For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Rom 5:10
This scripture clearly records two stages in the work that Christ’s death on the cross accomplished for us: the first stage talks of something that has already been accomplished; the other relates something that is in the process of being realized.
According to this scripture, Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished at least two things. The first thing it did was to reconcile us to God “when we were enemies”. In this first part of this post, we shall look at this first stage in greater detail.
Let us begin with “when we were enemies”. An enemy is not a very nice person. He is a person who is capable of doing you grave harm. Unless you were saved before you were born – which is not possible – you know the bad things that you did against God. Most people do not know that the many things they do and the attitudes they carry in their hearts as a matter of course are actually acts of war against God!
But, anyways, as we were going about doing those bad things, behold! God sent His Son, not to punish us, but to save us by dying for our sins. This is way far, far removed from the natural order of things, whereby Jesus should have come with a heavenly host of angels to shoo us all straight into hell. That is what we deserved as enemies of God.
But God is love, and to prove it He sent His Son Jesus, not to demolish the devil and sin with one hand tied behind His back, but to actually die for our sins. We were reconciled to God at great price. And right now, as you read these words, there are millions of people who are “well” in their souls because of what Jesus’ death accomplished for them on the cross.
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Jn. 3:17
The believer’s reconciliation with God is an accomplished task. The wording in Romans makes it clear: “… we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son”.
That is the reason there are so many scenarios when it comes to God and man. Let us look at some of them.
In the first place, have you ever stopped to think about the miracle of your faith? That you could actually believe in Christ Jesus for your salvation is probably the greatest miracle in the world. This is because there are people in this world who do not even believe in the existence of God, let alone salvation through faith in Jesus Christ! These people are called agnostics and atheists.
There are also people who believe in strange gods, and they end up forming great worldly religions. These people are controlled by the spirits that exist in these entities, and they are hopelessly lost.
Still there are others who live purely for the gratification of their fleshly lusts. They live uncontrolled in sin. They don’t care one little bit about God or His righteousness. These people are like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
All these are people who have not experienced the miracle of believing in Jesus Christ for their salvation, and by virtue of this, they are enemies of God.
But you and I, through a miracle which we can hardly give an explanation to, have found faith and salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ.
That is the first scenario. The second scenario is that, because God does not go back on His word, many imperfect believers will go to heaven, based on their initial faith in Jesus Christ. This is a result of the reconciliation that Christ effected on the cross for all those who would believe on Him.
Now, right here let me warn you that this is not a scenario to be desired at all by any right-thinking believer. We should not look forward to just “making it to heaven”. This is because on that Day, there will be horror upon horror. We can surmise from reading the Bible how things will be:
- 1 Cor. 3:15: There are some people on that Day who, to their horror, will find themselves standing empty-handed in front of God while, to their left and to their right there will be people holding many rich works, ready to present them to God. I am sure it will be indescribable shame for such people on that Day!
- Jude 1:23: There are others who will be thrust into heaven a-smoking! The Bible says they will have been pulled from the fire – the fire of hell. In other words, although they had been Christians all their lives, these people would have become candidates of hell by virtue of living their earthly life fulfilling the lusts of their flesh! Their names had already been written in the book of hell and they were just waiting to be chucked into the fiery furnace when some burdened soul made a grim effort and turned them back to God at the last minute.
This again speaks of the great mercy and grace of our God. But still that will not temper the shame of that person standing in front of God half-naked with smoking jeans while everyone else stands there coolly dressed in their heavenly wedding clothes.
- The last group, of course, are those believers who will simply not make it to heaven. I believe there are people whom God warns over and over again; but these people continually harden their hearts against God. Whatever we do, it is important to make sure our hearts are not rebellious against God.
This, the miracle of our reconciliation with God, is the first stage on the road of the cross. It is all a work of grace. In our second part, we shall see the second stage of our calling, which is equally as important as the first one.
[Below: Somewhere in central Tanzania: In the early morning light, a lone man prepares to go farming]