In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, we find an astonishing truth:
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
Did you see it? God has reconciled the world to Himself. It does not say that God has reconciled all Christians, or the Pentecostals, the Catholics or the Lutherans to Himself. He has reconciled the world to Himself.
How and when did this happen? The reconciliation is connected to the death of Jesus at the cross. When Jesus died for the sins of the world He reconciled the world to Himself.
In Colossians chapter 1, we read:
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross (Col. 1:19-20).
Many believe that there is a state of war between heaven and earth today, but that is wrong. There is no state of war, but a state of peace! Why? Because Jesus reconciled everything – things on earth and things in heaving –to Himself.
But does this mean that the world is saved? No, if so it would be meaningless to preach the Gospel, to start churches, and send out missionaries trying to win people for Christ. That the world is reconciled to God does not mean that the world is saved yet. There is a difference between reconciliation and salvation. We see this clearly in Romans chapter 5:
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rm. 5:10).
The verse above states that we were reconciled to God when we were His enemies – “through the death of His son”. God reconciled the world to Himself 2000 years ago at the cross. This is a done deal, and it has nothing to do with anything we have done – whether we have received Jesus, or confessed our sins etc. We were reconciled to God while we were his enemies, through the death of Jesus, which happened 2000 years ago! But the same verse also tells us that we now, having been reconciled, we SHALL BE SAVED by His life.
Salvation and eternal life is only found in having a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus said that “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that everyone who BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn.3:16).
When we receive Jesus into our hearts; when we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection and confess Him as Lord, something supernatural happens. Our inner man, our spirit, is filled with the very life of Jesus. That’s the point when we are “saved by His life”.
Since reconciliation is not the same thing as salvation – what does it mean that the world is now reconciled to God, and that there is a state of peace between heaven and earth? Simply that God is not holding people’s sins against them (see 2 Cor. 5:19). Why does not God hold peoples’ trespasses against them? Because Jesus dealt with the sins of the world once and for all at the cross.
The famous preacher A. B. Simpson used to say: “The world doesn’t have a sin problem. The world has a Son problem”.
Jesus has already dealt with the sins of the world. But the world does not know about this and the world does not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus – God’s son. God is not holding people’s sins against them. He has nothing but thoughts of goodwill and peace towards every man on earth. But the world still needs to be saved by believing, and saying yes to, Jesus.
Because of that, we believers have received the command to preach the Gospel – the good news about what Jesus has done and that God is not holding people’s sins against them – so that every man on earth can see the goodness of God and come to a personal relationship with Jesus.