David Rea was born at Balteagh, NI in 1845. As a young man he drank heavily and almost lost his life on a number of occasions. These experiences led him to seek religion in the hopes of changing his life. But even though he gave up drink, went forward to the penitent’s bench at a church service, and imagined he was saved, his misery only deepened. One night, convinced that he would never find salvation, he lay in bed overwhelmed by the thought of spending endless ages in unquenchable fire because of his sins. In despair, he cried out, “O God, bid me do anything and I will do it to be saved.” At that point the words of 2 Corinthians 5: 20, 21 flashed into his mind: “Be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” David Rea wrote: “I felt as though I were standing at the Cross on the day that Christ died, and as I gazed upon His pierced hands and side, the words kept sounding in my ears: ‘Be ye reconciled to God,’ and I thought that Jesus looked down upon me and said, ‘Could I give more for you? I have given My life. Will this not satisfy you?’ This was new to me, as I had thought it was I who had to satisfy God. At once I felt my heart going out in thankfulness to the Lord Jesus Who had died to save me, and as I thanked Him joy unspeakable filled my soul, and I said to my wife: ‘I am saved!’”
Following that unforgettable night, for almost half a century, with tireless zeal, David Rea preached the gospel of Christ until his home-call on September 2, 1916.
The call to sinners to become reconciled to God is based on the work the Lord Jesus accomplished on the cross: “For (because) He hath made Him to be sin for us.” While many speak, particularly when they contemplate death, of “making their peace with God,” the procuring of the peace was accomplished by the Savior at Calvary. It is because the sinless Son of God bore David Rea’s sins on the cross that he was able to be reconciled to God. Sinners enter into peace with God “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God “made peace” through the blood of Christ’s cross. Isaiah recorded that “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” No wonder John the baptizer called Christ the “Lamb of God, Sin-bearer for the world.”
When a guilty sinner trusts Christ, that once alienated sinner is reconciled to God. It is the end of the enmity that existed in the soul of the estranged sinner. This is one of the reasons why Christ went to Calvary. He “once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” During His earthly ministry He could give peace to guilty sinners who trusted Him because He was on the way to Calvary to pay for their sins. To the sinful woman of Luke 7, the Savior spoke those glorious words, “Thy sins are forgiven … Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” To the woman who had grasped the hem of His garment He said, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”On those two memorable Lord’s days after He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples and said, “Peace be unto you!” And then He showed them His hands and His side. Those wounds, the reminder of His atoning work, were the basis of their peace. Peace with God is a result of reconciliation and this rich blessing can be yours today if you will trust the Savior Who bore the penalty of sin at Calvary.
The Belfast Evening Telegraph, in reporting the death of Mr. David Rea, described him as a “zealous evangelist.” A close friend described him as having been characterized by earnest devotion and sincerity. Perhaps they saw in him something of the sincere longing the Apostle Paul expressed when he pled: “As though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” That longing is shared by every believer in Christ: be reconciled to God today through faith in our Lord Jesus.