“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
No reason for limitation here. Not merely men and angels! Not merely men, Jew and Gentile! Not mere individuals!
But all things, viewed organically, of course! All things in heaven and on earth!
God purposed to reconcile unto Himself!
Through Christ Jesus!
The Mediator of reconciliation! Through Christ Jesus in whom it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell! Through Him, through the blood of His cross, it also pleased the Father to make peace and reconcile all things unto Himself.
Such is the saving truth set forth in our text!
A divine act!
Wondrous revelation of divine love!
At the bottom of which lies the never to be broken relation of the covenant. God’s covenant!
O, indeed, reconciliation is a divine act! It is that work of God whereby He translated His elect from the state of enmity and wrath into a state of eternal favor and, friendship by removing their sin and guilt, land imputing to them everlasting righteousness.
It is an act, and, at the same time a marvelous revelation of divine: love!
Not so is the truth, that the love of God is the fruit of reconciliation. Thus many would present it today. Accordingly, Christ, came to merit that love and to make it possible for God to love us. But if this were true, it must needs follow that God is reconciled to us.
But how contrary this presentation is to all of the Word of God!
Do we not read in the Gospel of John, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son . . .?” And does not the Apostle Paul write to the Church at Corinth, “That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them?”
Indeed! God is never the object, but only and always the subject of reconciliation! And the love of God is the cause, the eternal fountain of reconciliation. Without it there is no reconciliation conceivable.
And, as was said, at the bottom of reconciliation lies the inviolable relation of the covenant. God’s covenant, that is, which is eternal and never to be broken. Though it surely can be transgressed, though the working of the covenant relation can be disturbed, though by the blood of the cross this working can be healed, yet the covenant does not come into being by the blood of Christ, nor can the covenant ever be broken.
The cause of this lies in the fact that the covenant is Gods. It is never bi-lateral, but uni-lateral; never two-sided, but one-sided. It does not exist through agreement. It is not realized through the fulfillment of a condition which man fulfills. It exists and is realized through God alone. It is not broken through the act of man’s will by which he transgressed the covenant, but it stands eternally and unbreakably fast because God maintains His, covenant.
Therefore it is correct to say that our covenant God reconciles us unto Himself. And the very basis of reconciliation is the eternal covenant of God.
How beautifully this truth is demonstrated in the ratification of the covenant with Abraham. While the patriarch slept, God alone walked between the pieces of the slain beasts, .piece laid over against piece. God alone makes and keeps His covenant, upon which rests the friendship relation which is so necessary before, we can ever speak of any reconciliation.
Moreover, it is the very idea of reconciliation that it removes all that would hinder or disturb the life of that covenant. It removes the guilt of sin, and the burden of God’s wraath, yea, all that would deprive us of the right to dwell in His house and to taste His favor.
O, indeed, the object of God’s love becomes the object of His righteous wrath. Though, to be sure, love can never hate, love can be wrathful. How this can be true is clearly demonstrated in the cross. How that love of God can be so wrathful that He can cause the highest object of His love to go under the vials of righteous judgment, we hear in that fourth outcry from the cross: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” While the suffering Servant was conscious of the highest love, He was at the same time conscious of the pain of burning wrath. This is reconciliation!
Complete pouring out of the wrath of God over the object of His love! Over us this could never be, for we would sink away under the impact of wrath eternally. But God Himself reconciles us with Him. He maintains His own covenant. He bore the burden of His own wrath in our nature in the Person of His Son. This is reconciliation!
The very essence of reconciliation is atonement, satisfaction. A sacrifice of perfect obedience in love makes satisfaction and atones. Therefore reconciliation took place in the blood of the cross, or rather, through the blood of the cross.
Through the blood of His cross!
So making peace!
Blessed state! Peace, where all the cause of war is removed! By the removal of guilt and enmity, peace is made a glorious reality. Reconciliation is the declaration of peace through satisfaction.
Not merely through the cross, not even His cross, but through the blood of His cross. Through the blood of Christ, the Mediator of reconciliation. The blood of the Son of God, that is the instrument which God uses to make peace and reconciliation.
That that blood was so efficacious, could accomplish so much, was due, first of all, to the fact that it was guiltless, sinless blood. He who knew no sin was made sin. He who never transgressed was numbered among the transgressors. He was the Lamb without any blemish.
Moreover, the blood was freely poured out! In perfect obedience He shed His blood on the cross. Shall satisfaction be made, He must bear the wrath of God in perfect love of God. This He did when He gave His life for His sheep. Where sin was an act of willful disobedience and rebellion, atonement is an act of perfect obedience in love.
What is more, His was a vicarious atonement. He died, He poured out His life’s blood for His sheep. It was also for that reason a limited atonement. His blood was sufficient and efficient to satisfy for the elect. At the head of His people He stood when He poured out His blood.
To be sure, it was in human nature Christ suffered and died! But in this nature it was the Person of the Son who tasted death on the very symbol of the curse!
So that blood was of infinite worth, and could satisfy the justice of God, burn out of His wrath, establish peace, and make reconciliation!
To reconcile all things unto Himself!
Things on earth! Things in heaven!
Things in heaven?
O yes, also in heaven!
But is there need for reconciliation in heaven? Is it not the dwelling place of the holy angels? Did not those obedient ministering spirits always do the will of their Creator?
Surely, it is true that a part of the angels never rebelled. There are indeed personally righteous and holy. And therefore they have no need of reconciliation in the sense that their sin must be blotted out and atoned for.
Yet there can be no doubt that when Satan and his angels rebelled and fell through their sin, the angel world, as a whole, was disfigured and disorganized in relation to God. Through the fall of the devil, the angel world lost its head.
And the angels must have a head!
The order of heaven must be restored!
By the blood of the cross Satan and the powers of darkness are overcome! Satan and the spiritual powers in high places must be eternally condemned to the lake of fire.
The holy angels must publicly be declared righteous, and their order restored!
Christ Jesus, by His obedience on the cross, merited the right and received the honor to become the Lord and the Head of angels!
So the things in heaven are also reconciled unto God!
But also on earth!
The sin and fall of Adam caused a breach in the entire earthly creation. The ground was cursed for man’s sake. Thorns and thistles it produced to aggravate the work of man, who in sweat must work until he returns unto the dust from whence he was taken.
Also among the animals, the creeping and the flying things, is felt the burden of the curse. The whole creation groans and travails in pain, waiting to be delivered.
Bitterness, enmity, strife, and war mark the pages of the history of the world since the say man rebelled against his God.
Therefore Christ died and shed His blood on the cross to bring peace and reconciliation once more to the disorganized and troubled world which is the object of God’s love, and in the center of which is the election of grace!
So that beautiful vision of Isaiah may be realized! The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Indeed, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the Word of reconciliation!
In behalf of Christ therefore we are ambassadors as though God did beseech through us; we pray in behalf of Christ: Be ye reconciled to God.
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!
Blessed Mediator of reconciliation!
Blessed and glorious Covenant God!