Summary: PENTECOST 5(B) - June 23, 2002 - As God is reconciling the world to himself through Christ: This is God’s message to the world and our ministry into the world.
GOD WAS RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF THROUGH CHRIST
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 - June 23, 2002
14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Dearest Fellow Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
The word for today that is in our text is reconciliation. That is one of those long words, and yet in our text we found it defined by a description for us a couple of times. If we turn to the Webster diction-ary, he gives a beautiful definition there also. (We have to remember that Webster lived during a Chris-tian time in the history of the United States, so he was influenced by what Scripture had to say.) His defi-nition of reconciliation was "to make friendly again." That’s really what reconciliation is--that Christ by His sacrifice on the cross has made us who were enemies friendly again to God. God gives us that minis-try of reconciliation.
In Colossians we are told that definition of how we are made friendly to God: "But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Colossians 1:22). We are going to use one of the verses as our theme this morning, which goes along with the word "reconciliation." We are told that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ. We are told I. that this is God’s message to the world and II. and that this is our ministry unto the world.
I. This is God?s message to the world
In our text Paul tries to describe to these believers the importance of humanity. He looks at hu-manity, not just as a collection of people or mankind; but he looks at humanity as people who are God’s creation. So in our text he tells us: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer." Today, we will be using Paul as our example as he writes these words of our text under inspiration. Paul had looked at people in a worldly way; even Christ, when considering Him just as Jesus of Nazareth, a criminal who had been put to death. That was until God made him a believer. After that, he looked at people as people who had a soul, as people who were destined for eternity, either in heaven or in hell away from God.
So his life was changed. His perception of mankind was changed. He realized that God had cho-sen him for a very specific purpose. God had chosen every believer and their lives were changed. He says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" He talks about the fact that the new man is given birth in the believer by faith. He says that the new man, the Christian, lives a life following Christ, not always giving in to sinful desires, sinful thoughts, words and actions, but wanting to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Himself.
It sounds like a great accomplishment for any person; and yet, Paul puts this all into perspective when he says: "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ." When Paul became a believer, he was not looking for Christ. When Paul became a believer, he was looking for Christians to put to death, to punish. Paul realized that because he now believed and looked to heaven and eternity, it was because of God. All of this he says is because of God, all because through Christ he was reconciled and made friendly in the eyes of God.
So now let’s look at those definitions that Scripture gives for us. (As a reminder as we read the Bible, when we come to the big, long words, we should look in the verses before and after and even in the same verse. In this way God gives us a definition for just about every hard word that we find.) He talks about reconciliation and he says, "God was reconciling the world to Himself to Christ;" and in the next phrase he says, "not counting men’s sins against them." This is one definition for reconciliation--"doesn’t count men’s sins against them." Paul was ever thankful. Paul, who consented to Stephen’s death--who was put to death because of his faith--now realized that God did not count that sin against him. Paul, who put Christians in prison, now realized that God did not count those sins against him. He was reconciled to God.