Abraham Lincoln on the Victory of God

Though the 16th President of the United States was far from being an orthodox Christian, I think one episode of his presidency, and a memorable quotation of his, illustrate something important about the gospel. Lincoln is praised by many historians for bringing political reconciliation to his party by putting his most vocal opponents in his cabinet with his supporters, and thus forcing them to get along together.Lincoln’s policy of reconciliation is thought to have promoted peace and stability, when recriminations against his opponents would have been dangerous for his party and the country. Concerning this policy of his, he is quoted (informally) as having remarked “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

Likewise, does God not destroy his enemies when he reconciles them to himself in Christ? We were God’s enemies, but have been reconciled:

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

And yet, those who are in Christ are no longer his enemies, but adopted as sons of God. In this way, Abraham Lincoln’s quote illuminates God’s victory over a rebellious humanity. We can think of the victory of God over all of his enemies – those he destroys by reconciling them to himself and turning them into his children, and those who remain opposed to him, do not repent, and whom he will destroy in judgement. God destroys all of his enemies.

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