Reconciled to God

I’m going to give you a quote that is utterly fantastic.  It’s a little long, but bear with me and you will greatly advance in spiritual understanding. It’s helpful to understand the antimony of God’s sovereignty and Man’s freewill.  An antimony is an apparently unresolvable conflict or contradiction, especially between two true statements.  For example, Scripture declares that God is Sovereign.  Scripture also declares that man has free will.  If one is true, the other cannot be some will say.  It’s like God is one and God is three.  Both are true statements, but man’s finite mind cannot fully understand, except by accepting them both by faith and making our best understanding of both true statements.

This is a quote that helped me greatly understand the antinomy of God’s sovereign work in salvation and man’s non-meritorious choice. It’s a quote from Merrill Unger who wrote Unger’s Bible Dictionary.  He defines what the word “reconcile.” He explains what God did to restore man to Himself.  Read this and I’ll break it down.

“Reconcile comes from a word that means to change thoroughly from one position to another (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-21). It means that someone is completely altered and adjusted to a required standard. (Rom. 5:6-11).  By the death of Christ, the world is changed in its relationship to God. Man is reconciled to God, but God is not said to be reconciled to man.  By this change lost humanity is rendered savable.  As a result of the changed position of the world through the death of Christ, the divine attitude toward the human family can no longer be the same.  God is enabled to deal with lost souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished.  Although this seems to be a change in God, it is not a reconciliation; it is rather a ‘propitiation.’ God places full efficacy in the finished work of Christ and accepts it. Through His acceptance of it He remains righteous and the justifier of any sinner who believes in Jesus as his reconciliation.  When an individual heart sees and trusts in the value of Christ’s atoning death, he becomes reconciled to God, hostility is removed, friendship and fellowship eventuate.” 

            Let me break that down for you. 

“Reconcile comes from a word that means to change thoroughly from one position to another (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-21). It means that someone is completely altered and adjusted to a required standard. (Rom. 5:6-11). 

He is saying that the word “reconcile” means that by the death of Christ on the cross, God changes a person to a completely altered state related to God and adjusts that person to the required standard of God.  What is God’s standard?  His own righteousness.  Because Jesus died on the cross for the sins of man, paying the penalty of sin, man is altered and adjusted to the righteousness of God.  Listen to what Paul writes in Romans,

10 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. 11And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Rom. 5:10-11)

We were considered as enemies by God, but because of the cross, we were altered and adjusted to the required standard. The sin barrier was removed by Jesus’ death, so that God could now look at man in a different way. Note that last phrase, “we received the reconciliation.” We’ll see that below. It is the part man must do for the fullness of reconciliation. Then Unger says,

By the death of Christ, the world is changed in its relationship to God. Man is reconciled to God, but God is not said to be reconciled to man.  By this change lost humanity is rendered savable.

Here the change is caused by the death of Jesus on the cross, Who died for our sins.  Notice he says that man is reconciled to God, but nowhere does it say in Scripture that God is reconciled to man.  THAT is very significant.  Furthermore, man is then placed in a “savable” condition, whereby man can be saved.  Man has been placed in an altered condition and adjusted to the righteousness of God and rendered savable.  But man is not saved at that point, because there is a second part of the reconciliation that is necessary.

            Unger continues addressing the relationship,

As a result of the changed position of the world through the death of Christ, the divine attitude toward the human family can no longer be the same. 

Because of the death of Jesus, God’s attitude had to change toward mankind.  It couldn’t be the same. Why couldn’t it remain the same, that is, considering man as an enemy (Rom. 5:10)?

God is enabled to deal with lost souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished.  Although this seems to be a change in God, it is not a reconciliation; it is rather a ‘propitiation.’

Because of the death of Jesus, God is enabled to deal with fallen man. How does that work?  Because God’s righteousness was propitiated – satisfied.  Legally, the penalty for sins was paid by Jesus and God was satisfied with His death payment.  However, there hasn’t been a full reconciliation, because a second part is necessary.  God was satisfied with the death of Jesus for the sins of the world, so God could no longer look at man as an enemy, but a soul waiting to accept what God had done for him.   Catch this next section,

God places full efficacy in the finished work of Christ and accepts it. Through His acceptance of it He remains righteous and the justifier of any sinner who believes in Jesus as his reconciliation. 

Jesus did the work.  God makes effective, or considers of great value, the work of Christ. Why?  Because God the Father accepted the work of Jesus on the cross and therefore can place man in a position of being justified, if man makes a non-meritorious decision of faith to accept what Jesus has done, that is believe in Jesus as his reconciliation.  Finally, Unger says,

When an individual heart sees and trusts in the value of Christ’s atoning death, he becomes reconciled to God, hostility is removed, friendship and fellowship eventuate.” 

So God calls you to salvation and waits on you to put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  When you do, then the fullness of the hostility is removed and you can grow in fellowship with God.  That is deep, I know, but is utterly important to understand as you grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Consider how that helps understand the antinomy described above.

 

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