Pt. 2 The Biblical Difference Between Reconciliation and Salvation

I praise God for the ministry of reconciliation which is afforded to humanity by the eternal blood of the covenant. Father God is just now beginning to reveal to us that reconciliation is something that God initiates with man and man ultimately becomes a recipient of. I can say with all honesty that for the greater part of my Christian life I have misunderstood reconciliation as it relates to what people would understand to be Biblical salvation. It was stated in the last article that according to Paul, reconciliation was something that happened to mankind even while we were dead in our sins.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when 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: 8-10)

The are three key biblical terms that we need to focus on to understand this piece of scripture, Justified, saved, and reconciliation. All of these words are significant but we must understand how each one relates to another in this context. First of all we must understand that justification and reconciliation occurs before being saved, Paul is clear on this point “HOW MUCH MORE BEING RECONCILED SHALL WE BE SAVED THROUGH HIS LIFE” Reconciliation preceedes being saved and it happens while we are in a state of death in our sins and while we were enemies towards God. To be an enemy towards God is more than being God’s opponents, it really means to hate God and to have seperation from him. So, in essence, in God’s mercy he demonstrated his love towards us even when we hated the things of God, even we were ignorant to the the things of God. How awesome this love is. This is reconciliation, family and it absolutely, 100 percent has nothing to do with you or what you believe.What we have done is told people that they have to believe to be reconciled when in all actuality we were all reconciled two thousand years ago. We tell peolple this is what it means to be saved and Paul says that there is a difference. We will look at salvation (being saved) more in depth in a minute, but for now I must impress upon you that reconciliation is something that has already occured and being saved is something that we are working out. Both of these priciples are very important to grasp but again we must understand how they relate to one another and to Paul’s overall theology. The word reconciled is used 6 times in the New Testament, 5 of which have to do with God’s reconciliation and one reference to a man and woman being reconciled to each other (1 Cor 7:11). Out of the five remaining references 4 of them put reconcilaition in the past and as something that God does and not man (1 Cor 5:18,19, Romans 5:10) The remaining reference (verse 20) is plea for mankind to come into the knowledge of this reconcilaition. In all actuality, reconcilaition simply means to go from of a state of being enemies to a state of being friends. This is a Biblical concept that is illustrated all throughout the Bible. The first act of reconciliation that we see in the Bible is God reconciling Adam and Eve after the fall. We read that ” And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). We see God covering their shame with the sacrifice of an animal. The animal was innocent and the clothing was provided by God. Adam and Eve didn’t have to confess anything before God provided the sacrifice. As a matter of fact, all they could offer up was excuses. God slaughtered an animal to cover thier shame to bring them back into right relationship with Him. You see, God never ran from man, man ran from God and perceived himself to be separated from God becuase of his shame. Wow, that could preach!  Now, what I’m trying to get you to realize is that God provided the reconciliation and not man. We still think that our confession brings us into reconciliation but it doesn’t.

Another example that is easy to discern in relation to reconcilaition is the high priest’s sacrifice on the day of atonement. This was the one day in the year where all the sins of the community were dealt with. The high priest, of course, was the only man that could go directly into the presence of God and offer up sacrifices. It’s important to realize that the high priest represented the entire camp of Israel. So, in essence, what was true of the high priest on the day of atonement was true of the whole community when he offered up the sacrifice. In other words, the community didn’t have to do the work of sacrificing, this was placed in the hands of the high priest. This is all recorded in Leviticus 16 and it demonstrates that the blood covered the entire community by the act of one man. Man I feel like preaching!! There are several deeper implications that could be explored at this point that relate to Jesus being our new covenant high piest but I must stay on task. Anyhow, just in case I haven’t pictured reconciliation suffuciently enough through scripture, then maybe this last example will grip you. We read in Zechariah 3 that Joshua the high priest was covered with filthy garments and that he stood accused by Satan (The adversary) ”

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.”

As you can see God takes away the filthy garments and clothes Joshua with rich garments. It also says that he took away his sin in the process. Once again I want you to observe that God did all this with no prompting on Joshua’s behalf. What I am saying is that Joshua didn’t have to believe anything before God clothed him with theses garments, it was just given to him. He didn’t have to work for it, he didn’t have to confess any scripture, it was just given to him by God because God is merciful. After Joshua is clothed with these garments he is then given instruction to carry out God’s plan.

This finally brings this discussion to question of salvation. From the beginning I have empahtically stated that salvation is a process that begins once one realizes that they have been reconciled by the cross. Since we now know that Biblical reconciliation is an act that took place while we were still powerless to help ourselves, we will now look at what it means to be saved or to have salvation.

I think a working understanding of what the word salvation means in the Greek is important for us to discern before proceeding further. Marvin Vincent and Strong’s Word Study defines it this way:

4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

This word is used in a number of different ways in the New Testament and it’s my belief that saved or salvation is better rendered “delivered” or deliverance” for modern English speaking people. There are a few translations that reflect this and it’s an important distinction . In the New Testament, salvation is described in three phases, by this I mean the Bible says that we were saved (Romans 5:10) are being saved (Acts 2:47) and will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). This is why salvation is better understood as deliverance, by that I mean that deliverance is a process that we are walking out of. If you have ever prayed a prayer of deliverance over someone after they have been “saved” then you know what I mean. I say all this to make the Biblical observation that in most places where the Greek word sozo is is used it is speaking of having faith in the reconciliation to have power over sin’s dominion continually. It was determined in our last article that verses like Romans 10:9 is speaking of this type of salvation, the kind  that is worked out after reconciliation. In other words, it should’t be used as a proof text to establish reconcilaition with God, however, it’s a powerful verse to understand the Word of Faith that is near our heart, the faith that is professed every time we use his name to invoke victory over every situation. You see, this is easy to understand. Father reconciled us through the blood and he gives us “deliverance power” every day to secure our reconciliation. This is true salvation. If salvation were just a one time confession that we made at one time in our Christian walk then our salvation wouldn’t be complete. You see we are inherting salvation(Hebrews 1:18) and it will not be totally worked out until a time in the future, this is why the scripture says that he that calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered. In the end, reconciliation was an issue that was settled in the past and salvation is something that we are working out in phases. Until the next time, Peace God’s awareness!! JJ

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