"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."-- 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
A Glorious Promise
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (v. 17).† Here is both a statement of fact regarding all true believers and a glorious promise to all who shall trust the Lord Jesus Christ. All who are in Christ by the experience of Godís grace, in Christ by the new birth, in Christ by faith, are new creatures in him.
††††† This is a declaration of reconciliation accomplished. In the context the Holy Spirit is not describing the believerís experience of regeneration. Certainly, the Holy Spirit gives every called sinner a new heart, a new will, and a new nature in regeneration. Christ is formed in his elect by the regenerating, sanctifying grace and power of God the Holy Spirit. But in 2 Corinthians 5 sinners are called to Christ and persuaded to come to Christ by the gospel declaration of that which the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for sinners at Calvary. 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares that all who come to Christ, all who trust him, having been redeemed by him, are completely reconciled to God in him. If we trust Christ, we are new creatures in him. Our old record of sin has been thoroughly, completely purged away, forever eradicated from the books of law in the court of heaven, and all things have become new. We have a new record in heaven. It is a record of perfect righteousness (the righteousness of Christ imputed to us) and complete satisfaction, by the blood of Christ shed for us. Our sins cannot be found (Jer. 50:20) because Christ put them away.
In the preaching of the gospel we do not offer reconciliation to sinners, or set before men terms and conditions of reconciliation. We proclaim reconciliation accomplished. "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (vv. 18-19).
Reconciliation began in eternity, in the purpose of God. His thoughts toward his elect were thoughts of peace from eternity. In so far as Godís purpose is concerned, this matter was settled in eternity in the everlasting covenant of grace, and peace made between the three persons of the divine trinity before the world began (2 Sam. 23:5; Rom. 8:28-31; Eph. 1:3-6).
This reconciliation, which was purposed of God from eternity, was actually executed in time and accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, who has reconciled us to God by his precious blood. In verse nineteen Paul explains what was going on at Calvary when God sacrificed his own dear Son in the place of chosen sinners. He says, ďGod was in Christ, reconciling the world (the world of his elect) unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.Ē The reconciliation accomplished by the shed blood of the Lamb of God was a reconciliation made for sin and for sinners, to make atonement for sin and to bring chosen sinners into an everlasting union of peace with God (Dan. 9:24; Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-22; Heb. 2:17).
This reconciliation, purposed by God the Father and executed by God the Son, is effectually wrought and established in the hearts of Godís elect when God the Holy Spirit speaks peace to their hearts by the gospel. When he gives life and faith to chosen, redeemed sinners, sprinkling their consciences with the sin-atoning blood of Christ, he graciously causes those who are by nature children of wrath, even as others, those who are by nature enmity against God, to be reconciled to him by the blood of Christ (Col. 1:20-21). If you are in Christ, if you trust the Son of God, it is because there came a time when God sent a gospel preacher to you to proclaim to you the word of reconciliation in the power of his Spirit. Thereby he reconciled you to himself. Had he not done so, you would yet be among those who are haters of God.
In verses 20-21, the apostle Paul tells us of how God conquered our hearts, subdued our spirits, brought us to our knees, and reconciled us to himself. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." It is by the revelation of Christ in a sinnerís heart by the gospel that the Holy Spirit graciously and effectually persuades chosen, redeemed sinners to come to Christ. Once Christ is revealed in us in the day of his power, we are made willing recipients of his grace (Ps. 65:4; 110:3)
Since the sin and fall of our father Adam, we are all by nature enemies of God (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:3; Col. 1:21). ďThe carnal mind is enmity against God.Ē This is just as true of Godís elect in their natural state as it is of the reprobate. We are all by nature haters of God, and as such, ďchildren of wrath, even as others.Ē We are all ďalienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works,Ē until God saves us by his grace.
First, the Spirit of God tells us that there is in every son and daughter of Adam a heart of enmity against God. (Rom. 8:7). Every one of us is in his heart, not only the enemy of God, but enmity itself against God. What does that mean? It mans that all men and women by nature hate God. Our natural hearts of flesh despise him. The very Being of God is obnoxious to fallen man. We all naturally wish that he did not exist. The nature, character, and perfections of God are odious to our proud flesh. We all naturally either deny or misrepresent the attributes of his holy Being, and frame an image of him in our minds as one altogether such as ourselves. The purposes and decrees of God, which men cannot bear, they insolently denounce. The providences of God we charge with inequality and unrighteousness, as though we were the judges of the Almighty!
The natural heart is no less insolent and hateful toward Christ. Everyone loves baby Jesus in the manger. But everyone despises Christ crucified. Man does not despise the fact that Christ died at Calvary; but all men do, by nature, despise the gospel message of Christ crucified, the message of the particular, effectual redemption of Godís elect accomplished by Christ alone. Everyone loves the risen Jesus at Easter. But everyone despises the enthroned God-man, the sovereign Monarch of the universe. His dominion, his offices, and his ordinances, as presented in Scripture, man abhors.
The same thing is true of God the Holy Spirit. We live in a day of such religious nonsense and foolishness that Pentecostalism has become accepted as the norm of religion. That fact itself ought to tell us that it is not of God. Everyone loves the spine tingling, tongue twisting, trance enhancing spirit of antichrist. But f you speak to religious people for just a few minutes about the sovereign Holy Spirit, whose grace and power are always effectual, irresistible, and saving, you will discover that their sweet disposition of religion is just a covering for the acid hatred they harbor in their hearts against God. They do not know him. They will not receive him. And those things taught and revealed by him they consider foolishness.
This hatred of God is manifest openly in the hatred of all men for Godís saints in this world. John Gill wrote, ďThere is an old and implacable enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; the saints are hated by the world, because chosen and called out of the world.Ē †††† Godís elect are themselves, until they are born of his Spirit, like Saul of Tarsus, hateful and hating one another.
The Scriptures also tell us that there is an external enmity against God, which is manifest by the wicked works and sinful actions openly committed by sinners (Col. 1:21). These outward acts of hostility against God are contrary to his nature and will, and are violations of his holy law. They are abominable in his sight and provoke his wrath. Menís sins stir up the wrath of the Almighty and cause it to be revealed from heaven against the children of disobedience. We all deserve Godís wrath. Sins are breaches of his law. Sin separates man from God; and, unless God intervenes in grace, will forever separate man from God in hell. Our sins set us afar off from God, so that the natural man has no communion with, or access to the holy Lord God.
There is a just and righteous enmity on the part of God toward fallen man. The Scriptures declare that there is legal enmity against fallen men. Fallen men are declared in Scripture to be enemies of, traitors to, and rebels against the holy Lord God. Even Godís elect were considered such when Christ died to make reconciliation for us. It is written, "while we were sinners, Christ died for us, and when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom. 5:8-10).
It is this law enmity that was slain by Christ, and removed by his death. There was never any enmity in the heart of God against his elect. He loves us with an eternal, everlasting love. But the law we broke, constantly broke from our youth up, had to be satisfied. Therefore, we could never approach or be accepted by God until the broken, violated law of God was satisfied.
Reconciliation is a restoration of communion, fellowship, and peace between those who have been enemies. It supposes a former friendship. It implies a present alienation. In our case, it is such an alienation as could never be resolved by us.
The only way sinners could ever be reconciled to God is by the precious shed blood of his own dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way possible for the holy Lord God to be both ďa just God and a Savior.Ē Righteousness must be maintained. Justice must be satisfied. God could not save sinners in any way, except in a way that would magnify and honor his holy law. That is why Christ came here to die (Rom. 4:24-26; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Gal 2:21).
The means by which this reconciliation was made is the blood of Christ poured out unto death at Calvary as the sinnersí sin-atoning Substitute. H alone is the Reconciler and Peace Maker. Sinners can never make peace with God, or reconcile themselves to him. No man can make satisfaction for his sins. It cannot be done by our works of righteousness, which are, themselves, impure, imperfect, and utterly sinful. Our imaginary works of righteousness are themselves just filthy rags before the Almighty. Repentance cannot atone for sin. Even faith in Christ does not contribute anything to the satisfaction of Godís justice. Faith receives the atonement (Rom. 5:11), but it does not make atonement or make atonement effectual.
There is nothing a sinner can do that will make peace and reconciliation for him. That which will make peace and reconciliation, no mere man can do. What is that? It is nothing less than fulfilling of the whole law, complete, perfect compliance (inward and outward, from the cradle to the grave) with all its demands, and the complete satisfaction of the lawís infinite justice (Rom. 8:3-4). Death is the sanction of the law and the wages of sin. That means that there can be no reconciliation made, but by death. The sacrifices of f beasts could never put away sin (Heb. 10:1-4). And though the whole world should suffer the wrath of God in hell forever, the death of mere mortals (and sinful mortals at that) could never atone for sin. There is no other way of peace, reconciliation, and atonement being made, but by the death of Christ, Godís own dear Son. Only he, who is both God and man in one glorious person, could and did offer a sacrifice of such infinite merit and efficacy that the holy Lord God could, in strict justice, say, ďENOUGH!Ē