The Great Reconciler

Colossians

The Great Reconciler

July 21st, 1957 @ 7:30 PM

Colossians 1:20

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.
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THE GREAT RECONCILER

Dr.  W.  A.  Criswell

Colossians 1:20

7-21-57    7:30 p. m. 

 

 

Now, I want you to turn to the first chapter of Colossians – the first chapter of Colossians – and we’re going to read our passage tonight.  It’ll be the same one out of which we preached this morning.  It’s going to be the second half of the sentence – the first chapter of Colossians. 

In our preaching through the Bible, we’re in this difficult but glorious book of Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae.  Now, let’s read from the twelfth through the twentieth verses, and the text tonight will be the twentieth verse.  Colossians 1:12-20.  Now, let’s all read it together:

 

Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,

In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. 

For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether there be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created by Him and for Him. 

And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. 

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence. 

For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell,

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. 

 [Colossians 1:12-20]

 

And our text is the last part of this sentence: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell,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 heaven, or things in earth" [Colossians 1:19-20].  And this morning our message was on The Fullness in Christ: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell" [Colossians 1:19] – the plenitude of grace and mercy and forgiveness in Him. 

Now, the message tonight is entitled The Great Reconciler – the second part of the sentence, the twentieth verse: "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" [Colossians 1:20].  This is a part of that fullness of Christ that in Him, in our Lord, should be the reconciliation of all things in heaven and in earth.  Our Lord Jesus is the great center of the reconciliation, the recreation, the renovation, the renewal, the regeneration, the remaking of all things, whether they are in heaven or whether they are in the earth. 

There has been an estrangement; there has been a separation [Isaiah 59:2].  There is to be a reunion in Christ.  There has been argument.  There has been controversy.  There is to be an adjustment in Him.  There has been the development of all of the things that pass between like a gulf – that wash between God and man.  There is to be a reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

And do you notice how he emphasizes the person of our Lord when he states the case? "Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say" – how he emphasizes the office and the place and the person of the Son of God, Christ Jesus.  In the economy of heaven, there are allocated things for the archangels to do [1 Thessalonians 4:15; Jude 1:9], and other things for the seraphim [Isaiah 6:2, 6]and the cherubim [Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 10:1-22, 11:22-23], and other things for the ministering spirits of God [Hebrews 1:13-14], and other things even for man [Genesis 1:27-28; Matthew 28:18-20]. 

But there are some things that only Christ our Lord is able to do and to achieve and to effect for the human race.  And of these matters – the reconciliation of our souls to God, and the saving us from our sins, and the preparing for us in glory – is an allocated work peculiarly, distinctly, intrinsically and essentially given to Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  "I go to prepare a place for you," He said [John 14:2], "and I will come again and receive you unto Myself" [John 14:3].  There are distinct works that only Jesus could effect, and this is one of them: the deliverance of God’s elect someday to glory, to heaven, to home, and to God [John 14:6].  "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell" [Colossians 1:19], and a part of that fullness is this work of reconciliation that only Christ our Lord could achieve. 

In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, it is said: "Offering and sacrifice Thou wouldst not, but a body hast Thou prepared for Me .  .  .  Then said I, ‘Lo, I come–in the roll of the book it is written of Me–to do Thy will, O God’" [Hebrews 10:5, 7].  Now, therefore, we are sanctified – made safe.  We are saved through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all [Hebrews 10:10].  It is an achievement that only the Lord was able to accomplish and to bring to pass [Acts 4:12].  Even righteous Enoch [Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 1:14-16] and faithful Noah [Genesis 6:1-22, 7:1-24, 8:1-9:29; Hebrews 11:17] and humble Moses [Numbers 12:3; Hebrews 11:23-29]and dedicated Joshua [Exodus 33:9-11; Numbers 14:1-10; Joshua 6:1-27]and all-surrendered Elijah [1 Kings 17:1-19:21] could not do this for us [Ezekiel 14:12-14, 18:20].  It is a work, a deliverance, a reconciliation, that is only possible in the person and in the hands of Christ our Lord [Hebrews 4:15, 10:1-18].  "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" [Colossians 1:20]. 

The great expositor and theologian John Calvin [1509-1564] said, "That by this word He should reconcile things in heaven" [Colossians 1:20] – he thought that that referred to the confirmation of even the angels in glory, in their love and faithfulness, by the mediatorial work, the sacrificial death, the great reconciliation in Jesus Christ [Commentary on Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, by John Calvin, 1548].  Possibly so; I cannot enter into that.  But this do I know, that in Christ there is to be a regeneration, a recreation, a renovation of the entire created universe of God, whether it be up above us, or whether it be down below us, or whether it be round about us.  In Jesus, there is to be a remaking of this entire creation. 

That is beautifully and marvelously set forth in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans:"For the creation was made subject to futility" [Romans 8:20].  God didn’t create it that way.  These barren planets that are burned and dead, this great universe that in parts is cold and in parts is burning, and this earth of ours that is blasted and withered and scarred with deserts and drought, and the animals that suffer and die – carnivorous, eating and preying upon one another – God never made it like that. 

 

But the creation was made subject to futility, not willingly –

not of itself

but by reason of Him who subjected the same in hope –

of another day, of a greater hour, of a final consummation –

Because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

And the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 

And not only they –

not only animals, not only God’s created universe around us

but ourselves also –

we who are Christians

And who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves waiting for –

that great consummation

the redemption –

the resurrection, the regeneration, the immortalization

of our bodies. 

 [Romans 8:20-23]

 

Paul says there that in Christ there is to be a remaking, a regeneration, of the entire created universe.  The planets above us, the stars that shine, the great universes in their courses, and our own world – everything in it shall be remade, regenerated, immortalized, glorified. 

And that marvelous reconciliation is to be made in Jesus Christ our Lord whether there are things in heaven or things in earth.  Heaven is going to be right here.  God’s new creation is going to be right here around us – everything God someday shall make perfect and beautiful and full-orbed again.  There shall be animals living in this earth, not carnivorous, but like God made them: eating the herbs of the field and the grass of the meadows.  "The lion shall eat straw like an ox" [Isaiah 11:7].  "The wolf and the lamb shall lie down together .  .  .  A little child shall lead them" [Isaiah 11:6].  The whole edenic picture that was lost in that first transgression shall be given back to us and again and more beautiful than before in the reconciliation of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Now, may I turn to the reconciliation in the person of Christ Himself?  And I do it because of the emphasis that Paul places upon Jesus in the text.  "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" [Colossians 1:20].  In the person of Christ, in Him, there is the bringing together, the reconciling, the making of one, of oh so many diverse and variegated traits and characteristics. 

Did you ever consider them?  Did you ever consider Him and how much of oppositeness, how much of antiphonal difference you find in the character and the personality of Jesus Christ and yet each one beautifully, marvelously, infinitely, wonderfully blended together in a composite conjoined in Him?

For one thing, He is God.  He is deity itself.  He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  He is God of very gods [from Nicene Creed, 325, 381 CE], and yet He is a man of very man [John 10:30-33].  He is [God] as if He were not man; He is a man as if He were not God; and yet He has one gloriously beautiful and integrated personality.  The contrasting traits in Jesus our Lord reconciled in Him. 

Did you ever consider how much of philosophy is given over to the fundamental persuasion that matter is evil, that the world is evil, and God is good?  But I do not know of a greater refutation of that false philosophy than this: the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.  If matter is evil, if corporeality is vile, if this thing that we live in is a matter of intrinsic wickedness and iniquity in itself, yet Christ was God and He lived in a house like you live in, and He had a body like you have [Luke 24:39] and it was made of flesh and blood, and it died.  It was slain and buried in the earth [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. 

Our Lord: all of those diverse characteristics in Him.  Think of the humility of His life [Philippians 2:5-8].  Think of the pitiful mildness of His manner [Matthew 12:19-20].  Think of the love and mercy that distill like dew from His lips [John 8:10-11].  Think of the gentle Jesus: how sweet and how gracious and how kind and how loving.  And yet there is not in all literature the burning denunciation as you’ll find in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew when he spake to the whited sepulchres, the hypocrites: the Pharisees and the Sadducees [Matthew 23:1-36].  That’s the same Lord Jesus.  There has never fallen from the lips of any man warnings and judgments as threatening and as dire and as terrible as fell from the lips of that same gentle Jesus. 

Did you ever consider that phrase in the sixth chapter of the Book of the Revelation "the wrath of the Lamb"? [Revelation 6:16]  A lamb?  The Lord Jesus, the wrath of the Lamb?  And yet both are there, side by side, reconciled in the person of Jesus Christ.  Did you ever think how contemplative He was, how full of meditation and prayer [Luke 5:16], how much given to the fellowship of God His Father [Mark 1:35], and yet filled with the intensest life going about doing good [John 21:25], preaching the gospel everywhere [Matthew 4:23, 9:35], and on every hand busy about his Father’s business [John 4:34, 5:36]?

Those contrasting traits and characteristics so marvelously reconciled and blended in the person of Jesus Christ.  There is no standard.  There is no criterion.  There is no canon.  There’s no room by which you can judge Him by anything in heaven or anything known in earth.  These things reconciled, made one, integrated in the character and in the person of Jesus our Lord.  He was poor – poor beyond what we know in the United States [Luke 2:23-24; Philippians 2:6-7].  He was poor, yet there were never riches that so infinitely blessed by a wealth of blessings other people [2 Corinthians 8:9]. 

He was hungered [Mark 11:12; Luke 4:2], yet He fed five thousand [Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:33-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14].  He said He had not where to lay His head [Matthew 8:20], yet He is the One making an eternal home for us [John 10:28-30, 14:2-3].  He was weak as the world counts weakness.  He wasn’t a Roman Caesar [Isaiah 53:2].  He wasn’t even a Pontius Pilate [Mark 6:3].  He was a humble peasant and weak as the world counts weakness.  But was there ever a man who had such power in His life, who held such destiny in His hand in perfect confidence?  He seemed to be the king and majesty over all nature [Matthew 8:26-27], and He could guide the thoughts and love and the emotion of men beyond anyone that ever lived.  And there are millions today who call themselves by His name, this marvelous One who reconciled in Himself those impossibly divergent traits and characteristics. 

He was not a philosopher.  I never heard a man seriously refer to Jesus as a philosopher – by the name philosopher.  He was not a philosopher, yet His wisdom was unparalleled [Matthew 13:54; Mark 6:2; Luke 2:40, 52].  He was not a statesman.  I have never heard a man seriously refer to Jesus as a statesman, and yet the guiding destiny of the nations of the world has largely been in His hands [Matthew 26:51-53].  He never wrote a word that we know – only in the sand [John 8:6] and the wind blew it away – and yet His words go out to the ends of the earth [Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8].  This amazing Christ Jesus who reconciled such diversed things in Himself!

Did you ever think of His death?  He was the Lord of life.  He was the prince over Satan [Matthew 4:10].  He raised the dead by the voice of His word [Luke 7:11-15,8:52-54; Mark 5:41-42; John 11:43-44].  He was the conscious victor over all of the powers known in this world [John 19:7-11], and yet He gave Himself, an agonizing victim, to the fiercest power that we know, that of death itself [John 10:18; 1 Corinthians 15:26].  And that marvelous thing that happened: out of His grave, out of His suffering, and out of His death, there hath arisen life anew [Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24].  Our Savior is more alive today and now than He was ever in the history of the world, and He continues to be vibrant and quickened and immortalized and alive [Romans 8:34] – this amazing reconciliation of opposite extremes and traits and characteristics in the person of Jesus Christ.  "By Him, I say, to reconcile all things whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" [Colossians 1:20]. 

And now, I come to speak of the most violently contrasting of all of the opposites in this world that are reconciled in Jesus Christ.  You look at it.  There has never been but one perfect, sinless man [Romans 3:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2:21-22; 1 John 3:5] – just one – and He was known as the "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" [Isaiah 53:3].  Tell me, when you think of sorrows and agonies and punishments and sufferings, don’t you immediately say, "The way of the transgressor is hard.  Men suffer because of their sins.  They are vile, and villainous, and wicked and iniquitous, and there is a judgment upon the sins of men.  Therefore, men suffer"?  Or you say, "They are disciplinary.  This child is bad, and we spank him because he’s bad."

Isn’t that the way we conjoin what a man suffers and what he is?  And yet the Lord Jesus how different: sinless and perfect, yet to what He came to – what a violent contrast between what He was and what happened to Him, His character and His destiny.  The Lord Jesus fulfilled the law to its last syllable, to its last jot and tittle [Matthew 5:17-18] – not only the letter but the spirit of it.  And did He inherit the blessings of the Law?  No.  He inherited the curses of the Law.  "For it is written, ‘Cursed is every man that is hanged on a tree’" [Galatians 3:13]. 

Our Lord was pitifully obedient to His heavenly Father.  In all things He rejoiced to do the will of His heavenly Father [John 4:34].  And did it bring Him that infinite prosperity and affluence and glorious happiness that we seek in this world?  No.  It brought Him – that obedience to His father – it brought Him to the sufferings of death, to the agony in the Garden [Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-46], and finally to the crucifixion on Golgotha [Matthew 27:33-50; Mark 15:22-37; Luke 23:33-46; John 19:16-30]. 

And did you ever consider how Jesus died?  Why, even His apostles, and even the martyrs, and even the followers of Jesus who have paid that awful and last penalty – burned at the stake, or nailed to the cross, or thrown in the boiling cauldrons of oil, or allowed to die and rot in dungeons – even the followers of Christ have died triumphantly with songs on their lips and with words of praise in their hearts.  They have died gloriously.  But when the Son of God died, He died in an agony and in a cry [Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46]. 

Why, even compare our Lord with the great moral teachers of this world.  Almost without exception, they have gone beyond this veil with a serene conscience and with the conscious presence of a peace in their hearts whether they are heathen or Christian.  But when our Savior died, He left this world with a cry on his lips: "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" [Matthew 27:46]  He died in consciousness of an isolation from His Father in heaven. 

These things, I say, cry for an explanation.  It was never that in humanity.  It was never that in story.  It was never that in humans and in human biography.  It was never that in this world. 

How do you reconcile that?  It is either an enigma and a vile, infamous contradiction or else it is this: our Savior is serving an infinite purpose and His coming into this world was in keeping with an infinitely glorious mission [Matthew 16:21-23].  And that purpose and that mission is consistent, and it is necessary if He is to fulfill the office of the Great Reconciler of all things in earth and in heaven. 

Well, what is that purpose, and what is that mission that brought Him down to this earth and subjected Him to such violent antipathy, such violent contradiction?  What was it?  It was that He took the place of somebody you and somebody me, and He suffered in our stead [1 Peter 2:24], and He died in our behalf [Romans 5:8], and He was crucified where we ought to have died [2 Corinthians 5:21].  And He was made the enemy of all mankind [Isaiah 53:3-5; Mark 15:8-14] because we, in our sins and our transgressions, had violated the whole law of God [James 2:10].  "Behold!  The lamb that taketh away the sin of the world!" [John 1:29]  "And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins also of the whole world" [1 John 2:2].  There is in Christ a reconciliation [2 Corinthians 5:18-19] of us who are vile [Romans 3:23] and lost with a heavenly Father who is holy and righteous [1 Peter 1:16]; and it came through suffering, and it came through blood, and it came through tears, and it came through agony, and it came through crucifixion, and it came through substitution in our stead: the great reconciliation. 

Now, just for the moment, may I speak of what that means to the human race?  The great question upon which all of humanity somehow, somewhere, someday must converge is this: what shall I do with my sins, and how can I be reconciled to God?  That is finally and ultimately the great question:  "My sins – what shall I do?  I have sinned.  What shall I do, and how shall I be reconciled unto God?"

One of these young captains in the last war sought out his chaplain before he faced the enemy on the field of battle and said this, "Chaplain, I never took any interest in religion, and I never cared for the church.  But," he said, "Now I want to know.  I want to know about God, and I want to know about the life that is to come."  We all will ask that someday, someday. 

I was called to a home in the city; and in a beautiful, beautiful home, there was a sick wife, and she said, "I have called you to ask you a question."  And her question was this: "I am not ready to meet God.  What shall I do with my sins?"  That is the great question of all humanity:  "How can I be reconciled unto God?"

It was the question of the rich young ruler.  "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  [Luke 18:18]  What?  What?  It was the question of the Philippian jailer: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" [Acts 16:30]  It was the question of the old prophet Micah: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?" [Micah 6:6]  "Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" [Micah 6:7]

If you’ve ever been to old Mexico City and have seen those pyramids and then been in the museum to see the record of those Aztecs Indians, so deep-seated is the consciousness of sin and guilt in the human heart; but outside of the ameliorating, heavenly, benedictory blessings of the Christian faith, there will you find human sacrifice – the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.  "What shall I do to be saved, and how can I meet God in my sins?  What shall I do?"  Oh, that is the infinitely great story of the Book of God. 

Listen.  In my preparing the messages of this week, I read once again this description of Jehovah God in the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah – one that I hardly ever hear referred to, but oh, look at it:

 

Who is this, who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?

Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like Him that treadeth in the winepress? 

"I have trodden the winepress alone" –

He answers

"And their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and it stains My raiment."

 [Isaiah 63:1-3]

 

And I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me. 

 [Isaiah 63:5]

 

That’s the picture in the sixty-third of Isaiah of Jehovah God; and Isaiah looks as He comes in His glorious apparel, and it is flecked with blood and stained and dyed red.  Why?  Treading the winepress of the wrath of God alone [Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 19:15], the great reconciler of our souls to God. 

I must close.  We have a hope in Him and how precious and how sweet and how wonderful.  Things in heaven and things in earth; things in youth time, and things in manhood, and things in old age; things in this life and things in the life to come: all of them made right, put together, reconciled in Him who is our Lord and our Savior. 

Would you trust Him and give your life to Him tonight?  Would you?  In the balcony around, down these stairwells to come and stand by me, would you tonight?  On this lower floor, this press of people, into the aisle, and down here to the front: "Here I come, and here I am."  Would you?  Now looking to Him, trusting in Him, giving your life in faith to Him.  A family of you coming into the fellowship of the church, or just you: while we sing this song, while we make this appeal, while I stand at the front, will you come and stand by me?  "Here I am, pastor, I give you my hand.  I give my heart to God."  While we make this appeal, will you come while we stand and sing?

THE GREAT RECONCILER

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Colossians 1:20

7-21-57    7:30 p.m.

 

 

Now, I want you to turn to the first chapter of Colossians.  The first chapter of Colossians, and we’re going to read our passage tonight.  It will be the same one out of which we preached this morning.  It’s going to be the second half of the sentence; the first chapter of Colossians.

In our preaching through the Bible, we’re in this difficult but glorious book of Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse.  Now, let’s read from the twelfth through the twentieth verses.  And the text tonight will be the twentieth verse.  Colossians 1:12-20.  Now, let’s all read it together.

 

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:

In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him:

And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.

And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.

For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell;

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.

[Colossians 1:12-20]

 

And our text is the last part of this sentence: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; 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 heaven, or things in earth."  And this morning our message was on The Fullness in Christ: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell;" the plenitude of grace and mercy and forgiveness in Him.  Now, the message tonight is entitled: The Great Reconciler.

The second part of the sentence, the twentieth verse: "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."  This is a part of that fullness of Christ, that in Him, our Lord, should be the reconciliation of all things in heaven and in earth.  Our Lord Jesus is the great center of the reconciliation, the recreation, the renovation, the renewal, the regeneration, the remaking of all things, whether they are in heaven or whether they are in the earth.

There has been an estrangement.  There has been a separation.  There is to be a reunion in Christ.  There has been argument.  There has been controversy.  There is to be an adjustment in Him.  There has been the development of all of the things that pass between like a gulf – that wash between God and man.  There is to be a reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And do you notice how he emphasizes the person of our Lord when he states the case: "Having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say."  How he emphasizes the office and the place and the person of the Son of God, Christ Jesus!  In the economy of heaven, there are allocated things for the archangels to do, and other things for the seraphim and the cherubim, and other things for the ministering spirits of God, and other things even for man.

But there are some things that only Christ our Lord is able to do and to achieve and to effect for the human race.  And of these matters – the reconciliation of our souls to God and the saving us from our sins and the preparing for us in glory – is an allocated work peculiarly, distinctly, intrinsically and essentially given to Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  "I go to prepare a place for you," He said.  "And I will come again, and receive you unto myself."  [John 14:2, 3]  There are distinct works that only Jesus could effect, and this is one of them, the deliverance of God’s elect someday to glory, to heaven, to home, and to God.  "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell."  And a part of that fullness is this work of reconciliation that only Christ our Lord could achieve. 

In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, it is said: "Offering and sacrifice Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared for Me.  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God."  [Hebrews 10:5, 7]  Now, therefore, we are sanctified, made safe.  We are saved through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.  It is an achievement that only the Lord was able to accomplish and to bring to pass.  Even righteous Enoch and faithful Noah and humble Moses and dedicated Joshua and all-surrendered Elijah could not do this for us.  It is a work, a deliverance, a reconciliation, that is only possible in the person and in the hands of Christ our Lord.  "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."

The great expositor and theologian John Calvin said, "That by this word He should reconcile things in heaven."  He thought that that referred to the confirmation of even the angels in glory in their love and faithfulness by the mediatorial work, the sacrificial death, the great reconciliation in Jesus Christ.  Possibly so; I cannot enter into that.  But this do I know, that in Christ there is to be a regeneration, a recreation, a renovation of the entire created universe of God, whether it be up above us, or whether it be down below us, or whether it be round about us.  In Jesus, there is to be a remaking of this entire creation.

That is beautifully and marvelously set forth in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans: "For the creation was made subject to futility."  [Romans 8:20]  God didn’t create it that way.  These barren planets that are burned and dead, this great universe that in part is cold and in part is burning, and this earth of ours that is blasted and withered and scarred with deserts and drought, and the animals that suffer and die, carnivorous, eating and preying upon one another – God never made it like that.

 

But the creation was made subject to futility not willingly – not of itself – but by reason of him who subjected the same in hope – of another day, of a greater hour, of a final consummation –

Because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

And the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 

And not only they – not only animals, not only God’s created universe around us – but ourselves also – we who are Christians. – And we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we groaneth within ourselves waiting – for that great consummation – the redemption – the resurrection, the regeneration, the immortalization – of our bodies.

[Romans 8:20-23]

 

Paul says there that in Christ there is to be a remaking, a regeneration, of the entire created universe.  The planets above us, the stars that shine, the great universes in their courses, and our own world – everything in it shall be remade, regenerated, immortalized, glorified.

And that marvelous reconciliation is to be made in Jesus Christ our Lord, whether there are things in heaven or things in earth.  Heaven is going to be right here.  God’s new creation is going to be right here around us.  Everything God someday shall make perfect and beautiful and full-orbed again.  There shall be animals living in this earth, not carnivorous, but like God made them, eating the herbs of the field and the grass of the meadows.  "The lion shall eat straw like an ox.  The wolf and the lamb shall lie down together.  A little child shall lead them."  [Isaiah 11:7]  The whole Genesis picture that was lost in that first transition shall be given back to us; and again and more beautiful than before in the reconciliation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, may I turn to the reconciliation in the person of Christ Himself?  And I do it because of the emphasis that Paul places upon Jesus in the text.  "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."  In the person of Christ, in Him there is the bringing together, the reconciling, the making of one, of all so many diverse and variegated traits and characteristics.  Did you ever consider them?  Did you ever consider Him and how much of oppositeness, how much of antiphonal difference you find in the character and the personality of Jesus Christ?

And yet each one beautifully, marvelously, infinitely, wonderfully blended together in a composite, conjoined in Him.  For one thing, He is God.  He is deity Himself.  He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  He is God of very God.  And yet He is man of very man.  He is God as if He were not man.  He is a man as if He were not God.  And yet He has one gloriously beautiful and integrated personality.  The contrasting traits in Jesus our Lord, reconciled in Him.

Did you ever consider how much of philosophy is given over to the fundamental persuasion that matter is evil, that the world is evil and God is good?  But I do not know of a greater refutation of that false philosophy than this: the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.  If matter is evil, if corporeality is vile, if this thing that we live in is a matter of intrinsic wickedness and iniquity in itself – yet Christ was God, and He lived in a house like you live in.  And He had a body like you have.  And it was made of flesh and blood, and it died.  It was placed and buried in the earth.

Our Lord, all of those diverse characteristics in Him; think of the humility of His life.  Think of the pitiful mildness of His manner.  Think of the love and mercy that distill like dew from His lips.  Think of the gentle Jesus, how sweet and how gracious and how kind and how loving.  And yet there is not in all literature the burning denunciation as you’ll find in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew when he spake to the whited sepulchres, the hypocrites, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  That’s the same Lord Jesus.  There has never fallen from the lips of any man warnings and judgments as threatening and as dire and as terrible as fell from the lips of that same gentle Jesus.

Did you ever consider that phrase in the sixth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, "the wrath of the lamb?"  A lamb?  The Lord Jesus, the wrath of the lamb?  And yet both are there, side by side, reconciled in the person of Jesus Christ.  Did you ever think how contemplative He was, how full of meditation and prayer, how much given to the fellowship of God His Father, and yet filled with the intensive life going about doing good, preaching the gospel everywhere, and on every hand busy about his Father’s business?

Those contrasting traits and characteristics so marvelously reconciled and splendid in the person of Jesus Christ.  There is no standard.  There is no criterion.  There is no canon.  There’s no room by which you can judge Him by anything in heaven or anything known in earth.  These things reconciled, made one, integrated in the character and in the person of Jesus our Lord.  He was poor – poor beyond what we know in the United States.  He was poor, yet there were never riches that so infinitely blessed by a wealth of blessings other people.

He was hungered, yet He fed five thousand.  He said He had not where to lay His head, yet He’s the one making an eternal home for us.  He was weak, as the world counts weakness.  He wasn’t the Roman Caesar.  He wasn’t even a Pontius Pilate.  He was a humble peasant and weak as the world counts weakness.  But was there ever a man who had such power in His life, who held such destiny in His hand in perfect confidence?  He seemed to be the king and majesty over all nature.  And He could guide the thoughts and love and the emotions of man beyond anyone that ever lived.  And there are millions today who call themselves by His name; this marvelous one who reconciled in Himself those impossibly divergent traits and characteristics.

He was not a philosopher.  I never heard a man seriously refer to Jesus as a philosopher – by the name philosopher.  He was not a philosopher, yet His wisdom was unparalleled.  He was not a statesman.  I have never heard a man seriously refer to Jesus as a statesman, and yet the guiding destiny of the nations of the world has largely been in His hands.  He never wrote a word that we know – only in the sand and the wind blew it away, and yet His words go out to the ends of the earth; this amazing Christ Jesus who reconciled the diverse things in Himself.

Did you ever think of His death?  He was the Lord of life.  He was the prince over Satan.  He raised the dead by the voice of His words.  He was the conscious victor over all of the powers of this world, and yet He gave Himself, an agonizing victim, to the fiercest power that we know, that of death itself.  And that marvelous thing that happened – out of His grave, out of His suffering and out of His death, there hath arisen life anew.  Our Savior is more alive today and now than He was ever in the history of the world.  And He continues to be vibrant and quickened and immortalized and alive; this amazing reconciliation of opposite extremes and traits and characteristics in the person of Jesus Christ.  "By Him, I say, to reconcile all things whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."

And now, I come to speak of the most violently contrasting of all of the opposites in this world that are reconciled in Jesus Christ.  You look at it.  There has never been but one perfect, sinless man, just one.  And He was known as the "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."  [Isaiah 53:3]  Tell me, when you think of sorrows and agonies and punishment and suffering, don’t you immediately say, "The way of the transgressor is hard.  Men suffer because of their sins.  They are vile and villainous, wicked and iniquitous, and there is a judgment upon the sins of men.  Therefore, men suffer."  Or, you say, "They are disciplinary.  This child is bad, and we spank him because he’s bad."

Isn’t that the way we conjoin when a man suffers and what he is?  And yet the Lord Jesus, how different, sinless and perfect, yet to what He came to, what a villous contrast between what He was and what happened to Him – His character and His destiny.  The Lord Jesus fulfilled the law to its last syllable, to its last jot and tittle; not only the letter, but the spirit of it.  And did He inherit the blessings of the law?  No.  He inherited the curses of the law.  "For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." [Galatians 3:13]

Our Lord was pitifully obedient to His heavenly Father.  In all things He rejoiced to do the will of His heavenly Father.  And did it bring Him that infinite prosperity and affluence and glorious happiness that we seek in this world?  No.  It brought Him – that obedience to His father – it brought Him to the sufferings of death, to the agony in the garden, and finally to the crucifixion on Golgotha.

And did you ever consider how Jesus died?  Why, even His apostles, and even the martyrs, and even the followers of Jesus who have paid that awful and last penalty – burned at the stake or nailed to the cross or thrown in the boiling cauldrons of oil or allowed to die and rot in dungeons – even the followers of Christ have died triumphantly, with songs on their lips and with words of praise in their hearts.  They have died gloriously.  But when the Son of God died, He died in agony and in a cry.

Why even compare our Lord with the great moral teachers of this world?  Almost without exception they have gone beyond this veil with a serene conscience and with the conscious presence of a peace in their heart, whether they are heathen or Christian.  But when our Savior died, He left this world with a cry on his lips: "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"  [Matthew 27:46]

He died in consciousness of an isolation from His Father in heaven.  These things, I say, cry for an explanation.  It was never that in humanity.  It was never that in story.  It was never that in humans and in human biography.  It was never that in this world.

How do you reconcile that?  It is either an enigma and a vile, infamous contradiction or else it is this: our Savior is serving an infinite purpose, and His coming into this world was in keeping with an infinitely glorious mission.  And that purpose and that mission is consistent, and it is necessary if He is to fulfill the office of the great reconciler of all things in earth and in heaven.

Well, what is that purpose, and what is that mission that brought Him down to this earth and subjected Him to such violent antipathy, such violent contradiction?  What was it?  It was that He took the place of somebody you, and somebody me, and He suffered in our stead, and He died in our behalf.  And He was crucified where we ought to have died.  And He was made the enemy of all mankind because we, in our sins and our transgressions, had violated the whole law of God.  "Behold the lamb that taketh away the sin of the world."  [John 1:29]  "And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins also of the whole world."  [1 John 2:2]  There is in Christ a reconciliation of us who are vile and lost with a heavenly Father who is holy and righteous; and it came through suffering, and it came through blood, and it came through tears, and it came through agony, and it came through crucifixion, and it came through substitution in our stead; the great reconciliation.

Now, just for the moment, may I speak of what that means to the human race?  The great question upon which all of humanity somehow, somewhere, someday must converge is this: what shall I do with my sins, and how can I be reconciled to God?  That is finally and ultimately the great question.  My sins, what shall I do?  I have sinned.  What shall I do?  And how shall I be reconciled unto God?

One of these young captains in the last war sought out his chaplain before he faced the enemy on the field of battle and said this, "Chaplain, I never took any interest in religion, and I never cared for the church.  But," he said, "now I want to know.  I want to know about God.  And I want to know about the life that is to come."  We all will ask that someday; someday.  I was called to a home in the city and in a beautiful, beautiful home there was a sick wife and she said, "I have called you to ask you a question."  And her question was this, "I am not ready to meet God.  What shall I do with my sins?"  That is the great question for all humanity.  How can I be reconciled unto God? 

It was the question of the rich young ruler.  "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  [Luke 18:18]  What?  What?  It was the question of the Philippian jailer: "Sir, what must I do to be saved?"  [Acts 16:31]  It was the question of the old prophet Micah: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"  [Micah 6:6]

If you’ve ever been to old Mexico City and have seen those pyramids and been in the museum to see the record of those Aztec Indians, so deep-seated is the consciousness of sin and guilt in the human heart; but outside of the ameliorating, heavenly, benedictory blessings of the Christian faith, there will you find human sacrifice; the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.  What shall I do to be saved?  And how can I meet God in my sins?  What shall I do?  Oh, that is the infinitely great story of the Book of God. 

Listen.  In my preparing the messages of this week, I read once again this description of Jehovah God in the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah, one that I hardly ever hear referred to, but oh, look at it:

 

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?

Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like Him that treadeth in the winepress? 

I have trodden the winepress alone, – He answers. – And their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and it stains My raiment.

And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me.

[Isaiah 63:1-3, 5]

 

That’s the picture in the sixty-third of Isaiah of Jehovah God.  And Isaiah looks as He comes in His glorious apparel, and it is flecked with blood and stained and dyed red.  Why?  Treading the winepress of the wrath of God alone; the great reconciler of our souls to God.  I must close.

We have a hope in Him, and how precious and how sweet and how wonderful!  Things in heaven and things in earth; things in youth time and things in manhood and things in old age; things in this life and things in the life to come – all of them made right, put together, reconciled in Him who is our Lord and our Savior.

Would you trust Him and give your life to Him tonight?  Would you?  In the balcony around, down these stairwells to come and stand by me, would you tonight?  On this lower floor, this press of people, into the aisle, and down here to the front, "Here I come, and here I am."  Would you now?  Looking to Him, trusting in Him, giving your life in faith to Him; a family of you coming into the fellowship of the church, or just you; while we sing this song, while we make this appeal, while I stand at the front, will you come and stand by me?  "Here I am, Pastor, I give you my hand.  I give my heart to God."  While we make this appeal, would you come?  While we stand and sing.