The Person and Work of Christ Part XII: Reconciliation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:476 (Oct 1962)
Article: The Person and Work of Christ Part XII: Reconciliation
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Person and Work of Christ
Part XII:
Reconciliation

John F. Walvoord

Few doctrines are more important in a total theology than the doctrine of reconciliation. Though based on comparatively few specific references, reconciliation has been hailed as a doctrine of “vital concern both for doctrinal clarity and pulpit vitality.”1 Vincent Taylor speaks of reconciliation as “the best New Testament word to describe the purpose of the Atonement….”2 Referring to Paul’s discussion in 2 Corinthians 5, Taylor comments: “All through this section one cannot fail to be impressed with the immense importance St. Paul attaches to this message and to his sense of being divinely commissioned to declare it.”3 Leon Morris introduces the subject of reconciliation by quoting T. H. Hughes to the effect that “in the New Testament the basic idea of the atonement is that of reconciliation.”4 The importance attached to the doctrine of reconciliation not only justifies its discussion, but is also the occasion for major differences of opinion as to its meaning. Few doctrines have been more divergently described within orthodoxy than the doctrine of reconciliation, and, as subsequent discussion will show, the difficulty lies in definition. If limited to what the New Testament actually states about reconciliation, the doctrine is a facet but not the whole. If the doctrine is encumbered with other aspects of soteriology which are logically necessary to accomplish reconciliation, it becomes a more general word with a broader definition.

It is the thesis of this presentation that the doctrine of reconciliation is properly the work of God for man in which God undertakes to transform man and make possible and

actual his eternal fellowship with a holy God. Two major aspects will be observed. First, provisionally reconciliation was accomplished once and for all by Christ on the cross with the result that the whole world was potentially reconciled to God. Second, reconciliation becomes actual and experiential in the person of believers in Christ who are reconciled to God at the time of their salvation. It may be seen, therefore, that while reconciliation does not embrace all of the work of Christ, it depends upon it. Its prerequisites are the work of God in Christ in providing redemption and propitiation, on the basis of which man is justified, regenerated, and made a new creature in Christ.

Reconciliation in the Old Testament

As most treatises o...

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