Good Friday 2024 — The Cross & Reconciliation

I Cor. 5:17.) if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here 18.) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that 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.

Note 1st that verticality of this passage

“All this is from God”

The Spirit inspired Paul has been writing about the new creation… the full salvation in Christ and He plainly says that “All this is from God.”

This reminds us that that the all Paul speaks of includes the provision of Christ to go to the Cross to bear our sins. Christ going to the Cross was part of the “All this is from God.” The triune God is the alpha and the omega of our Christian faith.

This needs to be said repeatedly in our current climate. It needs to be said again to those who grew up with evangelism that began with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That statement might be true but it misses the God-centeredness of the Cross and misses that “All this is from God.”

The point here is that “All of this” that St. Paul speaks of teaches us that the all this is all about God before it is at all about us. The “All of this from God” not man centered. The “All of this from God,” is God centered.

Our Christianity is theocentric — God centered and not man-centered.

Even when Christ is hanging on the Cross as the center of Paul’s “All of this is from God,” we understand that it is not primarily about us. The cross wherein reconciliation is effected is ultimately about God.

The main thrust of this point is that the Cross, where reconciliation takes place, is not ultimately about us. In point of fact the Cross of Jesus Christ is only proximately about us. Before we can say anything true about the Cross in relation to us, we must first speak about the Cross and its meaning in relation to God.

At this point we are seeking to talk about what Theologian C. E. B. Cranfield in his commentary on Romans talked about as “the innermost meaning of the cross” (The Epistle to the Romans, 213).

And frankly, in all my reading and study one doesn’t stumble across very often this God-centered understanding of the Cross. In all the sermons I’ve listened to it is only been occasional the the case that the sermon was dealing with the God-centered understanding of the Cross.

I want to be clear I’m not denying that the Cross has effects, consequences, and glorious implications for man. However, I am convinced that before we talk about the secondary meaning of the Cross we should talk about the primary meaning of the Cross.

Steve Camp captured something of what I am going to be driving at this morning when we talk about what it means to think theocentrically about the cross.

Camp wrote these lyrics,

Christ died for God and God was satisfied with Christ
Pure, unblemished sacrifice
Oh, Son of Grace

Christ died for God and God has made Him Lord of all
For He drank the bitter gall
The cup of wrath

Christ Died For God
Steve Camp

There it is. The theocentric meaning of the Cross.

Christ died for God.

The deep inside meaning. The Ultimate meaning. The theology from above. The primary meaning. The theocentric meaning.

How many times have you heard this from pulpits? From your own reading? I was in the ministry for almost a decade before I stumbled across it in Jonathan Edwards and before him for John Owen.

Hear Owen for example in a catechism he used to teach.

Q. In what does the exercise of his priestly office for us chiefly consist?

A. In offering up himself an acceptable sacrifice on the cross, so satisfying the justice of God for our sins, removing his curse from our persons, and bringing us unto him. — Chapter 13.

John Owen

Note that before Owen speaks about the curse being removed from our persons he notes that Christ satisfied the justice of God for our sins. There it is. Christ died for God. Theocentric thinking on the Cross.

Well, where did they get this idea that Christ died for God? They saw it in Scripture.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

There it is. “The Father sets forth the Son as a propitiation by His Blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness.”

Christ died for God.

The Old Testament anticipates Romans when in Isaiah we read,

“But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.”

Isaiah 53:10

There it is. The theocentrism of the Cross. The Lord is pleased to crush the Son.

There is a vertical dimension of the Cross that must be spoken of before we speak of the horizontal dimension. Christ dies for God before Christ dies for man.

Note secondly the reconciliation

When we look at the idea of reconciliation we first notice that the text reinforces what we just noted … it is God who reconciled us to Himself. God did all the doing.

This kind of language from the Apostle explains why the Reformed have always been so put out with Arminianism (such as you find targeted in the Canons of Dordt) and with Roman Catholicism which the Reformation defined itself against.

It is God who reconciled us to Himself. No contributions on or part. Dead men can’t contribute anything to coming back to life.

This is a significant reason why we are Reformed. We believe in God’s sovereignty in all things w/o exception and that includes salvation. We affirm with tenacity and without equivocation that God alone reconciled us to Himself.

When we consider reconciliation we understand that the premise here is that there are two parties who are at enmity with one another. Reconciliation is the work by which that alienation between the two parties is put to an end.

Of course the two parties at war w/ one another are God and fallen man. And the passage teaches that it was only as through Christ the reconciliation was effected. And this reconciliation was effected by Christ on the Cross. Indeed this is why we call this day Good Friday. Good Friday is good because a reconciliation has been accomplished that otherwise could have never been accomplished.

Christ dying on the Cross is our reconciliation and the reason that we have an interest in gathering to worship on Good Friday. If not for Christ being our reconciliation on the cross the last place we would be on a Friday evening is a Church.

So, God is the author of our reconciliation but He elected to provide that reconciliation only through Christ. This explains why Biblical Christians insist on the absolute necessity of a known Christ in order to have peace with God. There is no concourse with God apart from the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ is the one who extinguished the necessary and just opposition of God towards fallen man that was an immovable force set against us, while at the same time removing our opposition to God. That opposition and hatred of God is sin that is paid for, for God’s people, in Christ’s death on the Cross.

You see then the reconciliation provided by Christ on the Cross was not only a reconciling of the elect’s sinful hatred against God but it is also a reconciling of God’s just wrath against man. So on the Cross there is a two-fold movement of Reconciliation that is occurring in Christ.

The plain meaning, thus, is that through Jesus Christ on the Cross, God established the basis of agreement between men and God as estranged, removed the barrier to the sinner’s approach to Himself, and accepted the work of propitiation in Christ.

Note thirdly here that the reconciliation was costly

God did not let bygones be bygones. The sin of man required restitution to God’s Holiness. God could not remain just and holy and merely be reconciled. No, reconciliation had to be on the basis of the satisfaction of man’s debt against God.

So, yes reconciliation was accomplished in and through Christ but that reconciliation was a work of restitution satisfying the father’s just claim against sinful man.

This reminds us of the necessary connection between reconciliation and restitution.

And all of this is from God

Out of love the Father sends the Son forth to take upon Himself the Father’s just penalty for sin so that reconciliation can be accomplished. Out of eternal love the Son defends the honor of the Father’s promise to give sin it’s full recompense. Christ died for God. Died for His glory. Died to give Him all honor. Died that the Father might be just and justifier of those who have faith in Jesus. Died that reconciliation would have its proper foundation found in a restitution that satisfied the loving Father.

God Himself — whose justice required the price of propitiation in order to be reconciled. God Himself who rendered up the price of the just penalty required by God. We see thus that it is God who justly required the penalty, and God who paid the penalty. God who required Justice and God whose Justice when it fell, fell as mercy for us.

Christ died for God.

Donald Macleod gets at all this in his “Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement — p 71”

“It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love us, The very fact of his being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loves us: to lay the foundation for an advocacy directed towards him specifically as Father (1 John 2: 1). God unequivocally requires such propitiation, but in the last analysis God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation. The whole cost of our redemption is borne by the triune God. In that sense, the atonement is a transaction entirely internal to the trinity. But by virtue of the incarnation, it is also external. It takes place not in heaven, but on Calvary; not in eternity, but on Good Friday.”

May God grant us His grace on this Good Friday to once again be lost in wonder love and praise for the great gift of the Christ on the Cross providing a reconciliation that can never be revoked.


Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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