A good foundational article from Kevin Alan Lewis. It explains what Christians believe about how people who turn away from God can be reconciled with God. The Bible calls turning away from God “sin”, and it also talks about how to fix the sin problem, and so be saved from God’s anger.
While the means of biblical salvation includes many concepts such as justification, adoption and regeneration, the objective of biblical salvation is easy to understand: to enjoy a loving, mentoring relationship with our Creator, the one true God. As Adam walked with God, so should we. But how can one restore a broken relationship with God?
The requirements for restoring a broken friendship are easy to understand but difficult for most to do. To restore a lost friendship, the offended person must be willing to forgive by bearing the harm caused by the transgressor, electing not to hold it against him if certain conditions are met. The conditions for forgiveness are that the offending party must repent, confess his sin and want to restore the relationship with the offended party. Since the goal of forgiveness is the restoration of a genuine friendship, the offending party must begin with repentance. When the sinner genuinely repents, confesses and receives the offer of forgiveness, the estranged parties reconcile, walking together again in righteous harmony. If anyone has ever lost and genuinely restored a meaningful friendship, they know this is the only way to do it.
One purely hypothetical illustration may help. If I screamed at my wife, calling her unmentionable names, my wife would rightly be offended and our intimate fellowship would surely be broken. So how would I return to a genuine state of e-harmony with my wife? First, my wife must be willing to bear the harm I caused her and not hold it against me. But to restore the relationship in any meaningful sense, I need to realize that what I did was wrong, repent, and confess my sin to my wife — preferably with symbols of my repentance in hand, such as flowers and candy! When these conditions are fulfilled, my wife will forgive me.
So how does this relate to Jesus Christ as the only way? Simple. To restore the broken relationship with the one true God, the offended party, God, must be willing to bear the consequences of our sin. God accomplishes this by means of the Second Person of the Trinity assuming a full human nature, living a sinless life, and satisfying our penalty for sin on the cross. Sinners, the offenders, need to repent, confess and trust God’s offer of forgiveness. When we do, we are reconciled to God for the purpose of fellowship with him as his beloved children. This is biblical salvation.
Very often, people don’t reflect on how they treat God. Many of us are born in wealthy countries, and are relatively free of pain and suffering, with many years of leisure in which to puzzle about things. Yet many of us are content to go through life without giving any serious consideration big questions; does God exist? what is God like? what does God want from me? People know that the answers to those questions can mean the end of our autonomy, so we just don’t ask them – or we ask them and don’t answer them honestly.
God certainly provides enough evidence in nature and conscience to cause us to puzzle about his existence and character, but many of us don’t We want to do our own thing, and can’t be bothered to care about what anyone else thinks about it, including God. Maybe, especially God. This is not the way that we should be treating the person who created us and who has designed us to know him. This turning away from God is not good. There is a way for us to be reconciled with God, but we have to be reconciled with him in a way that is on his terms.