26 September 2011

The Supremacy Of Christ In Reconcilation

Col 1:20-23

What comes to mind when you think of the word reconcile?

• To make amends
• To bring back
• To seek forgiveness
• To give forgiveness

When I think of this word the first thing that comes to mind is....

• The Gospel of Jesus Christ
• God’s sacrificial love for fallen sinners like you and me
• Salvation and restoration
• Fellowship with the One that created us for His glory

Reconcile is one of the most important and descriptive words found throughout the whole Bible. You read this time and time again throughout the Old Testament. Right from the very beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden. It says in Gen 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Even in account of Abraham, when he took his only son to sacrifice him because God told him too.......remember what he said to his son? "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." Gen 22:8. This was the prelude to the main event.......Jesus Christ!
We read about God’s reconciling love with a disobedient and bitter nation as He leads them through captivity and out of captivity. Then we come to the New Testament! We see this very important word reconciliation playing a very descriptive role in the Gospel....in our salvation! Reconcile is one of the 5 key words used in the New Testament. First one being.......

• JUSTIFICATION.....the sinner stands before God guilty and condemned but declared righteous. “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.” Rom 8:33

• REDEMPTION.....the sinner stands before God as a slave, but is granted freedom. “and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (v18) and Paul goes on to say “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Rom 6:22

• FORGIVENESS.....the sinner stands before God as a debtor, but the debt has been paid in full. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Eph 1:7

• ADOPTION..... the sinner stands before God as a stranger, but is made a son. “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Eph 1:5

Then we come to RECONCILIATION.....the sinner stands before God as a enemy, but becomes His friend. God’s unfailing love and mercy is displayed in this one word “reconciliation” This act of kindness and grace displayed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ (v20) This is what Christ has done towards the sinner...and the reason we are the church. This is what has been promised from the beginning in the garden.....God’s saving grace to lost sinners. This is so amazing! Especially after reading the verse that follows this reconciling promise found in the Gospel. Look at (v21) Paul makes a very strong and hurtful statement about you and me! You might think or say to yourself “I’m deeply offended! How dare he say things like that.... especially about me.” But the sad reality is that it’s true! This was you and me before Spirit illuminated the Gospel to our hearts. Think about it! If we weren’t like this, then there really is no need for reconciliation! Right? We were [all of us] without a shadow of doubt....

Estranged which means distant.....cut off....or better yet! Separated.......Separated from who? God because He hates wickedness and sinners. “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. Ps 5:5. As David Platt said "Does God hate sinners? Yes, look at the cross! Does God love the sinners? Yes, look to the cross."  But not only are separated and cut off, we are......Hostile which means enemy or adversary...it could also be translated ‘hater’ These are very strong words for an evangelist to use; but it describes the whole character of a person in their fallen state. This was you and me before grace was poured into our lives through the Gospel. Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus about the unregenerate man or woman? “.....the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3:19-20. How bad could humanity possibly be? Take April 15, 1912 for example! One of the most famous and talked about nights in all of history. This tragic night despite the circumstance [cost 1600 people’s lives] displayed exactly the character Paul spoke of here in these short verses to the church. The historical account of that night says that In Boat No. 5, when Third Officer Pitman heard the anguished cries, he turned the boat around and shouted, “Now, men, we will pull toward the wreck!” But the passengers protested, “Why should we lose all our lives in a useless attempt to save others from the ship?” Pitman gave in. And for the next hour No. 5, with forty people on board and a capacity of sixty-five, heaved gently on the calm Atlantic, while the forty listened to the fading cries of swimmers 300 yards away. The story was much the same on the other boats. In No. 2, Fourth Officer Boxhall asked the ladies, “Shall we go back?” They said no, so Boat No. 2, about 60 percent full, likewise drifted while her people callously listened. On Boat No. 6, the situation was reversed as the women begged Quartermaster Hitchens to return, but he refused, painting a vivid picture of the drowning overturning the boat. The women pleaded as the cries grew fewer. Of the eighteen boats, only one boat, No. 14, returned to help—and this was an hour after the Titanic’s sinking, when the thrashing crowd had “thinned out.” Kent Hughes in his commentary on Colossians said these words about that event......“To me, the personal drama of the sinking of the Titanic is a parable of a world gone wrong. Fallen humanity is adrift on the unfriendly sea, alienated, unable to help one another despite some furtive individual attempts. The wrongness of everything points to the fundamental problem of people’s estrangement from each other and from creation by sin. It is a picture of a world desperately in need of reconciliation and the harmony and rightness which that brings." How bad is humanity apart from Christ? Not good....not good at all!It doesn’t matter if you’re:

• Rich or Poor
• Fat or Skinny
• Tall or Short
• White or black
• Good looking or Ugly
• Clean or Dirty looking
• Educated or uneducated

Every single person on this earth is estranged from God and hostile in mind towards Him apart from His saving grace. Otherwise Paul wouldn’t have wrote these words. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” Rom 1:21-22. You can be the kindest person in the world......but apart from Christ and His saving grace according to this text you are estranged and hostile in mind....This is what makes salvation to amazing and so precious to sinners like you and me. The beauty of His grace is that salvation in Christ is so powerful it transforms an estranged and hater of God into a child that God declares to be His own. God by His grace reconciled the lost sinner who repents and turn to Christ by faith and makes them a new creation! This deserves an AMEN doesn’t it? Look what Paul writes in the following verse! (v22) God declares you and me.......holy......blameless.....above reproach!

Holy .....means to be separated from sin and set apart to God. Do you realize God looks upon your life and all Christians as holy as His Son.

Blameless..... means without blemish or spot. It was used in the Septuagint to speak of sacrificial animals. It’s used in the New Testament to refer to Christ as the spotless Lamb of God. We are declared blameless by a holy God! Jude tells us that we will one day “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”

Above reproach.....goes beyond blameless. It means not only are we without blemish, but also that no one can bring a charge against us. Not even Satan [the Accuser] cannot make a charge stick against those whom Christ has reconciled. He declares you and me to be holy, blameless and above reproach! He views every true born again Christian clothed with the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. He sees us now as we will be in Heaven when we are glorified.

Try and get your head around that one for a moment! A great illustration to help you understand is in a story I heard recently in a sermon by David Platt! “This very successful businessman lived in London. He had heard rumors about a very expensive car- The Rolls Royce. This was known to be The Perfect Car. It could travel long distances on small amounts of gas and was promised to never break down. This business man was convinced that “the perfect car” was just the one for him. He lived in a separate country than the one in which the factory that manufactures this vehicle was located. He had the Rolls Royce shipped to him via boat after he had paid for his dream car in full. About a week later he received his car and decided to immediately go on a long road trip. After about six hours of driving, his brand new car began to stall and slowly died. It broke down which was something this car was never supposed to do. The businessman called the company that he bought this “perfect car” from and told them what had happened. The president of the company apologized for the inconvenience and told him he would fly a mechanic out immediately. About six hours later the mechanic arrived, fixed the Rolls Royce, and sent the business man on his way. About a week later the businessman noticed that he hadn’t receive a bill. Thinking it odd that a mechanic had flown all the way to him to fix his car and not receiving a bill because of it he decided to call the company. When the president of the company took his call he explained how his car broke down, a mechanic from the company had flown out to repair his car but he had yet to receive a bill for the repair. He told the president of the company how rich he was and that he could afford to pay his bill. After a brief pause the president of the company said, “Sir, we have no record of your car ever breaking down.” That's the same grace and mercy God displays to me and you every day found in His everlasting Gospel. God says about your life “I have no record that you have ever done anything wrong!” Now that’s amazing isn’t it?

When a person gets gripped by that kind of love the next verse makes complete sense (v23a) How could one who was hostile and brought into a relationship by His unmerited grace ever turn away and never come back?
The answer is: You either insane or stupid.... which ever it is you are unregenerate and the Gospel has never really penetrated your heart.What do you mean by that Mike? Here are some examples to help......1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” John 6:66-69 “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." The Bible declares those people to be still estranged and hostile toward God and grace. In Matt 13:18-23 Jesus explains the parable of the sower "....When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." A person who has been transformed by the Gospel will............GROW! See! This is the work God does in the life of a genuine believer “the elect." This is the evidence or the fruit of a genuine Christian “if in dead you continue in the faith....” Which means? If you preserver down the sometimes lonely narrow road which leads you home into the arms a loving Saviour that declares you righteous!

• It’s an enduring love for Christ and blessed Gospel.
• It’s an enduring love to keep Christ centered in one’s life.
• It’s an enduring love for His church and people in it “the called out ones”
• It’s an enduring passion for the Gospel to fall on good ground in the hearts of the lost that live next door or down the road from you
• It’s an enduring love which requires spiritual sweat and an enduring faith that is steadfast and unmovable no matter what happens.

Why? Because....Our faith is founded on the rock and not on the sand. Our faith is founded on the word of God and not in empty philosophy. Our faith is founded and deeply rooted in His love. This passage is very humbling and overwhelming when you think about how much He loves us. He took this illegal alien and hater of God and transformed him or her into the likeness of His Son. And on top it off! He declares us holy.....blameless...and beyond reproach. God’s reconciliation is powerful, amazing and everlasting!

• It transforms me and woman
• It appeases God’s wrath
• It only possible through Christ
• It is available to all who believe
• It has been implanted into the heart of every believer with the ministry to proclaim the Gospel (v23b)

God sends His children into a lost world with unbelievable news for those who are estranged and hostile......As Paul wrote 2Cor 5:18-20 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Have you been embraced by the power of His reconciliation? The only way you can answer that question is to look at your life and see if you are continuing in the faith and persevering in your way home? And it all comes back to this fundemental question! Is He [Jesus] supreme in oyur life? Only you can anwer that question.....SDG!

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