Scripture and You

Focusing on 'The Reconciliation'

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
In these chaotic times, it is vital for Christians to focus on what Scripture calls "the reconciliation."

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

In these chaotic times, it is vital for Christians to focus on what Scripture calls "the reconciliation."

We live in a time of division, not only in America but around the world: So-called racial divisions (although Scripture plainly declares that all people on earth are of one blood, all having Adam and Eve in common as our first parents). Class divisions of various kinds. Male versus female. Rich versus poor. One religion versus another. One political party versus another. In the COVID era, the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated. We could name a hundred such divisions among humanity without difficulty.

All such divisions, whether real, imagined, or invented, are man-made. Only one division is God-made: those who will be saved for eternity versus those who will be lost for eternity. The difference between the two is what Scripture calls "the reconciliation."

In such a time as this, God's blood-bought people must go to the Word for its repeated reminders, from beginning to end, that we are not merely citizens of this present dying world with all of its divisions rooted in the curse of sin, but

you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

There is no greater gift for which Christians must offer continual thanks to God than what the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul calls "the reconciliation" -

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But 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. 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. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

Triple Separation From God

Before we were Christians, we were in a state of triple separation from God.

First, "When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The word translated "without strength" is a form of the Greek asthenia, meaning "a lack of requisite capacity to do what is necessary." The same word is used in John chapter 5 to describe the man at the pool of Bethesda, who confessed to the Lord Jesus that he was helpless to enter the water when it was periodically agitated by an angel, and thus be healed. Upon that confession of utter inability to help himself, Christ said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." In the same way, Christ is the Savior of those who confess their utter inability to save themselves from God's eternal wrath. In Paul's inspired discourse in Romans in particular, "ungodliness" signifies our utterly helpless condition because we bear Adam's curse. "Christ died for the ungodly" - those who acknowledge that they are in such a hopeless condition.

Secondly, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." The word translated "sinners" is hamartolon, indicating not the practice of sin, but the fact of being inescapably in bondage to sin because of our fallen nature inherited from Adam. When we were in such a condition, "Christ died for us." God the Father "made Him who knew no sin [literally, had absolutely no personal acquaintance with or responsibility for sin] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has given us a righteousness which is not our own, as Paul declares to the Philippian church:

I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. (Philippians 3:8-9)

And so, Paul here declares in Romans 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."

Thirdly, Christ came to redeem us when "we were enemies" of God. The Greek word here is echthroi, indicating our state of alienation from God. That alienation came when Adam fell. His intimate fellowship with God, and thus that of all his descendants, was summarily and thoroughly broken. But while in such a hopeless condition, "we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, [and] much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." The word translated "reconciled" is katallagentes, which signifies the restoration of a relationship based upon an exchange. God has extended His grace toward us solely on the ground of the shed blood of His Son. Our sins have been remitted, and we are once and forever justified - declared not guilty - before the judgment bar of God.

Rejoicing in "The Reconciliation"

And so, the Holy Spirit declares through Paul, "we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (verse 11). The Authorized King James version translates the last words of this verse as "the atonement" but the phrase is actually, as correctly translated in the New King James Bible, "the reconciliation" (ten katallogon).

We find the same word used repeatedly in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 to describe our present state in the eyes of God, and our present work as we await God's upward call:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 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. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

Dear Christian, are you thankful to God for "the reconciliation" of which  you have become a partaker? Are you proclaiming it to a lost and dying world of those who are "still without strength" - "still sinners" - and "enemies" of God? No matter how dark these days may seem, let us remind ourselves that there is wrath to come for the ungodly. But there is peace and rescue through "the reconciliation" that is in Christ Jesus.

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