Ephesians 2:16
He is so by effecting two reconciliations, and thus obliterating two deep and long-standing alienations. He "hath made both one" Jew and Gentile - and "he hath reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross." Christ is our Peace, not simply as our Peacemaker, but as our Peace objectively considered and with regard to our relation to God; for the apostle represents our nearness to God as grounded in Christ as our Peace. He is therefore our Peace, as he is called our Righteousness and our Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30), and while thus he is our Peace toward God, he is the ground of peace in every other relation, and especially between man and man. Thus he abides our continual Peace, for he did not make peace and end his relation toward us, but is the Source of our abiding reconciliation with God as well as of the continuous enjoyment of peace. Thus the Old Testament prophecies which connect peace with the Messiah find their just fulfillment (Isaiah 9:5, 6; Isaiah 57:2, 7). Peace was the legacy which he left to his disciples (John 14:27). It is "the peace to which we are called in one body" (Colossians 3:15). It is that which "keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). Consider -

I. HOW HE HAS MADE PEACE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE.

1. He did so by leveling in the dust the middle wall of partition that separated them widely for ages, in a word, by abolishing the narrow particularism of Judaism. The wall in question was the ceremonial law - "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" - given to Israel as a separate people and of positive appointment. The moral law was no part of the partition wail, and contains in itself nothing either to excite enmity or to establish separation between man and man. The death of Christ did not abolish it; it was the law of ceremonies only that was abolished in the cross, for when he died, it disappeared like a shadow when the substance was come. The moral law, as embodied in the Decalogue, was older than the Mosaic institute, and therefore survived its fall. The partition wall that kept Jew and Gentile apart was

(1) an ancient barrier of separation. It lasted sixteen hundred or two thousand years, according as we date its origin from Abraham or Moses. A Puritan Father says, "The foundation of the wall of separation was laid in Abraham's time when circumcision was first given, for that began the quarrel; reared up higher by Moses' rites; further lengthened and stretched out in all times of the prophets, throughout all ages, till Christ, who came to abolish it and break it down."

(2) It was a high barrier. It kept the Jew effectively apart for more than a millennium and a half, that he might be trained for the universalist dispensation that was to be established in the fullness of times.

(3) It engendered a deep hostility on both sides. It was this "enmity that made the barrier so serious an element of separation. The Jew regarded the Gentile with a proud and supercilious superiority, and the Gentile regarded the Jew as an enemy of the human race. Literature is full of the evidences of this continuous hostility. The Gentiles were called in contempt the uncircumcised" and "sinners of the Gentiles." Juvenal, Tacitus, Martial, Horace, repay the debt in the language of bitter and contemptuous sarcasm.

2. Consider the grand instrument of reconciliation between Jew and Get, the. "In his flesh." The language refers expressly to the condition of penal curse-bearing to which the atoning Savior spontaneously subjected himself. As the apostle once represents sin as being condemned in Christ's flesh (Romans 8:3), so here our Lord is regarded as having in his flesh taken upon him the sins of his people, as the great cause of enmity and disunion, and having exhausted at once the sin of man and the wrath of God on the cross, he thus at once abolished the law of ceremonies and annihilated the enmity which found its occasion in it. The cross is still the instrument of reconciling man to man. The world has made many efforts to unite men on a basis of liberty, equality, fraternity - often trying to bring about a union even by the most terrible bloodshed; but no principle has yet been discovered to unite man to man save the gospel of Christ, with its doctrine of atonement through the blood of the cross.

3. Consider the ultimate result of the death of Christ. "To make of twain one new man, so making peace." Those previously sundered were by the cross lifted into a higher unity, and placed upon a platform of equal privilege that obliterated all the old causes of division. The reconciling power of the cross ran through all the relations of men and all the relations of life. The person of Christ crucified became henceforth the great Center of unity.

II. HOW CHRIST IS OUR PEACE IN EFFECTING RECONCILIATION BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. "That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Nothing can be more explicit than the declaration that Christ's mission was intended to reconcile God and man, who were previously alienated by sin. It is often contended that, as God is essentially a God of love, it becomes us to think only of reconciliation on man's Side. There are, in fact, two reconciliations, the one based on the other - a reconciliation of God to man, and a reconciliation of man to God. The apostle says elsewhere that "God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:18), and that it pleased "the Father, having made peace through the blood of the cross, to reconcile all things unto himself" (Colossians 1:20). The scheme of salvation, whether we take account of the incarnation or the atonement, emanated from the Divine good pleasure as the supreme source of all blessings. It is always important to emphasize the fact that the atonement is the effect, not the cause, of God's love. The peace here spoken of is peace on a basis of law and justice; for the offering up of Christ so magnified the Law and exhausted all its demands, that, on the ground of that propitiation, God could be at once just and the Justifier of the ungodly. This is according to another passage: "God hath sent forth his Son to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness" (Romans 3:25). If this be so, it is an error to hold that the only purpose of Christ's death was the manifestation of Divine love. It was, in fact, a manifestation of Divine justice as well as of Divine love; and if it was not a manifestation of Divine justice, that is, if there was no righteousness making that death necessary, it is difficult to see how there could be a manifestation of love in his dying. It follows also that it is an error to depreciate the importance of Christ's death, and to lay the main emphasis of his mission upon the virtues of his life. The Bible knows nothing of a gospel without a cross, or of a gospel which makes the cross a mere affecting incident at the close of a sublime career; it rather exhibits the cross as the grand procuring cause of life and redemption to man. If you take away the cross, you dry up the stream of blessing which has flowed down through all Christian ages, you put an end to the abiding peace of God's people, and you paralyze the right arm of the ministry. Therefore we are justified in regarding the reconciliation between God and. man as resting on Christ's work, and this work as charged with reconciling power, not as it moved the human heart or led to a new conduct in man, but as it introduced a new relation in which men were placed before God. - T.C.







And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
1. Our reconciliation itself.

2. The order of it.

(1)Incorporate in Christ.

(2)Concorporate with His members.

3. To whom.

4. The cause.

(1)More remote — Himself crucified.

(2)More immediate — the abolishing of hatred in Himself.

I. BY NATURE WE ARE AT ENMITY WITH GOD.

1. Note and bewail thy natural condition.

2. To become God's friend, become a new creature.

II. IN CHRIST IS RECONCILIATION MADE.

1. The removal of that which was hateful.

2. The love of God is procured.

3. The fruits of His love are communicated.

(1)Make sure of such reconcilement.

(2)Renew it after each breach.

III. We must be INCORPORATED WITH CHRIST BEFORE WE CAN BE RECONCILED to God. This incorporation is in the Church, which is Christ's body. Let us take care that we have it.

IV. CHRIST, BY OFFERING HIMSELF UPON THE CROSS, HAS MADE PEACE between God and us.

1. We see what we must look to, if the wrath of God stings us. Christ crucified is the propitiatory sacrifice.

2. It confirms our faith, that the Lord Jesus will bring us to glory (Romans 5:10).

3. A ground of exhortation to all, that they seek to be reconciled. We make the blood of Christ a vain thing, when we will not be reconciled to God. It is as if a traitor, in prison for treason, should still plot and practise more villainy; and when the prince has procured his pardon, should still conspire, and not listen to the benefit, nor set his heart to return into the king's favour.

(Paul Bayne.)

Let us consider from this text, how it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ suits its application to the great moral disease of man's enmity to God. The necessity of some singular expedient for restoring the love of God to the alienated heart of man, will appear from the utter impossibility of bringing this about by any direct application of authority whatever. For, do you think, that the delivery of the law of love in his hearing, as a positive and indispensable enactment coming forth from the legislature of heaven, will do it? You may as well pass a law making it imperative upon him to delight in pain, and to feel comfort on a bed of torture. Or, do you think, that you will ever give a practical establishment to the law of love, by surrounding it with accumulated penalties? This may irritate or it may terrify; but for the purpose of begetting anything like attachment, one may as well think of lashing another into tender regard for him. Or, do you think, that the terrors of the coming vengeance will ever incline a human being to love the God who threatens him? Powerful as these terrors are in persuading man to turn from the evil of his ways; they most assuredly do not form the artillery by which the heart of man can be carried. They draw not forth a single affection, but the affection of fear. They never can charm the human bosom into a feeling of attachment to God. And it goes to prove the necessity of some singular expedient for restoring man to fellowship with his Maker, that the only obedience on which this fellowship can be perpetuated, is an obedience which no threatenings can force; to which no warnings of displeasure can reclaim; which all the solemn proclamations of law and justice cannot carry; and all the terrors and severities of a sovereignty resting on power as its only foundation can never subdue. This, then, is a case of difficulty; and, in the Bible, God is said to have lavished all the riches of His unsearchable wisdom on the business of managing it. No wonder that to His angels it appeared a mystery, and that they desired to look into it. It appears a matter of direct and obvious facility to intimidate man; and to bring his body into a forced subordination to all their requirements. But the great matter was how to attach man; how to work in him a liking to God and a relish for His character; or, in other words, how to communicate to human obedience that principle, without which it is no obedience at all; to make him serve God because he loved Him; and to run in the way of all His commandments, because this was the thing in which he greatly delighted himself. To lay upon us the demand of satisfaction for His violated law could not do it. To press home the claims of justice upon any sense of authority within us could not do it. To bring forward, in threatening array, the terrors of His judgment and of His power against us could not do it. To unveil the glories of that throne where He sitteth in equity, and manifest to His guilty creatures the awful inflexibilities of His truth and righteousness, could not do it. To look out from the cloud of vengeance, and trouble our darkened souls as He did those of the Egyptians of old, with the aspect of a menacing Deity, could not do it. To spread the field of an undone eternity before us; and tell us of those dreary abodes where each criminal hath his bed in hell, and the centuries of despair which pass over him are not counted, because there no seasons roll, and the unhappy victims of the tribulation, and the wrath, and the anguish, know, that for the mighty burden of the sufferings which weigh upon them, there is no end and no mitigation; this prospect, appalling as it is, and coming home upon the belief, with all the characters of the most immutable certainty, could not do it. The affections of the inner man remain as unmoved as ever, under the successive and repeated influence of all these dreadful applications. How, then, is this regeneration to be wrought, if no threatenings can work it; if no terrors of judgment can soften the heart into that love of God which forms the chief feature of repentance; if all the direct applications of law and of righteous authority, and of its tremendous and immutable sanctions, so far from attaching man in tenderness to his God, have only the effect of impressing a violent recoil upon all his affections, and, by the hardening influence of despair, of stirring up in his bosom a more violent antipathy than ever? Will the high and solemn proclamations of a menacing Deity not do it? This is not the way in which the heart of man can be carried. He is so constituted, that the law of love can never, never be established within him by the engine of terror; and here is the barrier to this regeneration on the part of man. But if a threat of justice cannot do it, will an act of forgiveness do it? This, again, is not the way in which God can admit the guilty to acceptance. He is so constituted, that His truth cannot be trampled upon; and His government cannot be despoiled of its authority: and its sanctions cannot, with impunity, be defied; and every solemn utterance of the Deity cannot but find its accomplishment in such a way as may vindicate His glory, and make the whole creation He has formed stand in awe of its Almighty Sovereign. And here is another barrier on the part of God; and that economy of redemption in which a dead and undiscerning world see no skilfulness to admire, and no feature of graciousness to allure, was so planned, in the upper counsels of heaven, that it maketh known to principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of Him who devised it. The men of this infidel generation, whose every faculty is so bedimmed by the grossness of sense, that they cannot lay hold of the realities of faith and cannot appreciate them; to them the barriers we have now insisted on, which lie in the way of man taking God into his love, and of God taking man into His acceptance, may appear to be so many faint and shadowy considerations, of which they feel not the significancy; but, to the pure and intellectual eye of angels, they are substantial obstacles, and One mighty to save had to travail in the greatness of His strength, in order to move them away. The Son of God descended from heaven, and He took upon Him the nature of man, and He suffered in his stead, and He consented that the whole burden of offended justice should fall upon Him, and He bore in His own body on the tree the weight of all those accomplishments by which His Father behoved to be glorified; and after having magnified the law and made it honourable, by pouring out His soul unto the death for us, He went up on high, and, by an arm of everlasting strength, levelled that wall of partition which lay across the path of acceptance; and thus it is, that the barrier on the part of God is done away, and He, with untarnished glory, can dispense forgiveness over the whole extent of a guilty creation, because He can be just, while He is the justifier of them who believe in Jesus. And if the barrier, on the part of God, is thus moved aside, why not the barrier on the part of man? Does not the wisdom of redemption show itself here also? Does it not embrace some skilful contrivance by which it penetrates those mounds that beset the human heart, and ward the entrance of the principle of love away from it, and which all the direct applications of terror and authority, have only the effect of fixing more immovably upon their basis? Yes, it does; for it changes the aspect of the Deity towards man; and were men only to have faith in the announcements of the gospel, so as to see God with the eye of his mind under this new aspect — love to God would spring up in his heart as the unfailing consequence. Let man see God as He sets Himself forth in this wonderful revelation, and let him believe the reality of what he sees, and he cannot but love the Being he. is employed in contemplating. And thus it is, that the goodness of God destroyeth the enmity of the human heart. When every other argument fails, this, if perceived by the eye of faith, finds its powerful and persuasive way through every barrier of resistance. Try to approach the heart of man by the instruments of terror and of authority, and it will disdainfully repel you. There is not one of you, skilled in the management of human nature, who does not perceive, that though this may be a way of working on the other principles of our constitution — of working on the fears of man, or on his sense of interest, this is not the way of gaining by a single hairbreadth on the attachments of his heart. Such a way may force, or it may terrify, but it never can endear; and after all the threatening array of such an influence as this is brought to bear upon man, there is not one particle of service it can extort from him, but what is all rendered in the spirit of a painful and reluctant bondage. Now, this is not the service which prepares for heaven. This is not the service which assimilates men to angels. This is not the obedience of those glorified spirits, whose every affection harmonizes with their every performance; and the very essence of whose piety consists of delight in God, and the love they bear to Him. To bring up man to such an obedience as this, his heart behoved to be approached in a peculiar way; and no such way is to be found, but within the limits of the Christian revelation. There alone you see God, without injury to His other attributes, plying the heart of man with the irresistible argument of kindness. There alone do you see the great Lord of heaven and of earth, setting Himself forth to the most worthless and the most wandering of His children; putting forth His own hand to the work of healing the breach which sin hath made between them; telling him that His word could not be set aside, and His threatenings could not be mocked, and His justice could not be defied and trampled on, and that it was not possible for His perfections to receive the slightest taint in the eyes of the creation He had thrown around Him; but that all this was provided for, and not a single creature within the compass of the universe He had formed could now say, that forgiveness to man was degrading to the authority of God; and that by the very act of atonement, which poured a glory over all the high attributes of His character, His mercy might now burst forth without limit and without control upon a guilty world, and the broad flag of invitation be unfurled in the sight of all its families.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

I do not know whether there is any truth in the statement of a correspondent that whatever part of the earth the lightning once strikes it never strikes again, but whether it be so or not, it is certain that wherever the lightning of God's vengeance has once struck the sinner's substitute it will not strike the sinner. The best preservative for the Israelite's house was this — vengeance had struck there and could not strike again. There was the insurance mark, the blood streak. Death had been there, it had fallen upon a victim of God's own appointment, and in His esteem it had fallen upon Christ, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When the Mohawk Indians desired to be on friendly terms with the white man once again, they sought an interview with the Governor of New York, and their spokesman began by saying, "Where shall I seek the chair of peace? Where shall I find it but upon our path? and whither does our path lead us but unto this house?" Is it not so that men come into the sanctuary and approach the throne of grace, desiring peace, asking peace, and feeling that peace is to be found nowhere else but there?

Krummacher describes the mysterious Cross as a rock, against which the very waves of the curse break: as a lightning conductor, by which the destroying, fluid descends, which would have otherwise destroyed the world with its fire. And Jesus, who mercifully engaged to direct the thunderbolt against Himself, does so while hanging yonder in profound darkness upon the Cross. There He is, as the connecting link between heaven and earth; His bleeding arms extending wide, stretched out to every sinner: hands pointed to the east and west, indicating the gathering in of the world of man to His fold. The Cross is directed to the sky, as the place of His final triumph of the work in redemption; and its foot fixed in the earth like a tree, from whose wondrous branches we gather the precious fruit of an eternal reconciliation to God and the Father.

(Caughey.)

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