Friday, April 30, 2010

Reconciliation by Christ

We are sinners.  I think we have covered this plenty so far this year.  Sin separates us from God, because God hates sin.  Christ reconciles us to God through his sacrifice.  This is the heart of Christianity.  "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24 ESV).  This is one of the first Bible verses I memorized.  I memorized it because it is so central to our faith.  Calvin says this about Christ: "...condemned, dead, and lost in ourselves, we should seek righteousness, liberation, life, and salvation in him, as we are taught by that well-known saying of Peter: 'There is no other name under heaven given to men in which we must be saved' [Acts 4:12]."  Calvin reminds us of book 1 chapters 1&5 of the Institutes.  We cannot examine ourselves without recognizing our sinful nature and God's wrath toward us: "for God's wrath and curse always lie upon sinners until they are absolved of guilt."  Unless we have a way to get rid of our sin, we are going to receive God's punishment.

Because of His righteous wrath toward us, we must be thankful for the gift of Christ.  Calvin quotes several Scripture passages mentioning God's wrath toward sinners along with Christ's reconciliation.  "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10 NKJV).  "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—" (Colossians 1:21-22 NKJV).  Calvin calls our condition apart from Christ "miserable and ruinous."  "For if it had not been clearly stated that the wrath and vengeance of God and eternal death rested upon us, we would scarcely have recognized how miserable we would have been without God's mercy, and we would have underestimated the benefit of liberation."  I have quoted a well-known televangelist, who in an interview admitted that he did not use the word "sinner" in his church.  But how do we know that we even need saving if we do not recognize our sinful nature and how that separates us from God?  We don't.  Calvin writes, "...since our hearts cannot, in God's mercy, either seize upon life ardently enough or accept it with the gratefulness we owe, unless our minds are first struck and overwhelmed by fear of God's wrath and by dread of eternal death, we are taught by Scripture to perceive that apart from Christ, God is, so to speak, hostile to us, and his hand is armed for our destruction; to embrace his benevolence and fatherly love in Christ alone."

No doubt about it, we are sinners.  God cannot stand sin and cannot love the unrighteousness in us.  However, thankfully, God loves the life that He placed in us.  "But because the Lord wills not to lose what is his in us, out of his own kindness he still finds something to love."  In order to remove our sin from us and to reconcile us to Himself, God sent His Son to remove our sins, "that we, who were previously unclean and impure, may show ourselves righteous and holy in his sight."  God foreknew our reconciliation in Christ, therefore, the statement "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19) must be true.  It is only through this reconciliation that we are able to love God. 

The last section is primarily a long and wonderful quote from Augustine.  I figure if Calvin quoted this section from Augustine, it is worth quoting here.
God's love is incomprehensible and unchangable.  For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us.  Rather, he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son-before we became anything at all.  The fact that we were reconciled through Christ's death must not be understood as if his Son reconciled us to him that he might now begin to love those whom he had hated.  Rather, we have already been reconciled to him who loves us, with whom we were enemies on account of sin.  The apostle will testify whether I am speaking the truth: "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" [Romans 5:8].  Therefore, he loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness.  Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us.  For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet becuase our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each on of us what we had made, and to love what he had made."

Tomorrow's reading: 2.16.5-2.16.7

1 comment:

  1. George, love the blog. Just found it today. Funny because I am going through Institutes this year too. Doing the free course through Covenant with a bunch of pastor's in Seattle. We're going through the Battles edition. Also, have a Keurig and am a HUGE Black Tiger fan. I have tried 15-20 different brands and always go back to Black Tiger although I am using Jet Fuel right now and like it.

    Wanted to let you know about a great free service called RefTagger for your blog. It will allow us who are reading the blog to float on the scripture references you quote and instantly see them on the screen. You should check it out and use it:



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