Reconciliation With God
The apostle Paul said that God’s eternal plan of salvation included reconciliation between Gentiles and Jews in “one body by the cross” (Ephesians 2:15-16). The “one body” is identified as the church in Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:14-16; 5:23. The plan was a “mystery” so long as it was kept secret in the mind of God (Ephesians 1:9; 3:3; 3:4; 3:9; 5:32; 6:19), but has now been revealed to men (Ephesians 3:10).
The passages above also indicate that the church is the location of reconciliation with God. According to the law of excluded middle, which states that everything in the world either has a certain property or does not have it, an individual is either reconciled to God in the church or he is not. Not to be reconciled to God means that one is away from God, and to be away from God implies that one is in a situation of alienation, or estrangement, and enmity with God (Colossians 1:21).
The consequence of such condition is tragic – it is condemnation (Romans 8:1). On the other hand, people in the church enjoy the blessing of justification. Justification is the act of God pronouncing penitent sinners pardoned, not imputing their trespasses to them (2 Corinthians 5:19) but rather making them righteous before Him on the ground of Christ dying to pay the price of their sins (Romans 4:25; Ephesians 1:3). Justification, simply put, is forgiveness (Romans 4:7).
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that sin alienates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Colossians 1:21). But in Christ God has “reconciled us to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18). To be sure, the status of one reconciled with God provides him with peace (Ephesians 2:17). People who enjoy real peace of mind are those that have been brought into a right relationship with God through Christ (Romans 5:1).
Reconciliation with God is a blessing available to man under the New Covenant. Speaking of the church in prophecy some 700 years before Christ was born into the world, Isaiah said, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it…we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3). The phrase “last days” is a reference to the Christian era, which began on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ from the dead and will last until the Lord returns. We, from what precedes, are today living in the last days. “Zion” means Jerusalem, where the gospel was first preached and whence it went forth into the world (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; 2:5). As to the expression “Lord’s house,” it refers to the church. The picturesque description in Isaiah 2 (“mountain of the Lord’s house,” “top of the mountains,” and “above the hills”) is an allusion to the superiority of the church, in comparison with any human institution, because of its universal character.
The very day the church was established, it included members “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:25). When Peter was sent by God to preach obedience to Christ to the Gentiles, he said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” God’s standard of estimation of people is obedience, and everyone can therefore potentially become a member of the church. Paul reiterated in Ephesians 2:18 the idea that fellowship with God in the church is applicable to all members.
As long as a sinner remains in the world, there is for him no hope of reconciliation with God (Ephesians 2:12). When life on earth ends the chances for reconciliation with God run out, because after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, we exhort, in the Apostle Paul’s own words, “be ye reconcile to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). To be at peace with God, all one needs to do is (1) hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), (2) believe it (Mark 16:15-16), (3) repent of sins (Acts 2:38), (4) confess Christ (Acts 8:35-37), (5) be baptized, or immersed, in water (1 Peter 3:21), (6) serve God faithfully (Revelation 2:10).