The fourth accomplishment of salvation, which illustrates the
achievement of the cross, is Reconciliation.
John R. W. Stott, a British Christian leader and Anglican
clergyman. A man noted as
a leader of the worldwide evangelical movement, and an author of fifty
books on Christian Theology explains reconciliation as probably the
most popular of the four magnificent accomplishments of the atonement,
because it is the most personal.
It is at this point that we have left behind the
temple precincts, the market place, and the law court; we are now in
our own home with our family and friends. There is a quarrel true
enough, even enmity, but to reconcile means to restore a relationship,
to renew a friendship. This fact presupposes and original relationship
was enjoyed. That former
relationship with God having been broken sometime in the past, has
been recovered by Christ.[i]
The Greek word used for reconciliation is
katallasso a verb. It properly
denotes a change or to exchange (for a price). In regard to mankind,
it means to change from enmity to friendship or to reconcile with the
one offended. In regard to the relationship between God and man,
reconciliation is that which only God can accomplish by God exercising
His grace so that prodigal mankind can come home to his once orphaned
family. The foundation for reconciliation was the death of Christ in a
propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment of sin (2nd
Corinthians 5:19). By reason of this propitiatory sacrifice,
men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to
reconcile, that is to say, to change their attitude and accept the
provision God has made.
Whereby the penalty for their sins can be remitted and they themselves
justified in the sight of God.
Reconciliation is not a term the Bible uses to
describe “coming to terms with oneself,” although it does insist that
it is only by losing oneself in one’s love for God and one’s neighbor
that we truly find ourselves.
Reconciliation with God means to come to terms with God based
upon God’s precepts. Reconciliation can only become a reality by
Atonement. Atonement alludes to the event through which God and human
beings, previously alienated from one another, are reconciled or made
“at one” again.
Let us take a moment to cover a few important
facts about the Atonement.
Atonement is the
means, whereas Reconciliation is the
does not procure Grace; it was Grace that procured the Atonement.
God does not love us because Christ died for
us, but Christ died for us because God loved us.
It was God’s wrath that needed appeasement,
and God’s Love which did the appeasing.
The Atonement was the means in which God
The price of the Atonement was the death of
God’s only Son (Romans 5:10).
Now, back to reconciliation! Romans
5:9–11, is one of the four great passages on reconciliation in
the New Testament, in this passage to be reconciled and to be
justified are paralleled.
Note what it says.
“Much more then, being now justified by his
blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10)
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death
of his Son (the atonement), much more,
being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11)
And not only so, but
we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now
received the atonement.”
Notice, “being now justified by his
blood” is paralleled by the word “if;”
“For if, while 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.”
Notice the state of man, it was in need of
justification, and reconciliation; though both are affected by the
cross, they are not identical. Where justification is our legal
standing before our judge in a court of law, reconciliation is our
personal relationship with our Father in the home. The latter is the
sequel and fruit of the former. It is only when we have been justified
by faith that we have peace with God which is reconciliation, to our
Father in heaven (Romans 5:1).
Whenever in God’s Word the verb “to reconcile”
appears, either God or Man is the
reconciles or man is reconciled. God is
never the “subject;”
God is not the one reconciled. God was never and will never
have to be reconciled to us; it is always God or God through Christ
reconciling us to Himself!
There are two other terms that confirm the fact
that reconciliation means peace with God.
They are (1) Adoption and (2) Access. With regard to the
former, the Apostle John, who attributes our being children of God to
our being born of God.
Expresses his sense of wonder that the Father loved us enough to make
us, His children (John 1:12–13,
1st John 3:1–10). In regard
to the latter, Paul twice places “access to God” and “peace with God”
together. The first time attributing them to our justification (Romans
5:1–2), and the second time explaining “access” as a
Trinitarian experience (Ephesians 2:17–22).
We have access to the Father through the Son (Jesus) by the work of
the Holy Spirit. Putting
it simply, through reconciliation (Jesus’ work) we are adopted
(Spirit’s work) into God’s family, we are His children, and we have
unrestrictive access to the Father and may approach our Heavenly
Father at any time we wish with freedom and confidence (Ephesians
Reconciliation also has a horizontal as well as a
vertical effect. God has reconciled us into His family, as well as to
Himself. Another great New
Testament passage focuses on these effects (Ephesians
2:11–22). “Therefore, remember that
you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what
is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands (12)
that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope and without God in the world. (13)
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought
near by the blood of Christ. (14)
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken
down the middle wall of separation, (15)
having abolished in His flesh the enmity,
that is, the law of
in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man
from the two,
thus making peace,
and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the
cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (17)
And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those
who were near. (18)
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow
citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20)
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy
temple in the Lord, (22)
in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God
in the Spirit.”
Paul reminds His Gentile Christian readers that
they were formally on the one hand, excluded from citizenship in
Israel and foreigners to the covenants of promise and on the other
“separate from Christ...and without God in the world” (verse
12). As Gentiles we were “far away,” separated, or alienated
from God and from Israel. In this passage the term “Gentiles” is used
as a metaphor for heathens or unbelievers and “Israel” is a metaphor
for the people of promise or people who accept the conditions of the
promise and therefore have received the promise.
Notice in the passage above that Gentiles were
doubly alienated; “but now in Christ Jesus,”
Paul goes on to say, “you who once were far
away (Gentiles) have been brought near through the blood of Christ”
(verse 13). In fact Christ, who
“Himself is our peace,” has broken down the barrier of separation
between Jew and Gentile, and “made the two one” (verse
14). Christ’s atonement has both “abolished” the law which kept
the two apart, but also “created” in Himself
“one new man [believers] out of the
two, thus making peace” (verse 15,
word in parenthesis added).
These are the four great accomplishments that
were brought to the human race through the death of Christ on
Calvary’s cross. But love
is not perfected by the effects created by these four great
accomplishments alone. How can they be; if the world does not know or
is not told about them?
Let’s look at Romans 10:13-17, 2nd
Corinthians 3:2 and 1st
John 4:12, for more clarification.
Romans 10:13-15 says
“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord
shall be saved.” (14)
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And
how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how
shall they hear without a preacher? (15)
And how shall they preach unless they are
sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who
preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Also 2nd Corinthians 3:2
“You are our epistle written in our hearts,
known and read by all men.” And finally,
1st John 4:12
“No one has seen God at any time. If we love
one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”
According to these verses, especially
1st John 4:12, God’s love
is not perfected “in us” if we do not love one another. His work
becomes of non-effect if the world is not told about the atonement and
what it accomplished. What exactly does it mean that Love cannot be
perfected in us? Is not Agape
Love perfect? Yes! For
Agape love is
the very nature of God Himself (Ref. 1st
John 4:8). However, it is not perfect “in us” if we do not love
others the same way God loves us and gave His life for a ransom for
many (Ref. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).
We stop God’s love from being fulfilled in the
world and in us when we take our newfound relationship with Him and
keep it to ourselves. Read
again Romans 10:13-17, 2nd
Corinthians 3:2 and 1st
John 4:12. How will
they know about the love of God, how will they hear about it unless
someone tells them “For
we are the epistles written in our hearts,
known, and read by all men”
(1st John 4:12)?
Once we receive the pure and undefiled love of
God in our hearts, we, by not sharing it with others as Christ did,
defile it! We take away
its perfection. Just like living water which becomes polluted and then
dies when it stagnates, so does the pure and holy love of God when it
is kept to ones self.
Living water must flow outward, be absorbed, and by absorption produce
John makes this point in
1st John 4:19-21 “We love
Him because He first loved us. (20)
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar;
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love
God whom he has not seen? (21)
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God
must love his brother
When God enters the life of a human being and
saves it He begins a process called “Sanctification.” Sanctification (hagiasmos)
means to consecrate, to purify.
It refers directly to the sanctification of heart and life, or
to be set apart for God’s use. The process of Sanctification is the
process in which God removes our sin and purifies our natures so that
the same godly love that was received and placed within us at our
conversion becomes, as it was in the beginning of creation.
We are in a state of purity and holiness through the ministry
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a
new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have
become new. (18)
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through
Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
(19) that is,
that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing
their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading
through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God”
(2nd Corinthians 5:17-20).
Brethren we must realize that bringing the true light of God’s
love to the world is a major part of our salvation. Understanding this
makes it easy to see that loving God and loving others are inseparable
(Ref. 1st John 4:21).
Now let us take a closer look at
1st John 4:21–5:1.
“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his
brother also. (5:1)
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone
who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
In this passage, we see;
First, the Command (1st
John 4:21): “And this commandment we have from
Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
Second, the Standard (1st
John 5:1): “Whoever believes that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also
loves him who is begotten of Him.” The New American
Standard Bible puts it this way, “Whoever
believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who
loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that
we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His
Once again look at
Matthew 28:18–20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 21:15–17, and
Acts 1:8. Do you see a recurring
theme? Go preach the
Gospel which is the good news of God’s love, to the world, in word and
God’s Love, His nature and His being, was
manifested in His Son Jesus Christ. It was demonstrated by His
sacrificial death so that sinful man could be brought back into the
presence of the Almighty, becoming adopted heirs and Sons of the
Father. With this privilege comes the command to share the love of God
with others so that God’s love can be perfected in us. We are told to
go into the entire world and preach the Gospel by word, work, and by
our lifestyle. This perfecting can easily be seen in
1st John 4:17 which says, “Love
has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the
Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” He
was and still is the personification of Love manifested
In conclusion, when all the verses so far
discussed including 2nd
Corinthians 5:18–21 and 1st
John 4:13–15 are read together they demonstrate to us a
definition of the Atonement (Christ’s sacrificial death) which was
brought about because of God’s love for His creation.
We have looked at the incident itself, the impact brought by it
and the importance of it.
Allow me to illustrate the main points of these verses and all that
was just said by placing them in list form.
The Incident that demonstrated God’s love – Jesus’ death on
Calvary – the Atonement.
The Impact brought by God’s love
The importance of God’s love – salvation for all mankind – an
escape the wages of sin.
The inward evidence of our salvation is
the Spirit of God.
The outward evidence of our salvation
is our living testimony of Jesus as the savior of our souls and of the
The result of this salvation is that we
abide in Him as He abides in us.
The mandate “Go,” preach the Gospel of peace to all you meet.
Next month let us turn our attention to the
resurrection of Christ. Is
it fact of fiction?
John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, (Intervarsity Press,
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