Summary: This ministry of reconciliation cannot be separated from the preaching or sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
WORKING TOGETHER IN UNITY TO ACCOMPLISH GOD’S MISSION
2 Cor. 5.16-21
A. The Mission of the Church: Reconciliation of God and Man
Paul called the Christian ministry as the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5.18). To reconcile is “to end a relation of enmity and substitute for it one of peace and goodwill” (Volander, 169). This ministry of reconciliation cannot be separated from the preaching or sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. In the context of 2 Cor. 5.16-21, the call of reconciliation is addressed to the church of Corinth. It calls for renewal or revival of individual believers and churches that became cold or disobedient to God.
KEY INDICATORS OF A REVIVED CHURCH:
(a) Passion for God – worshipping/praying church
(b) Love for the brethren – fellowship and concern
(c) Passion for the lost souls
2. But 2 Cor. 5.16-21 is applicable also in the context of unbelievers. God sent His Son to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19.10, Jn. 3.16). Evangelism and world missions are not only important ministries of the church, but the logical extension of the church. This is the Great Commission of the Risen and Reigning Christ (Mt. 28.18-20). It has an Old Testament basis in the call of Abraham (Gn. 12.1-3) where God’s saving purpose is given, namely, to bless the whole world through Christ. Harry R. Boer believes that “throughout the Book of Acts Luke makes it plain that the impetus for mission came from the Holy Spirit…..Acts is governed by one dominant, overriding and all-controlling motif. This motif is the expansion of the faith through missionary witness in the power of the Holy Spirit….Restlessly the Holy Spirit drives the church to witness and continually churches rise out to witness…The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is in and by reason of its very nature the effectuation of the Great Commission in the life of the church” (Boer, 161-162).
KEY INDICATORS OF GROWTH IN MISSION:
(a)Numerical growth of members of the local church.
(b)Numerical growth of churches planted
3. However, the ministry also “has its efforts to influence society towards a form of life which is more just, pure, honest, and compassionate, a closer reflection of God’s own character and more honoring to Him” (Milne, 226). The primary means by which the church does it evangelistic and mission works is “through the creating men and women of strong, resolute Christian character whose daily presence influences the tone and color of society” (Milne, 226). And then the necessity of preaching the Gospel must always go hand in hand with Christ-like character (Rom. 10.9-17).
KEY INDICATORS OF A GODLY SOCIETY:
(a)Social Justice and Freedom
B. The Theological Nature of the Mission of the Church
1. It is God’s strategy in mission to work in and through the church.
Three Kinds of God’s Works:
a. CREATION: “It is by which God produced the world and all that is in it, partly without the use of pre-existent materials, and partly out of material that is by its nature unfit, for the manifestation of His glory” (Berkhof, p. 49).
b. PROVIDENCE: “It is by which God preserves and upholds all things, rules all things, and He co-operates with all creation, and causes them to act precisely as they do according to the purpose of their existence” (Berkhof, pp. 57-48).
c. COVENANTAL WORKS: “This is by which through His word and in His acts God has established with His chosen people a permanently binding personal relationship” (Volander, p. 169). The key historical events through which God has acted to make a people for Himself are the Exodus event (Dt. 6.20-24, Ex. 19. 3-6) and the Gospel event (Acts 2.23-26, I Cor. 15.3-4). The Gospel event refers to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, establishing the new Covenant that fulfilled, annulled and replaced the old Covenant of God with the Israelites (Hb. 8.6,13, 10.12-16).
In God’s covenantal works, God is always personally involved and always the initiator. God sent His Son Jesus Christ, who through His Person and Works, became the only Mediator of God’s covenant with man (Jn. 14.6, Ac. 4.12). It is because God “find in the death of His Son a way in which His love for the sinner and His wrath against sin would be accommodated, so that He might be both righteous Himself and justify sinful men who relies on faith in Jesus Christ” (Hammond, p. 140). Hence, belief in Jesus Christ, in His person and works, is the means for man to enter a covenant with God. However, God beforehand had already elected those who will enter a covenant relationship with Him (Eph. 1.4, Rom. 8.29-30, 2 Tim. 1.9). Through the revelation or preaching of God’s Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit of their hearts and mind, the elect is convinced of his sin, repents and puts his trust in Christ Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord (Jn. 16.7-14, Rom. 10.9, 17). Simultaneous with man’s response of faith and repentance, God works in him the covenantal works of regeneration, justification, and adoption.