Reconciliation

 There is a wonderful truth taught in the Bible called reconciliation. We were alienated from God (Eph. 2:12; Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21), strangers (Eph. 2:19), dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13), and enemies of God (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21). But now, through Christ, we have been reconciled (Rom. 5:10). Let’s “warm our hearts” as we study the Biblical teaching of reconciliation.

Reconciliation does not happen because we ignore or minimize our sin. The sin problem must be confronted. Baker and Carpenter, writing in The Complete Word Study Dictionary saythe psalmist found reconciliation with God by not concealing his sin but confessing it (Ps. 32:5; Pro. 10:11).” The Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words explains how the divide, or chasm, between sinful man and a holy God must be bridged. They say,

The King James Version translators used the word “atonement” to translate the Greek word katallagē in Rom. 5:11. The term is derived from Anglo-Saxon words meaning “making at one.” The word presupposes a separation, or alienation, that needs to be overcome if human beings are to know God and have fellowship with Him.

Baker and Carpenter point out that people made “reconciliation with God for their sins by imposing something that would appease the offended party (in this case the Lord) and cover the sinners with righteousness (Ex. 32:30; Ezek. 45:17; cf. Dan. 9:24).” They explain that this was done in the Old Testament by the blood of sacrifices being imposed (Ex. 30:10). They add, “By this imposition, sin was purged (Ps. 79:9; Is. 6:7) and forgiven (Ps. 78:38). The offenses were removed, leaving the sinners clothed in righteousness (cf. Zech. 3:3, 4).” They continue, “Of course, the imposition of the blood of bulls and of goats could never fully cover our sin (Heb. 10:4), but with the coming of Christ and the imposition of His shed blood, a perfect atonement was made (Rom. 5:9-11).”

Renn argues that reconciliation is available to all – by faith. He says,

It is his act of substitutionary self-sacrifice that makes reconciliation possible between a holy God and sinful humankind. In suffering the curse for sin, thereby satisfying God’s just requirement under the law, Christ effectively turned away his Father’s anger from sinful humankind—at least for those who would commit themselves to Christ in faithful dependence upon his atoning sacrifice on their behalf.

Zodhiates describes the relationship between justification and reconciliation, saying,

He says, In Rom. 5:8 Paul makes the statement that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. His death was the result of this love for us. His death reconciled us to the Father and made us friends. Observe, however, that v. 9 begins with “much more then, having been justified by means of His blood.” These then are the two distinct results accomplished by two acts of Christ: our justification through the shedding of His blood declaring us free from guilt before His Father, and our reconciliation to the Father through Christ’s death. Thus from enemies we become friends of God. Our reconciliation was dependent on our justification before the Father; hence we are no more enemies, but friends.

Generally we think of reconciliation on a vertical plane – the fact that we are reconciled to God. There is another aspect that we should not overlook. That is the horizontal plane. Man’s relationship with his fellow man. The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary refers to Eph. 2:16, and says this speaks of a “’twin reconciliation’ affected by God. Not only has God reconciled mankind as a whole to himself through the Cross, He has also – in one act of reconciliation – broken down the barriers (‘made peace’) between Jews and Gentiles.”

In the Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words we are reminded that reconciliation begins with God. Carpenter and Comfort say, God is seen as taking the initiative in man’s salvation; thus, reconciliation is the work of God, who opens the possibility for sinful human beings to receive pardoning grace.” They explain this is because “Humans are so sinful it is impossible for them to take the initiative in reconciliation.” MacArthur addresses man’s part in reconciliation, saying “reconciliation is not something man does but what he receives; it is not what he accomplishes but what he embraces.” Wuest points out the twofold nature of reconciliation. He says, “A holy God is reconciled in that justice has been satisfied at the Cross, and sinful man is reconciled in that, in the case of the believing sinner, his attitude of enmity towards God is changed to one of friendship.”

What a blessing it is to know that we have been reconciled to God. Col. 1:20-21 tells us the Christ has “… made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” and that we who “… were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works” He has now reconciled. That ought to bring us great joy and stir us mightily – that’s “in-reach.” It ought to cause us to thank and praise God – that’s “up-reach.” And it ought to impact our actions – that’s “out-reach!” 2 Cor. 5:18 tells us “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (emphasis added). Zodhiates says God gives us “not only the privilege of direct communion with God (Rom. 5:2), but also the privilege of engaging in the work of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19).” Wiersbe gives some historical background on our “out-reach” and illustrates saying,

In the Roman Empire, there were two kinds of provinces: senatorial provinces and imperial provinces. The senatorial provinces were made up of people who were peaceful and not at war with Rome. They had surrendered and submitted. But the imperial provinces were not peaceful; they were dangerous because they would rebel against Rome if they could. It was necessary for Rome to send ambassadors to the imperial provinces to make sure that rebellion did not break out. Since Christians in this world are the ambassadors of Christ, this means that the world is in rebellion against God. This world is an “imperial province” as far as God is concerned. He has sent His ambassadors into the world to declare peace, not war. “Be ye reconciled to God!” We represent Jesus Christ (John 20:21; 2 Cor. 4:5). If sinners reject us and our message, it is Jesus Christ who is actually rejected. What a great privilege it is to be heaven’s ambassadors to the rebellious sinners of this world!

May God help us to not grow weary as we fulfill this “ministry of reconciliation” (Gal. 6:9; 2 Thess. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:18-19).

REFERENCES

 Baker, Warren and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Carpenter, Eugene, and Philip Comfort, Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Defined and Explained, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Gilbrant, Thoralf, ed., The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

MacArthur, John, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – 2 Corinthians, (Chicago: Moody Press, 2004), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Renn, Stephen, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Pub., 2005), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Wiersbe, Warren, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2001), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Wuest, Kenneth, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 1: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

 

Zodhiates, Spiros, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

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