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Secondly, propitiation is not a turning of the wrath of God into love. The propitiation of the divine wrath, effected in the expiatory work of Christ, is the provision of God’s eternal and unchangeable love, so that through the propitiation of his own wrath that love may realize its purpose in a way that is consonant with and to the glory of the dictates of his holiness. It is one thing to say that the wrathful God is made loving. That would be entirely false. It is another thing to say the wrathful God is loving. That is profoundly true. But it is also true that the wrath by which he is wrathful is propitiated through the cross. This propitiation is the fruit of the divine love that provided it. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). The propitiation is the ground upon which the divine love operates and the channel through which it flows in achieving its end.”

-John Murray, Redemption Accomplished & Applied

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beautiful_tree_at_Akershus_Fortress_(Akershus_Festning)_(29252416734).jpg“This tree is my everlasting salvation. It is my food, a shared banquet. Its roots and the spread of its branches are my own roots and extension. In its shade, as in a breeze, I luxuriate and am cared for. Its shade I take for my resting place; in my flight from oppressive heat it is a source of refreshing dew for me. Its blossoms are my own, my utter delight its fruits, saved from the beginning for my harvest. Food for my hunger and well-spring for my thirst, it is also a covering for my nakedness, with the spirit of life as its leaves. Far from me henceforth the fig leaves!

“Fearful of God, I find it a place of safety; when unsteady, a source of stability. In the face of a struggle, I look to it as a prize; in victory, my trophy. It is the narrow path, the restricted road. It is Jacob’s ladder, the passage of angels, at whose summit the Lord is affixed.  This tree, the plant of immortality, rears from earth to reach as high as heaven, fixing the Lord between heaven and earth. It is the foundation and stabilizer of the universe, undergirding the world that we inhabit. It is the binding force of the world and holds together all the varieties that human life encompasses. It is riveted into a unity by the invisible bonds of the Spirit, so that its connection with God can never be severed.

“Brushing heaven with its uppermost branches, it remains fixed in the earth and, between the two points, its huge hands completely enfold the stirring of the air. As a single whole it penetrates all things and all places.”

-Pseudo-Hippolytus (tr. by B. Ramsay)

Here is a short clip from our recent morning sermon, “The Announcement of the Lamb,” an exposition of John 1:29. For the complete sermon, click here

Sacrificial_Lamb_of_God_006The lamb is a symbol of everything tender, innocent, and wholly dependent. As an urbanite from boyhood, I have only seen lambs occasionally. My last lamb sighting was on a trip in England. While running through the beautiful countryside, some of these absolutely adorable little creatures arrested me on the roadside. The aww-factor was off the charts!

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, when seeing him among the crowds cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Now, the above symbolism rang true for Jesus. He was the epitome of harmless good. He was the man of peace, through and through. But there was much more to the lamb-symbolism for Jesus.  The image God gave in the lamb-symbolism was also one blood and gore, because the Old Testament lamb was raised to be a victim. A sacrificial victim.

Why? Is this just a crude hold-over from primitive, superstitious peoples? Are we moderns right to say we have moved on from these gruesome ideas? Really, is the meaning of the cross still meaningful?

Join us as we consider these issues in our Sunday morning service on May 6. 

 

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