Author: Ron Graham
Christ, Reconciler of All Enemies
—plus “Wrath or Reconciliation: Who Decides?”
To fully please God, we must stop being his enemies and include ourselves in the reconciliation which only Christ could achieve. It was God’s "good pleasure that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Christ God should reconcile all things to himself" (Colossians 1:19-23).
Not all God's enemies will be reconciled. On one hand Paul says, "The wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience" (Colossians 3:6). That would not be true if all God's enemies will be reconciled to him.
On the other hand, however, Paul teaches that anyone and everyone is allowed to come to God through Christ’s atonement, to have all blame removed, and thus be reconciled to God.
1 The Fullness of God's Welcome
God welcomes anyone and everyone into reconciliation. Listen to Paul describe his ministry of reconciliation: "We preach Christ, warning every person and teaching every person in all wisdom, that we may present every person perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28).
Paul’s aim was to teach everyone, and Paul believed that every person he taught was capable of being presented to God perfect in Christ. God’s welcome is wide, wide as the ocean; high as the heavens above.
2 The Fullness of Christ's Sacrifice
Christ "made peace through the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). Those who were "alienated and enemies... he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death" (Colossians 1:21-22).
Well how far is God pleased to take this? He sent his unique and beloved Son to die on the cross. The precious body was killed, the precious blood was shed. How does God look upon that sacrifice?
Does God say, “Well I'll let a few of my alienated enemies be reconciled by my Son’s sacrifice, but for most I will not allow his death to avail any more than the death of the thieves ” ? If the hope of atonement is only for some, and not for all, then Christ made an insufficient sacrifice.
3 The Fullness of God’s Impartiality
Paul gives a person two options: "You will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality" (Colossians 3:24-25).
"There is no partiality" only if God gives each person equally the choice of serving the Lord with its reward, or doing wrong with its punishment. If God himself were to make that decision, he would be partial. Let me explain...
The Colossians, like everyone else, "were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21).
Like everyone else in Colosse, they had been "dead in your trespasses" (Colossians 2:13), and "sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:6-7),
Now if God allowed them to be reconciled and forgiven but disallowed this privilege to others in Colossae, that would be partiality. But with God, as we said, "there is no partiality" (Colossians 3:25).
This leads us to observe three things:
- (1) God reconciles to himself any and all alienated sinners who come to him through Christ.
- (2) God punishes any and all alienated sinners who don’t obey Christ.
- (3) God encourages obedience, but he does not decide who does and doesn’t obey.
If God broke any one of those principles, there would be partiality on his part.
Now we look more closely at the question, who decides whether you are reconciled to God?
Wrath or Reconciliation—Who Decides?
Reconciliation comes only through Christ. In this sense, reconciliatiation to God is strictly limited. Either you befriend God by the one and only means, or you aren't reconciled at all, and wrath comes upon you.
On the other hand, Christ’s blood can remove all sin. In this sense reconciliation is universal. No person, and no sin is excluded from the reconciliation —if the person chooses to receive it.
1 What God Decided
God made certain decisions ages ago, and Christ has revealed them to us. "The mystery, which has been hidden through the ages and generations, is now revealed to his holy people" (Colossians 1:19-20).
- To give the world hope: "There is a hope laid up for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the true word of the gospel. That gospel came to you as it also came to all the world..." (Colossians 1:5-6).
- To reconcile through his Son: "It pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Christ the Father would reconcile all things to himself... having made peace through the blood of Christ’s cross" (Colossians 1:19-20).
- To qualify his heirs: "Give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share the inheritance of God’s holy people in the light" (Colossians 1:12).
2 What We Decide
There are things you either reject or embrace —that’s up to you. God neither prevents nor forces you, though he urges you, to do these things.
- To listen: "You heard before the truth of the gospel" (Colossians 1:6-7), "for the full assurance of understanding... of all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3).
- To believe: "You have faith in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:4), "You continue in the faith grounded and steadfast" (Colossians 1:23), "You reject the commandments and doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:20-23).
- To obey: "buried with him in baptism" (Colossians 2:12), "rising a new person" (Colossians 3:9-10), "to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, fruitful in every good work" (Colossians 1:10).
3 How God Responds
God responds to each person in the same predictable way. If you decide to believe and obey Christ, and then you do so, God’s response is certain and guaranteed...
- With new life: "God has made you alive together with him, having forgiven you all your trespasses" (Colossians 2:13).
- With strength: "God strengthens you with all power [by his Spirit in your inward self ]" (Colossians 1:11, Ephesians 3:16).
- With safety: "God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transported us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption..." (Colossians 1:13-14).