By Andrew Murray
" Being justified freely by his grace through the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus, whom God bath set forth as a PROPITIATION through faith in his blood."--- iii. 24,25.
As we have seen, several distinct blessings have been procured for us by the power of the blood of Jesus, which are all included in the one word " REDEMPTION." Among these blessings, RECONCILIATION takes the first place. " God hath set
forth Jesus as a RECONCILIATION through faith in his blood." In our Lord's work of REDEMPTION, RECONCILIATION naturally comes first. It stands first also among the things the sinner has to do, who desires to have a share in REDEMPTION. Through it, a participation in the other blessings of Redemption is made possible.
It is of great importance also, that the believer, who has already received RECONCILIATION, should obtain a deeper, and more spiritual conception of its meaning, and blessedness. If the power of the blood in REDEMPTION is rooted in RECONCILIATION, then a fuller knowledge of what RECONCILIATION is, is the surest way to obtain a fuller experience of the
power of the blood. The heart that is surrendered to the teaching of the Holy Spirit will surely learn what RECONCILIATION means. May our hearts be opened wide to receive it.
To understand what RECONCILIATION BY THE BLOOD means let us consider:
1. SIN, WHICH HAS MADE RECONCILIATION NECESSARY.
2. GOD'S HOLINESS WHICH FORE-ORDAINED IT;
3. THE BLOOD OF JESUS WHICH OBTAINED IT;
4. THE PARDON WHICH RESULTS FROM IT.
I. SIN, WHICH MADE RECONCILIATION
In all the work of Christ, and above all in RECONCILIATION, God's object is the removal and destruction of sin. Knowledge of sin is necessary for the knowledge of RECONCILIATION.
We want to understand what there is in sin that needs RECONCILIATION, and how RECONCILIATION renders sin powerless. Then faith will have something to take hold of, and the experience of that blessing is made possible.
Sin has had a twofold effect. It has had an effect on God, as well as on man. We emphasise generally its effect on man. But the effect it has exercised on God is more terrible and serious. It is because of its effect on God that sin has its power over us. God, as Lord of all, could not overlook sin. It is His unalterable law that sin must bring forth sorrow and death. When man fell into sin, he, by that law of God, was brought under the power of sin. So it is with the lain of God that REDEMPTION must begin, for if sin is powerless against God, and the law of God gives sin no authority over us, then its power over us is destroyed. The knowledge that sin is speechless before God, assures us that it has no longer authority over us.
What then was the, effect of sin upon God? In His divine nature, He ever remains unchanged, and unchangeable, but in His relationship and bearing towards man, an entire change has taken place. Sin is disobedience, a contempt of the authority of God; it seeks to rob God of His honour, as God and Lord. Sin is determined opposition to a Holy God. It not only can, but must awaken His wrath.
While it was God's desire to continue in love and friendship with man, sin has compelled Him to become an opponent. Although the love of God towards man remains unchanged, sin made it impossible for Him to admit man into fellowship with Himself. It has compelled Him to pour out upon man His wrath, and curse, and punishment, instead of His love. The change which sin has caused in God's relationship to man is awful.
Man is guilty before God. Guilt is debt. We know what debt is. It is something that one person can demand from another, a claim which must be met and settled.
When sin is committed its after-effects may not be noticed, but its guilt remains. The sinner is guilty. God cannot disregard His own demand that sin must be punished; and His glory, which has been dishonoured, must be upheld. As long as the debt is not discharged, or the guilt expiated, it is, in the nature of the case, impossible for a Holy God to allow the sinner to come into His presence.
We often think that the great question for us is, how we can be delivered from the indwelling power of sin; but that is a question of less importance than, how can we be delivered from the guilt which is heaped up before God? Can the guilt of sin be removed? Can the effect of sin upon God, in awakening His wrath, be removed ? Can sin be blotted out before God? If these things can be done, the power of sin will be broken in us also. It is only through RECONCILIATION that the guilt of sin can be removed.
The word translated "RECONCILIATION" means actually "to cover." Even heathen people had an idea of this. But in Israel God revealed a RECONCILIATION which could so truly cover and remove the guilt of sin, that the original relationship between God and man can be entirely restored. This is what true RECONCILIATION must do. It must so remove the guilt of sin, that is, the effect of sin on God, that man can draw near to God, in the blessed assurance that there is not any longer the least guilt resting on him to keep him away from God.
2. THE HOLINESS OF GOD WHICH FORE ORDAINED THE RECONCILIATION.
This must also be considered if we are to understand RECONCILIATION aright.
God's Holiness is His infinite, glorious perfection, which leads Him always to desire what is good in others as well as in Himself. He bestows, and works out what is good in others, and hates and condemns all that is opposed to what is good.
In His holiness both the LOVE and WRATH of God are united; His LOVE which bestows itself; HIS WRATH which, according to the divine law of righteousness, casts out and consumes what is evil.
It is, as the Holy One, that God ordained RECONCILIATION in Israel, and took up His abode on the Mercy Seat.
It is as the Holy One that He, in expectation of New Testament times, said so often, " I am thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."
It is as the Holy One that God wrought out His counsel of RECONCILIATION in Christ.
The wonder of this counsel is, that both the holy love and the holy wrath of God find satisfaction in it. Apparently they were in irreconcilable strife with one another. The holy love was unwilling to let man go. Notwithstanding all his sin, it could not give him up. He must be redeemed. The holy wrath could not surrender its demands. The law had been despised. God had been dishonoured. God's right must be upheld. There could be no thought of releasing the sinner as long as the law was not satisfied. The terrible effect of sin in heaven-on God, must be counteracted; the guilt of sin must be removed ; otherwise the sinner could not be delivered. The only solution possible was RECONCILIATION.
We have seen that RECONCILIATION means COVERING. It means that something else has taken the place where sin was established, so that sin can no longer be seen by God.
But because God is the Holy One, and His eyes as a flame of fire, that which covered sin must be something of such a nature that it really counteracted the evil that sin had done, and also that it so blotted out sin before God that it was really destroyed, and was not now to be seen.
RECONCILIATION for sin can take place only by satisfaction. Satisfaction is RECONCILIATION. And as satisfaction is through a substitute, sin can be punished, and the sinner saved. God's holiness also would be glorified, and its demands met, as well as the demand of God's love in the redemption of the sinner; and the demand of His righteousness in the maintenance of the glory of God and of His law.
We know how this was set forth in the Old Testament laws of the offerings. A clean beast took the place of a guilty man. His sin was laid, by confession, on the head of the victim, which bore the punishment by surrendering its life unto death. Then the blood, representing a clean life that now through the bearing of punishment is free from guilt, can be brought into God's presence ; the blood or life of the beast that has borne the punishment in place of the sinner. That blood made RECONCILIATION, and covered the sinner and his sin, because it had taken his place, and atoned for his sin.
There was RECONCILIATION IN THE BLOOD.
But that was not a reality. The blood of cattle or of goats could never take away sin; it was only a shadow, a picture, of the real RECONCILIATION.
Blood of a totally different character was necessary for an effectual covering of guilt. According to the counsel of the Holy God, nothing less than the blood of God's own Son could bring about RECONCILIATION. Righteousness demanded it; Love offered it. " Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God hath set forth for a RECONCILIATION through faith in his blood."
3. THE BLOOD THAT WROUGHT OUT THE RECONCILIATION.
RECONCILIATION must be the satisfaction of the demands of God's holy law.
The Lord Jesus accomplished that. By a willing, and perfect obedience, He fulfilled the law under which He had placed Himself. In the same spirit of complete surrender to the will of the Father, He bore the curse which the law had pronounced against sin. He rendered, in fullest measure of obedience or punishment, all that the law of God could ever ask or desire. The law was perfectly satisfied by Him. But how can His fulfilling of the demands of the law be RECONCILIATION for the sins of others? Because, both in Creation and in the holy covenant of grace that the Father had made with Him, He was recognised as the head of the human race. Because of this, He was able, by becoming flesh, to become a second Adam. When He, the WORD, became FLESH, He placed Himself in a real fellowship with our flesh which was under the power of sin, and He assumed the responsibility for all that sin had done in the flesh against God. His obedience and perfection was not merely that of one man among others, but that of Him who had placed Himself in fellowship with all other men, and who had taken their sin upon Himself.
As Head of mankind through Creation, as their representative in the Covenant, He became their surety. As a perfect satisfaction of the demands of the law was accomplished by the shedding of His blood, this was THE RECONCILIATION; the covering of our sin.
Above all, we must never forget that He was God. This bestowed a divine power on Him, to unite Himself with His creatures, and to take them up into Himself. It bestowed on His sufferings a virtue of infinite holiness and power. It made the merit of His blood-shedding more than sufficient to deal with all the guilt of human sin. It made His blood such a real RECONCILIATION, such a perfect covering of sin, that the holiness of God no longer beholds it. It has been, in truth, blotted out. The Blood of Jesus, God's Son, has procured a real, perfect and eternal RECONCILIATION.
What does that mean?
We have spoken of the awful effect of sin on God, of the terrible change which took place in heaven, through sin. Instead of favour, and friendship, and blessing, and the life of God, from Heaven, man had nothing to look for except wrath, and curse, and death, and perdition. He could think of God only with fear and terror; without hope, and without love. Sin never ceased to call for vengeance, guilt must be dealt with in full.
But see the blood of Jesus, God's Son, has been shed. Atonement for sin has been made. Peace is restored. A change has taken place again, as real and widespread as that which sin had brought about. For those who receive the RECONCILIATION, sin has been brought to naught. The wrath of God turns round and hides itself in the depth of divine love.
The Righteousness of God no longer terrifies man. It meets him as a friend, with an offer of complete justification. God's countenance beams with pleasure and approval as the penitent sinner draws near to Him, and He invites him to intimate fellowship. He opens for him treasure of blessing. There is nothing now that can separate him from God.
The RECONCILIATION through the blood of Jesus has covered his sins ; they appear no longer in God's sight. He no longer imputes sin. RECONCILIATION has wrought out a perfect and eternal redemption.
Oh 1 who can tell the worth of that precious blood?
It is no wonder that for ever mention will be made of that blood in the song of the redeemed, and through all eternity, as long as heaven lasts, the praise of the blood will resound. " Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood."
But here is the wonder, that the redeemed on earth do not more heartily join in that song, and that they are not abounding in praise for the RECONCILIATION that the power of the Blood has accomplished.
4. THE PARDON WHICH FOLLOWS FROM RECONCILIATION.
That the blood has made RECONCILIATION for sin, and covered it, and that as a result of this such a wonderful change has taken place in the heavenly realms -all this will avail us nothing, unless we obtain a personal share in it.
It is in the pardon of sin this takes place.
God has offered a perfect acquittal from all our sin and guilt. Because RECONCILIATION has been made for sin, we can now be RECONCILED to Him. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." Following this word of RECONCILIATION is the invitation, "Be ye reconciled to God." Whoever receives RECONCILIATION for sin, is RECONCILED to God. He knows that all his sins are forgiven.
The Scriptures use sundry illustrations to emphasise the fulness of forgiveness, and to convince the fearful heart of the sinner, that the blood has really taken his sin away. "I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins" (Isa. xliv. 22). "Thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back" (Isa. xxxviii. 17). "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Mic. vii. i9). "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah and they shall not be found for I will pardon them" (Jer. 1. 20).
This is what the New Testament calls justification. It is thus named in Rom. iii. 23-26, "For all have sinned . . . being justified freely (for nothing) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth as a RECONCILIATION, THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, to declare his righteousness . . . that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
So perfect is the RECONCILIATION and so really has sin been covered and blotted out, that he who believes in Christ is looked upon, and treated by God, as entirely righteous. The acquittal which he has received from God is so complete that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to prevent him approaching God with the utmost freedom.
For the enjoyment of this blessedness nothing is necessary save faith in the blood. The blood alone has clone everything.
The penitent sinner who turns from his sin to God, needs only faith in that blood. That is, faith in the power of the blood, that it has truly atoned for sin, and that it really has atoned for him. Through that faith, he knows that he is fully RECONCILED to God, and that there is now not the least thing to hinder God pouring out on him the fulness of His love, and blessing.
If he looks towards heaven which formerly was covered with clouds, black with God's wrath, and a coming awful judgment; that cloud is no longer to be seen, everything is bright in the gladsome light of God's face, and God's love. Faith in the blood manifests in his heart the same wonder-working power that it exercised in heaven. Through faith in the blood he becomes partaker of all the blessings which the blood has obtained for him, from God.
Fellow believers ! pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit may reveal to you the glory of this RECONCILIATION, and the pardon of your sins, made yours through the blood of Jesus. Pray for enlightened hearts to see how completely the accusing and condemning power of your sin has been removed, and how God in the fulness of His love and good pleasure has turned towards you. Open your hearts to the Holy Spirit that He may reveal in you the glorious effects which the blood has had in heaven. God hath set forth JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF as a RECONCILIATION through faith in His blood. He is the RECONCILIATION for our sins. Rely on Him, as having already covered your sin before God. Set Him between yourselves and your sins, and you will experience how complete the Redemption is, which He has accomplished, and how powerful the RECONCILIAT10N is through faith in His blood.
Then through the LIVING CHRIST, the powerful effects which the blood has exercised in heaven will increasingly be manifested in your hearts, and you will know what it means to walk, by the Spirit's grace, in the full light and enjoyment of forgiveness.
And you who have not yet obtained forgiveness of your sins, does not this word come to you as an urgent call to faith in His blood ?
Will you never allow yourselves to be moved by what God has done for you as sinners? "Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the reconciliation for our sins" (I John iv. 20).
The precious blood, divine, has been shed, RECONCILIATION is complete, and the message comes to you, "Be ye reconciled to God."
If you repent of your sins, and desire to be delivered from sin's power and bondage, exercise faith in the blood. Open your heart to the influence of the word that God has sent to be spoken unto you. Open your heart to the message, that the blood can deliver you, yes, even you, this moment. Only believe it. Say "that blood is also for me." If you come as a guilty, lost sinner, longing for pardon, you may rest assured that the blood which has already made a perfect RECONCILIATION covers your sin and restores you, immediately, to the favour and love of GOD.
So I pray you, exercise faith in the blood. This moment bow down before God, and tell Him that you do believe in the power of the blood for your own soul. Having said that, stand by it, cling to it. Through faith in His blood, Jesus Christ will be the RECONCILIATION for your sins also.