1 John 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Leave Christ as God's salvation out of the Bible, and it is of little account to a guilty, perishing sinner.
I. WE ARE TO STATE THE IMPORT OF THE TERM, OR SHOW YOU WHAT WE ARE TO UNDERSTAND BY PROPITIATION, And here I would appeal to the understanding of all men, whether we have not some other idea of this word than what is contained in repentance, amendment, and mortification. The Jews well understood the meaning of it: they had their eucharistical and expiatory or atoning sacrifices. Now can it reasonably be supposed that the apostles would recede from the well known meaning of this word, especially in their writings to the Jews, and always use it in a metaphorical or figurative sense? Further, the heathens were no strangers to the sense of the word propitiation.
II. TO INQUIRE INTO THE NECESSITY AND IMPORTANCE OF IT. By necessity, I do not mean that God was obliged to provide an atonement for the sin of man. Misery may excite but not oblige to pity, especially where guilt is the spring of it; and ruin the just consequence of apostasy. I know the Socinians suppose the goodness of God will not admit Him to demand or receive a satisfaction. Mercy is abundantly more natural and glorious without a propitiation; but the Scripture asserts the fact, and points out the necessity of it. I stay not to inquire whether God could not have fixed on any other method of recovery. Had we proper apprehensions of the holiness and justice of God when we consider this, and our circumstances as transgressors without saying what He might do, we may well adore Him for what He has done. The necessity of an atonement might be further evinced from the sanction of the law, clothed with the authority of a God who cannot lie; a God as jealous of His glory as of His faithfulness. As to the importance of the blessing of propitiation. Is there anything valuable in the favour and friendship of God?
III. TO POINT OUT SOMETHING OF THE EXCELLENCE AND PERFECTION OF THIS PROPITIATION.
1. That God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
2. The doctrine, worship, and faith of the Old Testament saints were directed to this as the great centre of efficacy and perfection.
3. God the Father, sustaining the character of a Judge, has declared the highest satisfaction in it, by raising His Son from the dead and crowning Him with honour and glory as Mediator.
4. He will receive no confession, petition, or thanksgiving but through His hands. No man can come unto the Father but by Him. Lastly, the virtue of this sacrifice remains the same through all ages.
IV. THAT PROPITIATION IS THE PURE EFFECT OF DIVINE LOVE, AND THE BRIGHTEST DISPLAY OF IT. By love we mean not a foolish, weak passion, but such favour, grace, or mercy as founded in infinite wisdom and in full agreement with all the perfections of God; and that the gift of His Son is the fruit of Divine love stands uncontested. Love is the noble spring of all the good the believer has in time, and all the glory he will possess in eternity; but the gift of God's Son exceeds them all. Application:
1. Sinner, art thou deeply affected with thy guilt, and afraid of the consequences of thy transgressions? Here is a remedy exactly suited to thy ease.
2. Let believers labour, in the strength of grace, after the comfortable evidence of an interest in that which is to be their great support in death and security in judgment. Lastly, let us all take heed that we are not deceived; repentance and reformation without Christ will leave us short of heaven.
Parallel VersesKJV: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.