I go on to show that reconciliation has its effect not upon man only, but upon God also. That is a difficulty to many people. And, indeed, we require to be somewhat discriminating here. If you say bluntly that Christ reconciled God, it is more false than true. I do not say it is untrue. It is the people who want plain black and white, false or true, that do so much mischief in these matters. It is the thin, commonsense rationalists, orthodox or heterodox. It is the people who put a pistol to your head and say, “I am a plain man and I want a plain yes or no,” that cause so much difficulty. Christ always refused to answer with a pistol to His head. It was the whole manner of His ministry to refuse to give a plain answer when asked a blunt question. We see that in Peter’s discovery and confession, “Thou art the Christ,” and in Christ’s joyful answer, “Blessed Simon.” Peter in his confession had crowned what Christ had labored to live in upon them, but what He had never said plainly in so many words – “I am the Christ.” He lived it into them and made them discover it. Repeatedly He was asked, “Give us signs,” “Give us yes or no,” and He always refused. That would be sight, not faith. A plain yes or no is sight. But faith is insight into Christ. In this region a plain yes or no is somewhat out of place. So, therefore, while it is not false to say that Christ reconciled God, it is more false than true as it is mostly put. You do not get it in the Bible. It would be a useful exercise to go through the Bible and see what proofs you can get of Christ reconciling God. If we talk about Christ reconciling God in the way some do, we suggest that there was some third party coming between us and God, reconciling God on the one hand and us on the other, like a daysman. That is one great mischief that is done by the popular theories of atonement. God can never be regarded as the object of some third party’s intervention in reconciling. If it were so, what would happen? There would be no grace. It would be a bought thing, a procured thing, the work of a pardon-broker; and the one essential thing about grace is that it is unbought and unpurchasable. It is the freest thing in heaven or earth. It would not be free if procured by some third party. The “daysman” metaphor has been much abused. It is a Scriptural figure, but we get it in the Old Testament, in Job, the idea being that of one who, in the case of a dispute, puts one hand on one head and the other on another and brings two persons together.
That is a crude version of the Christian idea of reconciliation. The grace of God would not then be the prime and moving cause. It would not be spontaneous and creative, it would be negotiated grace; and that is a contradiction in terms. Mediation can never mean that. In paganism the gods were mollified. God, our God, could never be mollified. There is no mollification of God, no placation of God. Atonement was not the placating of God’s anger. Even in the old economy we are told, “I have given you the blood to make atonement.” Given! Did you ever see the force of it? “I have given you the blood to make atonement. This is an institution which I set up for you to comply with, set it up for purposes of My own, on principles of My own, but it is My gift.” The Lord Himself provided the lamb for the burnt offering. Atonement in the Old Testament was not the placating of God’s anger, but the sacrament of God’s grace. It was the expression of God’s anger on the one hand and the expressing and putting in action of God’s grace on the other hand. The effect of atonement was to cover sin from God’s eyes, so that it should no longer make a visible breach between God and His people. The actual ordinance was established, they held, by God Himself. He covered the sin. Sacrifices were not desperate efforts and surrenders made by terrified people in the hope of propitiating an angry deity. The sacrifices were in themselves prime acts of obedience to God’s means of grace and His expressed will. If you want to follow that out further, perhaps I may be forgiven if I were to allude to the last chapter in my book, “The Cruciality of the Cross” (1909), in which there is a fuller discussion of the particular point, and especially of what is morally meant by the blood of Christ.