This is in response to Ben Benfield’s letter to the editor. Jesus did not give “his life for a just cause, rebelling against the status quo of his time and the practice of the rich getting rich by taking from the poor.” Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
How did Jesus save His people from their sins? “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2a). Propitiation means the satisfying of wrath. Specifically, it is the placation of the wrath of God toward us because of our sins. This satisfying of wrath was accomplished by the offering of a sacrifice. This wrath-absorbing sacrifice, this wrath-removing sacrifice—or the turning away of God’s wrath—was accomplished by the death of Jesus Christ on behalf of all who would repent and believe in Him.
God poured out His wrath on Christ so that it would not be poured out on those who repent and believe in Christ.
Christ’s propitiatory, redemptive sacrifice and His sinless life of perfect obedience to the Law of God are the grounds of justification. Justified means to be declared righteous. God as Judge judicially declares sinners righteous. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God imputes Christ’s righteousness to those who repent and believe in Christ. Impute means to transfer to one’s account, to credit to one’s account.