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Death Of Christ - Part 2

November 2017

3.      Reconciliation (katallasso).   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.

1.      Atonement is the means, whereas Reconciliation is the result.

2.      Atonement does not procure Grace; it was Grace that procured the Atonement.

3.      God does not love us because Christ died for us, but Christ died for us because God loved us.

4.      It was God’s wrath that needed appeasement, and God’s Love which did the appeasing.

5.      The Atonement was the means in which God obtained appeasement.

6.      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 object, God 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 3:12).

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 commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (16) 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. (19) 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, (21) in 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 life.

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 also.”

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 of reconciliation.  “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 reconciliation. (20) 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;

  1. First, the Command (1st John 4:21): “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
  2. 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 commandments.”

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 work! 

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

1. Propitiation

2. Redemption

3. Justification

4. Reconciliation

  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 world.

  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?


[i] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, (Intervarsity Press, 1986).

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