The Doctrine of Reconciliation
The basic idea in the word reconciliation is very simple. It means to restore something or someone to a specific standard.
As used in the Bible, man is viewed as out of harmony with God, who, through the cross-work of Jesus Christ accomplishes what is necessary to reverse the enmity and hostility between God and man.
- God doesn't change but man is totally changed in the process.
- It speaks of the restoration of relationships
In Reconciliation God is the subject
Man is the object
Christ is the means
B. THE NEED FOR RECONCILIATION: MAN IS A SINNER
1. Paul argued for 3 chapters to establish conclusively the existence of man's sinful condition saying, "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
a. This verse points to the universality of sinfulness for it includes "all."
b. This verse also points to the nature of sin--"all .... fall short."
The word means "to lack what one must have." It paints a picture of a legitimate bill that far exceeds what one can possibly pay.
c. This verse finally points to the standard which man fails to meet-- "the glory of God."
What, then, is the "glory of God"?
Our answer comes from the Old Testament in passages such
as Exodus 24:16-17 which reads, 'And the glory of the Lord, rested on Mount
Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six
days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from
the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of
The "glory" spoken of here refers to the person and presence of God Himself.
The person and character of God Himself sets the standard of holiness and righteousness.
A sinner, then, is anyone who is less righteous than God.
2. The need for reconciliation is also established by Romans 5:6-10 where four words are used to describe man's condition pre-salvation.
a. Men are said to be "helpless"; total inability, w/o strength.
b. Men are said to be "ungodly"; no reverence or respect for God.
c. Men are said to be "sinners"; in violation of will of God.
d. Men are said to be "enemies"; we're God's enemies, we're in open hostility to God.
[all demonstrate that there is no basis for relationship, no harmony]
3. What, then, is the solution to this disharmony--how can the problem be solved?
a. Can man bring himself back to God? No! That's religion's answer.
b. Can God adjust Himself to man? No! Ludicrous, violate His essence.
The righteous God of the universe cannot and would not adjust himself to our sinfulness.
God is eternally and unchangeably holy.
c. The last option expresses the doctrine of reconciliation--God must undertake to adjust man to Himself.
C. THE STANDARD FOR RECONCILIATION: GOD HIMSELF
1. Since reconciliation involves an adjustment, we must determine the standard to which the adjustment is made.
a. 2 Corinthians 5:18 tells us that God has, "... reconciled us to Himself through Christ ...."
Here we have the standard of reconciliation, "to Himself," and the means of doing so,
b. God Himself is the standard to which adjustment must be made—His character may not be compromised in any way.
2. Reconciliation is always to God. He is the constant and unchangeable one.
The question that remains, then, is this, "How can God bring man into harmony with Himself without changing in any way and without compromise of His own character?"
D. THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST
1. Ephesians explains the means of reconciliation, saying that God might "... reconcile them both (Jew and Gentile) in one body to God through the cross ..."
2. This means of reconciliation is also taught in Colossians 1:20 and Romans 5:10-11.
The cross-work of Jesus Christ is the heart of salvation.
The total solution to the problem of man's sinfulness is realized exclusively in the cross-death of Jesus Christ.
The only contribution man can make is his sinfulness; all else is solved by God through the death and resurrection of His Son.
E. THE BASIS OF RECONCILIATION: JESUS CHRIST BECAME IDENTIFIED WITH SINNERS SO AS TO TAKE THEIR PLACE
1. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
2. Here we have the very heart of salvation: Jesus Christ died in the place of the guilty sinner.
This is the biblical doctrine of substitution. Rom 5:10-11 tie His death to reconciliation.
F. THE CONDITION OF RECONCILIATION: OUR FAITH
Reconciliation is objectively provided by the cross work of Christ and is appropriated by faith.
G. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RECONCILIATION: OUR WITNESS
1. 2 Corinthians , 20 contains two truths about reconciliation.
a. First, reconciliation is a finished work -- "... who reconciled us to Himself through Christ..."
b. Second, this finished work is ours to proclaim - He "... gave us the ministry of reconciliation “... therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."