BE RECONCILED TO GOD
BE RECONCILED TO GOD!Copyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:18-21)
Previously I have written at length concerning the Jewish Day of Atonement. Those who are unfamiliar with this observance might wish to read the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus.
There were seven feasts of the Lord, as listed in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus. The Day of Atonement was the sixth of the seven feasts. It was the one day of the year when the High Priest could go past the Veil and offer blood in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The word "atonement" has several meanings. I like to stress the idea of "reconciliation." "Be reconciled to God" means to receive the sacrifice He has made for us to appease God concerning our sin and rebellion, and then set out to do whatever He desires of us.
God is not going to change His way of doing to please us, although you would think so after hearing the preaching of today. God never changes. His standards of righteousness, holiness, and obedience never change.
God has taken the first step of reconciliation to Himself by offering His Son on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Then He has given us the born-again experience; His Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit; so we might live so as to please Him. Through His Spirit He is writing His eternal moral law in our mind and heart so we will obey Him by nature.
Perhaps the most important dimension of atonement, after the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, is our obedience. I do not believe obedience to God is emphasized nearly enough in today's preaching. I do not mean only obedience to the written Word, but obedience to God's Words that each day come to us personally from His mouth.
One of the most satisfying experiences we can have, I believe, is when we find ourselves delighting to go God's perfect, complete will accurately promptly, and joyously.
To be reconciled to God is to leave the rebellious world spirit and find ourselves at rest in the Center of God's Person and will. There simply is nothing else in our life as a human that compares to living in the rest of God in this manner.
The Jewish feast of the Day of Atonement, Day of Reconciliation, is feast number six, as I have said. Feast number four is Pentecost. Feast number five is the Blowing of Trumpets, the beginning of our entrance into the Kingdom of God as the King, the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to us as an individual and declares war against all of the sin and rebellion in our personality.
This spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement is taking place now in numerous Christian people. Of necessity it follows the feast of Pentecost, because the putting to death of the impulses of our sinful nature is conducted by the Holy Spirit.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
So the Day of Atonement has begun. The previous century was marked by the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost. Speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Spirit were added to the Christian churches. Now it is time to move forward to the Day of Atonement.
From the beginning of his creation, man has been alienated to God. He has made attempts to please God through many different religions. To the present hour there are many different religions, as well as a thousand competing Christian denominations. All of these are attempts to be reconciled to God, to please God, and hopefully to go to a better place after our death.
But there is only one true path to reconciliation to God. We begin to walk on that path when we receive by faith the blood atonement, in which our sins are forgiven and God can accept us to this extent.
The next step is to be baptized in water, demonstrating that we have turned away from our former life in the antichrist world spirit. We have died on the cross with the Lord Jesus. Now we are living in Christ's resurrection Life.
The next step on the path to reconciliation with God occurs when the Seed of God fall into our heart. Christ is conceived in us. Now our task is to nourish the new Seed by prayer, meditation in the Bible, and fellowship with fervent Christians.
Then we are to pray to be filled with the Spirit of God, and to covet a gift and ministry so we can build up our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Now the Spirit of God begins to make us aware of the deeds of our sinful nature. We are to confess each of them as they are pointed out to us, and to denounce and renounce them, asking the Lord Jesus to help us never again practice such behavior.
The spiritual fulfillment of the final feast, the feast of Tabernacle, occurs as we keep obeying the commands of Christ. The Father and the Son enter us and we become Their eternal home.
It is at this point that we are reconciled fully to God. We are at rest in God's Person and will, and He is at rest in us.
As God enables us, in terms of our unique role and rank in His Kingdom, we will assist with the enormous task of reconciling all people, who are willing to be reconciled, to the God of Heaven.
As I said, the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, while it always has been available to anyone who sought God fervently, is now being applied to Christian people who have ears to ear. It is as though there have been scouts who have gone ahead to examine the territory ahead of us. Now the wagon train is beginning to catch up to where the scouts have been.
How long will the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement be available to people? As I said, it is available now. After Jesus returns with His armies and destroys the armies of Antichrist, the Antichrist, the False Prophets are thrown into the Lake of Fire, and Satan is confined in the Bottomless Pit, the army described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel will go through the earth judging people and destroying the Antichrist institutions.
When the task of purifying the earth of Satan and his cohorts has been accomplished, Christ will send out His kings from Jerusalem to set up kingdoms throughout the earth. Many large nations will be broken up into smaller dominions.
Now the work of reconciling the surviving nations will begin, under the supervision of the Lord Jesus and the other members of the Royal Priesthood.
This work of reconciliation will continue for a period set forth as a thousand years. At the end of that time, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit so he can test the effectiveness of what has been accomplished throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The result is the nations, still having retained their self-will, shall permit themselves to be deceived and will attack the government of Christ and His saints.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earthGog and Magogto gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
This episode reveals to us that no matter what overtures God makes to assist people in being reconciled to Himself, the self-will of man yet may prevail.
Then it will be time for the final resurrection and judgment. Some will be thrown into the Lake of Fire on this occasion to join the other rebels. Others, whose names are found written in the Book of Life, will be held over to life on the new earth. The Scripture does not say this, but they were spared the Lake of Fire and there is no place for them to go except to the new earth.
At this point one would suppose that sin and rebellion had come to an end. But I don't believe so, as long as angels and people are able to make their own decisions. The Book of Revelation speaks of sinful people who are not permitted to go through the gates into the new Jerusalem.
It is my point of view that the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement may continue for eternity. The saints whose home is the new Jerusalem will govern the works of God's hands. People, and possibly angels, may have to learn how to be reconciled to God. If they are not willing to obey Christ promptly and cheerfully, they will be sent to the Lake of Fire. There is no other place suitable for them.
The most important aspect of life for all of us, beginning today, if we would have righteousness, love, joy, and peace, is to obey Christ in every detail of our behavior. There can be no deviation from our total obedience to the Lord Jesus if we expect to be reconciled to our Father in Heaven.
God's will is the only valid will in the universe, and it is His will that His Son, the Lord Jesus, be obeyed by every creature.
There is no religion, including Christianity, that can reconcile people to God. We have to come through the steps I have mentioned above. We have to place our faith in the blood atonement. made on the cross. We have to die to the world in water baptism, and then rise to walk in newness of life with the Lord Jesus.
We have to be born again by having the Life of God conceived in us.
We have to be filled with the Spirit of God.
We have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He points out the deeds of our sinful nature, and then, through the Spirit, put them to death.
We have to be absolutely faithful in keeping the commands of Christ and His Apostles, so that the Father and the Son can make Their eternal home in us.
What I have written above is for God's elect, the members of the Royal Priesthood. They must be called by the Spirit, chosen because of their consecration to Christ, and faithful in passing the tests administered to them.
As far as the nations of the earth are concerned, they must believe in Christ and be baptized in water. Also, as I have mentioned, they must assist the Lord's brothers, the members of His Body, in their time of need.
It is God's will that every person practice righteous behavior, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Not all are called to the Royal Priesthood. But all must be reconciled to God in His time and His way, depending on each person's destiny according to God's great plan for His Kingdom.