This Week's Focus Passage

‘through whom we have received the reconciliation.’

Focus Passage: Romans 5:11
‘through whom we have received the reconciliation.’

The question is asked only twice in the Word of God, ‘How can man be just with God?’ Both of those instances are to be found in the Old Testament book of Job, the old patriarch that was so horrifically assailed by Satan with all of that old serpent’s malice. This maleficence was conspicuously permitted by the God of all the earth for His own purposes; the ultimate end surely being to the praise of the glory of His magnificent grace. The first occasion of the question is in the ninth chapter of the book, and in the words of Job himself responding to the unfounded charges of Bildad in chapter eight. Bildad was strongly suggesting that if Job were a righteous man, all these calamities would certainly not have befallen him. Matthew Henry puts Bildad’s argument pithily—as he was wont to do—when he said in his comments, ‘Bildad…..setting before Job life and death, the blessing and the curse, assuring him that as he was so he should fare, and therefore they might conclude that as he fared so was he.’ This Bildad said, intimating that since he was receiving punishment, as they presumed, he must be an unrighteous man for God would surely not so deal with one who was righteous. To this Job replies, ‘I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?’
With some surprise, we discover that the other occasion of this question is found on the lips of Bildad himself in his third speech, recorded in chapter 25.
Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, Dominion and fear are with him; He maketh peace in his high places. Is there any number of his armies? And upon whom doth not his light arise? How then can man be just with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even the moon hath no brightness, And the stars are not pure in his sight: How much less man, that is a worm! And the son of man, that is a worm!—Job 25:1-6
This, of course, is the question that has come to each and every one of us in the course of our pilgrimage. When God the Holy Spirit has used His Word to convict us of our sinnerhood, and our desperate condition before a perfectly holy God, we have stood before the absolute perfection of the thrice holy One. We have found ourselves in the terrifying position of Belshazzar the king when those forceful words were written upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace with the fingers of a man’s hand, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. Those words were interpreted by Daniel and spoken in the king’s ear, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.’ This is, I say, the essence of what is spoken in one form or other to every sinner being drawn to see his desperate case. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones has articulated this reality in a small volume with the helpful title, ‘The plight of man and the power of God.’ This is indeed the plight that each of us has been confronted with in our pilgrimage just as Bunyan’s pilgrim had that heavy burden upon his back. Woe unto us if we have never borne the weight of this terrible burden that is emblazoned with the words, ‘How can man be just with God’
Paul spells out the answer to this perennial question in a number of places in his epistles, nowhere more pointedly and clearly than in the fifth chapter of his letter to the church at Rome. The question out of Job regards the righteousness that is needful if a man is to come before God. Bildad had spoken of Him that was able and desirous of making peace in His high places. How is a man born of a woman to be able to present himself before the throne of the King. There is enmity between man and God because of sin ‘because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God.’—Romans 8:7. There is an absolute need for a reconciliation to be made and a Mediator to make this reconciliation. There has been rebellion and God has been offended by rebel sinners that have thrown off His rightful rule, saying that they will not have this man to rule over them. Man has usurped the authority of God; man has rebelled against Him, and the only way for any true peace is that true reconciliation be obtained by a true Peacemaker. This is the matter addressed at the outset of the fifth chapter of Romans when the apostle declares that ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ There is no reconciliation apart from the Reconciler Himself who has made peace with God. He is the Beloved ‘in whom we have our redemption through his blood.
We come into the world with two problems. We come into the world with both a bad record and a bad heart. We are born in sin and conceived in iniquity; we come forth from the womb speaking lies. We do not become sinners by sinning, but we sin because we are sinners. ‘The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.’—Psalm 58:3. David is exactly right in speaking so of original sin; this is the plight of man that Lloyd-Jones was referring to in his little book. We have a bad record in the court of heaven, as it were. But we cannot do anything about it either because our heart is not right; we have a bad heart as well as a bad record. No wonder that Job could lament, ‘How can man be just with God?’ when he is born with a sin nature inherited from his first father, Adam? He neither can, nor even wills to do anything about it. But God has done something about it; He has done everything about it. He has sent His Son into the world to save sinners; to reconcile them unto the Father through His very own blood. This is the reason that Paul can, and does, pronounce the demonstration of the blessed remedy.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.—Romans 5:9-11
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church


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