Nana Yaw Aidoo
There isn’t a single aspect of salvation that a person could examine without becoming awed by the great and steadfast love of the God of hosts. The late Tom Holland said of salvation that “it is like examining a very expensive and exquisite diamond” because “every facet of it is beautiful.” Salvation is beautiful because it involves the greatest love ever shown–God’s love (Rom. 5:8), the greatest gift ever given–the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), the greatest sacrifice ever made–the death and humiliation of Christ (Php. 2:5-8), the greatest opportunity ever allowed–the opportunity to become a child of God (John 1:12) and the greatest reward ever promised–eternal life (Rev. 2:10).
One aspect of salvation is the great Biblical doctrine of reconciliation, a word which means “restoration to favor.” Here is an offender and an offended, with the offender being restored to the favor of the offended. The apostle Paul wrote;
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He had made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
The idea of reconciliation implies that there once was fellowship, then an offense, and then a separation between the parties in fellowship, which is exactly the case between God and man.
The Cause of the Separation
God, the creator of the world made upright beings (Eccl. 7:29), in full fellowship with Him (Matt.18:3). John Calvin wrought a great evil on humanity, when he posited that man is born wholly depraved because he inherits the sin of Adam. It is written; “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezek. 18:20). If, according to this scripture, it is impossible to inherit the sins of our fathers who are closer to us, how then do we inherit the sin of Adam who is much farther away from us? Sin is in the character and as such it is impossible for it to be inherited, any more than it is possible for the police to arrest me for the crime of my dad.
Man, ever wanting to seek “out many inventions,” committed the offense which separated him from fellowship with God. Isaiah wrote;
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear (Isa. 59:1-2).
Sin, my friends, is that which separates men from fellowship with God and caused the need for reconciliation. Not only does sin separate us from fellowship with God, it also separates us from the “life of God” (Eph. 4:17). Though they had a physical existence, the apostle Paul told the Colossians that prior to their becoming Christians, they were “dead” (Col. 2:13) because of sin. Legion are the promises of sin but all it offers is death (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 11:25; 1 John 2:15-17).
However, there is good news. The Colossians who at one time were separated from God, had now been reconciled to Him. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled” (Col. 1:21). The good news is that men can be reconciled to God.
The Grounds of Reconciliation
Not only does reconciliation imply an offense and a separation, it also implies a bridge between the parties to be reconciled. There has to be something that binds back the offender to the offended. God the offended party in this scene, takes the initiative and sends His Son to be the bridge by which men would be reconciled to Him. “…God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ…” (2 Cor. 5:18). “…yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death…” (Col. 1:21-22).
Friends, Jesus Christ is the grounds and the only grounds of our reconciliation to God. Only by Him and through Him is reconciliation to God made possible (John 14:6). By way of His substitutionary death, “with only three nails and two pieces of wood, with one rugged cross, Jesus built a bridge.” “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).
The Means of Reconciliation
The apostle then tells us the means of reconciliation. He wrote; “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19). God Almighty is reconciling the world to Himself by means of the “word of reconciliation.” God is not reconciling the world to Himself by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of men but by means of His perfect word (cf. Rom. 1:16; Eph. 6:17; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). How God reconciles men to Himself is revealed in His word.
The Location of Reconciliation
Finally, the apostle also tells us the location of reconciliation. He says it is “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17), which he later explained or referred to as “in the body” of Christ.
“…yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh…” (Col. 1:21-22).
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:13,16).
The body of Christ is the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18,24) and thus, we see that the location of reconciliation is in the Lord’s church or body, of which there is only one (Eph. 2:16; 4:4). To be “in Christ” is to be “in the body” of Christ, which is the church. This makes sense because the church is the fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). One cannot be “in Christ” without being in the church, which Christ built (Matt. 16:18) and purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28) and therefore, one cannot be reconciled to God without being in the Lord’s church, the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16).
The “How” of Reconciliation
How then do we get into Christ so as to be reconciled to God? The word of God, which is the means of reconciliation, tells us how.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? (Rom. 6:3).
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21) is the only way by which any man can get into Christ so as to be reconciled to God. The penitent believer who confesses his faith in Christ and allows himself to be baptized unto the remission of sins, shall be reconciled to God as surely as it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18).
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor.5:20).
And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).
We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:1-2).