The Truth About Reconciliation
Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:18-19,
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD TO HIMSELF not imputing their trespasses against them, and has committed unto us the WORD OF RECONCILIATION. The word “reconciliation” means an adjustment, or to bring together two things which differ one from the other so that they can now agree and be as one. Atonement carries much the same thought. In book keeping our ledger must agree with the total income being equal to the sum of the profit and the total expenses for the year. If for some reason these two figures do not agree then reconciliation must be made, by adding a figure from one side of the ledger to the other to bring about a balance. Thus God has balanced the books on our account because we have put ourselves into debt to Him through sin.
The process of reconciliation is expressed in a three-fold manner, which we need to understand. The first expression is contained in the Greek word “Katallasso” that indicates that two people who have existed in a state of enmity have been reconciled and so brought together. This is a manifestation of God’s marvellous Grace towards man in that He does not impute our trespasses unto us, so the enmity is removed. Rom 5:10 Paul says, “Even while we were yet sinners, God reconciled us unto Himself through the Cross.” This change in our relationship to God is the result of a change that takes place in us and not in God. God has never needed to be reconciled to man, for He has only considered us as we were created in Christ Jesus, and so we are His children. It is man’s perception of guilt that has created the enmity between himself and God, and it is this enmity that creates at least in our minds the wrath of God, making us to be “children of wrath.” Eph 2:3-5
The second expression of Reconciliation is contained in the Greek word Apokatallaso that indicates a movement out of something into something else. Our lives are largely controlled by our mind, so the concept that has been taught, that repentance is a change of mind does not make any real sense. Why would God ask us to change our mind when He knows that we will continue to act the same way unless our mind is changed by Him?
So in reconciliation we find that it is necessary for us to move the authority centre of our being out of our natural mind for several reasons. One is that our natural mind suffers from a guilt complex and it is not capable of just brushing it aside. Then also our mind has produced a false sense of identity causing us to believe we are sinners having come from Adam. Finally our mind has no means of correctly identifying God, for the natural man does not understand the things that be of God.
Here then is the reason why there must be a moving of our understanding out of this natural mind altogether, into the realm of spirit called “the mind of Christ.” Paul tells us that this is the only mind that will bring the reality of true reconciliation to us allowing us to find fellowship with God. Paul says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
SO what did God do to reconcile us to Himself? Paul explains that He removed the large debt of our sins by NOT IMPUTING THEM UNTO US! The word “Impute” is actually a banking term that means, “to credit to your account.” So God says I am going to balance the books as far as you are concerned, and remove the large debit that had accrued because of your sin. When He did this, the books balanced and we were reconciled to God. This was not by some phoney book keeping on God’s part because Jesus Christ was the “Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world,” thus all sin has been cancelled!
This is why Paul could say,” God was IN CHRIST reconciling the WORLD unto Himself. In the light of this statement we must question why Christendom continues to major on the issue of sin, continuing to lay the weight of its burden upon the people today. The Good News is that God has balanced the books and the “plus and the minus” that concerns us has been RECONCILED. Because of this, we who have been reconciled are now to be ambassadors for Christ, proclaiming the fact that our debt has been cleared and ALL MEN ARE RECONCILED TO GOD!
However, this is only the very basis of the question of reconciliation, as there is so much more that we must understand before we can comprehend the marvellous Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our debt to God is but the beginning of a work of Grace that must affect every part of our being, because everything must be reconciled and brought into conformity to God. Here we must begin with the statement Paul makes that, “ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD.” This statement is profound and must be considered very carefully.
We live in a world of opposites, such as light and darkness, heat and cold, up and down, sickness and health, life and death, love and hate, good and evil just to name a few. In Col 1:20 Paul tells us,
“Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.”
It is therefore obvious that Paul had much more in mind concerning reconciliation than just simply the cancelling of our sins. It is a fact that ALL THINGS must be reconciled IN US before we can be accredited as ambassadors of Christ. We are told that in us, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are contrary the one to the other. Now while this unresolved conflict continues within us, it is impossible for us to live and act exactly as we may choose. If the flesh dominates us in any given situation, we will find it impossible to do the will of God. Therefore to be free we must be reconciled within ourselves, in order to be reconciled to God.
The general concept concerning reconciliation seems to have been misunderstood, considering it to be limited to the salvation of all men. However we must see reconciliation as a work of grace that removes the sense of duality that has invaded the life of all men. Within every man the flesh initiates responses that are contrary to the Spirit of God, thus causing a conflict. Darkness represents a lack of knowledge that results in wrong decisions being made, and these are contrary to directions that the light would make known to us. We are often in conflict over good and evil, not being sure of the true line of demarcation. So it is most evident to us that there must be reconciliation within every one of us, before we can live and act with a singleness of mind that will please God.
The answer to our problem of duality is the CROSS of Christ. Paul says, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts.” He goes on to say, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” The common perception most Christians have is that the cross is the literal stake upon which Jesus died on Golgotha’s hill. However, Jesus said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up HIS CROSS and follow me.” This suggests to me that the Cross must be something more than that one historic event, that took place at Calvary. We must see that the “Cross” is not just an event that has been recorded for us, but beyond that, it is also a spiritual experience that must become a reality within us today. The spiritual tool that God has provided for us to bring reconciliation into effect in our lives is the CROSS. In view of this let us consider exactly how this “Cross” functions to remove the problem of our duality.
Most people would consider the “Reconciliation of ALL” to mean that all men are now reconciled to God, and that all men will therefore return to God. While this is true it does not cover the whole process of reconciliation as seen from God’s point of view. Each set of opposites produces a conflict within every person.
Paul defines the conflict in these words, “I say this to you, walk in the spirit and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Because the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you want to do.” Gal 5:16-17. So here he is speaking about these two opposites, and says that while these are in conflict within us, we will not be free to follow the direction of the Spirit in our daily lives. Speaking to the Roman Christians he said, “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwells no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I want to do I cannot do, but the evil that I do not want to do is what I find myself doing” Rom 7:18-19.
This highlights the result of conflict that is caused by the continuing presence of these unreconciled issues in our lives. “The reconciliation of ALL things” spoken of in Corinthians must therefore involve a resolution to the conflict within us, caused by these opposites that persist in our lives. However we need to understand how the conflict is to be resolved. There is a profound statement in Scripture which says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things are passed away and behold ALL THINGS are become new.” Paul speaks about being a NEW CREATION. What is this “New Creation” in which everything has been reconciled to God?
To discover the answer look back to 2 Cor 5:14-19, where Paul says,
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for All, and therefore All died. And he died for All, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.
Paul is telling us that every man was indeed “Dead” in trespasses and in sins but Christ died for all men, or as the Scripture says, “He tasted death for every man.” Therefore if a man is alive spiritually today, it can only be the result of receiving life from Christ who defeated death for us by rising from the dead. So now our life is no longer centred in our natural birth and its human identity, but in Christ the Son of the Living God. Paul now puts all these thoughts together and says,
“If any man be in Christ (realising he died as me, carrying me through burial and into resurrection life) he IS A NEW CREATURE, whose identity and life is CHRIST.)”
Now we can see clearly how God is able to reconcile all things that are IN US, unto himself. All of the opposites that have plagued our life from the day we have been born only exist in this natural physical world. Therefore because we are now alive in Christ they no longer exists, because that person who we thought we were, DIED, and so did the life that we once lived. That one, who used to be our identity, was always in conflict our desire to do the will of God. We appreciate the Apostle Paul’s honest testimony with regard to this life of unresolved conflict, found in Romans 7.
His masterly summation of this subject begins further back in this letter he wrote to the saints at Rome. But let us pick up the thread in Chapter 5:10, where he says, “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.” Our constant failure to please God continually condemned us while we lived in our false identity, but having died in Christ that identity with all its failure was brought to an end. Now our salvation is simply, that we have begun to live a new Life, and that life is CHRIST.
The consciousness of our separation from God came from Adam whose identity we had assumed. We have acted before God just as Adam did, by hiding from Him behind the trees. These “trees” represent our thoughts, behind which we have sought refuge in thinking that the death of Christ was a substitute for our death, and provided us with the forgiveness of our sins, so God will not be angry with us.
Jesus called the multitude together and said, “Every plant (representing our thoughts) that my Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.” The Pharisees were offended by these things because they were blind to the Truth, and so they kept the people who were under them, in bondage also. Religion does the same thing today. Paul continues speaking to the Roman Christians by saying, “As sin has reigned (as king) bringing you into death, even so (in the same way) Grace reigns (as king) through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So in Rom.6:1 Paul begins by asking a question, “Shall we continue in sin so that grace might abound?” He replies to this question by saying, “GOD FORBID that you should even think such a thing.” Then he introduces the question of Baptism to make his point. Of course he is not speaking here of baptism in water for the forgiveness of sins, but of that Baptism whereby we are Baptised by one Spirit into ONE BODY. In Gal 3:27, Paul speaks of being Baptised INTO CHRIST.
This baptism, involves being baptised into the death of Jesus Christ, and being buried with him. This indicates the absolute end of life as we had known it up to that point. Having now terminated all connection with our past life, we rise with him from that death to walk in a brand new life. In verse 6, Paul continues with the analogy and says our OLD MAN (called ADAM) was crucified with him, for the purpose of destroying that existence in which we were dominated by sin. This beloved, is the pathway of freedom. So if the “Adam” we thought we were, was swallowed up in Christ’s death, then in resurrection we rise to live a Christ life, over which sin has no power.
Despite the Truth of what we have just said, so many of God’s people continue to live in a perpetual war zone within themselves, facing conflict on every side. The reason for this “contradiction” is that they have never allowed God’s reconciliation to work in their lives bringing them into peace. What they have been taught by preachers and teachers is all that they know, and that knowledge has failed to bring them into oneness with God. Their lives have been one continual conflict between good and evil, flesh and Spirit, and Light and darkness, just to name a few.
Paul continues his personal testimony into Romans 7, saying, “I know that the law is spiritual but I am carnal and a slave to sin. Because that which I do not want to do I find myself doing, and that which I desire to do, I am unable to do.” This is the conflict with which we all identify, but at that time in Paul’s life his understanding was being illuminated by the Spirit. He continues by saying, “For I know that in me, that is in my flesh (that came from ADAM), dwelleth no good thing, for my desire is to do good, but how to do it eludes me.” He says his life is in constant conflict, because when I want to do good, evil is present to overcome my desire.
This is the cry of all humanity that echoes from the Apostle Paul as he came to grips with the reconciling of all things in himself to God. “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from THIS BODY OF DEATH, which lives in constant conflict.” Immediately he replies to his own call for help and says, “I thank God the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Now Paul has reached that point in his life, where the Spirit of God has brought revelation to him concerning the way to experience the peace of God. However I know many people use this testimony of Paul to prove that the conflict he speaks of is to be an ongoing experience in our lives until we die. But nothing could be further from the truth.
If we have been reconciled to God it must mean surely that we have been made to conform to Christ, in a way that will allow us to enter into union with him. There is no conflict in God, for there is only one power in this universe, and not two as has been taught by so many. How could God reconcile us to Himself if there remains some power out there or within us that challenge His authority in our lives? We must first discover how this reconciliation functions in our lives.
Paul says they that are in the flesh, or who function out of the Adamic consciousness cannot please God. How then can we be reconciled to God if we cannot please him? The answer is that it is impossible, and yet our natural mind has the power to hide reality from us, so that we can believe a lie. Therefore it is only Truth that can make us free.
Paul makes a profound statement that, “All things are of (or out of) God.” I do not believe many Christians have really grasped the truth that is revealed here. The concept of a “devil” that is in constant opposition to God, looms so large in the minds of many Christians that it has distorted our true understanding of God. We have been convinced that our God is simply playing a kind of “catch-up” game, being so busy cleaning up the mess that this “devil” keeps on making, that he has little time to do anything positive.
Listen to what the Scriptures have to say, “For by him were ALL THINGS created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM AND FOR HIM. He is before all things and by him all things consist.” Col 1:16. We must conclude therefore that there is really nothing in all of creation that God has not made, and made for Himself. Rev.4:11 says, “Thou art worthy O Lord to receive glory, honour and power, for thou hast created ALL THINGS, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Remember that at the end of creation on the sixth day God looked at all He had made, including man, and declared everything was very GOOD. However, it was in the plan of God to lower man into a level of living that can only be characterised as vanity. This is how Moffatt translates it, “For creation was not rendered futile by its own choice, but by the will of him who thus made him subject. The hope being that creation as well as man would one day be freed from its frustration and be restored to its pristine glory as the children of God.”
This restoration involves a reconciliation of those opposites that have continued to function in us despite all our personal endeavours to be rid of this duality. Paul explains how this matter is to be resolved by saying.
“Having made PEACE through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile ALL THINGS unto himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.”
What does Paul mean when he says he has reconciled all things in heaven and in Earth? First of all we must understand that the Heavens and the earth refer to us, rather than the physical creation. We are the heavens (the spiritual part of our being) and we are the earth. (the physical part of us.) Here is the main source of all our inner conflicts. Let us lay hold on this truth, that He made PEACE, through the “blood” (i.e. His life) of His cross so there would be no more conflict within us. However for most Christians there is still a battle that has not yet been resolved. This indicates to us that the conflict is still raging between the Flesh and the Spirit and between the carnal mind and the mind of Christ.
If we have not resolved the problem of Light and Darkness, or Good and Evil then we really have not yet touched the reality of being reconciled within ourselves. This means that the reconciliation Christ has achieved on our behalf has not yet been implemented in us, and so we have not entered into that PEACE of God that passes all understanding. Paul continues to expound the truth of reconciliation by saying that he was made a minister according to the economy of God that had been given to him for US, so that we might fulfil the word of God. He calls this a “mystery” that has been hidden from the ages and generations, but is NOW made known to his saints.
This mystery is CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY. What exactly does this mean with regard to our reconciliation? The word “glory” comes from a Greek word meaning to think, and therefore to express the true honour and dignity of our being. Most Christians still consider themselves as sinners and mortal beings who were born and who will die. This does not express much in the way of glory.
We admit that our body is under the influence of sickness and disease, over which we seem to have very little control. Our emotions such as anger, hatred, lust and desire, often dictate our attitudes and actions, resulting in unresolved conflict. Reconciliation means that every part of our being has been brought into harmony with Christ, enabling us to express what He is. God expresses his Peace in the perfection of Christ. But the mystery of Godliness, is that Christ walked this earth in the form of a man called Jesus, who was born of a woman, being tested in all points just as we are, yet He never sinned, and in everything He pleased the Father. He could say, “If you have seen me you have seen my Father, and I and my Father are ONE.”
One day Jesus asked the disciples if they knew who He was, because from all outward appearances He was no different from any other man. Peter looked into the eyes of Jesus with spiritual understanding that was given to Him from the Father and declared, “Thou art the CHRIST the son of the living God.”
After His resurrection Christ returned to the Father to receive again the glory He had before the world began in order to make that same glory available to us. Then He returned just as He told the disciples, on the day of Pentecost to take up residence within His people. This is the mystery that reveals how reconciliation functions in us today. Christ IN YOU is the only possible hope of God being glorified in His people.
Paul says, “YOU are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:10 This reveals to us that we must have been created IN CHRIST in the beginning, so John declares to us, “As He IS, so are we in this world.” He is the likeness and image of God and also the righteousness of God. So Paul now says that if we are to express the glory, which is the honour and dignity of our true being and identity, we must understand that Christ has now taken up residence IN US as our Life, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. He now stands within us declaring, “ I AM THE WAY.” He did not say, come to me and I will show you the way. NO, he said, I AM the way and so if we are to express the glory of our true identity that is Christ, we must become what He is, because He said I AM, is the only way to declare that glory.
We need to understand that the title, “I AM” is not the name of a person but is a state of being, expressing that our origin is out of Christ and has never changed from the beginning, and neither has our relationship with the Father. That “title” was revealed to Moses who needed to identify who it was that was sending him to Egypt to deliver Israel, and literally means, “I am becoming what I am becoming.” The truth is, he is becoming what he IS, in us.
It represented to Israel, that God would declare Himself through Moses, to deliver them from their humanity and mortality, bringing them into an expression of Himself. Ex 19:4-6 says,
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bear you on eagles wings, and BROUGHT YOU UNTO MYSELF. Now, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you will be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be unto me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and a HOLY NATION.”
This expression “I AM,” expresses the will and purpose of God to dwell in man, and in doing so, for man to reflect his image and likeness, even as it is in Jesus Christ. Because of this, Jesus was able to say, “I am the way.” This means that He had “become” the WAY in Himself. For any man who is seeking “The Way,” can only discover it by becoming what Jesus had become.
He also said, “I am the Truth.” The truth is not some teaching that he brought to us, but what He himself had become. There are not many who seem to have understood this fact, considering instead that Truth is ink on paper, or verses in the Bible. No, Truth is a person and if we desire to know truth, we must become what he is.
In this sense, truth is something that has always been, and can never change for it is set in the reality of God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things that are not as though they were. Jesus connected one more thing to the concept of I AM, and that is LIFE. Again, He never suggested that life could be had, just by coming to Him and asking for it. He said, “I am the LIFE.” Therefore life is but an expression of the “I AM,” therefore to have that life we must become just what he is. Every attribute of God is reflected in the, I AM and therefore manifest in Jesus Christ. He is the God of MERCY and so mercy is manifested in that state of being that is, I AM. The same can be said for Peace and every other attribute of God.
Now listen to what Paul has to say to us in 1 Cor 1:27-31.
“But God has chosen the foolish ones of the world to put the wise to shame, and God has chosen the weak ones of the world to embarrass the mighty…….. But you who also belong to God through Jesus Christ, who from God is made to all of us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and salvation. As it is written, he who glories let him glory in the Lord.”
It can be seen from the above that we must look closely at Jesus Christ to discover the mystery which Paul spoke about in Eph 3:2-7.
“Have you never heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God which was given to me for you? For this mystery was made known to me by a revelation, as I have briefly written to you before, so that when you read it you can understand my knowledge of the Mystery of Christ. This mystery in ages past was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and partakers of his body and of the promise, that is given through him by the Gospel.”