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Volume 7, Issue 2: Stauron

The Reconciling Cross

Jim Nance

"For if when 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" (Romans 5:10).

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-24).
The greatest need of every person on the whole earth, regardless of station, race, sex, age, or persuasion, is to be reconciled to God; for apart from Christ all men everywhere are by nature and practice lost and corrupt sinners, fitting objects of the holy God's righteous judgment and awful wrath. Unreconciled, we stand before God as enemies, stubborn in our refusal to submit to Him. "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be" (Rom. 8:7). We draw up in battle array against the Lord, rebels all, having no peace with Him, and consequently no peace with others or within ourselves.
Had God left us thus to ourselves, we would in this life receive in ourselves the penalty due our rebellion, and in the life to come, eternal death, damnation, and the punishment of hellfire. But because of His great grace and abundant mercy, God gave His Son to die a propitiating death on the cross, imputing to Him all our sin and guilt, and pouring out upon Him the wrath and punishment our iniquities deserved. And thus "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God." For those who believe, where once there was only enmity there is now friendship; where there was hostility, there is now peace.
This peace has been secured on each side, both God's and ours. But when the apostle Paul wrote that "we were reconciled to God," he almost certainly has in mind the cessation, not of our hatred toward God, but of His wrath against us. We see this first from the fact that the reconciliation was secured "through the death of His Son." Christ died a sacrificial death, a death which had the primary purpose of satisfying God's wrath toward us, as we have seen.
The context of Romans 5:10 reveals the same, for in the previous verses Paul wrote that "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:8-9). The justification of sinners, which is parallel with their reconciliation to God, is a forensic act, an objective declaration of righteousness toward the sinner, not a subjective work within the sinner. Our reconciliation to God is equally objective: God's wrath is removed. Thus Paul declares in the verse following that "we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom. 5:11). Reconciliation is not primarily something worked in us, but rather received by us.
This fact is also made clear by comparing Romans 5:10 with Matthew 5:23-24. There Jesus taught that if your brother has something against you, and you remember this while making a sacrifice, you are to leave your sacrifice and "be reconciled to your brother." In these verses there is no hint that the person making the sacrifice has bad feelings toward his brother, only that his brother has something against him. Thus to be reconciled to someone means to have his hatred or anger removed.
But this is not the only side of reconciliation. For when we receive this reconciliation, our previous hatred toward God is removed. The God to Whom we were reconciled graciously works within the justified sinner by His Holy Spirit, so that he repents of his enmity toward God. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Jesus secures our peace with His Father and also grants peace to our hearts. Realizing what God has done to lay aside His wrath from us, we gladly lay aside our hatred toward Him and embrace Him as our King and Father, our Savior and Lord.
We who are reconciled also lay aside our hatred toward God's people, whoever they may be. No matter what other differences we may have, if we are brothers who are at peace with God, we are at peace with one another, "for He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity . . . 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" (Eph. 2:14-16). Since all of usJew or Gentile, slave or free, male or femalewere all one under sin, now having been reconciled to God we are one under righteousness. God gives this assurance to those whom He has reconciled: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren," and "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another" (1 John 3:14; 1:7). If you are n ot at peace with those who love God, you may not be at peace with God Himself. If so, "we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). And as you are reconciled, give glory to God, as Paul wrote in the verses prior: "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 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."

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