Thursday, January 22, 2009
Current Study: Reconciliation
Today’s Topic: The Recipe for Reconciliation
Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-10 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
This morning I stopped on the way to the office at the Great Harvest Bread Store where my son Josh, our church’s youth pastor, is the head baker. They weren’t open yet, but he let me in. He had just taken his new creation out of the oven – S’mores scones. They only made 20 of them as a test, so if you want one you’d better go right now. They were filled with crushed graham crackers and chocolate chips, and oozing with melted marshmallow. He gave me a half of one to try, and it was delicious. Now we just have to hope the owner of the store likes them when he gets back from vacation.
The reason I tell you that little story is this – what would a S’mores scone be like without marshmallows? Or chocolate? Or graham crackers? Leave any one of the ingredients out and it would not be a S’mores scone. That’s how I’m beginning to understand reconciliation. I intentionally used the same passage of Scripture today as I did yesterday because I see it as an ingredient list of reconciliation.
- He chose us.
- He determined to adopt us as His sons and heirs.
- He has lavishly bestowed His glorious grace on us through Jesus Christ.
- He has redeemed us.
- He has forgiven us.
- He has made His will known to us.
- He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Leave any one of the ingredients out and it could no longer be called reconciliation. Yesterday we looked at forgiveness. Today, let’s go back to the beginning and talk about God’s decision to choose us to be reconciled. It is not my intention to create a huge debate about the relationship between God’s sovereignty express in election and man’s free will. I think far too much time has been wasted and far too many people’s spiritual lives harmed by such debates. By finite faith in an infinite God I believe both co-exist in His mind and will. In the words of John MacArthur, God’s sovereign election and man’s exercise of responsibility in choosing Jesus Christ seem opposite and irreconcilable truths—and from our limited human perspective they are opposite and irreconcilable. That is why so many earnest, well-meaning Christians throughout the history of the church have floundered trying to reconcile them. Since the problem cannot be resolved by our finite minds, the result is always to compromise one truth in favor of the other or to weaken both by trying to take a position somewhere between them. We should let the antimony remain, believing both truths completely and leaving the harmonizing of them to God.
Having said that, I also understand that true reconciliation begins with the sovereign choice of the One in the right to select and pursue the ones in the wrong. I dare not attempt to tackle the issue of whether or not this choice was limited to only some or included all who were wrong – that is for God to reveal to us when we are in His presence and able to fully know as we are known (1 Cor. 13:12). But from a present day human perspective, it makes sense for me to see it this way – it is the desire of my heart to see everyone in the world who is an enemy of Jesus be reconciled to Him, and I choose to have a direct influence on those with whom I am able to connect.
Before I stopped at the bread store this morning, I needed gas in my car. I stopped at the station where I have just started getting my fuel, and I went inside to grab a cup of coffee. The first time I filled up at this station I went inside to meet the owner. I chose to make a connection with him. I discovered he has owned this little station for many years. I asked him his name, and every time I go there I call him by name. Today we started talking about the price of heating our homes, and as we somewhat lamented the costs, I noticed that he was not really complaining. I then made this statement – “I’m so glad that God has promised to supply all of our needs so we don’t need to worry. He will never leave us or forsake us.” He responded by saying, “Isn’t that the truth?” We made a connection. I told him to have a blessed day, and he told me the same, and I left.
Meanwhile, sitting at the small table inside the door were two other men having coffee. It was obvious that they had been talking to the owner, because when I drove up they were together at the table. When I saw them I had the same desire in my heart to know if they knew Jesus, but on this day I had chosen to connect with only the owner. And without sounding arrogant, I had given the owner the opportunity to connect with me.
This may be very over-simplified, but for me it helps me to understand and trust the loving heart of God in election. He desires that none should perish in their sin, and that all should come to repentance. He has chosen to connect with me, and to give me the choice of my free will to connect with Him. As a result, we have been reconciled, which would not be possible if He had not first chosen to connect with me. Praise God!
Now, in your personal life, unreconciled relationships probably exist because you have not chosen to connect with the one who has wronged you. You have left out the first ingredient of the recipe for reconciliation. What will you do about it?