Nothing Being Like the Cross; Christ in the Offerings; Propitiation and Substitution

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I was glad to see your-hand and name, and answer you at once. I object altogether to the question. What benefit does the world get from [propitiation]? It puts everything on a false and low ground, as if the end and only object of God's ways—leaving out the claims of His glory and nature in that which angels desire to look into. I agree in general with what you say; but "the Lord's lot" was not for the sins of the people, as guilt, though God's holy and righteous nature was met in respect of their sin. The blood was, sprinkled first, on and before the mercy-seat—God's throne in the most holy place where God dwelt—and the altar of incense. The atonement was for the "holy place... that remaineth among them." " That is for the people," (ver. 15) is in contrast with Aaron and his house. But what was cleansed and hallowed was the holy place, and the altar, no doubt, because of the tabernacle being among them. As meeting God's nature and character, it was the basis of all. (Compare Heb. 9:23-2623It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:23‑26) and 27, 28.) The taking away the sin of the world was to have "a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness"—is the fruit of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Thank _ God! our sins are taken away, too, but that is a different thing from putting away sin.
It is deplorable to make putting away our sins, true and blessed as it is, the end of all. God has been glorified in Him (John 13) in such sort, that Man is in the glory of God. In the scapegoat, God's people were represented in their head—the high priest—and those only who, as such, were identified with him. In the other there was no such representation—a most important principle. Though the people's uncleanness were the occasion of it, it was the Lord's lot, His dwelling-place which was in question, and transgressions not in question, save as the means of its defilement; and the blood was under God's eye as the ground of all God's dealings till, and making the security of, the new heavens and the new earth. (See John 13:31, 3231Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. (John 13:31‑32).) Through the cross, God Himself has been fully glorified, and in virtue of it Christ Himself has entered into the glory of God as Man, though He had it before the world was. (So Phil. 2) Man's sin was absolute, Satan's power over all the world, man's perfection absolute in Christ when absolutely tested, God's righteous judgment against sin displayed as nowhere else, and perfect love to the sinner, His majesty made good. "It became hi n." (Hebrews No doubt our sins were borne too, thank God! that we might have part in the results; but blessed as this is for us, it was really a secondary thing to the basis of the glory of God in the universe, and the bringing all into order, according to what He is fully displayed. So John 17:4, 54I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:4‑5). But in John's gospel there is not a word of the forgiveness of our sins, save as administered by the apostles.
Finally, the people were not represented in the blood on the mercy-seat and holy place; their sins gave occasion to its being done, but the cleansing was of God's dwelling-place, that that should be fit for Him, and what He was, perfectly glorified by Christ's death—to be forever before Him as eternal redemption. The two goats made but one Christ in different aspects. But propitiation alters the whole ground of God's dealings with man. It is the display of God's mercy maintaining God's righteousness, but opening the door to the sinner—the ground on which I preach the gospel, and can say to every sinner, The blood is on the mercy-seat; return to God, and it will be His joy to receive you: it is not necessary for Him to judge you if you so come, for His righteousness is fully glorified, and His love free. This may bring out the evil will in man, but it is then "ye will not come to me that ye might have life." There is death in substitution—He "bore our sins in his own body on the tree"—" died for our sins according to the scriptures": as I have said, the two goats are one Christ.
The word "lost" is not a different word. Christ came to seek sinners, not repentant sinners God leads to repentance. We have the repentant sinner in the third parable—the seeking in the two first. (Luke 15) The "lost" in them has, of course, a physical sense as a figure, but there was no thought of their disposition to return. It is a miserable denial of the gospel; "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." The figure of their being carried clean away, not to be found, may be given, but that forgiveness and redemption are by blood-shedding is stated everywhere—no remission of sins without it. " We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Luke 19:1010For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) is also "lost"—the same word....
Dublin, 1880