When man sinned in Eden, he not only became a sinner, but dishonoured God, and brought ruin into His fair creation. Nor was it only that man was guilty of breaking God's commandment, but the principle of sin entered into his nature; wrong feelings and thoughts of God possessed his heart; he became an enemy of God, and a great moral distance separated him from God. If man was to be reconciled to God, it would not suffice to raise and meet the question of his guilt; the questions relating to his enmity and alienation must also be resolved. It need hardly be said that there was no need for God to be reconciled to man for no enmity was in the heart of God. Moreover, the whole lower creation fell with Adam, who became the head of a fallen race; and every sphere of government and authority in man's hands, which should have served God's pleasure and will, were through sin in alienation from God. From these things we can see something of the extent of the dishonour to God through the sin of man and how much required to be recovered if God's glory was to be retrieved.

Justification has to do with man's guilt, but reconciliation with man personally because of his state as a sinner. As justified, the sinner is cleared from his guilt before God but as reconciled, he is personally set in right relations with God; his thoughts, desires and feelings regarding God being all according to God's pleasure. In Absalom, we see one reconciled in an unrighteous way; without confession of his sin, and without the sense in his soul of the moral distance between his father and himself. Consequently, before long he is found seeking to take his father's life manifesting the bitter enmity of his heart's desires and feelings. God would not remove our distance from Him-self without taking from our hearts all the enmity that once possessed them. The case of Mephibosheth is in marked contrast with that of Absalom. When the kindness of God was manifested to him by David; the natural enmity of the house of Saul towards David was completely removed from him. So that, during the time of David's absence from Jerusalem, through Absalom's rebellion, Mephibosheth is a mourner. In the New Testament the truth of the reconciliation of the sinner is beautifully illustrated in the Prodigal of Luke 15, where the Father runs to kiss the repentant son, and sets him down in the joy of His own company, clothed in the best robe, and suitably arrayed in every way to enjoy his Father's presence.

Romans 5:10-11. This is the first of four passages of Scripture in the New Testament where the term "reconciled occurs, and from which we can obtain God's thoughts on this important subject. In verse 10 our true state as enemies of God is brought before us; a fact that men attempt to deny or close their eyes to. This enmity was seen in the anger of Cain; because God did not respect him and his offering, and in the murder of Abel who was accepted by God in the efficacy of his sacrifice. The enmity and hatred to God, first manifested by Cain against Abel, found full expression against the Son of God, who said of men, "They have both seen and hated, both me and my Father." This hatred to God, led man, inspired by Satan, to murder the Son of God.

Hopeless as man's case appeared, God has intervened to bring men back to Himself; and the reconciliation has even now been effected. We need not wait till the judgment-seat of Christ to find out if we are in right relations with God, for He has told us in this Scripture, "We have been reconciled;" it is an accomplished fact. This is confirmed and emphasised in verse 11; "Through Whom now we have received the reconciliation." Nor is it to the innocency of man in Eden that we are restored: this has gone for ever; but God has brought us near to Himself to enjoy His love, to a much more blessed portion than Adam innocent ever knew or ever could enjoy.

Man was created by God for His glory and pleasure, and these were lost in man, through the fall; but God's glory and pleasure are now secured in man, in an entirely new way, through reconciliation. Although men in their sinful state are indifferent to their relations with God, it never was so with God, for seeing the awful condition into which sin had brought him, "it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart" (Gen. 6:6). God could not allow such conditions to be perpetuated; His honour and glory must be secured; and how matchless the wisdom that devised the means whereby His banished be not expelled from Him. Combined with such wisdom is infinite love, and the way has been opened for the recovery of man to God in perfect consistency with divine righteousness and holiness. This being so, we can understand something of the deep pleasure brought to God in having us before Him with every attribute of His character vindicated, and the demands and desires of His holy nature satisfied.

What then is the means whereby this wonderful reconciliation, that so glorifies God, is procured? it is by the "death of His Son." God has been revealed in the great love of His heart in the death of Jesus; and wherever that love is truly known, enmity towards God is expelled. How could we be enemies of One Who truly loves us? But how has God expelled the enmity from our hearts? By shedding abroad in our hearts His love, by the Holy Spirit! In Eden, the enemy succeeded in giving man wrong thoughts of God; and since then his object has been to keep man in ignorance of God. But God has made Himself known to us in all His mighty love, in the death of His Son; and in richest grace He has given to us the consciousness of that love, which has for ever dispelled our ignorance of Him. We never could have effected reconciliation for ourselves; we were without strength; but it was when we were in such a plight that "Christ died for us." Nor was there the desire with us to be reconciled, for we were ungodly — without a thought of God; but all this magnifies the greatness of the love that undertook to bring us back to Himself in righteous grace. Human love requires a motive outside of itself: divine love is sovereign, welling up within the heart of God, and manifesting itself to unworthy sinners in all its wealth and power in the cross of Christ.

Having been reconciled "We boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom now we have received the reconciliation." If such blessedness has come to us though being restored to God's presence, how great is the joy to His own heart in having us thus near. Once we were far from Him, the mind and heart filled with evil thoughts of Him, cursing and bitterness in our mouths; now we are near Him for His pleasure, our highest, divinely-given, aspirations satisfied in Himself, our hearts filled with the knowledge of His love, our lips delighting in His praise,

Himself our joy and boast, our spirits finding deepest joy in communion with Him. Has not God thus found for Himself a deeper joy than He could ever have had from a race derived from Adam innocent? Man in innocency never knew, or could have known, such a love as has been told forth in the death of God's Son; and only those who have known that love could boast in the God revealed in the death of Jesus. Well might our boasting then be through our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom God's love has reached us and through Whom we have been brought back to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21. The love of Christ deeply affected the Apostle Paul, constraining him in service, and affecting all his judgments. That love was told out in Christ's death; and in that death he saw the end of man after the flesh. But the death that ends for us all relating to the present course of things introduces us into an entirely new divine order, where the things and relationships of flesh have no place. This is new creation, where all things are of God; where all originates in and takes character from the God Who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Go d then has not brought us back to Himself to renew us in the things given to Adam in the old creation, but that we might be for Himself in the things of new creation. Was not the Lord Jesus indicating this when He said to Mary, after His resurrection, "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God"? (John 20:17).

As in Romans 5 we learn here afresh that we had no hand in the accomplishing of our reconciliation; it was entirely of God, and effected through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; "God has reconciled us to Himself;" it is an accomplished thing. The ministry of reconciliation was part of Paul's Gospel; and this ministry tells of Christ coming into the world with good news for men. In Christ, God was reconciling the world unto Himself: God was seeking in His Son to bring men back into right relations with Himself. With words and acts of richest grace, God sought to woo man from his sin and lawlessness; to bring him nigh, and drive all the enmity from his rebel heart. The Lord Jesus did not impute their trespasses to men: to the poor sinner of Luke 7 He said, "Thy sins are forgiven;" and to the woman taken in sin, in John 8, He said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more." Peter bound the sin of Ananias and Sapphira upon them; Paul imputed the sin of Elymas the sorcerer to him, and delivered others to Satan; but the Lord Jesus, when here, even though He rebuked the proud Pharisees and Scribes, did not impute the trespasses of sinners to them, for His mission was marked by grace.

Alas! in refusing Christ, men rejected the proffered reconciliation; proving that it was impossible to reconcile the world to God. There could be no doubt regarding God's attitude to men, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son;" nor could there be any doubt as to man's attitude to God: the cross is the witness. Because of this, the Apostle Paul could say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which I am crucified to the world, and the world unto Me." Such is the complete exposure of the world in the cross as an incorrigible evil system, that John says, "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Yet even the full declaration of the world's hatred and enmity to God has not deterred God from blessing men; for the word of reconciliation, preached by Paul is "Be reconciled to God." And God's servants can still go forth with this same message, bidding men to "Get right with God." How great the wisdom and the love that devised the plan to secure blessing for the sinner! In the same cross that witnessed man's attitude to God, there has been expressed the wonderful love of God; and there too we learn the truth of redemption through which God can have men before His face in perfect righteousness for the deep pleasure of His heart. Even now we are God's righteousness in Christ, and in the coming day this shall be displayed in glory before the vast universe. How great the results of the work of Christ! How wonderful that we have been reconciled to God with such a display of His glory in prospect, and this for the deep joy of His heart.

Ephesians 2:11-18. Our attention is drawn in this passage to our former estate, when we were without Christ, aliens from the place of blessing, without God and without hope. Now we are near to God through the blood of Christ, and as in Christ: the blood having removed every barrier of our approach to God; our place of nearness being in all the acceptability of Christ's Person, and in the new creation, for "we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus." Moreover, Christ, whose blood has brought us nigh to God, is the peace of Jew and Gentile, and He has made us one; this divine unity subsisting in our being Christians. As Christians there is no barrier between the believing Jew and the believing Gentile, the religious system of the law which produced enmity between them having been annulled in the death of Christ. With the old order removed, God now shows what was in His mind, the creating by Christ in Himself of an entirely new kind of man. This new man has none of the features of the Jew, nor has he a single feature of the Gentile; his every trait is from Christ. Peace never could have existed in Christianity if Jew and Gentile had been allowed to remain; it is by the setting aside of both, and the bringing in of a new man in Christ that peace is made.

This brings us to the verse on reconciliation, which takes up the subject in quite a different way from Romans and 2 Corinthians. In these two passages reconciliation is presented in relation to us individually, here it is collectively or corporately, for Jew and Gentile believers are reconciled to God in one body. First they are at peace with each other as forming one new man in Christ, then they are unitedly brought into right relations with God in one body. Here we touch on the truth of the mystery, which had been hidden from ages and generations; hidden in the heart of God. Although comparatively near to God, as having His testimony and earthly calling, the sons of Israel yet needed the reconciliation that was needed by the Gentiles. The annual sacrifices on the Day of Atonement witnessed that there was no approach to God on the ground of law. There was no intrinsic worth in all the ceremonies and ritual of the Old Covenant; only the blood of Christ could bring Jew or Gentile near to God; only the work of the cross could lay the basis for reconciling men to God. Now, in a new order of things, not spoken of until Christ took His place on high and the Holy Spirit came, God has brought men back to himself in entirely new relationships. The one body is a divine conception and formation, a living organism formed by the Spirit of God, and energised by the life of Christ; its supplies are from Christ in heaven, and all its movements are controlled by its glorious living Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Of this body, each Spirit indwelt believer is a member, to function according to God's will. So that the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile to God in one body indicates to us something more of God's mind, something distinct from what has engaged us in the previous passages of Scripture.

But it was by the cross that the enmity towards God was slain. There our old man was crucified with Christ; there all that marked the Jew as well as the Gentile came under the unsparing judgment of God. Before God's eye the Jew has gone, and the Gentile has gone; the man now before Him is the new man in Christ. With the removal of Jew and Gentile in the cross, the enmity towards God in both has gone. In the new man, all being of Christ, God's pleasure is secured. These great results have been secured for God through Christ's death, and through His preaching the Glad Tidings to Jew and Gentile. Although human instruments are used, it is Christ Who preaches in the Gospel. It is through hearing the voice of the Son of God that divine life is communicated to the soul.

The result of our being reconciled in Romans 5 is that we make our boast in God; in 2 Corinthians that God's righteousness will be displayed in glory in His own; here the great end in view is that "Through Him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father." The Trinity of Divine Persons is here to engage our thoughts; first the Son through Whom all has been wrought on the cross to make our approach possible; then the Holy Spirit through Whom in unity we come nigh in a spiritual way; then the Father, Who desires to have us before Him, in His own nature, and in relationship with Him, to know the deep secrets of His heart and mind, so that we might know the joys of divine communion, and worship in spirit and in truth. R.

(Colossians 1 also teaches this very important subject, but lack of space forbids its being taken up at this time.)