The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 32


Presently, a barrage of words is being hurled from North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un against the US, South Korea and Japan. He intends to declare war if any of these countries attacks its territory. The young communist leader promises to send a nuclear warhead missile to hit the US. There is tension in East Asia, and it is uncertain if a third world war will break out at anytime. If there is war in the Korean Peninsula, millions of people will be killed and many other countries will also suffer because North Korea now produces her own nuclear weapons.

However, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson tells President Kim that America is a friend and not an enemy, and wants to be a friend to North Korea rather than destroy it or remove him from his presidency. In short, the US feels that talking with each other and reconciling is better than sending stealth fighter jets to bomb N Korea’s nuclear, ammunition and missile centres. Reconciliation is the word that the US is using to prevent an inevitable war if the situation worsens.

The entire Bible centres on the theme of reconciliation between sinful man and the holy God. It all began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden when man disobeyed the Word of God.

Reconciliation describes a state in which there has occurred a change of relationship from enmity to amity, from hostility to harmony, from discord to concord, from estrangement to friendship.

Why does man need reconciliation? Sin causes man to be at enmity with and hostile to God. (Rom 5:10)

What is the result of an absence of reconciliation? Man is estranged and separated from God. (Isa 59:2)

How is reconciliation realized? God took the initiative in reconciliation. The Cross of Christ resulted in the death of God’s Son making reconciliation possible. (Rom 5:10) Reconciliation is personally realized by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. God’s answer to man’s alienation is reconciliation, initiated by Christ’s work on the Cross. In other words, the whole world can be saved through Christ’s death on the cross.

Who is the object of reconciliation? Man needs to be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:19, Rom 5:10). Some say God needs to be reconciled but the two passages quoted show it is man who needs to be reconciled. In English, “reconciliation” means the reestablishing of cordial relations, getting two things (people, groups, countries, etc) to correspond, to call back into union and friendship the affections which have been alienated, to restore to friendship or favor after estrangement. Ryrie says “Reconciliation means a change of relationship from hostility to harmony and peace between two parties.” (Ryrie’s Basic Theology) “The bringing together of two or more parties into unity, harmony, or agreement by removing the cause of disharmony is called reconciliation.” (Charles Swindoll)

The Westminster Catechism speaks to the need of reconciliation between brothers (or sisters) in Christ – “As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy; so, he that scandalizeth his brother, or the church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession, and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended, who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ brings the promise of peace and reconciliation with God and with each other. When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive a brother who sinned against him (Mt 18:21) the Lord surprised everyone with His answer of “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22). Then He told an unforgettable story about a servant who had received forgiveness and failed to pass it on (Mt 18:23-35). As God freely forgives us, so He requires that we extend what we have received from Him to others. With God’s love and power, forgiveness is always possible. “O what joy and peace we forfeit, When forgiveness we withhold; Fellowship with God is broken, And the heart grows hard and cold. – D. De Haan. Forgiveness is Christianity in action. (Our Daily Bread)

Years ago in a small town, a merchant had identical twin boys who were inseparable. They were so close that they even dressed alike. It was said that their extraordinary closeness was the reason they never married. When their father died, they took over the family business. Their relationship was considered “a model of creative collaboration.” Because he was busy, one of the brothers neglected to ring up a sale and absentmindedly left a dollar bill on top of the cash register while he went to the front of the store to wait on another customer. Remembering the dollar, he returned to deposit it only to find the bill was gone. He asked his brother if he had seen it, but the brother said he had not. An hour later he asked his brother again, but this time with an obvious note of suspicion. His brother became angry and defensive. Every time they tried to discuss the matter, the conflict grew worse, culminating in vicious charges and countercharges. The incredible outcome was the dissolution of their partnership, the installation of a partition down the middle of the store, and two competing businesses. This continued for twenty years – an open, divisive sore in the community. One day, a car with an out-of-state license pulled up in front of the stores. A well-dressed man entered one brother’s shop and asked how long the store had been there. Learning it had been twenty years, he said, “Then you are the one with whom I must settle an old score.” Some twenty years ago I was out of work, drifting from place to place, and I happened to get off a boxcar in your town. I had absolutely no money and had not eaten for three days. As I was walking down the alley behind your store, I looked in and saw a dollar bill on the top of the cash register. Everyone else was in the front of the store. I had been raised in a Christian home and I had never before in all my life stolen anything, but that morning I was so hungry I gave in to the temptation, slipped through the door, and took that dollar bill. That act has weighed on my conscience ever since, and I finally decided that I would never be at peace until I came back and faced up to that old sin and made amends. Would you let me now replace that money and pay you whatever is appropriate for damages? When the stranger finished his confession, he was amazed to see the old store owner shaking his head in deep sorrow and beginning to weep. Finally the old man gained control and, taking the gentleman by the arm, asked him to go to the store next door and tell its owner the same story. The stranger complied. Only this time two old men who looked almost identical wept side by side.

From our distance we cannot say whether the two brothers professed to be believers, or were even churchgoers. Given the time and the culture, they probably owned some religious inclinations. Indeed, they could have been enthusiastic churchmen – even evangelicals. Whatever their spiritual profession, their merciless and unforgiving spirits revealed hearts that had never understood the mercy of God. For if they had, they themselves would have been merciful. (Kent Hughes – Sermon on the Mount).

“It is the devil who is a troublemaker; it is God who loves reconciliation and who now through his children, as formerly through his only begotten Son, is bent on making peace.” (John Stott)

“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on His shoulders, and He has drowned them both in Himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.” (Martin Luther)

Beloved, if there is need for you take the initiative to make reconciliation with a brother or sister, may God grant you the strength to make good the tense relationship between the two of you so that you fully understand what it means to be truly reconciled to God.

Pastor Bob Phee

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