2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2
2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2
2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2
Good morning church! First Step is a fantastic ministry, I’d encourage you to pray about how you might help them, or ask the Lord if you should be adopting some of these babies that they rescue! Open your Bibles with me to 2 Corinthians 5, we made it as far as the 15th verse when we were here two weeks ago…but before we look at our text, lets just talk for a minute.
You guys are smart people, you’re in church on Sunday morning, that’s smart. The Bible says that its the fool who has said in his heart, “There is no God.” So as far as I can tell there are no fools among us. So you guys should be able to help me out. I want you to work as a team so you don’t have to have the full answer just contribute to it.
Can you tell me some of the things the Apostle Paul suffered in his ministry? Where’s my cheaters? Some of them can be found in 2 Corinthians 11.
Who here has ever heard of Benjamin Franklin? He flew a kite during a lighting storm...One of the founding fathers of our Nation, a signer of the declaration of independence, and inventor! Anybody know any of his inventions? The lighting rod, bifocals, swim fins, the odometer, the Franklin stove, you guys that watch little house on the Prairie…when Mr. Olson couldn’t reach something up high on a shelf in the store, he used what they call a “Long Arm” Benjamin Franklin also was First ambassador of the United States.
OK, still working together, and no looking it up, I’ll show you that in a minute. But how would we define an Ambassador?
Webster's 1828 Dictionary 1. A minister of the highest rank employed by one prince or state, at the court of another, to manage the public concerns of his own prince or state, and representing the power and dignity of his sovereign. Embassadors are ordinary, when they reside permanently at a foreign court; or extraordinary, when they are sent on a special occasion. They are also called ministers.
An Ambassador’s job is to go into a foreign land, and solely represent the message and interests of the one by whom they have been sent. They don’t represent themselves, and their personal interests are not advanced.
Can anybody, again teamwork here. Can anyone tell me what might motivate or incentivize someone to be an ambassador?
Benjamin Franklin was the first American ambassador received by a foreign government.
Franklin went to France, he struggled with the native language, the people sounded different than him, they spoke an entirely different language in this world that he was not normally a part of. The culture was very different but he was well liked, he was respected for the way that he lived his life and on December 17, 1777, after nearly a year in France without making much visible progress politically, Franklin engineered a huge diplomatic victory for the United States. The French foreign minister, officially acknowledged the United States as an independent country. Franklin was a hero.
Anybody recognize this guy?
He is the current Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov who admits that he has not spoken to Vladimir Putin since he was appointed to his post in 2017. Very difficult to represent your King, your crown, or your leader when you are not in communication with the one who sent you. So there are good ambassadors and there are bad.
All of that, because of what Paul says near the end of our text this morning, he says that we are ambassadors for Christ and I hope this challenges every single one of us here this morning.
I asked what might motivate someone to be an ambassador and we came up with some pretty good things, but when I think back to our list about the sufferings of Paul, there has to be a better reason. I mean the first time people throw rocks at you until they think you are dead, and then drag you outside of the city, I think I’d turn in my ambassador bonnet or badge, whatever they give you. If all I got was....But Paul doesn’t do that and he gives us the only reasonable motivation for being an ambassador for Christ in verse 14 of our chapter this morning. 2 Cor 5:14
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
Not guilt, not obligation - or the sense of a debt needing to be repaid, Love. Paul knew what Peter knew like we talked about last week, he knew what it was to be loved unconditionally, not because you deserve it, but loved despite what you deserve. Paul knew who he was before Jesus, and was now overwhelmed by the love he received from Jesus, and he could not help but tell everyone that would listen, and several that wouldn’t.
His life was radically changed by Jesus, he was a new creation, a different person all together, in the case of Paul, that even came with a name change. He had been Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of those who had left Judaism and began to follow Jesus, until He, himself received the love of Jesus, and then he couldn’t help it. Because he received so much love from Jesus it changed everything about him, and he started to love people like Jesus loves them, he started to love Jesus’ people. His whole life became about sharing Jesus with others and how the death of Christ would bring life to others. 2 Cor 5:15
15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
This is where we left off last time, and Paul now continues with a therefore, because of the love of Christ. Because his death and resurrection made salvation possible to all those that would receive it…he writes…2 Cor 5:16
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Because the love of Christ has changed us completely, we no longer see things according to the flesh, back to chapter 4 we are no longer looking at the seen, but the unseen. Not at who they are, but who they could be in Jesus. We no longer judge people based upon what we think, but that Jesus loved them enough to die for them, and that gives them value beyond what we may or may not see. Jesus told us the same in John 7:24
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Paul could say that there was a time when we just judged Jesus by the seen, in the flesh when He walked the earth creating a revolution, but now we know Him in such a greater sense through the Spirit of God. Jesus said that it was to our advantage that He was going away that He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit. This change that I spoke of in Paul and in us he talks about next verse…2 Cor 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Therefore if anyone…that is such an important part of this verse that too often gets looked over. Anyone means you, it means your prideful parent, your rebellious kid, your rotten brother, or your impossible boss. It’s not by race or ethnicity, or denomination. Anyone means anyone and this says if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. We are in Christ or were out of Christ. Paul actually takes this thought deeper in his letter to the Ephesians where he tells us what we were like before we were in Christ…Eph 2:1-4
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—
12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
So we are either in Christ Jesus, or we are in the world and the world system, at enmity the Bible says, or at war with God. But all that changes when we accept the gift of salvation and are now in Christ, anyone that does that, is now in Christ. And Paul says, 2 Cor 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
OK, work together again if you need to, can you guys tell me what the word new here means? No Greek dictionaries necessary, it’s not a trick question, I just want to make sure we’re understanding the translation correctly,…New means new, brand new, not rehabbed or renovated, America seems to love the new and improved, we watch shows about flipping houses, self improvement books are always on the top sellers list, we’ve got people that have never been successful at anything in their own lives making a living as being life coaches for other people. Being in Christ has nothing to do with your best you, it’s a completely new you.
Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become…new!
It’s that time of year, well I’m a little late when I should be pruning and shaping my apple trees. Improving them, strengthening them, thinning them. That’s not making them new. DO you know what they do to blueberry bushes? Well used to do in some areas. They burn them!
Thermal pruning - University of Maine Website
Pruning with fire offers many advantages that mowing does not. The heat produced by fire will not only kill the stem, but may also reduce the incidence of insects, diseases, and weeds. Insects overwintering on or near the surface of the soil may be killed by the fire’s heat. These insects include…doesn’t matter, the idea is to have the fire intense enough that it kills the stem all the way to the ground - Becky if I’m wrong, don’t correct me, it will completely ruin the video.
Here’s the other thing that’s too often missed in this verse…it is what is. It doesn’t say sometimes this happens, or being a new creation is a possible side effect of being in Christ. It says if you’re in Christ he is a new creation. So it is what happens, but it is also the evidence that it did happen. That when you came to the cross it wasn’t just an emotional response or a pipe dream, you being a new creation is the evidence that an actual transaction took place there.
I’ll take it a step farther and say that if you aren’t a new creation, you don’t know what it is to be in Christ. I’m not saying it is always instantaneous, that it doesn’t take time, or that we never ever sin again or make mistakes, Nicole did this morning!…and I just did now…What I am saying is that you don’t know what it is to be in Christ if you are able to continue on in habitual sin that is completely against what Christ taught us. You can’t be in Christ and refuse to forgive.
You can’t be in Christ and continue on in sexual sin and just think, well that’s just where Jesus and I differ a little. He says any sexuality expressed outside of the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and woman is sin. Same sex, opposite sex, internet sex, Jesus says if you love me you’ll follow my commandments. He tells us not to be unequally yoked, he tells us to care for the widows and orphans, he tells us as much as depends on us be at peace with all men, to love our enemies…if you’re ready to correct me and tell me that Paul said some of those things, remember in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, who is the Word? Jesus.
In Christ is a new creation, again it is what is, what actually happens and it is the evidence that it has happened. Your friends, your family, the neighbor you used to argue with and throw your trash on his lawn, your co-worker who you’d give the stink eye to…they can all see that old things have passed away, and that all things have become new, because you’ve become new. Check this out, some of you have been trying to find your ministry fit. Where can I serve, what can I do, where is the greatest need? It’s out there…no children’s ministry, no it’s out there, ...check this out, verse 18 2 Cor 5:18
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
We were not in Christ we were at enmity with God, but then God reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, how did He do that? The cross! In 1st John we read…1 John 4:9-10
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The propitiation the perfect, the complete, atoning, redemptive and reconciliatory substitute for us, the only way! Remember last week as Jesus prayed in the garden, Father if there is any other way, take this cup from me, but not My will be done, Your will be done. There was no other way. Jesus wasn’t a sinner that died for His sins, but because Jesus was without sin, He was able to take on sin and be the propitiation for ours. There was no other way and in order to reconcile us to Himself, God sent His Son Jesus to die a substitutionary death for us. In this is love, that’s what Paul was talking about in verse 14, this love, compels us. Compels us to do what…check this out 2 Cor 5:18-19
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Do you guys understand what this verse means? This ministry of reconciliation that Jesus started has been handed off to us. He has committed this ministry to us, to reconcile lost sinners to a Holy God that love them. But how?!? We’re not perfect, or sinless, if we were nailed to a cross it would it wouldn’t save anyone... it would just be stupid. Paul tells us in verse 20…2 Cor 5:20
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
That is to be the message of our lives. That we wouldn’t sit idly by while the world around us is perishing. We are ambassadors here for Christ, the Bible says that we are not of this world, we’re aliens, foreigners here, it tells us that our citizenship, Christian, I’m talking to Christians when I say this. The Bible tells us that our citizenship is in Heaven. So we aren’t to occupy here but we are to infiltrate and impact the world around us. We are not trying to fit in, we represent a different kingdom. Why would they want to be like us if we are just like them, if we don’t have something that they don’t have.
Our message is an invitation, more than that... a pleading, we implore you on Christ’s behalf, I’m an ambassador my job is to speak on His behalf, please be reconciled to God. Christian looking to step up, looking for a ministry, I have one for you, you are an ambassador for Jesus. Where ever He has you in this strange land.... Christian, not looking for a ministry or a place to step up. When Paul says now then we, he’s talking to you too. 2 Cor 5:21
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Let me save you about 6 months of theology and soteriology classes. This verse right here is the doctrine of how we can be saved. How God made it possible, One way! He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us...
Chapter 6…2 Cor 6:1-2
1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
We are to be workers together with Jesus, not fans, not listeners, or students, or admirers. We’ve been called to duty. He’s passed this ministry of reconciliation to us, and we are to work together with Him now, today. The very last thing that Jesus said to His disciples is this, its in the final verses of the Gospel of Matthew…Matt 28:19-20
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
I hope to have some visual reminders of this around here in the next couple of weeks for us, I want to look at it every day. When an ambassador goes to a foreign land he studies the people, he learns the language, he’s not one of them, but he lives among them, he entertains them, tries to understand how they think, he learns what they think about the one He represents, and he share with them the message of the one by whom he has been sent.
San Chan in his book Evangelism in a Skeptical World says that, “God uses our humanity - our relationships, community, hospitality, communication, experiences, emotions, existential cries, and cultural texts - to communicate His gospel.” Sam Chan
Let the Love of Christ compel you to implore the world around you to be reconciled to God. It is their most desperate need. Let’s pray.