Lesson 5: Grace That Justifies

The truth of the matter is, whoever listens to my words and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life and isn’t brought to judgment, having passed from death to life.

– John 5:24

Devotion: While “pardon” is the most popular metaphor of God’s justifying grace, we will explore two other powerful images. Today we examine “reconciliation,” (Greek, “allasso”) which has a root meaning of “change” or “exchange.” Reconciliation refers to a change in the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection exchanges the hostility created by sin for righteousness and harmony. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

God reconciles the creation to himself through Christ. This metaphor for God’s justifying grace emphasizes more than the cross. Reconciliation takes place throughout the life of Jesus, with his death and resurrection being a sign that death has no place in the new creation God is establishing. Because Jesus lives all the stages of human life without sin, the power of sin is destroyed. Those who follow Jesus in faith are made new, sin has no permanent hold on us, and we can live in obedience. Jesus died for all, not only those who believe. However, each person must embrace through faith the salvation Jesus accomplishes. The more we receive that gift of new life, the more we embody Jesus’ way. Is it possible to experience forgiveness without embracing Jesus’ teachings? What does it mean that the Church has been given a ministry of reconciliation (5:19-21)? In this metaphor of reconciliation, what would we say to someone who desires a living relationship with God?  

Personal Worship Option: Slowly read Psalm 143, allowing the writer’s words to guide your prayers. What/who are your enemies at this point? Are you open to being taught, led?

Dig A Little Deeper:

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 to understand the context of our reading.

5:11  “Well known” refers to being transparent before God and the people.  

5:14 By fully identifying with human life, death, and sin (5:21), Christ transforms humanity. Justification is an objective reality—all creation has been affected, reconciled by Jesus’ life. “He died for all” (5:15) so that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (5:17). The world is changed, but only those who follow Jesus experience the reality of the new creation.

5:15 Those who believe no longer live for self. They live for Christ and the reign of God.

5:16 We do not make judgments of others according the world’s perspective. We view others through the lens of new creation, teaching them about their reconciliation with God through Jesus (5:18, 20). Can we teach others about new life if we are not experiencing it ourselves?

5:17 The reconciliation between God and humanity radically changes those who allow themselves to embody it. “New” (Hebrew “kaine”) does not refer to something that has recently occurred, but to a new way of being. Christ changes how we see ourselves and the cosmos.

5:19 We are to teach that God, through the obedience of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, destroyed the power/guilt of sin. God invites us to live as reconciled, new creatures.

5:20 What is the role of a Ruler’s ambassador? How might this idea change how we do ministry?

5:21 Although Jesus did not personally sin and did not deserve to die, he identified completely with humanity, even to the point of an unjust death (Phil 2:5-8). The sinless Creator enters creation and bears the painful consequences of sin. Those who follow him are able to live according to God’s righteousness in the same sin-filled world. The resurrection is God’s proclamation to the world that the “power” of sin and death has been broken.

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