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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 80 - 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - God Beseeching Men Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


The words, "all things are of God," mean evidently, "all these things are of God;" for the apostle is not speaking generally of God being all in all; but of all the things connected with the new creation. These are all of Him, and through Him, and to Him; originating with and carried out by Him. Thus the fountainhead of the new creation is like that of the Old, in God. The plan, the means, the execution, the consummation, are entirely divine.

This new creation lies at the foundation of our relationship to God; it is something very thorough and decided; a divine process; a being "in Christ"; a passing away of old things; a making all things new.

How is this begun and carried out? By reconciliation. How is this reconciliation carried out? By an embassy of peace direct from God himself. On what does this embassy base itself? On substitution,—"the just for the unjust."

I. The reconciliation. The beginning of our new relation is bringing us into peace with Himself. Distance, alienation, enmity, condemnation,—these are the main features of our natural condition. God proceeds to reverse all these; bringing us nigh; removing the estrangement and enmity; setting us free from the condemnation. In this we have the renewal of our unfallen state of holy friendship, as well as closer and dearer intimacy. Separation from God is to be exchanged for union; nearness for distance; love for wrath; forgiveness for condemnation. God and the sinner are made one; the prodigal leaves the far country; restored to his Father's arms and his Father's house. All past variances are forgotten; the quarrel is removed; the friendship cemented, sealed, secured forever. All God's love pours into the sinner; all his love pours into God. It is not the reconciliation of Joseph and his brethren, in which the latter still felt doubtful of the perpetuity of their brother's favor; it is complete and absolute; perfect love casting out fear. Nor is it the reconciliation of David to Absalom, in which the latter, though forgiven his offence, had to dwell at a distance, and saw not the king's face; it is reconciliation which brings the alienated one into the city, and presence, and palace of the King. It is complete and eternal.

II. The embassy. The ambassador is one who has himself been reconciled; neither an angel, who does not need reconciliation, and therefore could not tell out all its meaning and love; nor an unreconciled man, who has never tasted the blessedness, and therefore cannot speak of what he knows, nor point to himself as one who is a specimen of reconciling love. But a reconciled man,—"All these things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself." Having reconciled them personally to Himself He commits to them the "word," "ministry," of reconciliation; constituting them His ambassadors, and sending them out on their embassy. Mark here, then:

(1.) The word of reconciliation. It is, "that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." This is the gospel or good news of God's free pardon, or non-imputation of sin, and forgiving love.

(2.) The ministry of reconciliation. That is the office of dispensing the pardon. Pharaoh would send out the good news of the plenty in the storehouse of Egypt; and announce that it was to be got through and from Joseph. So does God as to the fullness of Christ.

(3.) The footing of the ambassador. He is an ambassador for Christ. He speaks in Christ's name and with Christ's authority, telling of Him, and saying what Christ would say were He here.

(4.) The manner of approaching the alienated sinner. Not by command or threat, but by entreaty and exhortation, for such is the force of the words, "As though God did exhort and entreat you by us, we pray you." What earnestness of pleading do these words imply! What depth of desire for the accomplishment of the reconciliation and of longing for their welfare! What gentleness, what patience, what perseverance! On bended knee, like a suppliant before a king, the apostle makes his suit to the sinner!

(5.) The identification of God and Christ with the ambassador, in this entreaty. He intimates that it is not so much he who is speaking as God; it is God who is exhorting; it is not the voice of a fellow man but of God. He intimates also that the Son as well as the Father is in all this: "We pray men in Christ's stead." The expression denotes two things: (1) that he is representing Christ; (2) that he is serving him. And the words, " Be ye reconciled to God," sound like a quotation; as if Christ had given him this very message; and as if it were meant that we should regard them as Christ's own words, no less literally than, "Come unto me." This, then, is God's exhortation, and Christ's prayer or entreaty to the sons of men, "the world." It is our message, with which we are to go up to every man, "Be thou reconciled to God"; a personal message, as personal to each as if he were the only man upon the earth.

(II.) The Substitution. We do not enter on this, but simply point to it as the basis of all reconciliation, without which it would be vain to approach a sinner; for it must be a righteous reconciliation if it is to effect anything at all. We preach Christ the Sin bearer; and pointing to His cross, we pray men in His name, "Be ye reconciled to God."