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Reconciliation with God and Men

April 24, 2018

“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death,” (Acts 8:1a, NASB).

Let’s expound a bit more on something we mentioned recently. Paul the apostle, formerly called Saul, was an active persecutor of the Church of God. We find him at the scene of Stephen’s murder, receiving the robes of those who cast the stones. We then find him taking the initiative to bring this persecution to Damascus. Yet, on the way, Christ meets him and saves him, and calls him to be His messenger.

First, think of how easy it would have been for Paul the apostle to perpetually walk around with guilt and condemnation. How often do we sin and fail, and allow those failures to flood our thoughts and bring us down into depression and condemnation. Paul knew however, that Christ had paid the full price for his sin, and there was no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). He knew that the debt of sin that stood against him was nailed to the cross and taken away forever (Col. 2:14). He knew that, in Christ, Saul had died, and he now lived as a new creation, old things had passed away (2 Cor. 5:17). He knew that it was no longer him who lived but Christ that lived in him (Gal. 2:20). He knew that whatever he was before Christ saved him, was rubbish in light of the new life he had been given by his Savior (Phil. 3:8). He was a new creation in Christ, and was fully forgiven for all of his sin. That is cause for rejoicing. Just like with Paul, our sins have been cancelled by the cross. Our guilt has been erased. We do not need to walk around constantly condemning ourselves. Christ was condemned so that we don’t have to be.

Second, think of how the Church received Paul. Did they continually demand that Paul apologize for costing them one of their friends? Did they allow Paul into the Church but keep him at arms length because of what he had done before he was saved? We only find this immediately upon his arrival in Jerusalem, because the apostles were unsure that he was truly converted (Acts 9:26). But once Barnabas cleared up that issue, Paul was received as a brother in the Lord, and was granted the right hand of fellowship (Gal. 2:9). He was the chief Apostle to the Gentiles, and was the lead Church planter in the expansion of the Church of God. The early Church knew that they were called to forgive others their wrongdoing just as they had been forgiven in Christ (Col. 3:13). They knew that any bitterness or wrath that they maintained towards a fellow believer was to be cast away, and instead they were to treat their brothers and sisters in Christ in a kind and tender-hearted manner, forgiving one another as they were forgiven by God in Christ (Eph. 4:32). They knew it was sinful to experience the grace of God, and the forgiveness of their sins, but refuse to forgive their brother (Mt. 18:21-35).

Paul is an incredible lesson in the forgiveness of God in Christ. He experienced that forgiveness, and it set him free from guilt and condemnation. The Church knew that forgiveness, and that it was the basis for their forgiveness and of their reconciliation to one another. They knew that if God sent His Son to permanently put away all the sin of God’s people, that it was wrong, and unbelieving, to act as if that sin was still present. We must ask ourselves, do we know this is the case? Do we act in our relationship towards God with this freedom from guilt and condemnation? Do we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as if they are forgiven the same way we were? Oh that God would grant us His grace so that we would live in the freedom and reconciliation there is in Christ. He has made the peace between us and Himself, and as a result, the peace among one another. May we pray that we greater comprehend the grace of God in Christ. May we recognize His mercy towards us and towards our brethren, and glory in the forgiveness of God in Christ. May God increase our faith in His wonderful work of reconciliation.

From → Theology

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