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The Message of Reconciliation

by gonzodave coulon  
2/26/2008 / Bible Studies

Is the Bible true or a particular philosophy conjured by men? I suggest this to be the single, the core question to be answered and determined by whosoever in this life. The Great Truth of the Bible is salvation.

Dear Reader,

In Romans 5:11 the KJV renders the word "atonement" only once in the NT. The Revised Version later translated this word more correctly as "reconciliation." The thought behind the use by the KJV of atonement in the OT (a word invented by the KJV translators) is at-one-ment. At-one-ment may be considered as refering to the atoning death of Christ through which all men are "reconciled" to God, or restored to His favor.

Men may reconcile themselves to God, accept His grace through faith in Jesus as their Savior, and be forgiven and declared "justified" for all eternity by the transformation of the "new birth" in Christ. Reconciliation is the finished work of Christ that is the ground upon which the unsaved may receive the gift of "justification by faith." The saved saint receives the "position" of receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ, but not the present experience in this life. However, God knows that a regenerated Christian, enabled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, has the strength to live with two opposing natures - the new divine spirtual nature and the old flesh nature "of the world" inherited with their first birth in Adam (viz. the experience of Paul in Romans chapter 7).

By faith all may receive forgiveness and the cancellation of the demerit of personal sin. By grace through faith all who believe in the living unseen Savior receive the gift of the righteousness of Christ and His eternal life. This unbelievably good news is availabe because of the reconciliation provided by the death of Christ.

Rom 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life? 5:11 Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

Easton's Bible Dictionary

Reconcilation: a change from enmity to friendship. It is mutual, i.e., it is a change wrought in both parties who have been at enmity. (1.) In Col. 1:21, 22, the word there used refers to a change wrought in the personal character of the sinner who ceases to be an enemy to God by wicked works, and yields up to him his full confidence and love. In 2 Cor. 5:20 the apostle beseeches the Corinthians to be "reconciled to God", i.e., to lay aside their enmity. (2.) Rom. 5:10 refers not to any change in our disposition toward God, but to God himself, as the party reconciled. Romans 5:11 teaches the same truth. From God we have received "the reconciliation" (R.V.), i.e., he has conferred on us the token of his friendship. So also 2 Cor. 5:18, 19 speaks of a reconciliation originating with God, and consisting in the removal of his merited wrath. In Eph. 2:16 it is clear that the apostle does not refer to the winning back of the sinner in love and loyalty to God, but to the restoration of God's forfeited favour. This is effected by his justice being satisfied, so that he can, in consistency with his own nature, be favourable toward sinners. Justice demands the punishment of sinners. The death of Christ satisfies justice, and so reconciles God to us. This reconciliation makes God our friend, and enables him to pardon and save us. (See ATONEMENT.)

The death of Christ has universal value, but only personal benefit.

2 Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ26 controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ27 died for all; therefore all have died. 5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.28 5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge29 no one from an outward human point of view.30 Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view,31 now we do not know him in that way any longer.

"That one died for all, therefore all died." Christ secured and provided for everyone in the value of His death. "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh." That Jesus died for all alike is the greatest thing that can be said of an individual. It is the common shared dignity of mankind and was given to men by God. Every man, woman and child is someone that Christ died for.

2 Cor 5:17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away32look, what is new33 has come!34 5:18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's trespasses against them, and he has given us35 the message of reconciliation. 5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea36 through us. We plead with you37 on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God!" 5:21 God38 made the one who did not know sin39 to be sin for us, so that in him40 we would become the righteousness of God.

Reconciliation may be defined as when someone or something is thoroughly changed and adjusted to something which is a standard, as a watch may be adjusted to a chronometer. Since the position of the world (fallen human kind) before God is completely changed through the death of Christ, God's own attitude towards man can no longer be the same. He is prepared to deal with souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished. This seems to be a change in God, of course, but is not a reconciliation. God, on the contrary, believes completely in the thing which Christ has done and accepts it, so as to continue being just, although able thereby to justify any sinner who accepts the Savior as his reconciliation. As stated in John 3:16.

For this is the way36 God loved the world (fallen human kind): He gave his one and only37 Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish38 but have eternal life.39

Please note three changes in relationship connected with reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5.

Lewis Sperry Chafer writes:

1.) verse 17 That which is a positional and structural spiritual relationship where a living saved soul has had the value and merit of the death of Christ applied to him or her. Having received grace through faith he/she is seen to be a "new creation" 'in Christ," i.e. biblically, a "brethren," a "saint," a "Christian," a "new man," and a "living stone".
2.) verse 19 That which is a general relationship, or the basis on which salvation may be offered to all mankind. Whereby only one act of obedience is ever required of the unsaved. This one act is to "obey the gospel of Jesus Christ" in order to become one of everyone who believes in Him.
3.) verse 20 That which is a personal relationship, a mental attitude or the trust of the individual heart, when one sees and accepts the value in the death of Christ for him or her.

The death of Christ reconciles all humanity to the standard of God, having satisfied condemnation, judgment, and demerit for all trespasses/sin save one, the unforgivable sin. The judgement of life the sin of rejecting, until your dying day, the facts revealed in Scripture of the reason why Christ died on the cross and who He is. As explained in the verses following John 3:16.

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,40 but that the world should be saved through him. 3:18 The one who believes in him is not condemned.41 The one who does not believe has been condemned42 already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only43 Son of God. 3:19 Now this is the basis for judging:44 that the light has come into the world and people45 loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil.

The words of Jesus spoken in the night to His visitor, the teacher of the law Nicodemus, apply to each and every one today.

John 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must all be born from above.'15 3:14 Just as31 Moses lifted up the serpent32 in the wilderness,33 so must the Son of Man be lifted up,34 3:15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."35

Why is the cross the only way? Why was reconciliation needed? God cannot choose less than Himself. God is limited by His own nature and He cannot change the holy demands of His own righteousness. How can God be both just and the justifier of sinners? Thus, the question and the answer is not of human origin, although understandable to the human mind. The inherent antipole of virtue is sin. A creature can choose less than God; a creature can choose himself. All that righteousness can demand has been met by the Judge and the redemption price has been paid by the Judge. As revealed in Scripture:

2 Cor 5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's trespasses against them, and he has given us35 the message of reconciliation.

The problem created by sin was in the very nature of God Himself before any man came into being. The cross is His solution of His own problem as determined by Him and revealed to us "in the fullness of times". Sins judgments are already perfectly met. God added humanity to His nature and became a man so that He could die. The purpose of His dying was to "take away the sin of the world (fallen human kind)" because "He became a curse for us," "He bore our sins in His body on a tree," "He tasted death for every man," and "He loved me and gave Himself for me."

2 Cor 5:21 God38 made the one who did not know sin39 to be sin for us, so that in him40 we would become the righteousness of God.

God's own wisdom has been disclosed in solving His own problem of saving sinners, and this, by "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." God has, for His own sake, removed every moral hindrance which His infinite holiness might see in sinful man, because each sinner has been placed, through the substitutionary death of Christ, beyond his/her own execution. Therefore, the ground of condemnation is forever past and fallen human kind is reconciled to God by God Himself to Himself. Man is only asked to believe on the facts thus revealed: God has been merciful and absolute salvation is available now without reserve. All the work has been done by God because only He could accomplish it.

Redemption by the cross was not God's second best as contrasted to the innocence of Adam in the garden. In the divine councils of God from the foundation of the world, the accomplishment of the cross is to place the redeemed above angels and archangels, as sons and daughters of God that have been perfected into the very "image of Christ". There is nothing in the highest heaven beyond this. It is the greatest possible thing that God can do. It is the infinite demonstration of His grace. God's grace in action is more than love. It is love operating in the full recognition and adjustment to every demand of righteousness. "Even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

By the cross God has demonstrated our sin, His own righteousness, and His own unmeasured love. He has spoken to us through His Son. The reasonable requirement is that this message be believed. This is the only condition given in the bible on which one may enter God's saving grace.


NET Bible Translation Notes

* Greek fonts are not available in this .txt file

2 COR 5

26tn The phrase hJ ajgavph tou' Cristou' (Jh agaph tou Cristou, "the love of Christ") could be translated as either objective genitive ("our love for Christ") or subjective genitive ("Christ's love for us"). Either is grammatically possible, but with the reference to Christ's death for all in the following clauses, a subjective genitive ("Christ's love for us") is more likely.
27tn Grk "one"; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
28tn Or "but for him who died and was raised for them."
29tn Grk "we know."
30tn Grk "no one according to the flesh." 31tn Grk "we have known Christ according to the flesh."
32tn Grk "old things have passed away."
33tc Most mss have the words taV pavnta (ta panta, "all things"; cf. KJV "behold, all things are become new"), some after kaivna (kaina, "new"; D2 K L P Y 104 326 945 2464 pm) and others before it (6 33 81 614 630 1241 1505 1881 pm). The reading without taV pavnta, however, has excellent support from both the Western and Alexandrian texttypes (46 B C D* F G 048 0243 365 629 1175 1739 pc co), and the different word order of the phrase which includes it ("all things new" or "new all things") in the ms tradition indicates its secondary character. This secondary addition may have taken place because of assimilation to taV deV pavnta (ta de panta, "and all [these] things") that begins the following verse.
34tn Grk "new things have come [about]."
35tn Or "he has entrusted to us."
36tn Or "as though God were begging."
37tn Or "we beg you."
38tn Grk "He"; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
39sn The one who did not know sin is a reference to Jesus Christ.
40sn That is, "in Christ."


15tn Or "born again." The same Greek word with the same double meaning occurs in v. 3.
31tn Grk "And just as."
32sn Or the snake, referring to the bronze serpent mentioned in Num 21:9.
33sn An allusion to Num 21:5-9.
34sn So must the Son of Man be lifted up. This is ultimately a prediction of Jesus' crucifixion. Nicodemus could not have understood this, but John's readers, the audience to whom the Gospel is addressed, certainly could have (compare the wording of John 12:32). In John, being lifted up refers to one continuous action of ascent, beginning with the cross but ending at the right hand of the Father. Step 1 is Jesus' death; step 2 is his resurrection; and step 3 is the ascension back to heaven. It is the upward swing of the "pendulum" which began with the incarnation, the descent of the Word become flesh from heaven to earth (cf. Paul in Phil 2:5-11). See also the note on the title Son of Man in 1:51.
35tn This is the first use of the term zwhVn aijwvnion (zwhn aiwnion) in the Gospel, although zwhv (zwh) in chap. 1 is to be understood in the same way without the qualifying aijwvnio" (aiwnios).
sn Some interpreters extend the quotation of Jesus' words through v. 21.
36tn Or "this is how much"; or "in this way." The Greek adverb ou{tw" (Joutws) can refer (1) to the degree to which God loved the world, that is, to such an extent or so much that he gave his own Son (see R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:133-34; D. A. Carson, John, 204) or (2) simply to the manner in which God loved the world, i.e., by sending his own son (see R. H. Gundry and R. W. Howell, "The Sense and Syntax of John 3:14-17 with Special Reference to the Use of Ou{tw"w{ste in John 3:16," NovT 41 [1999]: 24-39). Though the term more frequently refers to the manner in which something is done (see BDAG 741-42 s.v. ou{tw/ou{tw"), the following clause involving w{ste (Jwste) plus the indicative (which stresses actual, but [usually] unexpected result) emphasizes the greatness of the gift God has given. With this in mind, then, it is likely (3) that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John's style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God's love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.
37tn Although this word is often translated "only begotten," such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham's only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means "one-of-a-kind" and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (tevkna qeou', tekna qeou), Jesus is God's Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).
38tn In John the word ajpovllumi (apollumi) can mean either (1) to be lost (2) to perish or be destroyed, depending on the context.
39sn The alternatives presented are only two (again, it is typical of Johannine thought for this to be presented in terms of polar opposites): perish or have eternal life.
40sn That is, "to judge the world to be guilty and liable to punishment."
41tn Grk "judged."
42tn Grk "judged."
43tn See the note on the term "one and only" in 3:16.
44tn Or "this is the reason for God judging," or "this is how judgment works."
45tn Grk "and men," but in a generic sense, referring to people of both genders (as "everyone" in v. 20 makes clear).

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Copyright 2007-2008 by David Coulon. Registered and released under CC license 3.0 2007-2008.

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