Galatians 1:1-5 & 1 John 4:7-11
From the Reformer
In this passage Paul contends against the false apostles for the article of Justification. Christ, says Paul, has delivered us from this wicked kingdom of the devil and the world according to the good will, the pleasure and commandment of the Father. Hence we are not delivered by our own will, or shrewdness, or wisdom, but by the mercy and love of God, as it is written, I John 4:10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Our sin demands the moral response of the holy God. That response is our death. (Rom 6:23) Worse, his response is that we cannot be in his presence. Thus the location Hell exists; one must be somewhere. But God desires us to be in his company. As Calvin said, the chief end of humanity is to enjoy God forever. You cannot do that in Hell where one is not with God. So, since God loves the world, he sent his Son to satisfy the moral demands of righteousness. Theologically, we say that he was “the propitiation for our sins.”
Christ’s sacrifice renders conditions favorable or propitious for God to forgive and to have us in his heavenly presence. By faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, we are justified to be in relationship with his Father. Faith in his propitious work makes us righteous because Christ’s own “sonly” righteousness is imputed or attributed to the believer. The righteousness of God is credited to humanity.
Paul argues that this justification does not come through study of the Law or even in the keeping of the Law. It comes through the cross of Christ alone; justification is therefore imputed since we did not die for our sins. This transferred righteousness permits an otherwise unholy person into the holy presence of God.