|The High Cost Of Reconciliation|
|Universal But Not Automatic Reconciliation||122||"Much More Then"||126|
|Man May Know The Warmth Of God's Love!||123||Sweet Peace — The Gift Of God's Love!||127|
|Time Does Not Erase Sin!||124||Discussion Questions||128|
|Reconciliation In The Present Tense!||125||Discussion Questions (continued)||129|
2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Romans 5:6-11
Universal But Not Automatic Reconciliation
What more can God do than what He has done to save mankind from the penalty of sin–eternal death? God sent His Son to earth to live a sacrificial life, to die a substitionary death, and to conquer death through the resurrection. God has spared His wrath and extended His mercy to every person–all because of what Christ has done! God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should be saved!
God has highly exalted Christ and given Him a name which is above every name! Christ is the King!
As a result of Christ's life, death, resurrection, and Kingly reign, God is prepared to save all mankind. God's plan for man's salvation has been accomplished in Christ! The sacrifice of a loving God has made possible the glory of a reconciled sinner!
Christ's death for helpless, despising sinners (Romans 5:6-8), results in Christ's reconciliation of sinful man with the sinless God. (Romans 5:9)
The New Testament uses the word 'Reconciliation' to describe the changed relations between God and man which are the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In our study of Romans, we have looked carefully at the 'Finished Work' of Christ on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Now we must look at the benefits which that 'Finished Work' has for mankind. Romans 5:9 says, "And since by his blood he did all this for us sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God's wrath to come". (Living Bible)
Notice the past, present, and future aspects of reconciliation, as related in this verse.
First, look at reconciliation as a past, objective accomplishment. "He did" reconcile us. By the shedding of Christ's blood in the death of the cross, a universal atonement has been provided for the sins of all men. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins." (Hebrews 9:22) As a result of Christ's historic death, sin's penalty for all man- kind has been paid. The righteousness of God has been vindicated and the justice of God has been satisfied. By the one decisive act of Christ's death, all men are delivered from a condition of estrangement and restored to fellowship with God–not automatically but potentially, dependent upon each individual's personal appropriation of the purchased gift of grace. Reconciliation is universal as far as God is concerned, but not automatic as far as man is concerned.
"O God, because of the 'Finished Work' of the Cross, you are at peace with all the world! All enmity is gone and all walls are destroyed! I come, not to a God of wrath, but to a God of peace! Wonderful!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The deep wounds of suffering revealed in the open hands of the Crucified Saviour are for the healing of my deep wounds of sin!
Colossians 1:21-23, John 19:30
Man May Know The Warmth Of God's Love!
We are looking at Reconciliation as a past objective accomplishment. Says Leon Mooris, "Reconciliation is not something in which we have the decisive part. It is worked out by Christ, and we enter into it by our repentance and faith. But it is his work first and foremost. This is the main thrust of New Testament teaching on reconciliation". (Christianity Today, January 17, 1969, p.4)
In his book 'The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross', Leon Maoris says, "First of all there is an aspect of reconciliation which is outside man, an objective element. We are said to have received the reconciliation, which therefore, is in some sense independent of us. Obviously reconciliation must be personal to be effective, and we must enter into a state of being reconciled; but nevertheless, there is a sense in which a reconciliation can be said to be proffered to us. In other words the New Testament view is that reconciliation was wrought on the cross before there was anything in man's heart to correspond. There is an objective aspect to reconciliation, and this may well be held to imply that there is a sense in which God can be said to be reconciled to man". (p.225-226) In a footnote in his book, Mooris quotes P.T. Forsyth as saying, "Reconciliation was finished in Christ's death. Paul did not preach a gradual reconciliation. He preached what the old divines used to call the finished work… He preached something done once for all–a reconciliation which is the base of every soul's reconciliation, not an invitation only". (p. 226)
That means that if Christ had not died on the cross, then reconciliation would have been totally impossible. God can treat man differently now that Christ has died! Wrote Paul, "But now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God's love in Christ Jesus. For Christ is our living peace". (Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:14 a)
Says P.T. Forsyth, "God's feeling toward us never needed to be changed. But God's treatment of us, God's practical relation to us–that had to change". (Ibid, 247) Leon Mooris then comments, "His (God's) love is consistent and does not alter; but we cannot reason from that that the expression of that love is always the same. Love may be likened to a flame. Without Changing its essential nature it may give warmth and light or it may sear and burn. All that sinful men can see of a holy God is that aspect that we call the wrath of God. But when the Son of God himself has dealt with that wrath, then men may know the warmth of His love". (Ibid, 248)
"It is not the wrath of Your justice, but the warmth of Your love, which I now feel! I am not seared, but soothed by the light of Your holiness! 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me'!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The cross allows God's love to be expressed in tender forgiveness, not in terrible justice!
Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 9:23-28
Time Does Not Erase Sin!
The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon one time said, about the preaching of the Gospel, "If I only had about a dozen words to speak and knew I must die, I would say, 'This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners'".
Christ's death makes possible man's reconciliation. Reconciliation acknowledges that there is a barrier which has caused estrangement between God and man, and that that barrier must be removed. Christ alone can remove that barrier and forgive those sins which have caused enmity between God and man. Christ sacrificed His blood once-and-for-all to forgive sinners.
But man attempts to deal with his sins in his own way. Man suppresses his guilt and is glad to let bygones be bygones. As C.S. Lewis says, "We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker's, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time, but by repentance and the blood of Christ". No matter how much man attempts to suppress his guilt and hide his sins, and no matter how much time has elapsed since the transgression, still "God requireth that which is past". (Ecclesiastes 3:15) Says Lewis, "In our own affairs we never doubt that the past is important. When a student fails his exams, he cannot laugh it off and proceed to the next unit of his course as though nothing had happened. When a businessman finds his debts pressing, he cannot write them off and start afresh as though nothing had happened. In every area of life we recognize that our actions have consequences and that we are responsible. We cannot cut ourselves adrift from the past".
Man must face the fact of his estrangement and acknowledge that he can only be at one with God through faith and repentance. The object of man's faith is Christ who objectively accomplished man's reconciliation on the cross. Man must appropriate Christ's accomplished work of reconciliation, in order for man to be reconciled to God. The objective aspect of reconciliation is first and foremost; the subjective aspect of reconciliation is secondary and derivative. Man can only be reconciled to God because God has taken the initiative and made provision for man's reconciliation.
"O Christ, my sins are like an iceberg. My conscious mind–the tip of the iceberg–recalls only a small number of my total sins. Is there forgiveness for the large bulk of my remaining sins which are submerged in my sub-conscious mind? I dare to believe that you can forgive the sins I remember and the sins I don't remember!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will confess 'recalled sins' and 'repressed sins', in order to enjoy unlimited forgiveness!
Reconciliation In The Present Tense!
We are looking at reconciliation, as described in Romans 5:9, which says, "And since by his blood he did all this for us sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God's wrath to come". (Living Bible)
We have been looking at the fact that reconciliation is a past, objective accomplishment, made possible through Christ's historic death.
Secondly, reconciliation is a present, guiltless relationship. Romans 5:9 says that "He does" much more for us now!
Through the objective work of Christ on the cross, all men are put into a saveable relationship with God. Man's reconciliation with God is impossible without the cross. However, with the cross each man must respond to Christ's decisive accomplishment in order to make reconciliation real and personal and workable. Through Christ's death, God is once-and-for-all reconciled to lost humanity, but each individual member of that lost humanity must personally accept what has been universally accomplished by Christ. He who personally accepts what Christ has historically accomplished on the cross, is put into a right relationship with God. Personal faith appropriation of the finished work of the cross means personal enjoyment of the benefits of reconciliation.
He who is reconciled with God through Christ is he whose sins are forgiven and whose guilt is resolved. He is no longer at enmity with God. The dividing walls of hostility have been broken down. He enjoys friendship and fellowship with God. His sins are hidden in the 'sea of God's forgetfulness'. Those sins are removed, 'as far as the east is from the west'. He enjoys peace and rest (Hebrews 4:1-11) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who is reconciled with God is he who is enjoying cleansing from sin's pollution. The blood that forgives sins is the blood which also cleanses from the pollution and stain of sin.
He who is reconciled with God is he who is increasingly enjoying victory over sin's power. The remaining harmful habits are being broken. Actions, attitudes, and relationships are progressively becoming Christianized. If any man is reconciled to God through Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, all things are becoming new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The power of sin is being broken in that man's life.
What does Christ do in His present reconciling ministry? He is saving us from the guilt of sin, the pollution of sin, and the power of sin.
"O Christ, I see that Your 'Finished Work' on the cross remains unfinished until I personally appropriate that 'Work' in my personal life! The past divine accomplishment must become the present human experience, through faith in Your shed blood! Help me to personalize the victory of the cross!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Christ died in vain for me unless I allow the Universal Atonement to become my personal atonement for my sins!
Romans 5:9-11, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12
"Much More Then"
Reconciliation is first a past, objective accomplishment. Secondly, reconciliation is a present, guiltless relationship. Thirdly, reconciliation is a future, peaceful protection. Note Romans 5:9-10, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (NASB)
When Paul uses the phrase 'much more then' inverses 9 and 10, he is engaging in interesting logic. To use this type of logic is like saying, "If the vast ocean is salt water, then one cup of that ocean water will be salt water. If the sun's energy can provide power to heat a thousand houses, then it can heat my one house. If Christ died for all mankind, then he died for me. If one is made a friend of God now, he shall escape God's wrath hereafter. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:9)
Argues the Apostle, "If the blood of Jesus shed on the cross resulted in a once-and-for-all reconciliation of God with man, and if we are personally and continually appropriating the benefits of the cross, resulting in personal daily reconciliation, then we can be assured that our present peaceful relationship will not be forfeited when we face the day of future judgement".
He who is presently enjoying friendship with God, need not fear that that friendship will be lost in the future, when the Great Day of Judgement will reveal the Wrath of God against sin and sinning humanity. He whose heart is enjoying the cleansing blood of Jesus now, can be assured that that same cleansing blood will guarantee a future, peaceful protection, from God's just wrath which will be exercised against those who rejected the blood of Christ.
There is 'eternal security' for the one who pleads nothing but the blood of Jesus as the basis for his reconciliation and peace with God. We are 'eternally secure' in the Son, not outside of the Son! "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God… a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace." (Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 10:29 NIV)
"My sins have already been judged on the Cross! I face, not a fearful future, but a fantastic future! I am secure in time and in eternity! God's friendship now cannot be compared to the greater friendship hereafter. All because of Jesus!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I was saved, I am saved, and I will be saved–in the Son, not outside the Son!
Romans 5:10-11, John 14:27, John 15:13-17, John 16:33
Sweet Peace — The Gift Of God's Love!
There are those who casually talk about God. They talk sentimentally about God, even while they are practicing sin and lawlessness in their lives. 'But God and I are buddies; we get along quite well together. We have an understanding between us', said one shallow person to me. Or some refer to God as 'the man upstairs'.
Without the cross, man is an outright enemy of God! Even with the historic death of Christ, man is still an enemy of God until man appropriates the work of Christ on the cross. (John 3:36) But the person who accepts Christ's work on the cross is reconciled with the Father.
Reconciliation produces friendship with God. "When we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of his Son." (Romans 5:10, Living Bible) You can be a friend of God. You were made for greatness in the Creation. You lost your greatness in the Fall. You can regain your greatness by accepting the reconciling work of Christ on the cross. The fellowship lost in the fall can be regained through the cross. The rebel can be made the reconciled. The enemy can be made the friend. "Now we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God–all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins–making us friends of God." (Romans 5:11, Living Bible)
Reconciliation produces fellowship with God. The friendship of God with man is at the deepest and most intimate level. "What blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends, and he is living within us!" (verse 11b, Living Bible) God shares our deepest joys and our deepest woes. God actually indwells in our lives. All of life is shared with Christ. The intellect becomes the center where the Holy Spirit forms the 'mind of Christ' within the believer. The emotions become the center where the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love and compassion of God within the believer. The will becomes the center where the Holy Spirit works to accomplish the plan of God for the believer's life.
Peace is the gift of God and the result of the atoning and reconciling work of Jesus. The great benediction at the end of the Epistle to the Hebrews, speaks of this relationship: "The God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of the eternal covenant, even our Lord Jesus". (Hebrews 13:20) The Christian peace is like the peace of the bird who is resting secure on a nest overhanging a mighty waterfall. Amidst the roar and confusion, the bird is peaceful, just as the Christian is tranquil as he rests secure in the arms of Jesus, amidst the turmoil about him.
"In the Garden of Eden, Adam walked with God 'in the cool of the day'. I have walked with life's sorrows too long! I have long tasted the fruits of my own sins, and they are bitter! Let me know forgiveness, that my heart may rejoice! Let me walk and talk with You, as Friend with friend! Amen!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother; his name is Jesus, the sweetest name I know!
Discussion Questions On 'The High Cost Of Reconciliation'
In what ways did the death of Jesus objectively accomplish the reconciliation of God and mankind?
What is your interpretation of the following statement: "Reconciliation is universal as far as God is concerned, but not automatic as far as man is concerned".
What is meant by the 'Finished Work' of Christ on the cross? Why can it be said that, through Christ, God is first reconciled to mankind, ever before there was anything in man's heart to correspond?
As a result of Christ's death on the cross, did God's feeling towards mankind change or was it simply God's treatment of mankind that changed?
What are two different expressions of God's love toward mankind, and how does man's experience of God's love change as a result of the death of Christ on the cross?
Give your interpretation of the following: "The cross allows God's love to be expressed in tender forgiveness, not in terrible justice".
What is meant by C.S. Lewis' statement: "We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels bygones".
Give your interpretation of the following statement: "The objective aspect of reconciliation is first and foremost; the subjective aspect of reconciliation is secondary and derivative".
Why is it important in man appropriating the reconciliation made possible through Christ's death, to confess the 'recalled sins' of the conscious mind and the 'repressed sins' of the subconscious mind?
What are some of the wonderful results and benefits that a person enjoys when he becomes personally reconciled to God through Christ? (Note 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Christ died in vain for me unless I allow the universal atonement to become my personal atonement for my sins".
Explain (through the use of analogies) the kind of logic that Paul used when he wrote: "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:9)
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If the blood of Jesus shed on the cross resulted in a one-for-all reconciliation of God with man, and if we are personally and continually appropriating the benefits of the cross, resulting in personal daily reconciliation, then we can be assured that our present peaceful relationship will not be forfeited when we face the day of future judgement".
Discussion Questions On 'The High Cost Of Reconciliation' (continued)
What conditions must a believer continue to meet, in order for him to have assurance that he can face the future day of judgement with confidence rather than with fear? What serious warning is sounded in Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 10:29? Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 10:29?
What is restored by God to a person when he experiences reconciliation, according to Romans 5:11?
In what ways does the Holy Spirit work in the believer's intellect, emotions, and will?
What are characteristics of the believer's peace, as the result of the atoning and reconciling work of Jesus?