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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 25 - Colossians 1:20 - The Reconciliation Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Reconciliation.


     "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."-Colossians 1:20.



     The glory of Christ's person is the special subject of the verses preceding this; His glory as the Son, the image of the invisible God, the First-born, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Head of the body, the possessor of all fullness. Everything that is glorious and lovable, in the divine or the human, the uncreated or the created, the heavenly or the earthly, is to be found in Him. Perfection, not only without flaw, but without limit; perfection embracing the excellencies of the universe, visible or invisible; perfection as to nature, person, office, position, authority, unchangeableness; perfection, in God's meaning of the word, is ascribed to Him; and in such a way and degree as to make it absolutely unapproachable by any other being. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

     There is one glory of heaven, and another glory of earth; there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; there is one glory of man, and another glory of angels; there is one glory of the Creator, and another glory of the creature; but this glory of Christ comprehends them all. There is nothing of excellence, above or beneath, that is left out of it.

     But our text carries us beyond the person and its constitution. It is its relation to us, its bearing upon the universe, that is here announced. This Christ has been made the center of all being, the foundation of an infinite structure; the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; the root out of the dry ground has become the plant of renown; the woman's seed has not merely bruised the serpent's head and slain every enemy of God and man, but has been invested with the sovereignty of all things, having already received the crown of heaven, and destined ere long to obtain the crown of earth, as King of kings and Lord of lords.

     Our text points out two things specially in connection with the person of this God-man: (1.) The peace making. (2.) The reconciliation.

     I. The peace making.-His work begins here. It may seem a great work for a small end-the incarnation and. propitiation of the Son of God for a sinner, the inhabitant of a small planet like ours. But the spiritual resembles the natural. It takes a sun, a whole sun, a sun immeasurably larger than our earth to light us; nothing more than such a sun is needed, yet nothing less will do. For the making of one sinner's peace, the Eternal Word must take the flesh and die the death of man.

     (1.) Peace was needed.-Man had broken off from God. There was variance between heaven and earth. The link had snapped. Friendship was at an end. Sin had parted the Creator and the creature. Law had said, The soul that sinneth it shall die. God and man must be brought together; the broken peace must be restored; and the basis of this peace must be pardon-righteous pardon,-pardon coming from God; sanctioned by the law, and pronounced by the Lawgiver.

     (2.) Peace has been made.-The announcement of the gospel is not that peace is a possible or a likely thing, or that peace may be made by the sinner's efforts, or tears, or prayers; but that peace has been made,-legally and righteously made. This infinitely glorious One, the Christ of God, the Head, the First-begotten, the Creator, the possessor of the universal fullness, has made the peace. He dug the gold and coined the money for the payment of our debt eighteen hundred years ago.

     (3.) It has been made by blood.-The cause of the dispeace, the quarrel between us and God, was sin, and that must be put away. The mountain wall of our guilt must be thrown down; and this can only be effected by blood. The moment the blood touched the barrier, it dissolved and disappeared. For guilt cannot be ignored or overlooked, it must be dealt with,-judged, expiated. This dealing, this expiation, can only be by blood; the giving of one life for another, a higher life for a lower, a divine life for a human.

     (4.) This blood is the blood of the cross.-Not any kind of blood, but that of the Son of God; not blood anyhow shed, but shed upon the cross, the appointed place of propitiation. Only blood shed there could meet the divine requirements; suit all circumstances; answer all legal questions and claims. The expiatory blood shedding must be the blood shedding of the accursed tree. Thus it is that the question of guilt brings us to that of peace; and the question of peace to the blood; and that of the blood to the cross. All these are inseparably linked; and he that rejects one must reject all. He that will not have the cross and the blood, must be without the peace. He that undervalues the peace, will undervalue the cross; and he that depreciates the cross, can neither understand nor prize the peace.

     II. The reconciliation.-The blood shedding and peacemaking of Calvary have prepared the way for the actual reconciliation of all things and beings whom it is the purpose of God to reconcile or unite to Himself, either on earth or in heaven. The meaning of the word 'reconciliation' in reference to man is easily understood, and signifies just what we usually ascribe to it, the actual making up of the variance between two parties. The two parties here are the sinner and God; the reconciliation is the actual forgiveness of the sinner, and the restoration of the divine friendship; the basis of the reconciliation is the blood shedding of the cross. But as to the 'things in heaven' said to be reconciled, there is a difference. We cannot say of the nature of angels that it needed actual reconciliation, such as ours needs; for only part of angelhood had fallen, and that fall did not involve the whole nature or race, but simply the individuals who 'left their first estate.' But still the angelic family, and those members of it who kept their first estate, need something to cement and confirm their union; something to assure them that there shall be no second fall among them, no possibility of a breach between them and God, in all the eternal future. It is to this closer and firmer union that the apostle here refers it is the readjustment of the things in heaven; the restoration of their disturbed equilibrium; gathering them round a new and more glorious center; fixing them on a far surer basis; cementing together all their various parts and relationships indissolubly and everlastingly; drawing them more closely to God, to one another, and to the various regions and individuals of unfallen creature hood; opening up to them a far more intimate fellowship with Godhead than they ever had or could have had; and all this through the incarnation and blood shedding of the eternal Son. It is this that the apostle speaks of as 'reconciliation,' the reconciliation of 'the things in heaven.' Not pardon, nor cleansing, nor renewal; of these the hosts of God above need nothing; but a closer union, surer bonds, more intimate communion, nearer access, an increase of bliss and holiness, with the superadded assurance of eternal security.

     Though Christ 'took not hold of angels,' yet is He their Head; appointed such by God, and constituted such in virtue of His Person and work; for, not as God is He the Head of angels, but as God-man-the crucified and risen God-man. His possession of the human nature is that which links Him to creature hood. Of universal creation, as represented in and by humanity, He has become the Lord and Head. His connection with angels comes to Him through His connection with us. Linked to one portion or fragment of creature-hood, He has become linked to all; for, as the uncreated is one, and he who touches it at one point touches it all, so the created is one, and he who takes hold of one section takes hold of all. Christ then has become the Head of angels, because He is the woman's seed, the Head of the Church. To this He Himself refers, when, as the risen Christ, He says, 'All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.'

     What a view does this give us of the value, the potency, the glory of His finished work, as bearing not only on men but angels, not only on earth but heaven! What a circle does it embrace! Into what regions of being does its efficacy, its virtue, not enter!  What might it not accomplish, if so the rather willed it, in heaven and earth and hell! Its innate potency is absolutely infinite; and the only limit that can be set to it is the will of Jehovah, the only thing that can circumscribe its irrepressible tendencies of blessing is the Father's purpose.

     What a view does this give us also of the security of angels, and of all holy creature-hood forever! The work of Christ is their assurance against any future fall. They shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of His hand. They are not indeed members of His body, but they are integral, necessary parts of that creature hood of which He is the glorious Head. This readjustment of the universe is its eternal security. Formerly it had no proper, no visible, no all-attractive center; now it has one which is both visible and invisible, human and divine, resistless in the force of a mysterious gravitation which does not diminish with distance, and which no intervening body, great or small, has power to disturb or alienate.

     We too often think of connection with Christ as exclusively the privilege of the redeemed. And no doubt this is the case with that special union of which the New Testament speaks. In this, angels have no share; for it belongs to those whose flesh He took, and whose death He died. But, beyond this, there are outer circles of connection; less intimate, but not less efficacious bonds of union; and these are for the 'things in heaven;' these are they that give even the angels an interest in Jesus and His cross; for from that cross there go forth, even to the highest heaven, invisible influences of the most blessed and potent kind; and it is because He stooped so low in shame that God has exalted Him so high; not only giving Him a name that is above every name, but making Him 'head of principalities and powers.'

     Such is the foundation on which 'the things in heaven' rest. Such is the security of angels. We think, perhaps, that there is no need for any security save that furnished by their own holy natures, tested by the standing of so many thousands of years. But herein we greatly err. No creature in itself has any security, or any reason to suppose that it may not, next moment, fall. And if no additional barrier has been thrown up to protect the holy angels, since the fall of their fellows, their personal standing during so many ages is inexplicable. But God's purpose concerning Christ, and then the fulfillment of that purpose in His incarnation and death, threw up the barrier, and secured them against the possibility of fall. Before this was known among the angels, one might suppose them at times wondering how it was that they stood while others fell, and asking, with fear and trembling, as they came and went on their errands over a fallen earth, or passed by the gate of hell's eternal prison-house, May we not also sin and be condemned to chains? But now they know that they shall never fall; for God incarnate has become their Head, and connection with Him secures their stability forever. Thus they, as well as we (though not in the same way), have an interest in the manger and the cross; the birth, the life, the death, the resurrection of the Christ, contain good news for them as well as for us. They are not mere spectators of these, but sharers in the benefits that are flowing from them, and shall flow from them throughout eternity.

     It is to the Father that this reconciliation is made; but then it is through the Son, the inner and ultimate center being the Father, but the outer and visible center being the Son. Thus all the universe is gathered round the Son; and yet God is all in all. The Christ, the crucified God-man, is the Head of creation, the Head of the Church, the Head of the universe, and yet it will even then be said, 'My Father is greater than I.'

     The reconciling blood has not yet done all its work. That work is going on, and will, ere long, be in larger measure exhibited, in the day of the kingdom, the times of the restitution of all things. Meanwhile, 'individual reconciliations are going on upon earth, preparatory to the coming consummation. Each reconciled sinner is part of this. And hence, with that day in view, we give out our message of reconciliation, as ambassadors for Christ, beseeching men to be reconciled to God.