GOD'S RECONCILIATION FOR MANKIND
Colossians chapter 1 speaks of three things Christ has done for Christians. The first thing He did for Christians was to give them their physical existence. Every man and woman who has ever lived on planet earth owe their existence to Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:16 says, “By Christ all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth.” That includes you and me. He created us and the earth on which we live. Another thing He has done for Christians was to transfer them from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Christ, where the one true God of earth is known, worshiped and obeyed(Colossians 1:13). Existence outside the Christian religion is called the domain of darkness because most all people have a darkened understanding, and because of this lack of knowledge of God they are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in their hearts. He transferred us from that sinful state of existence into a holy state of existence. In the kingdom of Christ(the church) Christians are required to live good, moral, holy lives.
In addition the world is called the domain of darkness because most all people live under the influence of Satan and other fallen angels. These fallen angels are spoiken of as the rulers of the darkness of this world, who have blinded the minds of all who do not believe in Christ and the Christian religion.. The spiritual rulers of darkness have now led the overwhelming majority of the population of earth into complete atheism. Russia, China and India represent the overwhelming majority of the world population, and atheism rules in these nations.
In this message we shall study the most important thing Christ has done, not only for Christians, but for all mankind. It is well stated by Paul in Colossians 1:19-22, “For it has pleased the Father that in Him(Christ) all the fulness should dwell, and by Him(Christ) to reconcile all things to Himself(God), by Him(Christ), whether things on earth, or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight.” Twice in that passage we are told that God the Father reconciled Christians to Himself when they were the enemies of God, and God used the physical body of Jesus to accomplish this reconciliation to Almighty God. God Himself has reconciled all Christians to Himself., but He did it by the body of Christ through death. God the Father was the Architect of the plan. Every Christian was an enemy of
God before this reconciliation took place. And if every Christian was an enemy of God, how much more is every person on earth an enemy of God who is not a Christian
My first comment on this magnificent subject is in the form of a question, “What is this thing called, “reconciliation?” What does it have to do with God and with being a member of the church? We don't hear much preaching on this subject in Christendom. The word reconciliation is a noun, and reconcile is the verb form. Reconciliation is the accomplished transaction, and reconcile is the action that produces the result. The word reconcile means to restore to friendship, to bring two opposing parting together, to bring back to harmony, to bring the opposing parties to peaceful relations. Our understanding of reconciliation is acquired mostly in the world by the disagreement between union representatives and employers, between labor and management. They are most often strongly at odds with another, and agreement seems almost impossible. Usually a conciliator must be brought in to help the two parties come to an agreement. When an agreement is made and peace ensues, that is the reconciliation.
In the Christian religion reconciliation presupposes disagreement, alienation, hostility, broken friendship, and loss of peaceful relations between God and man. In the case of God and humans, it seems clear that hostility and estrangement is mutual. God is angry because mankind has held down and kept back the truth He has revealed to mankind and for refusing to worship Him and Him alone. Simply stated, mankind and God are strongly at odds with each other. God had little to do with the human race for the first four thousand years of human history, with the exception of the one nation of Israel. God let the other nations of the world go in their own sinful ways to dishonor and disobey Him. However, in the last two thousand years God has made a determined effort to restore friendly relations with people of earth and bring about a reconciliation between Himself and all mankind, called in scripture the offspring of God.
However, this separation, loss of friendship and peace have continued for the past two thousand years with all nations of the world, except the Christian nation. In spite of His efforts to restore harmony, most of the human race continues to live with hostility toward the one true God of heaven and earth. Christians are the only people on earth who have received His reconciliation, and they now live at peace with
Him, and they have received the blessed promise they will live forever and ever with the angels of heaven. But there is serious trouble between the Creator and most all of His intelligent creatures, who in scripture are said to be His offspring. Planet earth is in a lot of trouble with an angry God, but doesn't know it. In the gospel the term reconciliation is used only in connection with relations between God and mankind. It is written that God reconciled Christians to himself when they were enemies. If anyone doubts that God looks on rebellious mankind as enemies, consider this statement in Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Most all of mankind have no regard for God's universal code of behavior. The unreconciled portion of mankind may be compared to little children playing carelessly and having a good time on the edge of a dangerous cliff. The greatest need of mankind is to be reconciled to God. Learn all you can about God's offer of reconciliation.
Secondly, the most fascinating part of this subject has to do with what God did to make this reconciliation possible. It required a plan that would please both the Father and mankind. It had to be something that would change the Father's attitude toward the human race, and would also change the attitude of the human race toward God. What did God do? Probably more is said about how He worked out the reconciliation plan in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 than in any other one passage. It says, “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 unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God was pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” To this statement I would add Paul's statement in Colossians 1: 21,22, “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight.” Those two passages tell us as much as we can know about God's reconciliation plan to restore peace and favor between God and earth people.
As briefly as I can, let me give you the chief components in the reconciliation plan. We are distinctly told that God does the reconciling,
but He does it through Jesus Christ. God chose Christ to be the conciliator between the two opposing parties, God and man. He authorized Christ to restore friendship and peace between Himself and the human family. God the Father was the Architect of the plan but Christ was to implement it. Christ was to be the go-between, the one Mediator between God and man. We can see how Christ could well represent the human race since He was one of us, and He was great enough to stand up for us. But .it is not so easy to see how He could rightly represent God the Father in this dispute. However, God saw to it that He Himself would be well represented in this Creator-creature deadlock. God created a totally new, unique, and special human being to serve as Arbitrator. Jesus Christ was no ordinary human being. He was much more than a human being.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, did not exist until about 2,.000 years ago. It took God 4,000 years to bring Jesus Christ into existence. He arose out of Israel, the holiest nation in the world. When the time arrived for Him to be born, God dispatched the second person of the Godhead from heaven to earth to inhabit and indwell the body of Jesus at the very moment of His birth, and in this way they became one and the same person. Scripture says that in the fleshly body of Jesus all the fullness of the Godhead dwelled. This heavenly being laid aside the glory of the heavenly form and existence He enjoyed in heaven and transformed Himself into the form of Jesus of Nazareth. From the birth of Jesus to this present day, Jesus Christ has been associated with the second person of the Godhead. Hence, He was both God and man, human and divine. He was the God-man, Immanuel, God with us. In this way the man Christ Jesus became qualified to represent both God and man in the reconciliation. From the human side of His nature, He was God's only begotten Son, and the only human being that bears that title. Thus, God chose Christ the God-man to be the Arbitrator in this dispute between heaven and earth. It was for the sake of all mankind that this wondrous incarnation event took place, and it resulted in God making a visit to planet earth.
Furthermore, we are told exactly how Jesus was able to bring both God and the human race together again, and how friendship and peace has been partly restored. Christ did something that changed God's attitude toward the human race, so that He was no longer angry and demanding justice by punishment. He also did something that changed the attitude of the human race toward God, from fear and
hostility to love and devotion. What He did is revealed in Colossians 1: 21,22, “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by evil works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” The chief thing in the reconciliation plan was the physical body of Christ. He chose the punishment of one man's physical body to unite and reconcile God and mankind. God allowed the Jews and Romans to put Jesus to death, and in putting Him to death His physical body suffered atrocious pain. Jesus prayed to be excused from such suffering, but God refused His request.
Here is the secret of it all in the reconciliation. plan. God used the pain and suffering inflicted on the body of Jesus to be a punishment. But a punishment for who and what? He made Jesus suffer as a punishment for sin, but not for His sin for He had no sins. But how could this be? Jesus had no sin. Why then should God punish Him? He was the scape-goat for the human race. It is explained in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” This is just another way of saying that God punished Christ for the sins of mankind. The meaning is that God treated Him as though He was the sinful human race. God considered Him a fitting representative of the entire human race, and Jesus knew His death was a punishment for the sins of all mankind. Christ paid an awful price for our reconciliation. Out of the Father's merciful love for the human race He decided to punish the entire human race by punishing Christ as a substitute for mankind. This is the meaning of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:5,6: “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, smitten by God and afflicted. He was wounded for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed. We have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
If you ask me how justice was served by such a divine
judgment, I can only say it flowed out of God's love, mercy, kindness and wisdom. It most certainly was an act of mercy toward the human race. Don't ask questions; just rejoice, receive it, and be thankful. Do you appreciate what Jesus did for you? God traded the punishment belonging to the human race at the final judgment for the punishment He inflicted on Jesus at Calvary. It was a divine act of substitution. God exchanged the punishment that belonged to mankind for the punishment Christ suffered by being crucified. The punishment that rightly belongs to all mankind God imposed on Christ. Christ was great enough to make such an exchange because He was both God and
man. So what we have here is really the entire Godhead taking on itself the punishment for the wrongdoing of the human race.. We are distinctly told that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. When Jesus was suffering for sin, God the Father was also suffering for the sins of mankind. How embarrassing this must have been! In this way the justice of God was satisfied. God in effect says, “The punishment the human race deserves has been fully paid for by the way My only begotten Son willingly used His body as a sin offering to Me. I exchange your punishment for His.”
Finally, how does sinful man receive this reconciliation? Let no one misunderstand or misapply this great transaction. This exchange did not come to the human race automatically, universally and immediately at the time of His death. . The human race must lovingly receive the reconciliation God has provided. All who refuse to receive God's reconciliation will have to suffer their own punishment for the way they lived and mistreated God during their lifetime. We have learned in this study that we are reconciled to God by the atoning death of His Son. Hence, to receive the reconciliation one must receive Christ's death. To receive Christ's death is to believe it; it is to believe that He was punished for the sins we all committed in life when we were enemies of God. It is to believe that His death was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
It is not enough to believe that Christ died; we must believe He died as a sin-offering for man, as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. To accept in the soul this great fact is to mentally receive the reconciliation. As soon as this fact is accepted, one may become a Christian by ceasing to be an enemy of God by making a determination to change your past sinful life and submit to God's command to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of all sins committed from the time of your youth(Mark 16:15, 16; Acts 2:38). After your obedience to these commands, nothing remains but to let the Holy Spirit guide your life by the study of God's word, and live a good and holy life in the fear of the Lord. In this way we work out our own salvation with fear trembling.