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Atonement with Representation

In studying the Bible there are things that can be understood conceptually but not fully understood at all. A couple of those for me are “propitiation” and “intercession.” The concept and principle is understood, but the full understanding of God’s gift is too wonderful. Jesus became both for you and for me (I John 2:2; Heb. 2:17). Vine’s defines propitiation as grounded in mercy, provision made for all to be saved. Intercession is to make representation for us to God (Heb. 7:25). The object of His atonement is sin, our sin, and Christ “appeased; rendered favorable” [Guy N. Woods] to conciliate.

Jesus was made like us to reconcile us to God (Heb. 2:17). An earthly body was prepared for Him (Heb. 10:5) that He being made lower than the angels could be tempted as we are, (Heb. 4:15) yet without sin. Having overcome sin and death, He became High Priest going before God in our behalf. Can you fully understand the enormity?

God’s love sent Jesus to atone for our mistakes, not His (I John 4:10) in the greatest gift ever given (John 3:16). He loved us (Rom. 5:8), and expects our love for Him in return (I John 4:11). Important in the understanding of God’s love for us is that in showing proper love to Him, we love one another (I John 4:11-12). What does your love for God look like? How is it seen? If we truly love Him, then we’ll love one another with a “pure heart fervently” (I Pet. 1:22). After all, He loved us fervently.

God “set forth a propitiation,” one who rendered us favorable, through faith (Rom. 3:25). The Heavenly Father did His part—grace (Eph. 2:8)—by and through the blood of Christ. The second part is what makes us favorable before God through obedience—our part—faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:26). Why such a great sacrifice? All have sinned (Rom. 3:23); to deny it is to lie (I John 1:8). Jesus did His part as a propitiation so that all who will do their part in faithful obedience may be saved.

Jesus the Righteous made provision for all (I John 2:22) to be saved (Mark 16:15-16). It is true that not all obey Him, but all should have the opportunity (Rom. 10:16-17). In Christ we have an advocate (I John 2:1), who goes before the Father in our behalf. While the concept is understood, can you really, fully wrap your understanding around such a gift? Salvation to the uttermost is made possible by Him Who ever lives to make representation [intercession] for us to God (Heb. 7:25).

Your ability to understand this fully may surpass mine, but I admit my limited ability to fully comprehend and understand all that God through Christ Jesus has done for me. The great thing is one doesn’t have to fully understand it all to enjoy the blessings. The fact is God provided a wonderful Savior who has made atonement for sin and is ready to represent us before the Father. Why would anyone reject so great salvation?

David Hill

Northeast Church of Christ bulletin September 24, 2023


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