COMING TO CHRIST
"BELONGING TO GOD"
To function in the American culture of 2004, it is absolutely essential to know
how to heal relationships. In our current culture, rare is the adult [man or woman] who
has not experienced a broken relationship.
It may be a divorce involving parents. It may be alienation from a parent. It may
be alienation from a brother or sister. It may be losing a meaningful friendship. It may
be experiencing your own divorce. It may be problems with your boss or fellow
employees. It may be hostility with a neighbor. It may be a conflict in the congregation.
It may be struggle with a church leader. Whatever it is, a relationship is ruptured and in
desperate need of repair.
The work of repairing a relationship is called reconciliation. Whether it is
repairing a human relationship or relationship with God, we are talking about
The core fact about salvation is centered in healing our relationship with God.
Put in terms used in scripture, salvation is about reconciliation. If relationship with God
is not healed, there is no salvation. If salvation exists, relationship with God is healed.
Let me be clear and specific about my objective. I am going to do all within my
power to make each of us think by going to scripture. I want you to allow God to speak
to you from His word. Agreeing with David Chadwell is never the issue. Hearing God
is always the issue.
- Let's begin by listening to God.
- Consider these scriptures.
- Ephesians 2:13-16 But now in Christ Jesus you
were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace,
who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing
wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of
commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make
the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile
them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death
- Colossians 1:19,20 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all
to dwell in Him [Jesus], and through Him [Jesus] to reconcile all things to
Himself, having made peace through the blood of His [Jesus] cross;
through Him [Jesus], I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
- Romans 5:8-11 But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been
justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him
[Jesus]. For if while 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. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the
- 2 Corinthians 5:18,19 Now all these things are from God,
who reconciled us
to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not
counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word
- In these readings about God's act of making reconciliation with people possible,
I want to call something to your attention.
- For God, reconciliation is an act, a specific event.
- That divine act or event is centered in God's action in Jesus' cross when
Jesus became His promised Christ.
- For God, reconciliation involved Jesus' blood, Jesus' sacrificial death, and
- When God offered Jesus, that offering was the reconciliation event for
God--from that moment a perfectly healed relationship between God and
sinful humans was possible.
- The point I want you to keep clearly in mind is this: for God, reconciliation with sinful
people is an event that involved sacrificing Jesus.
Let's continue to let God speak to us.
- Consider these scriptures:
- 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 Paul, called as an apostle of
Jesus Christ by
the will of
God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at
Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,
with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their
Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord
- 2 Corinthians 1:1,2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will
of God, and
Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all
saints who are throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 Now all these things are from God, who
to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely,
that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their
trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of
reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God
were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be
reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
- Is anything obvious to you?
- The letter is addressed to God's church in Corinth.
- These people are believers, penitent ones, baptized ones whom God had
added to the church.
- Paul, as God's ambassador to Gentiles, is making an appeal to these
Christians in Corinth.
- It is an earnest appeal--"we beg you."
- What is the appeal? "We beg you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to
- Relevant question: how can it be that these baptized believers are in need of
being reconciled to God?
- Why was reconciliation not "a done deal" when they were baptized into
- If they were baptized, why do they still need to be reconciled to Christ?
- Too often we have either taught or created the impression that all that was
necessary was baptism.
- We have not emphasized faith in God's act in the cross and Jesus'
- We have not emphasized repentance, the redirecting of life, much.
- We have emphasized baptism a lot.
- I am fearful we have created the impression that "if I have been baptized,
immersed in water, for the remission of sins, everything is A-OK (cool)
between God and me."
- If we are not quite careful, we become guilty of encouraging people to place
their faith in an immersion instead of in Jesus' cross.
- May I call something obvious to your attention?
- For God, reconciliation is an event, an act.
- For us, reconciliation is a journey.
- Consider this chart.
- Under consideration is a sincere, thoughtful response to Jesus Christ
because of faith in Jesus' crucifixion and a desire to redirect life.
- If we were to ask this person at baptism into Jesus Christ if he/she
understood reconciliation, he/she likely would say, "Yes!"
- After this serious Christian grows for a couple of years, we ask again, "Do
you understand reconciliation?" He/she likely responds, "I think so."
- After this serious Christian grows for ten years, we ask the same question
again, "Do you understand reconciliation?" He/she likely responds,
- After this serious Christian grows for fifteen years, we ask again, "Do you
understand reconciliation?" He/she likely responds, "I wonder."
- After this serious Christian grows for thirty years, again we ask, "Do you
understand reconciliation?" He/she likely says, "I have more questions
- Why? Why is it that the more we grow toward God the more we are humbled
by the concept of reconciliation?
- We grow in understanding to be awed by the vastness, the hugeness of
- When sin first entered this creation, so much more happened than just the
perversion of physical creation.
- Something happened to affect God's sovereignty; something happened in
heaven; something happened in the war between good and evil.
- Listen to God speak to us.
- Luke 10:17,18 The seventy returned with joy,
demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was
watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning."
- Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this
darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly
- 1 Corinthians 15:28 When all things are subjected to Him
then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all
things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
- Sin caused something huge to happen; reconciliation caused something
huge to happen.
Question: when is a person 100% reconciled to God?
- By the grace and mercy of God, throughout the entire journey toward God.
- If because I believe in what God did in the cross, I want to redirect my life,
and I am baptized into Christ, am I 100% reconciled to God? Yes! Because
of what I did in baptism? No! Because of what God did in Jesus' death and
- After two years of living in Christ, am I 100% reconciled to God? Yes!
Because of what I achieve? No! Because of what God achieved in Jesus'
death and resurrection!
- And so it is all the years a person lives in Christ. At every point he/she is
100% reconciled to God because of God's grace and mercy as shown in
Jesus' death and resurrection.
- In every culture, in every corner of the world, in every degree of education, in
every degree of poverty, in the face of every form of injustice and repression,
in every degree of being deprived, the man or woman who is in Christ is, by
the mercy and grace of God, 100% reconciled to God at every point on
his/her journey toward God.
- It is never a matter of how we compare to each other.
- It is always a matter of having confidence in Jesus' death and
Have you begun the journey?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 11 April 2004
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