Summary: There is a special New Year’s resolution for those who are new creatures in Christ, for those who trust in the Grace of God alone to save them.
The Church’s New Year’s Resolution
2 Cor. 5:17-21
Here are a few things to think about as you find the scripture for today: “Here’s the testimony the world gave on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 in Peshawar, Pakistan: “In bright fall sunlight…worshippers are leaving All Saints Church when two members of the Taliban, each wearing vests weighed down with 6 pounds of hard-wired explosives, show up at the church and blow themselves up near its entrance. The attack kills 84 churchgoers and seriously wounds another 146.
“Among the dead are two brides, married the day before, who returned for the Sunday service to give thanks for their marriages…a primary school headmaster and his entire family—his wife and two young daughters, along with his brother and a nephew. The force of the explosions was so great investigators later said they found the skull of one of the bombers on the rooftop of the church. (Mindy Belz, “Waiting and Singing”, World Mag)
Here’s the testimony that the Church gives: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, the same city and church in Peshawar, Pakistan: “The survivors return to All Saints Church. They collect the scattered shoes of the children killed. They clean up the Sunday school papers and books that litter the churchyard. They rinse and clean the bloodstains inside the church... As they work, they wail and weep and sob. Then they gather themselves into the pews, a very small collection now—and they sing…their hands in prayer, and they worship the God who gave life and has taken it away.” (Mindy Belz, “Waiting and Singing”, World Mag)
What makes men and women return to a blood-soaked church, and worship and sing the very next day? What makes persecuted Christians in North Korea and in China say: Don’t pray for us to be released from persecution, but for faith to witness and withstand the persecution? What causes the bishop of a church in Aleppo, Syria, where 5 other church leaders have been murdered or kidnapped, willing to go back out on the dangerous streets day after day and minister to hurting people, and still preach without fear?
Look at 2 Corinthians 5:17-21: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (We looked at this last week: If Christ has saved you, everything in your life changes; you place new price tags on EVERYTHING because you have been granted forgiveness and a new ETERNAL identity in Christ. You possess a NEW present reality as you are being sanctified into the image of Christ but also a NEW future reality, realizing that God’s Kingdom is so close! A New Year has begun; the old has gone. Now today…a New Year’s resolution for those who are new creatures in Christ, for those who trust in the Grace of God alone to save them.
Verse18: “ALL THIS is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry (diakonia) of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world (this is NOT everyone IN the world in a universal sense; that would not agree with John 3:16. When God begins a work in a sinners life, He will change their ENTIRE WORLD and the whole sphere of humanity-every ethnic group and everything about your world.) to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them… 21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him (in Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.”
What is it “to be reconciled” or what’s “reconciliation”? (Greek:”katallagç (gay), root word, “katallassô”.) Here’s a short description: God wills sinful men to be restored to Him. God wills? Yes. Verse 18 says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself THROUGH CHRIST.” Praise God for His Work of restoration and forgiveness through Christ alone. His Reconciliation has to do with an EXCHANGE.
In the Greek, the meaning was often associated with the business of money changers; Reconciliation is about exchanging equivalent values in order to adjust differences. If you are going to have “reconciliation” with God, an EQUAL EXCHANGE has to occur in order to restore God’s favor.
You have to realize that God’s Law is double-edged: It demands PERFECT obedience and but also demands EXACT punishment for lawbreakers. How can you possibly cancel out your sins? God says that Sin requires a perfect exchange, a perfect payment and so God cannot merely erase your sin without payment. If God did this, HE WOULD NO LONGER BE PERFECT.
Think of it this way: Imagine a book keeping ledger, a balance sheet, but instead of monetary figures, in one column you have God’s record of all the times you have broken God’s Law, even the first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me: He says: “I must ALWAYS BE number one in your life!” Imagine how long that list of infractions would be! It would be infinite! ONE INFRACTION gives you the death sentence, so what would millions of infractions earn you? And if the only way you can fulfill the law is to obey it perfectly, you already missed altogether. You have no hope to pay the debt. You have an infinite amount of sins to pay but no assets to pay the debt. The wages you have earned are DEATH. Your original investment began with SIN. You were born in SIN! In and of yourself you have INFINITE liabilities and NO ASSETS