to me a sinner.”
The word propitiation means to appease divine wrath, and render satisfaction. To be propitious, or to be merciful. Our dear Lord, two thousand years ago, actually did appease the frowning Justice of God, and render satisfaction for His elect. He died the death of the transgressor to fulfill its just demands. Blessed be His name, He did it for His people because there was no way they could do it for themselves. Again, He did this gracious work two thousand years ago. Our believing it does not establish it. It is already done, and our believing (and faith is God’s own gift to us) it is God’s way of comforting us and causing us to magnify His own grace by the manifestation of this sweet and gracious work.
We know the text the worldly religionists will go to:
“And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
(I John 2:2)
Immediately they jump onto the words “also for the sins of the whole world,” because they do not know what a propitiation is!
One thing is for certain, that if Christ is the propitiation for everyone on earth, then He has already satisfied the just demands of the law, and appeased the wrath of God against everyone on earth, and therefore everyone on earth is saved and safe!
The phrase “the whole world” is certainly no universally all inclusive phrase. Read this passage written by this same apostle:
“And WE know that WE ARE OF GOD, and the WHOLE WORLD lieth in wickedness”
(I John 5:19)
Need we point out that the “WE” are a different group of people than the “whole world” in this text?
Christ Jesus is our Advocate with the Father, and as such He alone stands as the Propitiation of our sins. All that He did while on earth was to this very end. His standing before the Father for us is the crowning glory of our salvation. John wrote:
“Herein IS LOVE, not that we loved God (for we didn’t, and can’t in the flesh), but that HE LOVED US, and sent HIS SON to be the PROPITIATION FOR OUR sins.”
(I John 4:10)
If only we could always believe and rest in this!
How comfortable would our souls be!
But in those times when God grants us to recall it, believe it, and rest in it, it is the Gospel to our burdened souls.
How gracious is our Lord not to lay this task upon our fickled, feeble faith, repentance, or works!
He made this doctrine a stable finished one – two thousand years ago!
“It is finished!”
This is referred to as “the accomplishment of Christ on the cross.”
By Stanley C. Phillips