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The Forgotten Aspect of Reconciliation

 

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their transgressions against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation”

1 Corinthians 5:18-19

The Apostle Paul knew all too well the woes of spiritual siblings refusing to reconcile with each other. In the first century, the church was just getting her legs under her, and Paul had seemingly exhausted himself attempting to articulate the beauty and mystery of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross, not only vertically between sinners and their creator but horizontally between sinners and each other.

Whether it was commanding the Christians in Colossae to “bear with one another” and to be “graciously forgiving each other” (Col. 3:13), or the church in Ephesus to always “be kind to one another” and be “graciously forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has graciously forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32), it is not hard to glean from the pages of God’s Word that a large emphasis on our pilgrimage here on Earth is the ministry of reconciliation.

One significant aspect of this ministry of reconciliation, often overlooked by the church in recent years, is that our reconciliation with each other has been purchased and granted to us by Christ and His work on the cross. This is most clearly articulated in Paul’s words to the church at Corinth found in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.

It is there that we learn several things about Christ, ourselves, and our neighbors. We learn not only that Christ has reconciled us back to the Father but that our ministry of reconciliation should mirror and match certain aspects of our reconciliation back to God. In other words, how we reconcile with our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ should display the glories and splendor of how Christ worked to reconcile us!

All too often in the ebbs and flows of the modern Western church, we see self-help books, conferences, seminars, and even sermon series on how to get along and how to have unity with each other. Yet, so few times do we focus on the doctrine of reconciliation. All of the programs, all of the self-help books, and all of the counseling in the world cannot budge one ounce of enmity between siblings in the faith without the reconciling work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

So what aspects of Christ’s reconciliation should believers grab hold of in order to reconcile with each other? Below are a few ways that God would have His children bridge the gap and clear the slate of strife amongst each other.

We Must Walk In The Spirit

First and foremost, God’s children must “walk in newness of life” (Rom.  6:4). The scriptures articulate this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when the Apostle Paul reminds us that, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Holy Spirit is building a foundation for the reality of reconciliation, and that foundational structure is that each and every one of God’s children are now new creatures.

The old version of us is now gone, passed away, and no longer regarded as valid! The old creature was separated from God, filled with strife, and unable to be reconciled to their fellow man. The old creature was filled with envy, discord, selfishness, pride, and so many other wicked attributes. Now though, the new creature has been wiped clean and washed by the regenerating powers of God and His Spirit! Therefore, in that newness, we must walk.

We Must Not Count Our Transgressions Against Each Other

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their transgressions against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (1 Cor. 5:18-19).

This is vital and must drive our efforts to reconcile with our brothers and sisters! We must be willing to forgive when sinners sin and rejoice when sinners repent. God has committed to us the word of reconciliation. In other words, He has established this ministry within us and because our Father has said, “Do this,” we must go and do it! But we will never reconcile with each other if we hold each other’s sins over one another’s heads. If Christ can forgive us, we can forgive each other.

Christ Died In Order That We May Be Reconciled With Each Other

Yes, friend, this is the main point. Our Lord suffered, was mutilated, and publicly embarrassed for our shame, sin, strife, and enmity. He took the wrath of God that we merited in order to please the Father on our behalf. Jesus was slaughtered in order to bring us back to our Creator and back to our neighbor.

When we refuse to and hinder each other from reconciling, we are forgetting this one point. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 tells us, “So then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as God is pleading through us. We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ shed His blood to bridge the gap. Christ suffered so that we may not be at odds with the Father and His children.

May God richly bless His church to reconcile where reconciliation is needed. Amen.

For further reading
The Works of Stephen Charnock: Volume 3
Proce For A People by Tom Wells
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen
The Puritans On Loving Each Other by Don Kistler
Wesley Russell

Wesley Russell

Wesley Russell is the Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pikeville, KY. Originally from the small town of Pond Ridge, Kentucky, he is passionate about expository preaching, the abolition of human abortion, evangelism, and discipleship. The Lord has given Wes a heart for small, rural local churches in the Appalachian region of Kentucky and he has been beyond blessed to pastor in the region for nearly a decade now.

December 20, 2023

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