On a couple of occasions my pastor, Mike Bullmore, has told us of the time when he was in a faculty devotional at TEDS led by Dr Murray Harris and how Dr Harris went through the process of pinpointing the most important word in the Bible. Apparently, Ray Ortlund, Jr. was at the same devotional because he related the same story in a recent post on his blog:
Some years ago, in a faculty devotional at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. Murray Harris proposed this line of thinking:
What is the most important Book in the universe? The Bible. Which book within the Bible is the most important? Romans. Which chapter in Romans is the most important? Chapter 3. Which paragraph in Romans 3 is the most important? Verses 21-26. Which verse in that paragraph is the most important? Verse 25. Which word in verse 25 is the most important? Propitiation: “. . . whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
Therefore, the most important word in the most important verse in the most important paragraph in the most important chapter in the most important book within the most important Book in the universe is propitiation.
Worthy of our reverent contemplation.
It's hard to disagree with Dr Murray. I love the word "propitiation". It signifies two very important truths that help me to live in the good of the Gospel. First, Christ's death propitiated the Father in that it removed just wrath for sin from sinners. So, those who are in Christ are no longer under wrath and will not face Christ's judgement. Second, it did more that just remove wrath. Christ's propitiation turned wrath into favor to those who trust in Him. God's favor means that I find great comfort knowing that God is for me and doing good for me every day, all the days of my life. So, I am no longer under wrath and I have God's favor. I love to bask in these truths.
To delve deeper into this doctrine, you should watch and listen to this video by R.W. Glenn: