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2 Corinthians 5:18

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Lest there be any doubt regarding the effective agent in making believers into new creations, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that “all this is from God.” The Apostle refers to the preceding collection of truths about himself and about all Christians. That Christ has died an atoning death for His people and was raised to make us new creations who no longer regard people or Jesus according to the flesh (vv. 11–17) finds its source and enduring power in none other than God Almighty.

In other words, salvation from beginning to end is from the Lord. We see this truth repeated throughout Scripture. As God reveals in Isaiah 43:11, “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.” From our regeneration that enables us to believe to our faith to God’s legal declaration that we are righteous (justification) to our progressive growth in holiness (sanctification) to our final glorification that transforms us body and soul and removes the presence of sin from us, the whole of salvation comes from God and God alone. True, in certain aspects of our salvation we act as well; for instance, in our sanctification, we are engaged with the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and to renew our minds by the Word of God. Nevertheless, our cooperation with the grace of God even in these things is not what makes divine grace effective. The Lord is working in and through us to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12–13). This is a precious truth that should give Christians tremendous confidence. Because all of salvation comes from God, He is ultimately the One who initiates, sustains, and completes our redemption. Our sin can harm our fellowship with the Lord, but it cannot destroy our saving relationship with Him if we have truly come to know Him. We need not ever fear falling out of His hand (John 10:28–29).

The foundation of God’s sustaining power and promise is the reality that in Christ we have been reconciled to our Creator (2 Cor. 5:18). Paul will develop this idea further in 5:19–21, where it becomes clear that our reconciliation is based on a new legal status before God. In Christ, we have been declared righteous on account of His perfect righteousness imputed to us through faith alone, and this declaration gives us enduring peace with God, as Paul explains in Romans 4:1–5:11. We have not signed a temporary cease-fire with the Lord, as it were, but He has made permanent peace with us. Because of this peace, His saving power will never leave us.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Some theological traditions teach that God’s grace by itself is not effective to save us. Instead, our choice to cooperate with grace, a choice not guaranteed by grace, is what allows God’s grace to do its work. But if this is true, then we have the final say in salvation. If our cooperation is what makes grace effective, then we cannot truly say that all of salvation is from God. Only if grace guarantees our faith does salvation come wholly from the Lord.

For Further Study
  • Psalm 68:20
  • Jeremiah 3:23
  • Philippians 1:6
  • Revelation 7:9–10

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Reconciling the World in Christ

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue