God didn’t move. We did. Now he is wooing us back.
The noun atonement in English literally means at-one-ment or one with God or reconciled to him (the -ment suffix means “the result of”). Theologically, the atonement means the extensive and costly process of being reconciled to God.
So reconciliation is the key idea or the apex of the doctrine of the atonement.
Let’s use the Question and Answer format for clarity and conciseness.
1.. What are the key words in original Greek?
A.. The verb apokatallassō (pronounced ah-poh-kah-tah-lah-soh and used 3 times) means “to reconcile.”
B.. And the previous verb is related to the verb katallassō, (used 6 times), and is also related to the verb allassō, which means “to change” or “exchange,” usually in the context of two people coming together after hostility. God removes the hostility between him and humanity.
C.. The noun katallagē (pronounced kah-tah-la-gay and used four times, and it is translated as “reconciliation.” As noted, this is when God removes the hostility between him and humanity.
2.. How did the distance between God and humankind happen in the first place?
Even if a reader does not believe in a literal Adam and Eve, their story in Genesis still has meaning. The big picture in the biblical worldview: Adam and Eve illustrate humanity’s predicament. They had intimate fellowship with God, but their relationship with God was ruptured (Gen. 3:8). That’s how the distance occurred.
Let’s describe the predicament a little more.
Sinners, whether they realize it or not, are hostile towards God (Rom. 8:7). They may not do especially bad deeds, but their sin nature separates them from a thrice-holy God (Is. 6).
Col. 1:21-22 says that in our minds we used to be alienated from God, his enemies, but now we have been reconciled to God by Christ’s physical body through his death on the cross. For those who have not been reconciled, they are still hostile in their minds, if not their actions.
Ps. 5:4-5 says that God detests wickedness and arrogance, and the people who are wicked and arrogant cannot come into his presence.
So the problem is man’s unregenerated heart; he has not been born again or born from above. So now God reaches out to him, which is the message throughout the Bible.
Even creation itself was impacted by the wall of separation between it and God. God cursed the ground after Adam and Eve rebelled (Gen. 3:14-18). And Paul affirms that the entire creation groans with frustration under subjection, so that creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay. It is suffering the pains of childbirth (Rom. 8:20-22). But why the frustration and bondage and need for liberation. The only answer is that the physical universe is connected to the moral one; also, those verses in Romans 8 say God subjected creation, presumably long before humanity got here. The stage was set for creation to become the proving ground or the valley of soul-making for humankind. Would he pass? No, for otherwise reconciliation would not be needed.
3.. Who does the reconciliation?
Only God can do this.
First, God had to take the initiative (2 Cor. 5:18). A drowning man does not know how to save himself; otherwise he would not be drowning. So the lifeguard has to take the initiative to swim out and get him. So God reconciled us to himself.
Second, God reconciles sinners to himself. Paul writes a wonderful passage, saying that in Christ God was reconciling sinners to himself through Christ, not counting their sins against them. The last clause is great because this “not counting” is the same, in a corollary opposite way, as God declaring us righteous in Christ.
Third, God even reconciles all of creation to himself through Christ (Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20). Those two verses explain a remarkable phenomenon—the universe and the invisible realm—needed reconciliation. And he did this by making peace with them through the cross and the blood that was shed there.
4.. How was reconciliation accomplished?
First, it was done through the cross. Paul writes that while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son (Rom. 5:10). As noted, 2 Cor. 5:17-19 says we are a new creation because God reconciled us to himself through Christ. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ’s body, that is, his physical death on the cross. And Heb. 2:17 teaches that Christ became fully human in every way, so he can be merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. This atonement brought us near to God; it reconciled us to him.
Second, reconciliation works its way from you to other people. Christ is our peace between various ethnic groups, particularly Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-17). He brought reconciliation to humanity by his flesh, that is, his death on the cross, by setting aside the rules and regulations and commands that separated us. he reconciled them and put to death their hostility through the cross, to be in one body.
How does this post help me grow in Christ?
God went a long way to descend to earth to reconcile humankind to himself. He sent his Son to shed his blood on the cross to shed his blood, as a sacrifice for your sins. Doing this, he fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial system, which required blood and sacrifice to die in the place of the man who offered the animal. Then the system said that after the sacrifice was done, his sins were atoned for. He was reconciled to God. And that’s the entire goal.
Now let’s bring home the doctrine of reconciliation to your life.
On a human level, there is a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. You have to forgive everyone who offends or sins against you. Sometimes you are called to be reconciled to him; other times you are not called to be reconciled. For example, a family member abused you, while you were growing up. God calls you to forgive him, but not necessarily to be reconciled to him.
Written by James Malcolm