Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Peace with God – the Ministry of Reconciliation

November 15th, 2009 · No Comments

Peace with God: the Ministry of Reconciliation

In this study Dr. Hartmann deals with Jesus’ work of reconciling the world to God through His Cross and the ministry of reconciliation that follows for both the church and those whom God specifically calls to be laborers in the harvest. With a brief exposition of Romans 5:1-11 serving as a point of departure, Dr. Hartmann returns to Romans 5:1-2, where we find that three things result from having been justified by faith: 1) Peace with God, 2) Access into this grace in which we have come to stand (as an abiding state affairs), and 3) boasting in hope of the glory of God.

The first of these, “peace with God”, is one and the same with being reconciled to God, which turns out to be a uniquely Pauline conception. Our study follows with an in-depth look at several Pauline passages which serve to underline the point that God through the Cross has reconciled the world to Himself, and has, in that reconciliation, inaugurated a new creation in Christ, a new collective humanity that will one day regain the glory of God and reign together with Christ. Passages such as Colossians 1:20-23, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, and Ephesians 2:10-18 all serve to draw out this magnificent truth of reconciliation. Colossians 1 clarifies that Jesus’ death provided the grounds for peace between God and man and also a cosmic reconciliation in which the heavens and the earth will be restored to God’s intention. 2 Corinthians 5 shows that the reconciliation of the Cross also brought God’s judgment on the fallen creation which is passing away, with the resurrection marking the inauguration of a New Creation in Christ. Ephesians 2 shows that this new creation is not just individualistic but collective, the church being “one new (collective) man” in Christ.

The whole church is called to participate in the ministry of reconciliation and the proclamation of the word of reconciliation that logically follows. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and has given us both the ministry and the word of reconciliation. This leads quite naturally to discussion of “gift-based” ministry, in which all whom Christ has redeemed have a part to play, since all have been given grace for service in accordance with the measure of Christ’s gift allotted to each one. Dr. Hartmann at this point encourages us to consider our stewardship in the purpose of God, strongly recommending that each read and ponder the following passages: Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 12:1-8, Ephesians 4:7-11, and 1 Peter 4:10-11.

An added point emerges in relation to the notion of “peace with God”: in having been reconciled to God, believers may now live in the “peace of God”, with passages such as John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 8:14; Proverbs 12:25; Psalm 37-1-11 and 1 Peter 5:6-7 showing that they, to be fruitful, must live free from the care of this world.

Returning to Romans 5:1-2, Dr. Hartmann concisely treats the second result of justification: access into a life of grace in relationship with God. Jesus death rends the veil and provides access to the throne of grace, to which we draw near in a sincere heart and full assurance of faith because of the Cross. God calls us to a life of prayer in which we live in the continual supply of grace by which we may live out all He has purposed for us. James 4:6-10, as well as Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:19-22 strongly encourage us to draw near to God, that we might experience the never-ending supply of grace that is ours in Christ, namely, “all things pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

Finally, Dr. Hartmann briefly expounds “boasting in hope of the glory of God”, encouraging believers on the basis of Ephesians 1:17-19 to pray for enlightenment concerning this idea and to read the NT with a view to discovering its eschatological orientation.

In terms of practical application, Dr. Hartmann closes with 4 key points that summarize the thrust of this message:

1) Enjoy and revel in the reality of “peace with God” and don’t be robbed of the “peace of God”.

2) Draw near to God and live in the continual experience of His grace that will bring transformation of character and effective service in one’s gifts.

3) Pray for revelation of the hope of the glory of God that has been promised to God’s sons, all the while searching the Scriptures with a view to discovering their eschatological orientation. Get the vision and understanding that the old creation has already been judged at the Cross and that it is yet to be judged with fierce wrath at the end of the age; likewise, get the vision that the New Creation has dawned and sow into it with one’s whole life.

4) Get free from entanglements and distractions of this age and get serious about your gift-based role in the great ministry of reconciliation.

This sermon offers a timely challenge to believers living a society where the church culture has become all too tied to the world that is passing away, and gives encouragement and Biblical substance to those whose hearts have been prepared to seek first the kingdom of God.

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