The Word of Reconciliation

{This is a re-post of an article written last year.  I said this when I shared it before, that if I had one more Sunday School lesson to give, this would be it}

 2 Corinthians 5:14–6:2 — “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

“We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”

Reconciliation is one of the great “theological” words of the scriptures.

It is also the word that truly affects the sinner first.  The affect of the finished work of our Lord Jesus on the cross on God is that of propitiation, by which He is satisfied.  See the following prophecy from Isaiah regarding the propitiation:

Isaiah 53:10–11 — “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”

In the New Testament, the apostle John writes of the propitiation:

1 John 2:2 — “And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

1 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.”

The apostle Paul also writes of the propitiation, as our Lord Jesus Christ has become the place of propitiation:

Romans 3:24–26 — “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus.”

God is in every way satisfied with the accomplishments of His beloved Son on the cross.  If no sinner was saved by the grace that is offered through faith in His blood, it would not lessen the effect of the satisfaction that He accomplished with God.  Yet God has made the accomplishments of the cross affect every sinner in a real way.  This is the word of reconciliation.

…God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ…God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Think of the weight of that statement!  God is not counting sins (imputing) against “them”.  I see no reason to think that “them” is anything but the world that He is reconciling to Himself, and that being all of the people in it.  Sin is no longer standing between the sinner and God, because God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ:

Colossians 1:20–22 — “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight…”

Now I do not say that this means that all are saved.  Sin is still against God, and still carries death with it.  There are still consequences to sin.  In fact, it is in the context of saved people sinning that the word of God says that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). The natural consequence of sinful behavior will always be death, and the more that one sins against God, the more he makes himself an enemy of God by wicked works. But God is not counting sins against anyone right now;  but “He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

This day we live in now, however, is the day of salvation, and not the day of wrath.  If we find ourselves wondering why God does not immediately judge sin and break through heaven to destroy sinners and judge sin, the reason is that this is the day of salvation.  Wrath and judgment are not what God is doing in the world today.  What He is doing is saving sinners, and offering salvation to all, without exception or distinction by the cross. This is this wonderful word of reconciliation.  God has given this message of peace to us.  The message of the heavenly army at our Savior’s birth was a message of peace.  It was a message of peace that man rejected, but it surely was a message of peace:

Luke 2:14 — “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The usual introductory message of Paul’s epistles is grace to you and peace.  God is not acting toward the world in “wrath and war”, but in “grace and peace”.  The question is not now one of sins, for the vilest of us will find salvation by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ at His cross.  This salvation is applied to those who are justified by faith:

Romans 5:1 — “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Romans 5:6–10 — “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement [reconciliation].”

The reconciliation is the current state of God’s attitude toward man.  This is the time when we preach the word of reconciliation, and

“pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

“Receive not the grace of God in vain. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2)

“…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31)

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