The Daily Blessing
August 29th, 2013

“Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”  Ephesians 1:3

Reconciliation vs Justification

By Mike Schroeder

2 Cor 5:18-21

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

This is, perhaps, one of the most pivotal and controversial passages of Scripture in the entire Bible.  The debate over what it declares and does not declare has been on going among Christian theologians since the first century, the critical issues debated being these:

If God, through Christ, is reconciled unto everyone in the world, “not imputing their (the world’s) trespasses unto them,” does this mean: A. That everyone’s sins are forgiven, and therefore, everyone has been spared eternal damnation in hell? Or B. As the preponderance of Christian commentary and preaching asserts; only them that believe have their sins forgiven, and are thus spared eternal damnation and separation from God in hell?

Neither of these positions is correct.

The passage means exactly what it says; that God, through Christ, is NOT IMPUTING (counting) trespasses unto anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances. In other words, everyone’s sins are forgiven.

This doctrine is corroborated in Paul’s very first sermon in Acts 13, in Antioch, where he declares unto his audience:

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things… 1

Is he not declaring the forgiveness of sins, that sins are not now being imputed, in this statement?

Indeed he is. But notice that he follows it with the qualification that only them that believe (that God, through Christ, has forgiven their sins) are JUSTIFIED.

To me, where preachers go off track with this issue, is when they blur the lines between reconciliation and justification. When you do this, you end up with a doctrine that looks something like this:

Only believers sins are forgiven. The unbelieving world’s sins cannot be forgiven, because if they die in a state of unbelief, and end up in hell, God would be guilty of sending people there with their sins forgiven.

The fact is,  people are going to end up in hell with their sins forgiven, but God  cannot be blamed for this, because he made the way for them to escape it; the “gift of salvation.”2  All anyone has to do to avert that fate is simply receive this gift which God freely offers them.3

Reconciliation is simply a clearing of the boat deck so that it can be occupied; it doesn’t put anyone on the boat, it only makes the way for them to get on.

Not having your sins counted (imputed) against you does not automatically impute God’s righteousness to your account. for it says in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

Rom 3:20-22
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

The righteousness of God is offered “unto all,” but it is  only “upon all them that believe.”

The words “righteous” and “justified” have the exact same meaning, i.e., “to be declared innocent.”  And that is what it means to possess “the righteousness of God;” It is to stand in a state of eternal innocence in his presence.

Back in the original passage it says:

20 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.

21 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.

God has reconciled himself, through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ, to the world. Now, the ball is in the world’s court, and in order for people in the world to be “made the righteousness of God” (justified), they must reconcile themselves to God by believing the gospel4, and receiving the gift of salvation that God freely offers them.

Mike Schroeder

Post Script:

May I ask you, dear friend, have you ever done this? Have you received the gift of salvation that God freely offers you?  Can you look back at a moment of time in your life when you saw yourself as a lost sinner, and trusted Christ and what he did for you at Calvary for you salvation? If not, why not make that moment in time right now.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible

Please feel at liberty to freely distribute this as you see fit.

  1. Acts 13:38-39 

  2. Eph. 2:8 

  3. Rom. 5:15-18 

  4. 1 Cor 15:1-4
    Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

    2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

    3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

    4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures 

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