and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.
[1 John 2:2 NET]
What is “propitiation?” By propitiation we are to understand, an atoning sacrifice acceptable to Jehovah; by which God, or rather the attributes of God are satisfied; whereby God can be favorable; whereby mercy, grace, and pardon can freely flow forth. Now sin, and the law condemning sin, barred out, barred back, the favor of God. They were the opposing obstacle to the love of God. For God cannot, as God, love sin and sinners; therefore, the sin of man, and the holy law of God, the transcript of his infinite and eternal purity barred back, so to speak, the favor of God. It was needful, then, that this barrier should be removed, that a channel might be provided, through which the grace, favor, and mercy of God might flow—in a word, that sin might be blotted out, and that the law might be accomplished and fulfilled in all its strict requirements, that God “might be just,” retaining every righteous attribute, not sacrificing one of his holy perfections—and yet, though just, perfectly just, “the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.”
But how was this to be effected? No seraph, no bright angel could ever have devised a way. It lay locked up in the bosom of the Three-One God from everlasting; and that was, that the only-begotten Son of God, who lay in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person,” should become a bleeding Lamb, “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world;” that he should take into union with his own divine Person a human nature, “the flesh and blood of the children,” pure, spotless, and holy, and offer up that nature, that body which God prepared for him, a holy sacrifice. When he came into the world, the sacrifice began; and every holy thought, every holy word, and every holy action, in suffering and performing, that passed through the heart, dropped from the lips, or was performed by the hands of the only-begotten Son of God, when he was upon earth, was part of that sacrifice.
But the grand consummation of it (the offering up of that body especially) was, when it was nailed to the accursed tree, and blood was shed to put away sin. Now, this is the atoning sacrifice, the redemption, the sacrifice, the way, the only way, whereby sin is expiated; the way, the only way, whereby sin is pardoned.
But in order that this blessed and atoning sacrifice may pass over to us; that its value, validity, efficacy, and blessedness may be felt in our consciences, there must be that wrought in our souls whereby it is embraced. The only salvation for our souls is the atoning sacrifice made by Jesus upon Calvary’s tree. There is no other sacrifice for sin but that. But how is that to pass into our hearts? How is the efficacy of this atoning sacrifice to be made personally ours? It is by faith. Does not the Holy Spirit declare this by the mouth of the Apostle? He says, “Whom God has set forth to be a atoning sacrifice through faith in his blood.”
Now, this is the turning point in the soul’s salvation. This is the grand point to have decided in a man’s conscience before God. When, by living faith, he is enabled to see the atoning sacrifice through the blood of the Lamb, to feel his very heart and soul going out after, and leaning upon, and feeling a measure of solid rest and peace in the blood of the sacrifice offered upon Calvary—then he begins to receive into his conscience a measure of the favor and grace of the Lord God Almighty.