2 Corinthians 5:18
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
Sermons
The Ministry of ReconciliationJ.R. Thomson 2 Corinthians 5:18
Person and Ministry of the Apostle Further ConsideredC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
God the Author of ReconciliationS. Charnock, B. D.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
God the New CreatorT. Manton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
High DoctrineC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
ReconciliationP. J. Gloag, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
ReconciliationT. Manton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
ReconciliationD. Fraser 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
The Incarnation; God's Work in ChristG. S. Barrett, B. A.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
The Ministry of ReconciliationF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
The Non-Imputation of SinT. Manton, D. D.2 Corinthians 5:18-21
The Word of ReconciliationG. S. Barrett, B. A.2 Corinthians 5:18-21


Every good man is a peacemaker. Both unconsciously by his character and disposition, and consciously and actively by his efforts, he composes differences and promotes concord and amity among his fellow men. The Christian minister, however, goes deeper when he aims at securing harmony between God and man. And he purposes to effect this reconciliation, not by the use of ordinary persuasion, but by the presentation of the gospel of Christ.

I. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY PRESUMES THE NEED OF RECONCILIATION.

1. There is a moral Ruler and a moral law, righteous and authoritative.

2. Against this Ruler men have rebelled, they have broken the law, and thus introduced enmity and conflict.

3. Divine displeasure has thus been incurred, and Divine penalties, by which just displeasure is expressed.

II. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IS AUTHORIZED BY HIM WHO ALONE CAN INTRODUCE RECONCILIATION. God is the greater, and not only so, he is the wronged, offended party. If any overtures for reconciliation are to be made, they must proceed from him. He must provide the basis of peace and he must commission the heralds of peace.

III. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY PROCLAIMS THE MEDIATOR OF RECONCILIATION. The Lord Jesus has every qualification which can be desired in an efficient Mediator. He partakes the nature of God and of man; he is appointed and accepted by the Divine Sovereign; he has effected by his sacrifice a work of atonement or reconciliation; his Spirit is a Spirit of peace. And in fact he has "made peace," removing all obstacles on God's side and providing for the removal of all on man's.

IV. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY CONSISTS IN THE OFFER OF RECONCILIATION. It is a moral and not a sacerdotal ministry; it is experimental, being entrusted to those who are themselves reconciled; it is a ministry accompanied with supernatural power, even the energy of the Spirit of God; it is an authoritative ministry, which men are not at liberty to disregard or despise; it is an effectual ministry, for those who discharge it faithfully are unto many the "savour of life unto life." - T.









And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ.
Whatsoever the Christian can desire is to be found in the "all things." But lest even that should not be comprehensive enough, our summary contains a still greater word, "God." If we be thirsty, here are streams that never can be exhausted. If we be poor, here are riches inexhaustible.

I. THE DOCTRINE ITSELF.

1. What is meant here by the term, "all things"? Do we call that man an infidel who should teach that some things of the old creation were of man? What name shall I give to him who will say that anything in the new creation of grace is of man? This is of God as to —(1) Its first implanting. If thou hast but one good thought in thy heart it is of God; for "all things are of God."(2) Its subsequent outworking. Has the believer strength — it is of God. Is he preserved in the midst of temptation — his integrity is of God.(3) Its privileges, pardon, justification, sanctification, adoption, communion. Who will dare to think of these things apart from the unspeakable grace of the Most High?(4) Its actions. See yonder missionary venturing even unto death? Let us give him his raced of tribute; he hath done valiantly. But let us remember that everything in him that was good, was of God. Does the martyr burn at the stake? Is there a Christian, generous, thoughtful of the woes of others, mighty in prayer and diligent in service? All these things are of God. Set down no virtue to man. Good things are exotics in the human heart.

2. How and in what respect are all things of God?(1) In the planning. Nay, in all the work of salvation God is the sole designer.(2) In the purchase and procuring. One price hath bought His people.(3) In the applying and bringing of it home to each individual conscience. God Will make moll willing in the day of His power.(4) In the maintaining. Leave the Christian to himself to maintain the grade already begun, and he is gone.(5) In the completing. The last steps shall be of God as much as the first.

3. Why is it that "all things are of God"? Because —(1) There cannot be anything of man. What can a dead man do towards his own resurrection? Till the stone shall of itself fly upwards, till the sea shall beget fire, and until fire distil the shower, then and not till then shall depraved humanity breathe goodness within itself.(2) It is expressly told us not that some good gifts, and some perfect gifts are from above, but every one. God were only in part the world's benefactor, if there were other fountains out of which the world could draw.(3) All the glory is God's. Now if that be so the work must have been His; for where the work is, there must be the merit.(4) You as Christians are compelled to feel Thou hast wrought all our works in us."

II. THE EXCELLENT TENDENCIES OF THIS DOCTRINE.

1. It compels men to think.

2. It rouses enthusiasm in the minds of those who believe it.

3. It humbles men.

4. It affords consolation for the troubled heart. If all things be of God, let not thy spirit be ruffled and affrighted by the tempest.

5. It encourages the sinner. You are naked; the robe in which you shall be dressed is of God. You are filthy; the washing is of God. You are unworthy; your worthiness must be of God. You are guilty; your pardon is of God. All you are bidden to do is simply to be a receiver. Come with your empty pitcher, and hold it now to the flowing fountain.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. GOD IS THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF THE NEW CREATURE, AND ALL THINGS WHICH BELONG THEREUNTO. That will appear —

1. From the state of the person to be renewed. Can a stony heart of itself become tender? (Ezekiel 36:26), or a dead heart quicken itself? (Ephesians 2:5.)

2. From the nature of this work. Creation is a work of omnipotency, and proper to God.

3. From its connection with reconciliation. We can no more convert ourselves than reconcile ourselves to God. Renewing and reconciling grace are often spoken of together, as in the text. There must be a supernatural work upon us, to cure our unholiness, as well as a supernatural work without us, to overcome our guiltiness,

4. From the effect of this renovation, which is the implantation of the graces of faith, hope, and love, which are our light, life, and power.

5. From the fact that all things belonging to the new creature the Scripture ascribeth to God (Philippians 2:13).

6. What is the true use to be made of this doctrine?(1) To make us sensible that it is a hard task to get the change of the new creature.(2) To check despair. He that can turn water into wine can also turn lions into Iambs.(3) To keep us humble — "All things are of God" (1 Corinthians 4:7).(4) To make us thankful Give God the praise of changing thy nature, if from a bad man thou art become good.(5) To inflame our love to God in Christ.(6) To encourage a cheerful and continual dependence upon God for that grace which is necessary. If we did keep the stock ourselves the throne of grace would be neglected.

II. GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF THE NEW CREATURE, AS RECONCILED TO US IS CHRIST.

1. He would not give this benefit till justice be satisfied; not set up man with a new stock till there was satisfaction made for the breach of the old. All grace floweth from this, that God is become a God of peace to us (Hebrews 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

2. God is never actually reconciled to us, nor we to Him, till He give us the regenerating Spirit; that is receiving the atonement (Romans 5:11). Nothing but the new creature will evidence His special favour (Romans 5:5). Other things may be given us during His anger, but the regenerating Spirit is never given in anger.

3. Apply all this.(1) Let us seek after this reconciliation with God by Christ; then we may comfortably look to obtain every good thing at His hands.(2) It showeth us how much we are obliged to Christ, who by His death hath satisfied God's justice and merited all the mercies promised.(3) Let no breach fall out between God and you, lest it stop grace; the continual sanctification and perfection of man once regenerate dependeth upon this reconciliation, as well as the first renovation, God's sanctifying power, and the abode of His Spirit, is still necessary to renew us more and more.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. WHAT RECONCILIATION IS.

1. It implies that there was a former friendship. There were once good terms between God and man.

2. It implies an enmity on one or both sides. On man's part this enmity is by sin; on the part of God —(1) From the righteousness of His nature (Habakkuk 1:13; Psalm 5:5, 6).(2) From the righteousness of His law made against sin, whereby He cannot but according to His veracity punish it.

3. It implies that God is the prime Author of this reconciliation, yet no man is actually reconciled to God till he complies with those conditions whereupon God offers it. "God was in Christ" when He was "reconciling the world"; we must be in Christ if we be reconciled to God. We must distinguish between reconciliation designed by God, obtained by Christ, offered by the gospel, received by the soul.

4. This reconciliation is —(1) Very congruous for the honour of God.(a) For the honour of this wisdom. Had not a mediator been appointed, mankind had been destroyed at the beginning, and God had lost the glory of His present works.(b) For the honour of His truth and justice.(2) Necessary for us.

II. GOD THE FATHER MUST NEEDS BE, AND IS, THE AUTHOR OF THIS RECONCILIATION. If God be the first cause in all things, He is the first cause in the highest of His works. No creature could originate this work.

1. All human nature could not. Man was so depraved that he knew not how to desire it, and had no mind to cherish any thoughts of it (Romans 1:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 1:21).

2. Nor the unblemished wisdom of angels (1 Peter 1:12).

III. WHEREIN THE AGENCY OF THE FATHER IN THIS AFFAIR DOTH APPEAR. "God was in Christ reconciling the world."

1. As choosing and appointing Christ (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:10; Hebrews 3:2).(1) He was appointed by the Father to this end (Psalm 40:6, 7; Romans 3:25).(2) God appointed Him to every office in order to this: as a priest, to offer sacrifices; a prophet, to declare His mercy; a king, to bring men to the terms of reconciliation.(3) God chose Him to this work with a high delight, as one fully fit for the work, in whom He could confide.

2. God the Father solemnly called Him (John 10:36).

3. God gave Him a particular command concerning our reconciliation (John 10:18; Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19).

4. The Father did fit Christ for this great undertaking.(1) He is fitted with a body.(a) This was necessary. Man, as constituted of soul and body, had violated the articles of the first covenant; therefore man, as constituted of soul and body, must answer the violations of it. It was also necessary that He might be nearly related to us in all things (sin excepted), and redeem us by His passion. Yet He was to have a whole body, free from any taint of moral imperfection, fit for the service He was devoted to, for which the least speck upon His humanity had rendered Him unfit.(b) Therefore the Holy Ghost frames the body of Christ of this seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), and makes the union between the Divine and human nature (Luke 1:35).(2). He is filled with His Spirit by the Father, i.e., with all the gifts and graces of the Spirit necessary to this work (John 3:34).

(a)Habitual holiness. This was necessary. It became Him and us, as our High Priest, to be undefiled (Hebrews 7:26).

(b)Wisdom and knowledge (Isaiah 11:2-4).

(c)Tenderness to man.

(d)Mighty power to go through this undertaking. He had a "spirit of might" (Acts 10:38).

5. God commissioned Christ to this work of reconciliation. He gave Him a fulness of authority as well as a fulness of ability. He is therefore said to be sealed, as having His commission under the great seal of heaven (John 6:27). The end of this commission was the reconciliation and redemption of man.

(1)Satisfaction for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

(2)Testification of the love of God (Isaiah 43:10, 11).

(3)Final and perfect salvation (Galatians 1:4)

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. CHRIST'S WORK — THE RECONCILIATION OF GOD TO MAN. Reconciliation is identical with atonement. In Romans 5:11 the word "atonement" is the same word which is here translated "reconciliation."

1. God needed a reconciliation.(1) The Unitarian view is that God is reconciled already, that there is no wrath in God towards sinners. Nothing can be more unphilosophical and unscriptural. First of all, take Galatians 4:9, which is decisive. St. Paul declares that the being recognised of God is more characteristic of the gospel state than recognising God. "Know God": here is man reconciled to God. "Are known of Him": here is God reconciled to man. Next, it is perilous to explain away those passages which speak of God as angry with sin. We feel that God is angry; and if that be but figurative, then it is only figurative to say that God is pleased. Then, again, Christ was the representative of God. Now Christ was "angry." That, therefore, which God feels corresponds with that which in pure humanity is the emotion of anger. If we explain away such words, we lose the distinction between right and wrong; and you will end in believing there is no God at all, if you begin with explaining away His feelings.(2) It is said that God needs no reconciliation, because He is immutable. But remember that, God remaining immutable, and the sinner changing, God's relation to the sinner changes. "God is love," but love to good is hatred to evil. If you are evil, then God is your enemy. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."

2. The way in which the text speaks of the reconciliation of God to us is, "Not imputing their trespasses"; for the atonement is made when God no longer reckons the sinner guilty. God is reconciled to humanity in Christ; then to us through Him; "God was in Christ." It was a Divine humanity. To that humanity God is reconciled: there could be no enmity between God and Christ: "I and My Father are one." To all those in whom Christ's Spirit is God imputes the righteousness which is as yet only seminal, germinal — a spring, not a river; a righteousness in faith, not a righteousness in works.

II. THE WORK OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY — THE RECONCILIATION OF MAN TO GOD. Distinguish Christ's position from ours. It was Christ's work to reconcile God to man. That is done for ever; we cannot add anything to it. That is a priestly power; and it is at our peril that we claim such a power. Ours is ministerial. We can offer no sacrifice. "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Therefore the whole work of the Christian ministry consists in declaring God as reconciled to man, and in beseeching, with every variety of illustration, and every degree of earnestness, men to become reconciled to God. All are God's children by right; all are not God's children in fact. All are sons of God; but all have not the Spirit of sons, whereby they cry, "Abba, Father." All are redeemed, all are not yet sanctified.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself
Christianity is eminently a remedial dispensation; it supposes disorder and confusion, and it seeks to introduce order and harmony. Now, it is this peculiar feature of the gospel as the religion of sinners that the apostle adverts to in this passage.

I. Consider the NECESSITY of reconciliation. Sin has broken the friendship between God and man. When God created man at first, He created him holy and happy. Adam was the friend of God. Ever since the Fall man has vainly endeavoured to hide himself from God, and to widen the distance between him and his Maker. Hence the fear of death, the terrors of an accusing conscience, the various bloody sacrifices among heathen nations. And this breach of friendship is mutual. On the one hand, God is justly offended with the sinner; He hates all the workers of iniquity; His justice, His holiness, and His truth, are directed against the transgressors of His law. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear." And, on the other hand, the sinner is filled with enmity against God — he is averse to the spirituality and strictness of the Divine law. It is very true that God is a God of infinite mercy, and that the sinner is the object of His compassion; but He cannot possibly be merciful at the expense of His justice. But, behold, there may be reconciliation; the offended Majesty of heaven is willing to be reconciled. He who is the offended and injured party is the first to make the overtures of reconciliation. From the depths of His mercy proceeds a plan by which His justice might be satisfied, and yet the sinner saved.

II. Consider the NATURE of the reconciliation. The great ground upon which the reconciliation rests is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. "God has reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ; 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." Christ is the Mediator of reconciliation; He comes in between the two parties; He is the Day's-man betwixt us, who can lay His hand upon both. And it must ever be remembered that it is on the ground of His atonement that the reconciliation rests. The atonement of Christ has reconciled these opposing claims of justice and mercy. Here, in the words of the Psalmist, "Mercy and truth have met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other." The death of Christ has satisfied the claims of justice. The grand effect of the atonement of Christ is the non-imputation of sins to all who believe. "God," says the apostle, "is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." This, of course, arises directly from the substitution of Christ; it is its immediate effect: we and He, as it were, change places; our sins are imputed unto Him, and His righteousness is imputed unto us. Further still, God hath given us the gospel as the word of reconciliation. "He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation."

III. Consider the MESSAGE of reconciliation. "We are ambassadors for Christ." Christ is the chief ambassador; but we are the delegated messengers of this peace — we are in Christ's stead. God might have sent angels as His ambassadors; they would be more worthy of so great a King and of so important a message. But, in condescension to human weakness, He has sent us weak and fallible men. He would rather allure us with love than terrify us by His greatness. Oh! how high and how responsible is our office! But what is the message? It is to treat with sinners on peace and reconciliation. The embassy is one of infinite grace. God promises that He is ready to receive sinners into His favour. And can it be that such a gracious message should be rejected? There are two motives which we would present before you — motives which the apostle uses in this very chapter: the one of fear, arising from a consideration of Christ on the throne of judgment; the other of love, arising from a consideration of love on the Cross of suffering.

(P. J. Gloag, D. D.)

I. PREMISE THREE THINGS IN GENERAL.

1. That to reconcile is to bring into favour and friendship after some breach made and offence taken (Luke 23. 12; Matthew 5:23, 24)

2. That the reconciliation is mutual; God is reconciled to us, and we to God. The alienation was mutual, and therefore the reconciliation must be so. The Scripture speaketh not only of an enmity and hatred on man's part (Romans 5:10), but also of wrath on God's part, not only against sin, but the sinner (Ephesians 2:3; Psalm 7:11).

3. That reconciliation is sometimes ascribed to God, to Christ, and to believers.(1) To God the Father, as in the text and ver. 18, and Colossians 1:20.(2) To Christ (Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:21).(3) To believers (2 Corinthians 5:20).

II. MORE PARTICULARLY NOTE THREE THINGS.

1. The foregoing breach.(1) God and man were once near friends (Genesis 1:26, 27.)(2) Man got out of God's favour by conspiring with God's grand enemy.(3) Man fallen drew all his posterity along with him; for God dealt not with him as a single, but as a public person (Romans 5:13; 1 Corinthians 15:47).(4) The condition of every man by nature is to be a stranger and an enemy to God (Colossians 1:21; Romans 8:7).

2. The nature of this reconciliation.(1) As the enmity is mutual, so is the reconciliation; God is reconciled to us, and we to God. His justice is satisfied in Christ, and He is willing to forgive. Our wicked disposition, too, is done away, and our hearts are converted and turned to the Lord. God offereth pardon, and requireth repentance. When we accept the offer, and submit to the conditions, and give the hand to the Lord, to walk with Him in obedience, then are we reconciled.(2) This reconciliation is as firm and strong as our estate in innocency, and in some considerations better (Isaiah 57:4). A bone well set is strongest where broken.(3) This active reconciliation draweth many blessings along with it.

(a)Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

(b)Access to God with boldness and free trade into heaven (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18). When peace is made between two warring nations, trade revives.

(c)Acceptance both of our persons and performances (Ephesians 1:6).

(d)All the graces of the Spirit.

(e)The sanctification of all outward blessings (1 Corinthians 3:23; Romans 8:28).

(f)A pledge of heaven (Romans 5:10).

3. How far Christ is concerned in it, and why.(1) God was resolved to lose no honour by the fall of man, but to keep up a sense of —

(a)His justice.

(b)His holiness.

(c)His truth.(2) Christ was a fit Mediator.

(a)Because of His mutual interest in God and us (Job 9:33). He is beloved of the Father, and hath a brotherly compassion to us.

(b)He is able to satisfy.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

We owe the word "reconciliation" and the conception of the gospel as a reconciliation to the Apostle Paul. Whether it was that the circumstances of his own conversion so coloured all his thought that henceforth there was nothing more wonderful in the gospel than the new relation it created between God and man, and between man and God, we cannot, perhaps, tell. In this chapter, for example, five times over he dwells on the word, as if it were some sweet memory from which he was loth to part. Nor is this conception of the gospel confined to the earlier period of St. Paul's ministry. In the two great Epistles written when he had reached the fullest revelation of the glory of Christ, the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, he still loves to dwell on the reconciling work of Christ. "For He is our peace who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that He might create in Himself of the twain one new man, so making peace."

I. THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION. It has been maintained by some theologians that "the word of reconciliation" concerns only man in his relation to God, and has no meaning for God in His relation to man. The blew Testament — it is said — never once speaks of God as being reconciled to man, or as needing to be reconciled: it does speak of man being reconciled to God, and the reason is clear. On the side of God there was no enmity, no alienation: these were all on our side; we were "enemies by reason of wicked works," and "the word of reconciliation" is therefore a message to man. On the other hand, it is said — and in this many of the profoundest Evangelical theologians are agreed — that this purely subjective view of reconciliation unduly narrows the message we have to bear; that the sin of man not only affected his relation to God, but necessarily altered God's relation to man; that the death of Christ has a Divine significance as well as a human meaning; that it has made peace between God and man, as well as between man and God: God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself — And how? By that great objective reconciliation involved in the forgiveness of sins, "not imputing their trespasses unto them." There are four great positions underlying the message in "the word of reconciliation," on which all men who believe in the gospel of Christ will be agreed.

1. It is a word, first, concerning God. In the address delivered by Dr. Dale, at the opening of the International Council, he said, "In Christ God is the Father of all men. This is the glorious discovery of the Christian gospel, and although he went on to warn us that the universal Fatherhood of God did not involve the universal sonship of man, he did not hesitate to say it was "the very foundation of the order of the world and of human life." And to those words of Dr. Dale let me add one word more, that this eternal Fatherhood of God is not only the foundation of the order of the world and of human life, but it is the foundation of the gospel of Christ: the first word in the message of reconciliation we are sent to proclaim. The Fatherhood of God is a greater thing than even His sovereignty, for it contains in it all that sovereignty means. The Father must be a ruler, but the ruler need not be a father; and the eternal fatherhood is as awful in its justice as it is tender in its pity; as infinite in the wonder of its holiness as it is in the wonder of its love. And yet Love is its chief word, its all-embracing word. The Love of God for all men, even for the worst, is the first word in the message we have to proclaim. It is even before the Cross of Christ; for if there had been no love there would have been no Cross.

2. It is a word about Christ. And that word is contained in the chapter from which I take my text, "He died for all."

3. The word of reconciliation is a word concerning the Holy Spirit. There is a gospel of the Spirit as well as of the Cross. Pentecost had a meaning for the world as well as for the Church.

4. It is a word concerning man: "Be ye reconciled to God." And this word is as sad as the former words were glorious. His alienation from God, that alienation that is at once the result of sin and the punishment of sin, his guilty fear of God, his inward hostility to God — all are here, or men would not need to be "reconciled to God." It is the human side of our message, the word of reconciliation so far as it concerns man; but I ask you to remember all the power of this appeal to man depends on our first uttering the word concerning God. One word about God has more power over the human heart than all the words one can speak concerning man. The tides which swept around the shores of this earth are all moved by attraction far up in the heavens, and the great tides of emotion which carry the soul back to God are all lifted by the Cross of Christ. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

II. THE GREATNESS OF THE TRUST COMMITTED TO US. All work that is the service of man is honourable work, and all true service of man is work for God. The artist who fixes on canvas the dream of beauty; the scientific man who spells out letter by letter the secrets of nature; the philosopher who discovers to us the mysteries of our own minds — nay, the humblest toiler at the bench or in the shop — all of them just so far as they make the will of God the law of their life are "fellow-labourers with God"; and all may share the honours of a Divine reward. But this is not all the truth. There are degrees of glory even in Divine work, there is some work that lies nearer the heart of God, that touches Christ more than any other work; and of all work done for God on this earth there is none so dear to God, none that confers such unspeakable honour on the servant who does it, none that will receive so glorious a reward at last as the work of saving men. And our responsibility is as great as the honour laid upon us.

1. We must be faithful to the word "committed to us." We have a message from God to deliver, not a science of religion to discover.

2. And, finally, it is not enough for us to be ourselves faithful to the word of reconciliation; we are responsible also for speaking that word to others.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

God is a great worker. He is the mainspring of all activity in the universe but that of sin. There are at least four organs through which he works: material laws, animal instincts, moral mind, and Jesus Christ. By the first He carries on the great revolutions of inanimate nature; by the second He preserves, guides, and controls all the sentient tribes that populate the earth, the air and sea; by the third, through the laws of reason and the dictates of conscience, He governs the vast empire of mind; and by the fourth, namely, Christ, He works out the redemption of sinners in our world. There is no more difficulty in regarding Him in the one person — Christ, for a certain work — than there is in regarding Him as being in material nature, animal instinct, or moral mind. The text leads us to two remarks concerning God's work in Christ: —

I. IT IS A WORK OF RECONCILING HUMANITY TO HIMSELF. "He is reconciling the world unto Himself;"

1. The work implies —(1) Enmity on man's part; and the existence of this enmity is patent to all. "The carnal mind," etc.(2) A change of mind in one of the parties.

2. Paul speaks of the human world as being reconciled to God in contradistinction —(1) To fallen angels. Hell hates God, but He does not work for its reconciliation.(2) To any particular class of the human family. Some would limit the redeeming work to the few; but it is not so restricted. "He is a propitiation, not for our sins only," etc.

II. IT IS A WORK INVOLVING THE REMISSION OF SINS. "Not imputing their trespasses unto them." Three facts will throw light on this.

1. A state of enmity against God is a state of sin. There may be virtue in disliking some persons, but it is evermore a sin to dislike God; He is infinitely good.

2. A state of sin is a state exposed to punishment.

3. In reconciliation the enmity is removed, and therefore the punishment obviated. What is pardon? A remitting of just punishment — a separating of man from his sins and their consequences. This God does through Christ.

III. FROM THIS SUBJECT FOUR THINGS MAY BE CONSIDERED IN REGARD TO THIS WORK OF GOD IN CHRIST.

1. It is a work of unbounded mercy. Who ever heard of the offended party seeking the friendship of the offender, especially if the offender was sovereign and the other subject? But this is what the Infinite God is doing in Christ, and doing earnestly every hour.

2. It is a work essential to the well-being of humanity. It is impossible that the creature can be happy whose thoughts, feelings, and purposes are directly opposed to the being, purposes, and procedure of the Absolute.

3. It is a work exclusively of benign moral influence. No coercion on the one hand, no angry denunciations on the other, can produce reconciliation; it is the work of loving logic.

4. It is a work which must be gradual in its progress. You cannot force mind; it must have time to reflect, repent, and resolve.

(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)

Not imputing their trespasses to them
The pardon or non-imputation of sin.

I. THE NATURE AND WORTH OF THE PRIVILEGE — "not imputing" (Romans 4:8).

1. It is a metaphor taken from those who cast up their accounts; and so it implies —(1) That sin is a debt (Matthew 6:12).(2) That God will one day call sinners to an account, and charge such and such debts upon them (Matthew 25:19).(3) That in this day of accounts God will not impute the trespasses of those who are reconciled to Him by Christ (Psalm 32:2).

2. Now this is —(1) An act of great grace and favour on God's part, because —(a) Every one is become "guilty before God," and obnoxious to the process of His righteous judgment (Romans 3:19). There is sin enough to impute, and the reason of this non-imputation is not our innocency, but God's mercy.(b) He would not prosecute His right against us, calling us to a strict account, and punishing us according to our demerits, which would have been our utter undoing (Psalm 130:3; Psalm 143.).(c) He found out the way how to recompense the wrong done by sin unto His Majesty, and sent His Son to make this recompense for us (ver. 21; Psalm 53:4; Romans 4:2).(d) He did this out of His mere love, which set-a-work all the causes which concurred in the business of our redemption (John 3:16). And this love was not excited by any love on our parts (Romans 3:24).

3. This negative or non-imputation is heightened by the positive imputation of Christ's merits.(1) A matter of great privilege and blessedness to the creature. This will appear if we consider —

(a)The evil we are freed from; guilt is an obligation to punishment, and pardon is the dissolving this obligation.

(b)The good depending upon it in this life and the next.

II. THE MANNER HOW THIS PRIVILEGE IS BROUGHT ABOUT AND APPLIED TO US.

1. The first stone in this building was laid in God's eternal decree and purpose to reconcile sinners to Himself by Christ, not imputing their trespasses to them.

2. The second step was when Christ was actually exhibited in the flesh, and paid our ransom for us (1 John 3:5; John 1:29; Hebrews 10:14).

3. The next step was when Christ rose from the dead; for then we had a visible evidence of the sufficiency of the ransom, sacrifice, and satisfaction which He made for us (Romans 5:25; 8:34).

4. We are actually justified, pardoned, and reconciled when we repent and believe.

5. We are sensibly pardoned, as well as actually, when the Lord giveth peace and joy in believing, "and sheddeth abroad His love in our hearts by the Spirit."

6. The last step is when we have a complete and full absolution of sin — that is, at the day of judgment (Acts 3:19).

III. IT IS A BRANCH AND FRUIT OF OUR RECONCILIATION WITH GOD.

1. Because when God releaseth us from the punishment of sin, it is a sign His anger is appeased and now over.

2. That which is the ground of reconciliation is the ground of pardon of sin (Ephesians 1:7).

3. That which is the fruit of reconciliation is obtained and promoted by pardon of sin, and that is fellowship with God and delightful communion with Him in a course of obedience and subjection to Him (Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 1:7).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

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