Posted tagged ‘reconciliation’

Double Reconciliation

April 18, 2014

In Romans 5:10 we are told, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We were God’s enemies, obnoxious to His righteous judgments. We stood to God as the objects of His displeasure, subject to the hostility of His law.

We were “reconciled,” that is, brought into His favor. And that, not by the Spirit’s work in us, but “by the death,” the propitiatory sacrifice, “of His Son.” That this statement refers to the averting of God’s anger from us may be seen by the following considerations:

First , in that the immediate context is commending the amazing love of God to us (v. 8), But if verse 10 were referring to the laying down of our enmity to God, it would rather be an instance of our love for Him, than of His for us.

Second , in that the terms of verse 10 are unmistakably parallel with those of verses 8, 9, and there we read, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us,” which can only mean, Christ died for us as “ungodly,” to deliver us from the death which God’s holiness required and died thus to bring us into favor of God.

Third, in that “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” is only another description of “being justified by His blood” in verse 9. To be “justified” is God’s reconciliation TO US, His acceptance of us into His favor, and NOT our conversion to Him; and that was in order that we would be “saved from wrath” (v. 9).

Fourth, in that in the following verse we are said to have “received the reconciliation” (v. 11), which CANNOT BE MEANT the laying down of our arms of rebellion. we cannot be said to “receive” our conversion; but we can receive by imputation that which Christ’s sacrifice has procured for us. “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” ( 2 Corinthians 5:18).

“Who hath reconciled us.”

When did God do so? At the Cross, as verse 21 clearly enough shows. By whom were we reconciled? Not by the work of the Spirit within, subduing our enmity, but “by Jesus Christ.”

How were we reconciled? By Christ’s being “made sin for us” (v. 21), and thus receiving in Himself the penalty of the law, and thereby appeasing God’s justice.

It was by His sacrifice that the Lord Jesus reconciled us to God, for the design of the sacrifice was to propitiate God, and not to reform the sinner. “And that He would reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:15,16).

Verses 11-15 reveal the fact that both a double alienation and a double reconciliation is under discussion. There is first an antagonism between Jews and Gentiles, verses 11, 12. Second, there is a separation between God and His people, verses 12, 13. Conversely, through the Satisfaction which Christ has made unto God, elect Jews and elect Gentiles have been united in “one new man” (v. 15), and both have been reconciled unto God (v. 16). Thus, the “Christ is our peace” of verse 14 is amplified as: between ourselves mutually(v.15),and between us and God (v.16).

It should be noted that the “enmity” of verse 16 cannot refer to that which existed between Jews and Gentiles, for that has been disposed of in verses 14, 15. “Enmity” is here personified (“slain”), as “sin” is in Romans 8:3. Thus, the verse means that all the sins of God’s people met upon Christ, and Divine justice took satisfaction from Him.

While the gracious provision originated in the love of God, the Reconciliation was the righteous means of removing His holy hatred against us. Thus, “O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry, with me, thine anger is turned away” ( Isaiah 12:1).

To merely present a God who is willing to be reconciled to sinners is a wretched and wicked perversion of the Gospel. For Christ to make perfect reconciliation it was required that He should turn away the wrath of God from His people by removing their sin from before His face by means of a propitiatory sacrifice, as also that we should be brought to turn away from our opposition to God’s gospel and brought into submission to the Truth. The one reconciliation is secured by Christ’s satisfaction, the other is accomplished by His sending His Spirit to renew us ( Titus 3:5).

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” ( Amos 3:3). Hence the servants of God are bidden to go forth and beseech sinners to be reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:20).

A W Pink

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Forde Rejects the Idea that God has Wrath, and Only Speaks of Faith as the End of Human Wrath

May 18, 2013

Forde is more about the verb (our believing) than he is about the object of our faith. Forde cares more about our experience than anything that may or may not have happened 2000 years ago. Forde begins his atonement essay “Caught in the Act,” (1984) by stating that a proper understanding of the work of Christ must necessarily begin “from below. According to Forde’s reading, Jesus did not come teaching an atonement theology about the nature of God. Rather, Jesus simply traveled around Palestine spontaneously and unilaterally forgiving sinners.

“Why could not God just up and forgive? Let us start there. If we look at the narrative about Jesus, the actual events themselves, the “brute facts” as they have come down to us, the answer is quite simple. He did! Jesus came preaching repentance and forgiveness, declaring the bounty and mercy of his “Father.” The problem however, is that we could not buy that. And so we killed him. And just so we are caught in the act. Every mouth is stopped once and for all. All pious talk about our yearning and desire for reconciliation and forgiveness, etc., all our complaint against God is simply shut up. He came to forgive and we killed him for it; we would not have it.”

For Forde it’s all about the wrath of humanity and not at all about the wrath of God. Forde is more interested in a “low anthropology” than He is about God or God’s agency in redemption. For Forde, humanity under the power of legalism prefers not to be forgiven so that it can maintain its illusory control over God with its good works. Forde writes: “But why did we kill him? It was, I expect we must say, as a matter of “self-defense.” Jesus came not just to teach about forgiveness of God but actually came to do it, to forgive unconditionally . . . this shatters the “order” by which we must run things here.”

Another analogy Forde uses is a man who throws himself in front of a moving truck and is killed while attempting to save a child playing in the road. In this analogy, sinful humanity is driving the truck and the man killed is Christ. Humanity drives the truck insofar as they participate in the legalistic order of the present evil age.

Forde asserts that the goal of Jesus was to be “. . . crucified by the legalistic order itself, so to bring a new order.”By killing Jesus, sinful humanity comes to recognize its bondage. In rejecting Jesus and his mercy, humanity is truly made conscious of its root-sin of opposition to God’s grace. God allows himself to be killed by us, states Forde, in order to “. . .make it plain that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).” Jesus therefore did not die to fulfill the law or suffer the punishment for our sins. Rather, he died in order to reveal a low anthropology— fallen humanity’s sin of self-justification and opposition to God’s grace.

Forde reduces the gospel to our experience of faith. To Forde, this matters way more than what happened at the cross. To Forde, the gospel is only “epistemology”, only about us coming to understand stuff that we did not before. To Forde, the gospel is NOT about what God did in Christ, in terms of God’s justice or God’s nature as holy.

For Forde, the gospel is not ultimately about the death of Christ. For Forde, the “gospel” becomes a teaching law which shows us that we need to die and be re-created as new persons of faith. In that we are made conscious of our sin by the death of Jesus, then we die in our experience.

Forde’s idea of our “inclusion” in Christ’s death is that Christ is NOT a substitute. For Forde, it is not Christ’s death that is ultimately matters because TO HIM IT’S OUR DEATH BY PREACHING WHICH MATTERS. Forde’s idea is that God is “satisfied” not by Jesus’ death, but by our own death –which is an experience of passive trust.

Forde: “When faith is created, when we actually believe God’s unconditional forgiveness; then God can say, “Now I am satisfied!” God’s wrath ends when we believe him, not because Christ’s death is payment to God “one time. for all time. For Forde, God never had any wrath. For Forde, human wrath ends when faith begins..

Many religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this sentimentality. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel.
Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is God also to apologize? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

Yes, the Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless humans killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God the Trinity decided for whom Christ would die. The human experience of faith does not decide if Christ’s death has any practical effect.

We sinners now did not ourselves put Christ on the cross. We are NOT the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins or on exercise of faith.

Although believers are commanded to count as true what God has already counted as true, humans can never be the original counters or those whose decision is what ultimately counts.

The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam.

If you Remember that Somebody Has Something Against You, Then You are not the Forgiver

May 12, 2011

Matthew 5:23–“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go First be reconciled to your brother.”

Some liberals have a difficult time reading this command correctly, They cannot think of themselves as needing any forgiveness, so they “interpret it” as saying “go to the person who has hurt you and make peace. (Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life, p96)

We are not the ones who reconcile ourselves to God (by not being like Calvinists or other Christians we know). God is the one who reconciles. God is the subject of Reconciliation, But this does not mean that we need to become Socinians who deny that God is also the object of His own Reconciliation.

Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Why do we “receive the reconciliation”? Why not just say, we were reconciled? In other words, why not just get changed, so we are not at enmity? Why do we receive something?

If there is never legal enmity in God, then there is no wrath, and if not, there is no propitiation, and no need for it. But the problem is not only in our own hearts, at the altar. God has a problem with us, and only God can solve that problem.

Romans 5:17 does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” So, even though sinners are the objects of reconciliation, though sinners receive it, this reconciliation is not only the overcoming of the hostility of the elect, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own judicial hostility to elect sinners.

John Murray: “In the Scripture the actual terms used with reference to the reconciliation wrought by Christ are to the effect that we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10) and that God reconciles us to Himself (II Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:2-22). Never is it expressly stated that God is reconciled to us.

It has often been stated, therefore, that the cross of Christ, insofar as it contemplated reconciliation, did not terminate upon God to the removal of His alienation from us but simply and solely upon us to the removal of our alienation from Him. In other words, it is not that which God has against us that is dealt with in the reconciliation but only our enmity against Him. It is strange that this contention should be so persistent, that scholars should be content with what is, to say the least, so superficial an interpretation of the usage of Scripture in reference to the term in question.

It is not to be denied that the reconciliation is concerned with our enmity against God. Reconciliation, like all the other categories deals with sin and the liability proceeding from it. And sin is enmity against God. But, when the teaching of Scripture is properly analyzed, it will be seen that reconciliation involves much more than that which might appear at first sight to be the case.

When in Matthew 5:24 we read, “Be reconciled to thy brother,” we have an example of the use of the word “reconcile” that should caution us against a common inference. In this instance the person bringing his gift to the altar is reminded that his brother has something against him. It is this grievance on the part of the other that is the reason for interrupting his act of worship. It is the grievance of the other that the worshiper must take into account, and it is the removal of that grievance, of that alienation that the reconciliation which he is required to effect contemplates.

He is to do all that is necessary to remove the alienation in the mind and attitude of the other. It is plain, therefore, that the situation requiring reconciliation is the frame of mind or the attitude of the other and what the reconciliation must effect is the change of mind on the part of the other, namely, the person called the brother. Thus we are pointed in a very different direction from that which we might have expected from the mere formula “be reconciled.”

And although it is the “against” of the brother that is in view as requiring a change, the exhortation is in terms of “be reconciled to thy brother” and not at all “Let thy brother be reconciled to thee.” By this analysis it can easily be seen that the formula “reconciled to God” can well mean that what the reconciliation has in view is God’s alienation from us and the removal of that alienation. Matthew 5:23, 24 shows how indefensible is an interpretation that rests its case upon what, at best, is mere appearance.

Is God Reconciled by what God did or what the Sinner needs to Do?

February 19, 2011

One response to my question would be to point out that the Bible does not ever talk about God being reconciled. Period. Since God is timeless, there can be no such thing as before and after with God, no such thing as propitiation, no such thing as a transition from wrath to favor.

I agree that God is the subject of Reconciliation, the one who reconciles. I disagree with Socinians who deny that God is the object of His own Reconciliation.

Let me channel John Murray for a minute. First, Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Surely, this does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

Second, Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” So, even though sinners are the objects of reconciliaton, though sinners receive it, this reconciliation is not only the overcoming of the hostility of the elect, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own judicial hostility to elect sinners.

Ambassadors to the Lost Say: Be Ye Reconciled, not “God Is In Love With You”

February 17, 2011

II Corinthians 5: 15—“And He died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake both died and was raised.”

Who are the all? Is the verse talking to everybody? Or is II Corinthians 5:15 only talking to Christians? If Christ did not die for a person, how in the world could that person be commanded to live for Him who died for Him.?

Those who teach an universal atonement (which then fails to atone!) use II Corinthians 5:15 to try to prove that Christ died for everybody. They assume that that we want to tell everybody to live for Christ. The false gospel tells us, that, in order to tell everybody what to do, we first need to tell them that Christ died for them.

II Corinthians 5:15 is about a substitutionary representation: the same all for whom Christ died is the all who died. This death is not the new birth. This death is death by imputation, legal union with Christ. Romans 6:3 explains: “to be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into His death.”

So when we read II Corinthians 5:15, we should not fly off into rhetorical Arminianism. We ask: which people are being addressed by II Cor 5:15? Who is Paul talking to? And when the ambassadors say “be ye reconciled”, who are they talking to?

We can’t say: this means that God is in love with you. We need to ask: are you in the new covenant yet? Have you even been justified yet? Are you reading somebody else’s mail?

Surely we know that God will not start loving a person. Either God already loves a person or not. Surely God will not start loving a person conditioned on that person doing something or accepting something. We do love each other that way, and we should.

But God does not love a person based on a regard for what that person has done or will do. How then do you know if you are one of the ones God loves and for whom Christ died?

II Corinthians 5:10—“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us will receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.”

Since the judgment for all whom God loves (the elect) has already happened at the cross, there will no future judgment for Christians. There will not even be a side-judgment where extra goodies and rewards are passed out.

Why then is the text, II Corinthians 5, which is talking to Christians, bringing up the judgment? The answer is that Christians are being told in this text that they are “ambassadors”, not to each other but rather to those who are still lost

Some of those who are still lost are the elect, who even though God loves them and has always loved them, are right now ignorant of the gospel. And their ignorance, their Arminianism, their legal fears, all of that is evidence that these elect have not yet been justified by God.

And since the ambassadors to whom Paul is talking don’t know which of the lost are elect or not, they are to present the good news to all sinners, and to command all sinners to “ be reconciled”. The ambassadors don’t say: some of you have already received the reconciliation but just don’t know it.

The reconciliation is received passively (by imputation) and that has not yet happened for those who are still ignorant of the gospel and still living in legalism. Look back at the time language of Romans 5:10-11—“now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved by His resurrection. We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

So why is Paul bringing up the judgment seat, when Christians have already passed through the judgment by imputation? Paul brings up “the fear of God” (Ii Corinthians 5:11) because the justified ambassadors need to remember that there are lost people around them who have not yet been justified who need to hear the gospel and be commanded to be reconciled.

We don’t say: well if Christ died for them, then they are already reconciled and justified. They are not. Nor do we say: well, anyway, it’s sure to happen. God works in history. God imputes in time what Christ has paid for in time. And God uses the gospel as the message heard and believed by the elect as they are being justified.

II Corinthians 5:20—“we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Even though the chapter is addressed to Christians only, the message taken by Christians to the lost is not for the elect only. “Be ye reconciled” is for those who have not yet been already justified.

Some of the Elect Are Still Not Reconciled

September 17, 2010

II Corinthians 5:10—“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us will receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.”

Since the judgment for all whom God loves (the elect) has already happened at the cross, there will no future judgment for Christians. There will not even be a side-judgment where extra goodies and rewards are passed out.

Why then is this text, II Corinthians 5, which is talking to Christians, bringing up the judgment? The answer is that Christians are being told in this text that they are “ambassadors”, not so much to each other but rather to those who are still lost

Some of those who are still lost are the elect, who even though God loves them and has loved them, are right now ignorant of the gospel. And their ignorance, their Arminianism, their legal fears, all of that is evidence that these elect have not yet been justified by God.

And since the ambassadors to whom Paul is talking don’t know which of the lost are elect or not, they are to present the good news to all sinners, and to command all sinners to “ be reconciled”. The ambassadors don’t say: some of you have already received the reconciliation but just don’t know it.

The reconciliation is received passively (by imputation) and that has not yet happened for those who are still ignorant of the gospel and still living in legalism. Look back at the time language of Romans 5:10-11—“now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved by His resurrection. We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Why is Paul bringing up the judgment seat, when Christians have already passed through the judgment by imputation? Paul brings up “the fear of God” (II Corinthians 5:11) because the ambassadors need to remember that there are lost people around them who have not yet been justified who need to hear the gospel and be commanded to be reconciled.

We don’t say: well if Christ died for them, then they are already reconciled and justified. They are not. Nor do we say: well, anyway, it’s sure to happen.

God works in history. God imputes in time what Christ has paid for in time. And God uses the gospel as the message heard and believed by the elect as they are being justified. So we “make it our aim to please Him.” (II Corinthians 5:9)