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That though there is no universal atonement, yet in the word there is a warrant given to offer Christ to all mankind, whether elect or reprobate, and a warrant to all freely to receive him, however great sinners they are, or have been.

—Thomas Boston
The Whole Works of Thomas Boston, 455.

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

WHY THE GOD-MAN?

REASON #4:

To Glorify God in Propitiatory Death

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect … to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
— Hebrews 2:17 —

When “Christ came into the world” He came to glorify God the Father, not only in perfect life, but ultimately in propitiatory death. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;” and this He did in love (1 John 4:10). A propitiatory death means a sacrificial death, in substitution on behalf of the guilty, that satisfies the just and righteous wrath of God. A propitiatory death fully satisfies or exhausts every legal demand—all penalties owing to sin’s rebellion. No penalty remains for the guilty when the guilty is substituted by a propitiatory death.

The aim of the glory of God in the substitutionary death of the incarnate Son is underscored in Hebrews 10:5-7, where the pleasure of God is the focus and contrasts are used to highlight this point. “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired” is contrasted with “a body you have prepared for me.” “Burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure” is contrasted to the pleasure that God the Father delighted in according to the pledge of God the Son, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.” Here we get a glimpse of God’s triune intrapersonal communication concerning the incarnation.

In the Gospel of John we see yet another illustration of this same purpose. Christ, being very near His betrayal and crucifixion, cries out to the Father with an eager entreaty that the Father be glorified. Christ openly declares, “for this purpose I have come to this hour” referring to His imminent sacrificial death. It was in response to this request that the Father declared that He had glorified His name and “will glorify it again.” Now, when He says that He will glorify it again, the most immediate pointer is to Jesus’ death. There is no question that God came in humanity “for this purpose” to lay down His life in the only sacrifice capable of satisfying the good and holy demands of God’s justice against humanity’s sin. Christ came not only so that He who is God could die, but that He could glorify God in propitiatory death.

Why the incarnation? Why the God-man? One central reason was to glorify God in propitiatory death.

—Pastor Manny

The death of Christ was a death like no other

The death of Christ was not a casual thing, a fortuitous event; it was agreed unto, and settled in the counsel of God.

It was spoken of by the prophets of the Old Testament. It was typified by the sacrifices of the law, and other things. It was foretold by Christ himself, and was the end of his coming into this world, wherein the great love, both of him and of his Father, is expressed; and is the main article of the Christian faith; so that this came to pass according to the decrees of God, the counsel, and covenant of peace, the will of Christ, and his predictions, and as the accomplishment of the law, and prophets: it was not a natural, but violent death which Christ died; and yet it was both voluntary and necessary; it was but once, and is of an eternal efficacy, and is a sacrifice acceptable to God; it was not for himself, or any sin of his, who knew none, nor for the angels, and their redemption, whose nature he did not assume; but for men, and for their sins. Christ died not merely as an example to them, or only to confirm his doctrines; but as a substitute, in the room and stead of his people; to atone for their sins, and satisfy divine justice; to procure the pardon of them in a way of justice; to take them away, and utterly abolish them; to bring in an everlasting righteousness; to obtain eternal redemption, and bring such nigh to God who were afar off, and that men might live through him now, and have eternal life by him hereafter:

—John Gill
Adapted from Exposition of the Entire Bible (William W. Woodward, 1811).

Great is the importance of Christ’s death

We must all see, on a moment’s reflection, that without a real death there could be no real sacrifice; that without a real death there could be no real resurrection; and that without a real death and real resurrection, the whole of Christianity is a house built on sand, and has no foundation at all.

—J. C. Ryle
Adapted from Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

Christ was in the greatest degree of His humiliation in His dying on the cross, and yet by that, above all other things, His divine glory appears.

Christ’s humiliation was great, in being born in such a low condition, of a poor virgin, and in a stable: His humiliation was great, in being subject to Joseph the carpenter, and Mary His mother, and afterwards living in poverty, so as not to have where to lay His head, and in suffering such manifold and bitter reproaches as He suffered, while He went about preaching and working miracles.

But His humiliation was never so great, as it was in His last sufferings, beginning with His agony in the Garden, till He expired on the cross.

Never was He subject to such ignominy as then; never did He suffer so much pain in His body, or so much sorrow in His soul; never was He in so great an exercise of His condescension, humility, meekness, and patience, as He was in these last sufferings; never was His divine glory and majesty covered with so thick and dark a veil; never did He so empty himself, and make Himself of no reputation, as at this time. And yet never was His divine glory so manifested, by any act of His, as in that act, of yielding Himself up to these sufferings.

When the fruit of it came to appear, and the mystery and ends of it to be unfolded, in the issue of it, then did the glory of it appear; then did it appear, as the most glorious act of Christ that ever He exercised towards the creature.

—Jonathan Edwards
Adapted from Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 2001), 576–577.

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