“We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.”
We are, as Paul plainly stated, reconciled to God by the death of God’s Son, but only when we enter into that death. The death of God’s Son, apart from a man’s soul, will not reconcile him; it will eternally condemn him. To partake of reconciliation to God, we must partake of the death of His Son.
There is but one way to enter into the death of God’s Son, and thereby be reconciled to God: the baptism of the Spirit. Paul explained it perfectly in Romans 6:3–11:
3. Do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4. We were buried with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in the newness of life.
5. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection,
6. knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Christ so that our sinful body might be rendered powerless so that we no longer are slaves to sin,
7. for he who is dead has been made free from sin.
8. Now, if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him,
9. knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, can die no more; death has no more dominion over him.
10. As concerns his death, he died to sin once, but as concerns his life, he lives to God.
11. You, likewise, think of yourselves as completely dead to sin, too, yet alive to God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The death of God’s Son is not just history; it is a daily experience in the hearts of God’s people; it is something lived on earth as much as it is something to be faced at the end of earthly life. Paul said, “I die daily” (1Cor. 15:31), and he considered his converts dead also (Col. 3:3). This death is death to sin and self; it is life in God. When we receive and begin to live God’s kind of life, we enter into the kind of death that His Son lived while in this world.
The death of God’s Son is more than the crucifixion of Jesus at Golgotha. That crucifixion was only a part of Jesus’ death to his own will. It was not Jesus’ defeat; it was his moment of greatest victory, the act that showed most clearly his death to self and his life to God. And it is this death of God’s Son, of which the crucifixion was just one part, that reconciles us to God – when we enter into it by the baptism of the Spirit.
The cross, being the greatest expression of Jesus’ death to self-will, became the symbol of the death of God’s Son in its entirety. When Paul mentioned the cross in his epistles, his readers well understood that Paul was speaking as much of the death they were to be living as he was of the death which Jesus died. They knew “the cross” of which Paul spoke was a spiritual crucifixion to the ways of this world that they were expected to partake of. When Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” he was speaking not of a physical cross, but of a spiritual way of life.
This is why Paul considered believers who lived ungodly lives to be “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phip. 3:18). They were, by their ungodly lives, enemies of the kind of life the cross was a part of; they were not crucified with Christ in their spirits. Others, continuing to indulge in symbolic ceremonies prescribed by the law were, in Paul’s view, trying to avoid the reproach of the cross (Gal. 5:11; 6:12); that is, they were ashamed to cease from religious rituals and simply serve God in spirit and truth. These were those, Paul wrote, who refused to die to the law’s ceremonial works and, in fact, gloried in those fleshly ordinances. “But far be it from me to boast,” he continued, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:13–14).
To partake of the grace and hope which are in Christ Jesus, we must enter into him. We must partake of Christ if we would be partakers of his benefits. In order for us to be reconciled to God we must be in Christ, for that is where reconciliation is. That means, for the death of God’s Son to be effectual for us, we must be dead with him. The key is to be in Christ, where all the hidden treasures of God are, and not outside of Christ, where there is nothing but darkness. And there is but one door into Christ: the holy Ghost baptism. As Paul told us:
“Do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?”