|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"For God has allowed us to know the secret of His plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him." [Ephesians 1:9-10, Phillips].
"And this is in harmony with God's merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it-- the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in Him." [Ephesians 1:10, Weymouth]. The wonder and glory of this passage of scripture is such that one can only bow in worship, to praise the Lord for His mercy and love. Such a plan, such a merciful purpose, to gather together in One, to reconcile all things into Himself-- a redemption that is full and complete in every part, and which covers the whole of the universe. Hallelujah!
"And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself ; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in His sight." [Col.1 :20-22].
The word "reconcile" in the Old Testament means "to cover" or "to make atonement." The many sacrifices made upon the altar served to cover over the sins of the people, making a certain kind of peace between God and man. Yet under the limited meaning of the word "atonement" we do not have a complete answer to our need, for we need more than a covering over of sin, but a complete and finished putting away thereof, never to be remembered any more. "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year." [Hebrews 10:3]. "But now once in the end of the world (Greek, age) hath HE appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." [Hebrews 9 :26]. In Christ there is no more remembrance of sin, for HE brings forth a new creation life, old things passing away, and behold, all things becoming new. The Dictionary defines the word "reconcile" to mean, to unite, to bring back to harmony.
But in the New Testament Greek we really find the depth of meaning for this word, which is TO CHANGE THOROUGHLY. There can be no true unification without first a thorough change. Thus we are not seeking for just a present-time harmony, covering over the past, and hoping for the best in the future, but we desire that the Spirit of God, working within, shall bring a thorough change in us, and then we shall be united with our Lord. There will be no fear of the things we covered over rearing their ugly heads and distressing us again, making a break in our fellowship, for there will have been a thorough correction, and all things made new. Thus, we repeat, there must be a change before unification, "for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? What concern hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" [2 Corinthians 6:14-15].
"In beginning God created the heaven and the earth." [Genesis 1:1]. "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited." [Isaiah 45:18]. Created it "not in vain," the Hebrew word for "vain" is "tohu" meaning, ruin, waste, confusion, or without form. God did not create in ruins, in waste, in confusion, for He is not the Author of confusion. With the introduction of self-will and sin in the universe, the earth BECAME "without form and void." This chaos resulted as rebellion and sin made their entrance into the universe-- God allowed, yes, God planned, yes, to work out His purpose of the ages, through the interplay of good and evil.
The heavens and the earth were not always separated, but they formed a glorious oneness, and will again be united at the end of the ages. All separation is the product of sin, selfhood, and a part of the present arrangement of this world's system, but a unification is going to be made complete, and all things thoroughly changed and rectified, so that harmony shall again prevail throughout the whole of the universe.
The words "to sin" in either Hebrew or Greek mean, "TO ERR, TO MISS THE MARK." It speaks of that which turns away from the true course, causing a separation by its own selfhood course. Sin did not originate in the earth, it began in the heavens, thus causing confusion, chaos, separation. And the heavens needed also to be purified, but they couldn't be purified with things of the earth, such as the sacrifice of lambs, goats, etc. "But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these," [Hebrews 9:23] hence, Christ Himself became the better, supreme sacrifice.
The very word "heaven" means THINGS HEAVED UP. Anything that is "heaved up" bespeaks of a violent reaction to force. They weren't eased up, or gently lifted up, but heaved up. Sin causes a tremendous upheaval, with one realm being heaved up, thrust away, and the other part becoming dense, and grossly material, shrouded in darkness, Chaotic, and void. But these two realms shall not always be so separated, for "It shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth." [Hosea 2:21].
The truth is both startling and challenging, that, from the lowest part of the earth, to the highest outreach of the heavens, divine harmony shall be restored, for HE is reconciling all things to Himself. A manifestation of the OUT FLOWING LIFE, and Christ's victory at Calvary.
But it is not just the scope of "things on earth" being reconciled, that startles us most, for it goes on to say, "and things in heaven." This implies that the heavens needed reconciling. Perhaps we ought to point out that when we speak of "heavenly things" we are not just referring to the starry heavens, or other far flung solar systems, though it is possible that they are linked to God's great purpose to be unveiled in the ages to come, but right now we have a different realm in mind, such as described by G. Campbell Morgan. "This all-inclusive term (heaven) has reference first to angels intelligences described elsewhere as Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers" unquote. Praise God, these also are included in the reconciliation and peace secured by the blood of His cross.
"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven." [Psalm 85:10-11]. What a glorious unification in this verse! Omitting the fact that they are already met together in Christ, let us note them individually. They all exist in the nature of God.
MERCY --love's expression of tender compassion.
TRUTH --which is uprightness, steadfastness, stable, and builds.
RIGHTEOUSNESS --justice, that which is right, with-out deviation.
PEACE --absolute safety, unity, completeness.
When sin made its entrance into the universe it broke up the harmony of these, and there is a necessity of reconciling until all is restored. God is a God of truth. Sin violates the truth. How then is it possible for God to manifest "mercy" towards one whose action threatens the very stability of His universe? Truth is stability, steadfastness, but sin violates that position, then dare we express love towards the one so bent on destruction? The presence of SIN begins to place a mark of distinction between each of these, whereas before they were all merged into one blending of harmony.
God is a God of righteousness, and that which cannot deviate from absolute justice and uprightness. The introduction into the presence of righteousness of that which contradicts it, must make peace impossible. Thus, by the very necessity of the essential facts of His Being, in the moment sin existed in the universe, there was need for reconciliation, if mercy and truth were to meet together; righteousness and peace to kiss each other. Behind all of this interplay, and the accomplishment of God's purpose in its allowance and solution, stands the immutable wisdom of God. HE FOREKNEW all the consequences of the presence of evil, and in His own determinate counsel, completely planned He for the fullness of reconciliation before He cast forth into manifestation this whole drama to pass through its cycles, and then to consummate in ultimate victory back into Himself.
Reconciliation, therefore, in order to be complete, must be such that there be made possible the continued activity of Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, so that violence is not done to any of them. Such great reconciliation is provided for "IN THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS." By the inspiration of the Spirit the Psalmist beheld a time of such glorious reconciliation, when every one of these elements in the nature of God could operate in harmony with each other. The answer to all of these is found in "His cross." "GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD UNTO HIMSELF." [2 Corinthians 5:19]. It was GOD, who during the hours of travail on the cross, was reconciling through this manifestation of Himself, in the man Christ Jesus, all things back into Himself.
We become sentimental when we think of Jesus as a baby laid in a manger, pure, innocent, and tender. And then we combine this form with God, and know that this is Emmanuel, God with us. Then during the years of His ministry, with signs, wonders, miracles, we again see "the finger of God" in demonstration. But now, can we see that this IS GOD IN CHRIST when the cross comes into view, and hell's legions are turned loose to wage their warfare against Him? Ah, yes, beloved, here is the point of rare unification, as God reaches out and gathers ALL THINGS into Himself.
Christ, by the cross, demonstrated that love meets the law as it suffers and fulfills it. Grace satisfies the demands of truth by meeting all the issues of its violation. Mercy can operate on the basis of justice because God has gathered the whole into His own heart, and suffered to reconcile all things into Himself. How little we know of suffering. We suffer because of our own mistakes and self-produced contrariness to things about us. Perchance we even suffer as busybodies, and are resisted for it. But have we yet begun to learn what it means to fill up in our body that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ? [Colossians 1:24]. Those who follow on into the fullness of conformity to His death, and the fellowship of His sufferings, are beginning to know the travail ,of the conflict as the Spirit moves within, to reconcile so many of these contrary situations.
Never was holiness more vindicated, than at the cross, when Jesus "suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." [1 Peter 3:18]. Never was love more lavishly outpoured than when "God so loved the world that HE gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth into Him should not perish, but have age-abiding life." [John 3:16].
We stand in awe before this fulfillment of Genesis 22:8, when by the Spirit Abraham prophesied to Isaac, "GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF a lamb for a burnt offering." And that is just when He did, He provided HIMSELF! Stripping Himself of His glory, He who was in the form of God, took upon Himself the form of man, and offered that form in that great sacrifice, yea, POURED OUT THE LIFE CONTAINED IN THAT FORM, which life was freely given to reconcile all things back into Himself. Never was grace more majestic in its operation, than when "He made Him to be sin (Greek, literally, A SIN-OFFERING) for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." [2 Corinthians 5:21].
The law demands, "the soul that sineth, it shall die." Why? Because the only way to end the wayward course of self's rebellion is to DIE OUT to that course of action, and to be reconciled back into the will of God. But how can we "die" to that which has captivated us, especially when we are "dead in trespasses and sins," and cut off from the LIFE of God, and His power which is needed for our overcoming? Death-- which came as an enemy, and separated us from righteousness, and the life of God, must now be REVERSED, so that we DIE to this carnal realm, and are restored into fellowship and harmony with our God. THIS DEATH-ROUTE WAS BLAZED OUT FOR US BY CHRIST. "That He by the grace of God should taste (experience) death for every man." [Hebrews 2 :9]. And now He is able to indwell us by His Spirit, and give us the power to walk in His steps, and follow through the process of "death to self" that we might come alive to God, praise Him!
"What are we then to say to FACTS like these? If God is for us, who can be against us." [Romans 8:31, Williams]. This is not some weird figment of a vain man's distorted imagination, dreams of the night, THESE ARE FACTS. God is working a THOROUGH CHANGE, and He has already begun with a firstfruits company, gathering a remnant out of each generation, until the appointed hour when He shall begin the greater scope of the restitution of all things spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. If God be for us, who can be against us? "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things." [Romans 8:32].
"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." [Romans 5:10]. The thorough change is wrought in us via the operation of His cross. The death process-- our identification with His sufferings, being made conformable to His death, will produce this change, and without it no change can be made, for "except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone," [John 12:24] and not only does it abide alone, but it remains unchanged. "That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." [1 Corinthians 15:36]. With the climax of the cross bringing final death to the carnal mind, we will emerge out of the barren tomb as a new creation. We have possessed "in part" the life of God, and we have thrilled to its surgings within us, but we must have the WHOLE, being thoroughly changed into His same image. Nor is this the end of reconciliation, when the complete change is made in us, it is just the beginning, for when we are fully fashioned into the image of Christ, then shall we also receive both the ministry and the word of reconciliation. For God has chosen His firstfruits company to be "partakers of the holy calling" wherein they, too, shall be ministers of righteousness to help carry His life to all mankind. A ministry of reconciliation [2 Cor. 5:18], of changing others so that they might be drawn into unification and harmony with God. This is a NEW ministry, based upon a new covenant, "established upon better promises." [Hebrews 8:6].
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament ; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." [2 Cor. 3:5-6].
Herein is a ministry of mercy and grace! "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES UNTO THEM." [2 Cor. 5:19]. Not charging them with guilt, to heap upon them loads of condemnation, but simply to give the GOOD WORD, namely, that GOD LOVES THEM, forgives them, and is ready to receive them back to Himself. All is well, come home forsake your wayward course, the Father waits to forgive and receive you. No word of condemnation, not imputing a list of sins against you, but a word of hope, of grace, of love.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ. This word "for" is the same word as used later "in Christ's stead." In behalf of Christ, as though God did beseech by us, "we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." [2 Corinthians 5 :20]. God is going to beseech the whole creation through the christed (anointed) company of which The Christ is the Head. The word "beseech" is a strong word, bespeaking of laying hold in earnestness. This company will be filled with divine compassion, "for the love of Christ constraineth us." [2 Corinthians 5:14]. And will this ministry be effective? As, yes, "And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honour and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever." [Revelation 5:13, Amplified].
Yes, He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ. Everything that exists in heaven and earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Him. AII things shall "center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him." [Romans 11:36, Amplified].
Though the ages run their course, and the time seems long; though the judgments are required and the discipline is severe; though there be many paths washed with tears, and the valley be deep, yet God hath purposed that all shall be fully restored, and the great age of jubilee shall see a universe redeemed from the tyranny of change and decay, delivered into the glorious liberty which rightfully belongs to the children of God, and the whole purpose of the ages shall rebound to the glory of God. We bow to worship HIM who truly "doeth all things well."
Writings in This Series: