The second question that Johnson’s article presented was how we answer the question of how is a person reconciled to God. Through the atoning work of Christ on the cross being the answer.
Good answer… and the ‘sub-‘answers?
Well they can really vary. He died for all and all means all and all are saved / reconciled. He died just for the elect, those predestined by God. He atoned for sin in the sense of paying for our debts… he appeased God… and so the answers go on.
So given that I am responding to the article and so cannot be put outside the box as unorthodox here are a few pointers as to where I am at.
- A first and very important point for me is that God did not need to be reconciled to humanity. The issues are not on his side! He was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. There is no sense of God being appeased, his ‘wrath’ is not some sort of mega-anger!
- The death of Jesus is for all, not for a few. Fully understanding how his death accomplishes this might finally evade us, evidenced by the variety of metaphors used in Scripture. In some way his death is for Israel, he is their representative, so that the curse if broken off them. The chosen people then are all those who are in Messiah – first the remnant of (natural) Israel who respond to Jesus and those grafted in of Gentile disciples. This does have implications for who are ‘the chosen people’. Messiah is chosen and all in him are chosen. The death of Jesus makes a difference to all previous divisions. There is literally a new humanity whose task is to prepare the materials for the new creation.
- All those who by faith receive this Jesus as Lord are part of that redeemed community. Those who knowingly reject this Jesus (and not simply a Jesus presented to them theologically) are lost.
- The warnings of Hebrews are not theoretical as there has to be a continuance in the faith. Those who persevere to the end will be saved.
- Getting ‘saved’ has been reduced to a prayer and a pronouncement that the person who has said that prayer is now ‘born again’ (using a phrase that Jesus only used once!). Salvation in Scripture is far more than being safe. It is about moving from one dimension to another, living out what is seen – living as though there is already a new creation.
- There should be clear evidence of reconciliation. The ‘sinner’s prayer’ might be a good starting point. It is certainly a very bad end point. The evidence of reconciliation has to affect every aspect that the falls damaged. This includes human inter-relationships, care for the creation (‘mother earth’ is not too big a heresy – humanity came from the earth, but creation is not divine, nor was my mother!). We are rightly appalled at the appeal for abortion on demand, yet the way we are happy to pollute the planet and rob future generations of life seems OK. That is not how it should be.
- Will all be reconciled to God? Will there be those who lose their salvation? We’ll find out one day.
I am convinced that there will be some major surprises when this creation is transformed by the appearance of Christ. Surprised how far the death of Jesus reached and to who. No one will have made it there through their own self-effort. Even for those who ‘fear God and do what is right’ in every nation (regardless of faith) will make it because of the death of Jesus.