Reconciled is a term that we do not hear much about from our pulpits today. We hear sermons on redemption, forgiveness and other things that relate to being reconciled. Yet, our reconciliation is vitally important to us as believers. One of the reasons we don’t hear about it is that the word reconciled is used only 11 times in the New Testament and several of those times it is used in human relationships, such as a husband being reconciled to his wife. I want to look at what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 5:17–21. Most believers know verse 17 by heart which says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
But Paul was not done teaching at the end of that verse. He continues on by writing, “18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The first thing that we need to consider is what are the things that Paul mentions in verse 18? Paul is talking about are our new creations. Paul continues by telling us that our creation is from God. Our new creation as believers is what God had planned for us originally which is a new spirit man that is made by God. It is a new creation which was made to rule over our flesh and minds. It is filled with the God’s Spirit. It is full of the power of God to change things.
How did this new creation come to us? It came through the process of reconciliation. God reconciled us to Himself. If that did not happen, we would still be stuck in sin and the death that sin produces. Reconciliation did not come by anything we could ever do. We were totally without hope. We could never pay the debt of our sin. We were in a hopeless condition. God then took over our account with our permission. He then reconciled us to Himself.
Before we go any further let’s lay down a definition for reconcile. The Greek word for reconcile is katallassō. This is a compound word. The root is the word allassō which means to change or to change to another. The prefix kata means down or against. When we put this word together, we have a word that means to change what was against something or someone. The computer software that we use to keep our account balanced asks us if we want to reconcile the account. That means it wants to balance the assets of the month with debts of the month. I am so glad Audrey has taken over that part of the ministry. That is not my proverbial “cup of tea.” Back in the days when I was balancing the account, if I would make an entry mistake, the account would not balance. I noticed that software had a button that I could click on and it would balance the account for me. I never liked that button. I wanted every cent accounted for. I remember one day in particular; I took over an hour finding a two-cent mistake!
What Jesus did for us is He hit that button. Each of us had an account before God that was impossible to balance what we owed with what we had to offer, which was nothing. Jesus paid the debt with His blood but instead of saying now you owe me, He said you are reconciled. Our account before God is balanced! There is nothing for you and me to settle. Not only did He do that for us, He did it for all the world - for every sinner and every sin past, present and future. All we had to do was accept what He has already done.
I remember when Audrey and I made the last payment on our house. We went to the bank, made the payment, and got a letter that said the account was paid in full. That account was reconciled. There were no longer any payments to make. We could have kept trying to make payments. The bank would have rejected the payment. We came to an understanding very quickly that the account for our mortgage had nothing against us, it was reconciled.
The Apostle Paul did not end there. Paul tells us that we have a ministry of reconciliation. What does that mean? We need to tell the world that God in Christ wants to reconcile them to Himself. That He does not want to hold anything against them. We need to tell them that the way to receive this reconciliation is to declare Jesus as their Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead. Reconciliation does not happen automatically. People need to put their faith in what Jesus did on the cross and then turn their lives over to His loving, kind and fruitful direction. In verse 19, Paul says God gave us a word of reconciliation. The word “word” is logos which means a teaching or a prepared statement. The word God gave us is that mankind is hopelessly in debt to God, but God sent His Son to balance our account with God. We must believe and trust His Lordship to receive this balancing of our account.
In verse 21, Paul calls us ambassadors of Christ. We need to go out as Christ’s representatives and tell the world what Jesus has done. Tell them that Jesus has reconciled their account that was against God and God against us and He has balanced it out. God has no record against us.