14th April 2013

Reconciliation and Redemption

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV UK) 

Someone approached me to ask what the difference is between ‘reconciliation’ and ‘redemption’. To reconcile means to patch up a quarrel, or to make a relationship that has become strained right again. To redeem means to buy back, or to claim ownership. 

Christ has accomplished both for us since there is but one whole and single work of his. But what he inaugurates is a healed, restored relationship making us his very own brothers and sisters. This relationship of belonging to him calls for our involvement, our participation. His provision for us includes enabling us to receive and respond, and so live in that restored relationship. So, we can say that the fruit of Christ’s reconciliation is our redemption in Christ. 

Through most of history, human beings have been in a state of alienation from God. That is, they have been unreconciled. We can see this by the record of the collective human failure to get along with each other.

First, note that it was never God who needed to be reconciled with us, but we who needed to be reconciled with God. As Paul says, the alienation was in the human mind, not in God’s mind. God’s response to human alienation was his forgiving and cleansing love fulfilled in Christ. 

Second, according to Paul reconciliation leads to a further development of that restored relationship. It leads to a fulness of life that is characterised by holiness, blamelessness and being above reproach because face to face (“in his sight”) we freely and gladly enter into the healed relationship and so receive all that God has to give us through Christ. 

Getting at the same point, Paul wrote to the church in Rome to say:For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10 NIV UK). 

God turned to us before we ever made a move in his direction. So God reconciles us even while we were enemies and alienated. But note that the restoration of right relationship with us leads to greater fruit that unfolds as the fulness of life, joyfully receiving the fulness of salvation itself. 

And Paul tells us that it does not stop there. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  Paul explains how in Christ, God reconciled the whole world to himself, “For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). 

God has reconciled all human beings to himself through Jesus. No one is excluded. Everyone who has ever lived has a place reserved for them at God’s banqueting table. But all have not yet believed God’s word of love and forgiveness for them, or embraced their new life in Jesus. We could say that although they have been reconciled, they have not yet entered into their redemption. Some have yet to share in or participate in their redemption. 

“Gracious Father, thank you that you have given us a part to play in proclaiming and living your gospel message of reconciliation and redemption. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your love and grace towards us all. In Jesus’ name we pray.

joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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