Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


    It occurs three times in the Authorized Version.
    1. Hilasmos - noun meaning "that which propitiates, " 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10.
    2. Hilasterion - "appeasing, having expiatory forces, " Heb. 9:5; Rom. 3:25.
      "whom God set forth to be a mercy seat" (place of propitiation).
    3. Hilaskomai - verb, "to be propitiated," Lk. 18:13; Heb. 2:17.
    1. Dictionary meaning - to appease or to render favorable; to dispose to kindness one that is offended.
    2. The Bible meaning - it does not mean to appease. Rom. 3:21: "The right­eousness of God (apart from the law) is manifested."
      1. Propitiation has 1:0 do with the satisfaction of God's righteousness and judgment. If God demands the death of the sinner, and if what Christ did only appeased God, God has lowered the standard. PROPITIATION INVOLVES THE JUSTICE OF GOD.
      2. Propitiation demands a sacrifice or substitute.
        A satisfaction had to be made and the publican asked God for mercy on the basis that he had offered the sacrifice of blood in the temple. Luke 18:13 reads in the ASV margin: "God, be merciful to me, the sinner."

        Christ was set forth as a propitiation to show that God was just in forgiving the Old Testament saints. The death of the Lord answered all the Divine requirements and guarantees the separation of the sin from the sinner, Rom. 3:25.
      3. What did the mercy seat do? Hebrews 9:11-15
        1. The ark of the covenant was a box of acacia wood, 3 3/4 feet by 2 1/4 feet. It contained (Dt. 10:1-5) the two tables of the law, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, Heb. 9:4.
        2. The lid of the ark was called kapporeth (associated with the word kaphar). Kapporeth means the place of covering. The mercy seat was the place of covering, for there the sacrificial blood was sprinkled (Lev. 16:13-14). The golden lid of the ark (Ex. 25:17) was a Divine mercy seat because in Divine right­eousness (gold) it covered the broken law from the eyes of the cherubim (the protectors of the glory of God, Ex. 25:18-20; Ezk. 1:13-14, 27-28) when sprinkled with blood shed for the worshipper's sins (Lev. 16:14).
        3. The mercy seat became the meeting place of a holy God and a sinful man. C.H.M. says: "When man takes his place as a sinner. God can, in the exercise of grace, take His place as a Saviour and then every question is settled; for the cross having answered all the claims of Divine justice, mercy's streams can flow unhindered. "

          When a righteous God and a ruined sinner meet on a blood-sprinkled platform, all is settled forever, Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89.

          Christ is the mercy seat, the "throne of grace, " Heb. 4:16; the place not only of meeting but of communion between a holy God and a sinful but believing human being. Meeting God in Christ, the believer may boldly say, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? God that justifieth?" (Rom. 8:33)

          Christ is the mercy seat; He is the propitiator who puts away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, having obtained eternal redemption for us. He is the mercy seat sprinkled with His own precious blood.
        4. What or whom did Christ appease by the shedding of His blood? The answer is nothing or nobody, 1 Jn. 4:10; Rom. 3:25.

          God's provision of the Lord Jesus Christ in the sacrifice upon the cross so satisfied the demand of the law that the love of Christ may flow unhindered to the sinner with no compromise of God's holiness.

          What would have been for the believer a judgment seat becomes for the believer a mercy seat, a "throne of grace."

    Propitiation is that Godward aspect of Christ's death which satisfies the whole demand of the law upon the sinner, opens the way for God righteously to meet in Christ, God's mercy seat, every sinner that believes.

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