We come from a position of alienation from God to a position of reconciliation. Reconciliation is the position of friendship and fellowship we now have with God as believers after standing in a period of estrangement. God was pleased to restore our position with him by making peace through Christ’s blood shed on the cross, as indicated in Colossians 1: 19-23 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or in heaven, by making peace through blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- if you continue in your faith established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” It is through Gods love for us that he has given us this reconciliation as Paul indicates to the Romans in Romans 5: 6-9 “You see, at just the right time, when we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We understand then that our reconciliation is totally the work of God: 2 Corinthians 5: 18-19 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” We now stand in a condition of fellowship with God.
The work that God has done in his love and justice for us is what is known as propitiation. Propitiation is the altering of the human race in its relationship to God by Christ’s divine work on the cross, his atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. This is not an altering of God but an altering of man to make him acceptable to a holy God as indicated in 1John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The atoning sacrifice of Christ which is granted through faith in his blood gives us justice in spite of our sins, therefore, leaving our sins unpunished, as indicated in Romans 3: 25-26 “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
The new position we now possess is given us totally as a gift from God through the cross. While we understand that the gift requires our acceptance and faith we also realize that we now have a new relationship with God, which requires a new responsibility to God, to other people, and to ourselves. This responsibility is taught to us by Christ’s example to us in his life and in his death. We are asked to imitate Christ’s humility in Philippians 2:1-11 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with his spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interest of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and even gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” As God’s chosen people we are also asked to clothe ourselves with Christ’s character and wisdom: Colossians 3: 12-17 “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you are called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Our renewed position requires our renewed responsibility to God and others in love and thankfulness.
– Lowell Schrag