Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

41. WHAT ARE RECONCILIATION AND UNIFICATION?

Each person who responds to God’s grace (Titus 2:11) and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:8; 1 John 2:2) by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience instantly receives the great gift of salvation.  This gift includes but is not limited to the following:

 

  • Redemption (Rom 3:24; 8:23) - You are freed from the bondage of sin for the first time in your life.
  • Forgiveness (Mat 6:9-15; 1 John 1:8-10) – You are forgiven your sins by God.
  • Justification (Rom 3:21-26) – You are declared righteous by God; this legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for your sin and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to you.
  • Adoption (Rom 3:23; Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:2) – You are a joint heir with Jesus to the Kingdom of God.
  • Regeneration (John 3:1-21) - The Holy Spirit makes known to you the will of God and helps you discern truth from lie.  He occupies and purifies all the rooms of your heart into which He is invited.  For the first time in your life you are not a prisoner of sin.  You are free to pursue the path of righteousness.  This is the first day of your Christian life and you are a new creature in Christ.  This is the mechanism of your redemption.
  • Sanctification (Heb 6:1; 1 Pet 1:13-16) - You are led by the Holy Spirit along the path toward holiness; this is a lifetime journey.
  • Reconciliation (Eph 2:11-22) - You are reconciled with all other believers.
  • Unification (Eph 3:1-11) – You are united with all believers in the Church of Jesus Christ.
  • Glorification (Rom 8:30) – You will complete the journey along the path of sanctification when your mission in this life is done.

 

This section addresses the concepts of reconciliation and unification of believers.

 

All Christians are supposed to be reconciled with one another (Eph 2:11-22) and united, as one body, in the Church of Jesus Christ (Eph 3:1-11).  The Apostle Paul was inspired by God to deliver these instructions to the world.  What a mess we Christians have made!  The early church was quickly divided by Gnostics, Docetists and Ebionites.  A few hundred years later the church was shaken again by Arians, Apollinarians, Nestorians, Eutychians and Sabellians.  Then, in the 16th century, Calvin and Luther appeared on the scene to extricate Christianity from the corruption of Roman Catholicism.  John Calvin was a diabolically cruel dictator incapable of Christian kindness, mercy or love.  Did God pluck a pitiless, ruthless, merciless and brutal man from the dust bin of history to resurrect and extrapolate a theology dormant for eleven centuries, a theology not found in the Christian Church for the first 400 years after Christ?  Not to be outdone, 400 years after Martin Luther died, his teaching triggered particularly diabolical consequences.  The prevailing view among historians is that Luther's anti-Jewish rhetoric contributed significantly to the development of anti-Semitism in Germany, and in the 1930s and 1940s provided an ideal foundation for the Nazi Party’s attacks on Jews.  Just about every anti-Jewish book printed in the Third Reich contained references to and quotations from Luther. 

At present, Christianity comprises tens of thousands of groups and denominations.  Each is divided from the others by such issues as Calvinism, speaking in tongues, entire sanctification, the Holy Trinity (Jesus Only), Biblical inspiration, the bodily resurrection, the virgin birth, original sin, universal salvation, same sex unions, young earth theology, abortion for convenience, promiscuity, alcohol, divorce, positive tolerance and many others.  Progressive and contentious views, on these issues, are promulgated in the Church, not by outsiders, but by Christian pastors and other powerful leaders.  All Christians should be ashamed of the mess we have allowed to transpire.  How could this happen to the church of Jesus Christ? 

But wait!  Does this sound strangely like the plot of a spy novel about infiltration, espionage and betrayal?  How many times have we heard this plot in human history? Imagine two powerful nations at war.  Suppose one nation sends agents to infiltrate the armed forces of the other; these agents sabotage and destabilize their opponent and also identify officers willing to betray their commander in chief.  At one time, all military officers of the targeted armed forces professed allegiance to their commander but now some serve a different master, one who offers them more power.  Make no mistake, the Christian church is not only the bride of Christ, it is the army of Christ (Eph 6:10-18) and it has been infiltrated and betrayed.

The position of church pastor is a prime target for agents who infiltrate the church of Jesus Christ.  From that position they can sow dissention and confusion and possibly move up to denominational leadership.  A few dozen examples of betrayal and corruption are given in Section 9 of Theology Corner under the title “Why is the Protestant Church Dying in the United States?” 

If the Church of Jesus Christ is the target of infiltration, espionage, betrayal, sabotage and destabilization, what great power is behind these attacks?  By the substitutionary atonement, God redeemed or bought-back all creation from Satan who now no longer owns it (Luke 4:5-7).  Similarly, God offered redemption from the bondage of sin to all persons.  But Satan was not a willing seller and will never acknowledge the legitimacy of the sale.  He believes his property was stolen from him by a phony purchase.  He is battling God to retain possession.  Consequently, creation is legally free from the bondage of evil but it is not free from the influence of evil itself through Satan and his minions who will never relinquish possession without a fight. Similarly, salvation sets our souls free from the bondage of sin but it does not, in this life, set us free from the influence of sin itself.  Satan and his minions comprise the evil army behind the unrelenting attack on the Church of Jesus Christ.

Satan, who holds the power of death (Heb 2:14) and is the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30-31; 16:8-11), exercises a pervasive, structural and diabolical influence which caused all creation to be engulfed by the bondage of evil.  That which God created as good began to exhibit a pain-ridden, bloodthirsty, sinister and hostile demeanor.  “Mother Nature,” became an inherently violent and terrifying system dominated by disease, suffering and death – a system red in tooth and claw.  The souls of men became bound by sin.  Not wanting free will to be an illusion, God is permitting, for a time and within limits, certain consequences of rebellion and corruption caused by both fallen angels and the humans who join them.  When restoration and repossession are complete, nature will be violent no more (Isa 11:6-9, 65:17-25; Rom 8:20-22; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1-4) and the souls of all persons who accept the great gift of salvation will finally be set free from the influence of sin.

How can Christians mount a defense and even a counter attack?  We need to start by thinking about what we believe, why we believe it and what we should do about it!  Do not blindly follow those who profess to be Christian leaders.  Some thoughts on this subject are given in Chapter 6 of Christian Handbook of Reason and Insight for Scientists and Technologists entitled Basis of Christian Beliefs.