Friday, March 8, 2024

God Reconciling Us to Himself

What does “separation from God” mean? Inasmuch as all are created through Christ, by Christ, for Christ and in Christ (Colossians 1:16-17), it is therefore actually impossible to be separated from God, for Christ is God, and everything exists in him, or else does not exist at all.

God has never separated himself from us. Though we turned away from God, God did not turn away from us. When Paul speaks about the reconciliation brought about by Christ and the blood of the cross, it is not about God reconciling himself to us but about God reconciling us to himself (Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:19). 

Whatever sense of separation there may have been was only in our own minds, not in the mind of God. It is the enmity of the fleshly mind (not controlled by the Spirit/spirit) that Paul speaks about in Romans 8:7, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” The Cross did not change God’s mind about us but it changes our minds about God.

This enmity that was in our own minds was not any kind of punishment from God, nor does Scripture speak of it as such, but it is part of what we needed to be delivered from.

Inasmuch as “separation from God” is not any punishment imposed upon us by God, the Cross and the Atonement was not about Christ taking any such punishment upon himself in our place.

The Incarnation demonstrates that God did not separate himself from us. Quite the opposite, by the Incarnation, Christ, who is God, united himself with all humankind, joining God with all humanity.

It is simply not possible for Christ to be separated from God, because Christ is God. To speak of any separation within the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is to speak incoherently. Any theory of atonement that posits such a separation fails to understand the historic Christian faith and the doctrine of the Trinity.

So, the Cross was not about Christ being punished in our place. Nor was it about Christ being separated from God. It was not about reconciling God to us but about reconciling us to God. At the Cross, Christ was not drawing God to us but, rather, drawing all to himself (John 12:30-33; see The Cast Net).

When we make the Cross about Christ appeasing God, or changing God’s mind about us, or turning God back toward us, we have gotten the whole directionality of it exactly wrong. Penal theories of the atonement get it all backwards.

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