28 March 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 23rd of March, Brother Kenneth Lo preached at the contemporary Sunday Service of St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral (SMACC) on the meaning of our reconciliation to God.
Are you read to meet your Maker?
This is the pertinent question all of us must answer because all of us must die. People die everyday—young or old, sick or healthy, and rich or poor. Will you be afraid of dying? When you die and meet God, would you be afraid of what God thinks of you?
We were Children of Wrath
The Bible says that we were enemies of God due to our evil behavior (Col 1:21; Rom 5:10) and the wrath of God is against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom 1:18). In fact, we were by nature, children of wrath (Eph 2:3). In short, God is enraged with people, shared Kenneth.
Jonathan Edwards, pastor in the 1700’s, gave a sermon—Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (pg 47-48)—to explain the depth of God’s wrath:
Just like one holding a dirty spider by the web over a fire, God holds you over the pit of hell. He abhors you; His anger is provoked; and His wrath burns against you like fire. He looks at you as worthy of nothing but to be cast into the lake of fire. His eyes are too pure to have you in His sight. You are ten thousand times more detestable to Him then the most hated venomous snake is in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more than any criminal has offended a judge, and yet it is nothing but His hand that keeps you from falling. There is no other reason that you were allowed to wake up this morning and did not go to hell last night after you closed your eyes to sleep. There is no other reason that you have not dropped into hell today, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason why you have not gone to hell since you have walked into church today when His eyes saw the wicked way you have attended His worship. Yes, there is no other reason that you do not drop down into hell this very minute. O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in. It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit full of the fire of wrath. You are held over that pit in the hand of God. You hang by a slender thread with the flames of divine wrath licking around it, ready to singe it.
We may think that Edwards' description of God’s wrath is far-off from the Bible. Nevertheless, Isaiah 59 describes a kind of wickedness that warrants God’s fury and separates us from Him (v 1-18). And in Isaiah 63, the passage speaks of God in His fury treading the winepress and trampling the people underfoot, so much so their blood sprinkled upon His garments and stained all His robes (v 3). Jesus also said in Luke 12:4, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him (God) who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Such is the wrath of God on sinners!
What was reconciled through Christ?
So should we be fearful of meeting God when we die? Yes, we should. But we need not and this is why – “But through Christ, God has reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:29).
This is why the Bible is called the gospel, Kenneth shared, because it is good news. While it is very rare for a person to die for another good man, Christ died for us while we were still His Father’s enemies (Rom 5:6-9). This is hence, the God we worshipped who comes to serve and not to be served. ‘He (God) did not spare his own Son (Jesus Christ), but gave him up for us all—how will he (God) not also, along with him (Jesus Christ), graciously give us all things?’ (Rom 8:32)
Because God made Christ who had no sin to be sin for us, we are righteous before God (2 Cor 5:21; Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:21). Our reconciliation with God comes at a very high price! On that cross, the relationship of enmity between God and people is torn. ‘We have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom 1:5). And because we are justified by His Blood, we are saved from God’s wrath (Rom 1:9). Reconciliation with God is a done deal by God Himself on the cross, shared Kenneth.
Is that all that God has reconciled?
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled. (Col 1:19-21)
Through Christ, all things on earth or in heaven are reconciled to Him. This means that the scope of reconciliation is universal, meaning nothing lies outside the scope of Christ’s reconciliation. In other words, everyone under Heaven can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ if they believed that Christ has died on the cross for their sins.
Why do we need this reconciliation? In Genesis 2, our relationship with God was torn when men disobeyed God (Gen 3:14-19), which affected the whole universe. Kenneth shared that we did not only spill the milk, we also belched at our God, dethroning Him from our hearts. That is why Jonathan Edward said that we have infinitely offended God. And when men sinned, they dragged the whole creation along with them (Rom 8:20-22). Who do you think is responsible for natural disaster today? We, who are rebellious, created disorder and mess in this universe. But Christ came not only to reconcile us to Himself but to restore order as well.
The book of Ephesians 2 also tells about the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles (v 11-15), denoting the unity of one body in Christ. Jesus taught that for one to offer his gift at the altar—a gesture to reconcile to God—he must reconcile with his brother first, before offering his gift at the altar. Kenneth shared that it is impossible to reconcile with Christ if we harbor grudges on other people (Matt 6:15). If God desires to reconcile all sinners to Him, who are we to not reconcile with them?
18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18-19)
Andrew Bonar, author of the ‘Memoirs and Remains of R. M. M’Cheyne wrote (pg 148):
“As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh, how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one, and say, ‘Escape for your life!”
Each of us has a relationship with God. The question is whether it is a good or bad relationship? It takes two for a reconciliation to happen. God has reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son. The church’s task now is to preach this good news – Christ and Him crucified, for our sake, God made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that we may be reconciled to God. So Kenneth implored, pled, and beseeched everyone to be reconciled to God and humbly receive the completed work of God in Christ. When we do that, we are truly ready to meet our Maker in Heaven.
Find more information on St Mary’s Cathedral Anglican Church at www.stmaryscathedral.org.my
Address : Jalan Raja, Dataran Merdeka, 50050, Kuala Lumpur
Tel : (03) 2692 8672
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SMACC (Contemporary) Sunday Services
Multi Purpose Hall
10:30 AM / 5 PM
Liturgical (Traditional) Sunday Services
Main Cathedral Building
7 AM / 8:30 AM / 10:30 AM / 6 PM