Rev. Hanko is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
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 ministry of reconciliation. Now then are we ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
What an amazing and blessed experience! God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.
Reconciled. The word implies that there was once a relationship of friendship between God and us, and, moreover, that this relationship was disrupted. And now (glorious reality!) it is restored.
God established that relationship of friendship between Himself and us already in Paradise.
In Adam we were created in the likeness and image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in love.
From the physical aspect, we were formed as rational, moral creatures, with mind and will and all our faculties, capable of being image bearers. Spiritually we bore the image of God as His friend servants to live in covenant fellowship with Him.
As the highest of all God’s earthly creatures we saw the glory of the Creator in all His creatures, walked and talked with Him in intimate communion of life, and served Him by devoting ourselves to Him in Adam, who was king over all the earthly creation. This was a small foretaste of heaven.
But that bond of intimate communion of fellowship and friendship was broken. And we are responsible for that. By the instigation of the devil and our own willful disobedience we sinned against God by eating of the forbidden tree. First Eve, then Adam. We were guilty of breach of covenant, allying ourselves with God’s enemy the devil, rebelling against our Creator and our covenant God.
As a result, we are hopelessly lost, dead in trespasses and sins, prone to hate God and our neighbor, worthy only of everlasting condemnation in hell under Gods holy wrath.
We could not save ourselves. There was no angel or other creature that could possibly save us. All the offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament could not atone for a single sin. We were hopelessly lost in our sin and guilt.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for that great love wherewith He loved us from all eternity, has planned for us a way, the only way of salvation. The Holy One whom we so deeply offend with our transgressions has reconciled us to Himself in Christ Jesus.
At Christmas time we so thoughtlessly sing, “God and sinners reconciled,” as if a third party came between God and us to reconcile God to us as well as us to God. No! A thousand times, No. God was in Christ reconciling us unto Himself.
God in Jesus Christ took the burden of our guilt and sin upon Himself and bore it away!
God is the Reconciler. We are the reconciled—by sovereign grace alone, rooted in eternal love in Christ Jesus!
Great is the mystery of godliness! God does far beyond all that we could ask or think.
He reconciled us, His people whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the earth in Christ Jesus. He appointed His Son to be the Christ, the Anointed One, to bring about this reconciliation with those given to Him of the Father.
He is the Firstborn of all creatures. All things were made by Him, and for Him, that in Him should be all the fullness of blessedness.
The Father sent His Son into the world to be born of a woman, to come under the law and thus be laden with the guilt of our transgressions. The Son took on our flesh and blood from His mother Mary to do the Father’s will by bearing away our sin, the sin of the world.
Even more, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. When our first father fell into sin, he fell as king of the earthly creation and brought the creature with him under the curse. We see the evidences of that in the sickness, disease, and infirmities among the animals, as well as in the imperfections in trees and plants. Paul tells us that the whole creation groans, being made subject to vanity and corruption. But the creature groans in hope, waiting for deliverance from the bondage of corruption, to share in the liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22).
Christ did not die to reconcile only a certain number of individuals, or the totality of the elect. But He brought reconciliation to His fallen creation. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. That includes the whole creation, with the exception of the reprobate wicked, who perish in their sins.
God’s reconciliation reaches even beyond that. For there had also been a fall in the angel world, a serious disruption when Satan and his host rebelled and were cast out. A large part of the angel world was cast out with Satan, so that the original unity of the angelic host no longer existed. Also the angels in heaven eagerly watch the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption, for they are personally involved in the restoration of all things in Christ Jesus (I Pet. 1:12).
Christ came to reconcile all things unto Himself, both in heaven and on earth.
Therefore, as a reward for this accomplished work on the cross, our Lord was exalted to the highest heavens, far above all principalities and powers in heaven and on earth. He was given a name above all names, that every knee must bow, and every tongue must confess that He is Lord to the glory of the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
And He was exalted as Head of His church. He now reigns in heaven for the ingathering of the saints. He gathers His church from all nations and races, defends and protects her unto the day of His return. Therefore all things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
God makes all things new. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, united in one. Christ will bring His church into glory, and His saints will reign with Him over the new creation. Even the angels will be subject to us, that we may reflect the glory of the Father, world without end.
“We are ambassadors of Christ.”
There is actually no end to all the wonders that are involved in our eternal reconciliation.
God through Jesus Christ as our exalted Lord in the heavens gathers unto Himself a people, His church, by His Word and Spirit.
He has given His inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of revelation, in which He makes Himself known to His people in all His glorious perfections, confiding in us His eternal thoughts, plans and purpose, and mighty works as the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ. God breathed His Word into holy men, who were moved to write exactly as the Holy Spirit guided them. All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Our sovereign Lord has entrusted that Word to His church, that through the office of the elders and minister that Word may be proclaimed for the gathering of the saints. Ministers are servants, ambassadors of Jesus Christ, who are sent with the authority and mandate of their Lord. His mandate is, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the ‘Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Is. 40:1, 2).
That Word is powerful as the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. For “how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:14, 15).
By that Word the church is gathered, preserved, and defended unto the day of the ingathering of the saints when Christ returns. To her comes the Word of God: “Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Is. 43:1).
As a bridegroom takes his wife into his arms and declares, “You are mine,” or as a mother takes her newborn baby to her breast with the comforting thought, “You are my very own, even my flesh and blood,” so God takes His bride unto Himself and claims us as His very own forever.
But the complaint arises within us, “My sins are so great and so many that they cannot possibly be forgiven. I am most unworthy of so great a salvation. I deserve only to be cast away forever, to die in my sins.”
Are you weary? Heavy laden? Do you hunger after God? Do you thirst for His approval and blessing? Then to you Christ says, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is. 55:1). Christ, who calls His sheep by name and carries His lambs in His bosom, beseeches by His Word and Spirit: Be ye reconciled to God! Believe only! For faith is God’s gift unto salvation!