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Good Friday

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Good Friday – April 6, 2007

Central to both Christian living and Christian ministry is reconciliation. 

Maybe that doesn’t sound so strange, but One writer puts it this way:  “This is the theological novelty in comparison with non-Christian religious thought, which knows the deity only as the object of the reconciling work of man.”

 

In man-made religion, man is the one who does the work bringing himself in line with the deity – or whatever he is worshipping.

But, with Christianity, the other way round.  God is the one who does the reconciling.

Reconciliation – to restore to friendship and to harmony.


If you open your bibles to p___ you’ll see what I mean. 

Look at 2 Corinthians 5:18 (ESV)
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

 

Another is this:  2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

And again look at 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

There is a lot packed into those two sentences, but just notice that it is God who is the reconciler – so much so, that he gives a ministry – that of reconciliation.

Point One:  A Relationship in Ruins

The reason the Lord is reconciling us to himself is that we need to be reconciled.  We are not by nature in fellowship with him; we, according to Paul in Romans 5, are his enemies, in that we want to rule the world – a job only he can do. 

Apart from Jesus Christ, our relationship with God lies in ruins.

Like a person who has a mounting debt of financial obligation – medical bills, bills for things we shouldn’t have purchased but did – we too have a mounting debt of obligation against the Lord.

In our BCP, we confess before the Lord the things we did, that should not have done; and the things we didn’t do that we should have done.  And, these include our thoughts, our words and our deeds. 

I remember thinking that if only I could end the day not speaking ill of someone or of avoiding some other kind of obvious sin, then I could go to sleep in peace.  Of course, I didn’t think about my sins of omission, whether in thought and deed.

One way or the other, we are estranged from the one who made us, and the one who is now learn wants to reconcile himself to us, and us to himself.

The Articles of Religion add another element: listen carefully.  About Jesus Christ, it says, he truly suffered, was crucified, died and was buried, to reconcile the Father to us

I know I need to be reconciled to the Father, but according to this, he needs to be reconciled to me.  There is a barrier between God and us and it keeps both of us distant from one another.

From my side, I have sinned; but from God’s side, obviously he didn’t sin, but as we read in    Habakkuk 1:13 (ESV)
13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and are silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?

 

He can’t look at it.  Exodus 23:7 (ESV)
7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.

In Romans, of course, Paul says that God does precisely what he says in the OT he will never do – i.e. acquit the wicked.

 

And in 2 Cor, he reconciles us to himself, and by implication himself to us.  How?  Through Christ – who:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Point Two:  Relationship Restored

The Qumran community, which existed at the same time as Jesus, believed that by its obedience to the Law (the Torah), it made atonement for the whole land – or that is the land of Israel. 

How different is Christ’s atonement.  God, in love, initiated the reconciliation, and in Jesus Christ, he offered an atonement for the whole world, not just those who lived in Israel.

Notice too, that the reconciliation is a completed action.  2 Corinthians 5:18 (ESV)
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

 

We don’t have to contribute to our own reconciliation – we simply need to be reconciled – that is we must put our whole trust in confidence in the Lord Jesus, and in his reconciling death by which my sins, the great barrier between us and God has been removed, and also the means by which God’s justice is satisfied as well – that is the barrier from his side as one who cannot look on sin – but now in his Son, sin is removed, and now we have a restored relationship with the Father through the son.

As a result of Christ’s reconciling death, the enmity between God and man has ended.  Now we have peace with God – 2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

 

Here is another way to put it. 

God’s record book of sin on you and me.  All I have done/said; not done and not said. 

And on the front page of the book of this book, I find not Jim Basinger, but Jesus Christ.

Another book – this one of Jesus – and there is nothing in it.  And on the front cover, I find my name on it, Jim Basinger.

For our sake, he made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…

Jesus isn’t simply an innocent 3rd party who takes it on the chin for me. No, he comes from God the Father, who sends himself in the person of his son to fully satisfy his own judgment and to forgive our sins by bearing them on the cross, and by being raised on the 3rd day.

Point Three:  A Right Time for Reconciliation

Look at 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (ESV)
1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Notice the urgency in Paul’s words.  We appeal to you, not to receive the grace of God in vein.  And just how do we do that?

We don’t receive it.  We hear it, we mull it over, or we simply dismiss it as pious talk.  But Paul won’t allow us to think that.

It is urgent that today we respond!  Be reconciled to God – he has done the work of reconciliation – but we must, by faith, enter into that completed work –

We must respond.  Now, tomorrow, and in fact, I think each day; but there must be a first day before there can be every day.

I remember first hearing the gospel as a message of reconciliation.  It really moved me; but not quite enough at the time, but later it took effect.

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