Reconciliation- Romans 5:6-12

In this passage, Paul presents to us one of the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament, the doctrine of reconciliation, that human beings have been reconciled to God, that the relationship broken by sin has been restored and man can now embrace this reconciliation. This post will examine exactly what reconciliation is, as well as how it has been accomplished through this passage in Romans. So just what is reconciliation? The Greek word Paul uses for reconciliation is katallasso, which speaks to both what reconciliation is and how it is accomplished. The word literally means “to exchange for equivalent value”, and what Paul is communicating through its usage is that man has incurred a debt against God due to his sin, this sin has caused a break in the relationship between God and man, and this debt must be satisfied in order for the relationship to be restored. The debt must be paid, and an exchange of equivalent value is needed in order to satisfy the debt and bring “reconciliation”. This is what reconciliation is, and our passage in Romans 5 tells us how this reconciliation was accomplished. We begin in verse 6, in which Paul tells us that at “just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”. At a time determined and known only by God (for only He knows what the “right time” truly is), “Christ died for the ungodly”, to bring about their reconciliation. Our sin incurs a debt against God, and since God is infinite, our sin incurs a debt of infinite measure, a debt which our passage tells us we are “powerless” to repay ourselves. This is because reconciliation requires an exchange of something of equivalent value, and we have nothing of equivalent value to exchange, nothing to offer which would bring about our reconciliation. We were unable to reconcile ourselves to God, powerless to bring it about through our own efforts, unable to restore the relationship broken by Adam’s sin through our own efforts. If the broken relationship had any hope of being restored, God would have to do so, and do so at “just the right time”. Something of equivalent value was needed to exchange in order to satisfy the debt that caused the breach in the relationship, and we had nothing of equivalent value to offer, we were “still powerless”. So what did God do in order to bring about reconciliation, what did He do that we were powerless to do ourselves? He became one of us! This is why the incarnation is a foundational and necessary Christian doctrine, and a denial of the incarnation is a denial of the faith and a denial of salvation itself. Our sin against an infinite God resulted in our incurring a debt of infinite measure, and something of infinite value, something of equivalent value to the debt, was required to be exchanged in order to satisfy the debt and bring about the restoration of the relationship. Since Jesus Christ was fully God, God in flesh, He too is infinite. God came as a man and “offered Himself” (Hebrews 7:27) as an exchange of equivalent value, a sacrifice of equal value to our sin, a sacrifice sufficient to pay in full the debt we had incurred and bring about our reconciliation. This could only be accomplished by God, and needed to be accomplished by man, so God came as a man, lived the life we could not live, paid the debt we could not pay, and died the death we deserve to die, all in order to bring about the reconciliation we were powerless to bring about ourselves. Jesus died in our place and on our behalf, God came as one of us and did all that is required to bring about reconciliation, to allow us to “draw near to God” (Hebrews 10:22), to live in an intimate relationship of mutual love with our creator. All of this has been provided for us, and all we need to do to live in this relationship is to accept the reconciliation that has been provided. Jesus has done it all, and all we need to do is respond in faith to what He has already done, then we will be able to live out our lives in an ever more intimate relationship with the one who loves us even more than we love ourselves. Our next several posts will further examine this doctrine of reconciliation, examining just what it means and how it is to impact our lives.

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