Hello TTP Family!!! Today we come your way with another exciting new episode in our ongoing series THE VOCABULARY OF SALVATION. So far we have explored Sin, Righteousness, Redemption, Remission, Propitiation and Justification. In our previous episode on Justification, we examined how the three concepts of redemption, remission and propitiation tie in beautifully to make God’s justification of sinners possible. The question we must ask ourselves is why would God seek to justify sinners? To put it another way, what is God’s chief motivation in doing all this? The answer to the quandary, we believe lies in today’s post. Today we examine the word RECONCILIATION. As usual we will examine the meaning of the word, its use in scripture and how it finds fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ.
To reconcile basically means to restore friendly relations between two or more parties. The act of reconciliation presupposes alienation. It tells us that something has gone terribly wrong marring a pre-existing relationship. In the NT the Greek word the authors chose to capture the concept of reconciliation is the word “KATALLASSO” and its variants “Apokatallaso” and “Katallagee”. The word katallasso was a word used to describe an aspect of the job of money changers especially around the temple. Imagine you had two 50p coins and needed a 1 cedi note to make a transaction (think cents and dollars if it works for you). It was the job of the money changer to reconcile (katallasso) these two separate coins and make them one inseparable unit. When the NT authors think about reconciliation they picture us being made one with God in perfect harmony.
In the first few pages of our Bibles we are introduced to the harmonious relationship between God and humanity and all of creation. That’s until sin entered the picture. In the first episode of our series on the Gospel, we looked at the issue of sin and how sin is basically a rebellion against God. We also examined the separation it causes between us (humans) and God. We noted that because God is holy, He cannot dwell with us sinners hence our exile from the Garden of Eden (the presence of God). Not only does God’s holiness demand separation from sin, His righteousness demands that justice be meted out. What this means for us is that all humanity is liable to suffer punishment at the Hand of God. In all of this, we know some may be tempted to picture God as some angry God who has a bone to pick but you can check out our post on propitiation which really puts everything including the “wrath” of God in context.
However to properly understand why God would go through the ordeal of seeking to justify a guilt laden humanity, we must take a look at one more nature of God and that is LOVE. God does not just have love, He is love as the apostle John puts it. In 1 John 4:16 we read these words;
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
The basic dictionary definition for love is strong affection towards someone or something. Love is one of the words we’ve thrown around loosely so much so that it has lost a depth of meaning. For instance one may say “I love pizza” or “I love my mom”. The question then is; “ Do you have the same feelings you have towards pizza as you have towards your mom?” It would be ridiculous to think they were the same right? Even though there are levels of affection for your mom and pizza they are clearly different. In such a similar manner when we humans speak about love, ours is just a minute expression of the purest form of Love which resides in God. For us humans, our love is most often based on a benefit or good feeling we derive from the object of our affection. In our example earlier one may love pizza because of the good taste and feeling of satisfaction it provides. Another may love their mom first because of the relationship that exists and also the perceived good they get from their mom. The point here is this; human love is mostly conditional. It is conditioned by perceived benefit or relationship. On the other hand when the Biblical authors speak about the love of God, they use an interesting word to describe it. The Greek word used to describe the love of God is the word Agape. It is a kind of Love that seeks the ultimate good of the object of its affection while deriving no perceived benefit. It is sometimes translated as benevolence. God’s love has himself as the source and chief motivation. He loves us regardless of who we are and what we do. When humanity sinned, although God’s holiness demanded separation and His righteousness demanded justice, His Love still pursued us. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 5:6-11;
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.
The one thing we (God and humans) have in common is that we all seek to commune and share fellowship with the people we love. It is this drive for fellowship, born out of God’s unconditional love towards humans that drives God towards the need for justification. This is what makes the cross of Jesus Christ a mystery. The Cross is an amazing portrait of the character of God. In it we see God’s wisdom, patience, mercy, justice, love and holiness work together perfectly. Because in the process of justification, Sin is pardoned and removed, justice is served, and Lover (God) and beloved (humanity) are RECONCILED. On the cross, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them (2 Corinthians 5:19). To further extend the earlier metaphor of the money changer; God in Christ united humanity with his deity in the person of Christ. In so doing not only are our sins removed and pardoned, we are now partakers of God’s divine nature. We now share in God’s holiness, His Love and righteousness. And we are tasked with the mandate to not only make this nature known to the world we have also been entrusted with the task of announcing to the world that God has paid the price and seeks to be reconciled with all humanity. To put it another way, because we are reconciled with God we have a new nature, a new identity and a new mandate. This is truly good news. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
For the believer reading this post, we implore you to walk in the new life God has brought you into because of his love and we pray that you will take up the mandate of making his love known to all mankind.
To the seeker looking for answers as to the meaning of life, we hope you find some comfort in the love of God for all humanity. As Jesus said in his conversation with Nicodemus, God did not send his son to condemn the world, but that the world through him may be saved. (John 3:17).
Until next time, stay blessed and know this for a fact that you have been reconciled with God through Christ.