2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 21
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|We’ve been looking at conquering the fear of death. This is part 1, and again it’ll be in verses 11-13.|
The Character of an Ambassador for Christ – Part 1 (2 Cor 5:11-13)
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 5. We’re going to be looking at verses 11-13 as we push through studying 2 Corinthians. We’ve been looking at conquering the fear of death. But tonight we’re going to open up a new series called “Ambassadors for Christ.” This is part 1, and again it’ll be in verses 11-13.
Now let me get you into this by what we have studied so far. A believer’s purpose in life is made so much clearer when he knows who he is and whose he is in Christ. And when a believer realizes that one day he’ll stand before God, and not only will he have a heavenly body, but all of his works will be tested by fire, this understanding changes everything about the way he lives, about the way he treats people, about the way he looks. Everything changes because he knows that anything done of the flesh will burn that day. He wants only the works that Christ has done through him by faith. He knows who he is. When he knows who he is and knows where he’s going it changes everything.
I’ve got to bring you up to date with my grandson, Jonathan. He started kindergarten the other day and my daughter is homeschooling him. I have a lot of respect for those who do that. The curriculum they have is, they use a video setting where Jonathan really is in the classroom in the sense he feels that way. They have other children sitting out there and it’s like an interactive type of thing. Well, Jonathan’s been watching this video for two days and he watches all the little children in that classroom. The boys have a white shirt on and a tie and a pair of slacks. Now his mother has said not one thing to him about this. They’re doing this at home. And the third day, he came downstairs and he had his little white shirt on and had his little tie on, had his little britches on and they were too short for him. He hadn’t worn them in a while and he didn’t bother about what anybody thought about him in the family. He knew who he was and he knew where he was going and it changed the way he looked and the way he acted.
That’s exactly what happens to a believer when he finally gets a clue. He begins to understand there’s accountability. There’s integrity to Christianity. We’re going to stand before God one day. No, we’re not going to be judged, we were judged in Christ; but our works will be judged and tested by fire. You see, Paul’s whole life changed drastically when he was persuaded by Christ, when Christ came to live in him. This change intensified when he understood that this life is only temporary. It’s like James says, it’s just a vapor quickly here and passes away till one day he would be in heaven. And again, not only would he be there with a heavenly body, but his works were going to be tested one day.
And we’ve seen what a change came in his life from being a Pharisee to becoming a believer in chapter 1 of what we’ve already studied in 2 Corinthians, when he was ridiculed, humiliated, falsely accused by his critics in Corinth. He ran to God, the God of all comfort. He didn’t run from Him; he ran to Him. We saw how he could stand in the face of his accusers with a clear conscience because his walk matched his talk. We have seen in chapter 3 that he was the servant of a new covenant. In this new covenant Christ had come to live in him so that Paul’s adequacy would never again be of Paul. It would now be only of Christ.
We saw how the glory of God, Christ Himself, had come to live in him and he was being changed from glory to glory. We have seen how Paul lived in the freedom of the Spirit of God. And because of this in chapter 4 he did not lose heart. He didn’t go back to doing things the way he used to do it. He wouldn’t turn coward in the face of hostility and in the face of the battle. And in chapter 5 when the threats of death were his daily; I mean, moment by moment, his life was threatened, he had no fear of death and he lived longing to be in the presence of God dressed in his heavenly body.
Wow! He knew who he was and he knew where he was going and it changed everything about the way he lived. And that’s what we’re trying to get across. He knew that life on this earth was all about the temporary assignment that God had given to him, and soon and very soon he would go to see the King.
Well, in our message today we’re going to see that while he was on this earth in the assignment God had given he was truly an ambassador for Christ. Look down in 5:20 and I’ll show you where we’re coming from. We’re going to work up to it and even go to the other side of it. But this is your key right here in verse 20 of chapter 5. We see his purpose very well clarified. It says, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Now the word “ambassador” is a great word. It’s the word presbeuo. It comes from the word normally meaning one who is older.
Now a form of this word, a derivative of this word, was used for the elders who were appointed in the church and it didn’t just mean that they were older in age, it meant they were mature. They were spiritually mature. But also in early writings this Greek word was used as an official term to identify an ambassador. An ambassador was one who was sent out as an official representative with a message that had a lot of legal clout. I mean, when you heard this ambassador he wasn’t just speaking from the top of his head. He had a message from somebody else who was in an official position and it had a lot of legal clout. Paul was an ambassador in the official heavenly sense. Christ had commissioned him to go as His representative and tell the Gentile world the gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Now be careful to understand; being an ambassador for Christ did not mean it was without pain. The word “ambassador” is only used two times in the New Testament. Paul uses it both times, and look where he uses it the other time. It’s in Ephesians 6:18-20, and he’s in prison when he writes this. He says, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view. Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all of the saints. And pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” Then he says in verse 20, “For which I am an ambassador in chains, that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.” He was an ambassador in chains. And even in the midst of that painful circumstance, pain was not a deterrent to keep him from wanting others to know the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now to get into this, I want to ask you a question. I just want to roll around in your mind while I’m speaking. Are you an ambassador for Christ? Do you realize that while you’re here on this earth Christ lives in you and wants to draw others to Himself through you as you allow Him to live in your life? Do you look, do you act, and do you live as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ? You say, what does an ambassador of Christ really look like? Well, that’s our message, the portrait of an ambassador for Christ. And there’s only two things that I want you to see. I want you to see, first of all, the goal of an ambassador for Christ. What is it that motivates them? And secondly, the grief of an ambassador for Christ. We’re only going to be able to do verses 11-13. So let’s jump in together.
The goal of an ambassador for Christ
First of all, the goal of an ambassador for Christ. The goal of an ambassador for Christ is to do two things: One, persuade men; but at the same time to be pleasing unto God. His goal is not to persuade God so that he can please men. We’ve got it backwards. Verse 11: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”
Now, he starts off by saying “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord.” Now, what he’s just said in verse 10 bleeds right into verse 11. He says in verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord,” he says, “we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”
We’ve got to unlock some of this here. The word “fear” in the phrase, “knowing the fear of the Lord,” it’s translated terror in some translations. Now this brings a wrong connotation to believers who are servants of a new covenant. The word “fear” is the word phobos, which you get the word “terror” from. But it also means something else. It also means in certain context, this being one of them, reverence, awe, respect, honor. Now this would be the meaning here. Believers do not operate out of terror of God. They don’t operate out of terror of the judgment seat of Christ. In fact, to prove that, 2 Corinthians 5:14 says this: “For the love of Christ controls us.” You may have a translation that says “constrains us.” We do not do what we do out of fear, out of guilt. But we do what we do out of love and respect and awe and reverence and honor to God.
You know, I heard this story of a beautiful girl that was on the mission field and she was working at a leper colony. Supposed to be a true story. A millionaire came that way and he was just on a vacation, one of his many. And he decided to go through a leper colony; had never seen one before. And he went in that leper colony with his little group and there was this most beautiful blonde, blue-eyed girl he’d ever seen in his life, single, working in a leper colony, in the filth of a leper colony. And he said to her, “Honey,” he said, “I wouldn’t do what you do for a million dollars.” And she answered him back, “Neither would I.” He said, “Well, what makes you do this?” And she said “The love of Christ Jesus constraineth me.”
That’s what a believer does. He doesn’t live out of terror. He lives out of awe and respect and honor and love for what God has done in his life. It is this love combined with that reverential awe that’s a true motivator in the believer’s life. They kind of go together.
Paul, out of this love and respect, does not want to stand before the judgment seat of Christ with none of his works remaining. He doesn’t want to be there. Paul lived for that day when he would see Jesus. He longed to be in his heavenly body and to stand unashamed before God at the judgment seat of Christ. And the word “knowing,” he says “knowing the fear of the Lord,” the word “knowing” is the word eido. Eido means to know with a clear understanding and perception. So therefore knowing, understanding clearly the reverential awe of the Lord. It’s in the perfect tense which means I have come to know. Something happened in my life that brought me to this understanding. I’m in a state of understanding this. I’m in a position to understand this.
Now you ask, well, when did Paul come to understand this? It’s not a fresh revelation. When did he understand, when did the picture finally get a hold of him? Well, we don’t know. It could have been on the Damascus road in Acts 9 when Jesus met him on the Damascus road. Remember the light was so bright he was blinded for three days until finally he came out of that and understood what had taken place and his salvation that occurred. And so that would have. I don’t know about you, but that would have certainly given me an understanding of who I’m dealing with here, had it blinded me for three days.
Or it could have been, and we haven’t gotten there yet, but in chapter 12 of 2 Corinthians, for the first time in 14 years he brings out the fact that he had literally been taken in the Spirit into the third heaven. He had been into heaven. He had actually seen the throne room just like John in the book of Revelation. But Paul didn’t write a book on it; Paul waited 14 years to even share it. Maybe that was the time. Maybe standing there in the glory of the presence of God it hit him, this is no game. You don’t play church. Christianity is real and one day we’re going to stand there before an Almighty holy and righteous God.
However he did, we don’t know. But he says, “Therefore knowing,” having come to know the awesome reverence of God, “we persuade men.” You see, it’s a no brainer. It flows out of a person who begins to get a hold of this and God begins to reveal what’s going on in his life. He looks different, he acts different. The word “persuade” is the word peitho, which is the word meaning to not only convince a person, but to the point of conviction to where whatever he understands radically changes his life. It’s a huge difference than just helping a person understand something. It’s not just to convince someone to their point of understanding. It has to go further. It’s proven by their response. Paul was persuaded on the Damascus road, completely changed. He didn’t just come to understand it, he was radically transformed by what he came to understand.
Let me show you that in Scripture. For instance, in Acts 14:19 it is used of how the Jews used persuasive words to convince the crowds to stone Paul. They didn’t just come to some understanding and walk away and say, “Yeah, I guess we ought to do it,” no, they did it. And verse 19 says, “But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds,” and that phrase is that one word right there, “they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city supposing him to be dead.”
It was what Paul was trying to do in the synagogues when he would go in constantly and be beat up and thrown out of town. He’d go right back to the synagogues, for it wasn’t just the Jews that were there. They would allow the Gentiles to come in and it was a time of interaction with the people. That’s what he was trying to do in Acts 18:4, “And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”
Now in verse, in this verse from Acts 18 he couples something with this and it shows you where evangelism, what it’s all about. He says he was reasoning in the synagogue, trying to persuade them. Now you have to understand that. The word “reasoning” there is the word dialegomai, which means to dialogue back and forth until a conclusion is reached. Now listen, you’ve got to get a hold of this, and I’m not sure I can balance it, but I hope that you’ll get it. An ambassador for Christ knows that you can’t reason with the lost world if you don’t know the word of God.
I’ve been saying this for years and I’ll keep on saying it: If we’re not going to get into the Word we can forget being an ambassador for Christ to a lost world. We’ve got to know first of all what in the world we are, whose we are, who we are biblically and what salvation is from God’s Word. An ambassador cannot reason without knowing that. Paul knew how to take God’s Word and to explain salvation to a lost person. He was a student of God’s Word. Even though he only had the Old Testament he was as good or better than anybody other than Jesus at taking the Old Testament and showing Christ the Messiah and how to be saved.
But an ambassador for Christ on the other side, the flip side, also knows that the persuasion of men has to be done by the Holy Spirit who is making the appeal through him. He understands he can reason and he’s got to be willing to do that and he’s got to discipline himself to study God’s Word. But from that point on it’s got to be God because only God can convict men. We can convince them with a good argument, but only the Holy Spirit can convict them.
Listen again to verse 20 what we read to start off with: “Therefore we are ambassadors for Chris,” listen carefully, “as though God Himself were making an appeal through us.” So they understood that. The word “as,” as though, the word there expresses the manner in which something is done. Paul said, yeah, I’ll go in the synagogue if the Holy Spirit leads me there. I go in and I’m willing to open my mouth. I’m willing to reason with these people with the Word of God, but I can’t do anything beyond that. Only the Holy Spirit; it’s God making an appeal through me. Only God can persuade men.
You see the two-fold responsibility. We have a responsibility to get in God’s Word and know why we are what we are. But we also have to make sure that we’re filled with His Spirit because only God can persuade men, only God can convict men. Paul didn’t set out to persuade men without the empowering of God’s Spirit within him. His adequacy was, as he says in chapter 3, not of himself, but of God. In fact, he’s already shown the Corinthians that he wouldn’t do anything or he couldn’t do anything apart from being empowered by the Spirit of God.
Listen to this in 1 Corinthians 2. Remember, these are the same people. In chapter 2 verse 1 it says “And when I came to you brethren I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.” Paul tells them that his methods in no way overshadow the message. He wasn’t into this” let’s use all the high tech stuff. Let’s use all the other stuff to try to impress people.” He says that wasn’t into any of that. He didn’t have five sermons, 10 suits and hairdo that would draw a crowd. He was in no way interested in pleasing men, but reasoning with them from the Word of God, yes. That was what he wanted to do and seeing them persuaded in the power of a Spirit of God.
That’s what witnessing is: “For I determine to know nothing among you he says, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom,” which means I didn’t use man’s way of trying to impress you, “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”. Paul’s heart to persuade men was not in some polished humanistic approach, but in the demonstration of the Spirit of God.
You know what would be helpful for all of us, before we go out and think we’re going to win a lost world to Christ, we better remember something; first of all, to get our heads straight about what we believe and why we believe it; but secondly, understand we can win nobody to Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can convict human hearts. It has to be done in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
Verse 11, again, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.” Then he says something so unique. He says, “But we are made manifest to God.” Now God knows what He’s done right. You know, sometimes I think I have to take these things on, and God’s showing me “that’s not your business, Wayne, just go on and preach the Word and get off that kick. I know when it’s done right and I know when it’s done wrong.” Paul says, “But we,” His team, “we are made manifest to God.”
The word “manifest” means clearly visible. God sees exactly what we have done. The perfect tense is used and the passive voice. Perfect tense means something’s already taken place. Passive voice means we didn’t do it, God Himself made this clearly seen, and it’s a done deal. Now listen to me carefully. While the world questioned Paul and his team in their reasoning and in their methods, Paul knew that God knew and that’s all that mattered to him.
Oh, folks, I want to tell you something. When we stand at the judgment seat of Christ it won’t matter what men thought about you. It’s going to matter what God thinks about your works and God knows. God knows. Whether a man accepts or rejects the message that Paul and his team preached as ambassadors for Christ was irrelevant. Paul knew that God knew that he had reasoned out of faithful study and discipline and he had worked out of the power of the Holy Spirit of God and that’s all that mattered to Paul. He accepts his responsibility to study the Word of God for himself so that he can reason with the world and he knows that he cannot go beyond that. Only God can persuade men. As a matter of fact, he says in another chapter, he says some are going to reject it, some are going to accept it. Who is man that’s adequate for these things? He can’t figure all that out. He just knows that God knows.
If you’re unwilling, listen, I’m not picking on anybody tonight, understand. If anybody’s here tonight and calling themselves a believer and you’re unwilling to study God’s Word, you’re unwilling to get into it and find out why you believe what you say you believe, so that you can reason with the lost world, and then you’re not willing to be filled daily, controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, Christ living His life in and through you, then you are not an ambassador for Christ. You may be a believer, but you are not an ambassador for Christ. You have nothing to say. That’s the tragedy of the 21st century.
So our goal as an ambassador for Christ is to persuade men, but at the same time walk pleasing before God. We’re like conduits. I love that phrase. I just wonder why I liked that. But a conduit is like a pipe, if you want water over here or over there it has to flow through and you have to have a clean vessel for it to be able to do that. I noticed the other day our shower was backing up on my feet. I’m looking down and I’m thinking you know that water’s not going anywhere. It’s just sitting there. And we took some of this Drano stuff. It’s awesome. I just squirted some of that stuff. Man, it went. We had to clean the channel so the flow could be what it ought to be. That’s what we are.
There have been several versions of this story, but as far as we can tell Warren Weirsbe did some research on it and this is the official version, this is fact. Britain’s King George V was to give the opening address at a special disarmament conference with a speech relayed by radio to the United States. As the broadcast was about to begin a cable broke in the New York radio station and more than a million listeners were left without a sound. A junior mechanic in the station, Harold Vivien, solved the problem by picking up both ends of the cable and allowing 250 volts of electricity to pass through him. He was the living link that allowed the King’s message to get through. That’s an ambassador for Christ right there. You’re the living link to let the King’s message get through to somebody who needs to be persuaded with the gospel.
So Paul was an ambassador for Christ. Diligently studied God’s Word, diligently was a student of what he was and who he was and whose he was. But also he was very faithful to be filled with the Spirit because he knew he couldn’t convict anybody. He could convince the best, but he couldn’t convict anybody. The Holy Spirit had to be persuading men.
The grief of an ambassador for Christ
But the second thing you see here is the grief of an ambassador for Christ. And I didn’t write this so I’m just following his flow. That’s what he evidently wants them to know. Every ambassador for Christ who lives to persuade men and to please God, you would think should be able to expect to be defended in the face of the critics by those who had been persuaded. You would think that. But this is not always the case, and the fact that it’s not brings a lot of grief to our lives. And I just want you to get ready for it. When you become an ambassador for Christ, even the people you see persuaded for Him many times will not stand for you when the critics get in your face. Paul ends verse 11 by saying, “And I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”
Now Paul knows that God knows what he’s all about. But his concern is that do they know? You can almost hear the exasperation in his voice. He says it’s almost as if it’s beyond hope. He says, I hope that you understand the difference in our life. These are the people that have been persuaded by the gospel. Reasoned with, yes, but God the Holy Spirit persuaded their hearts. And he says, do I have to tell you again? Paul qualifies everything that he has just said and, about his team and about their purpose. He qualifies it in verse 12. He says, “We are not again commending ourselves to you, but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you’ll have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart.”
Isn’t it sad that with all that God had done through him, the people’s lives that had been changed, there were still those in the group that hated his message of living grace and hated and sought to tear that message and him down? Paul addressed those people in the last part of chapter 2. We know who he’s talking about. He’s already told us in the first few verses of chapter 3. He says, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” And then he says, “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?” and you remember that passage. And he says, “You are our letter written in our hearts, known and read by all men.”
You see, true believers at Corinth stood as a monument to Paul. Paul didn’t need any letters of recommendation. He didn’t need men’s approval. The church at Corinth would not have been there had they not been persuaded by the gospel of Christ and that was the Holy Spirit working through Paul. But there were those who were not genuine. There were those who masqueraded as teachers and preachers who peddled God’s Word, which the basic root idea of that is they did what they did for their own benefit, for their own gain. They were instrumental in bringing a lot of pain to Paul.
But you know what Paul’s real grief was? It wasn’t these people. He expected them. What he didn’t expect was the people that had become believers that had been persuaded, he didn’t expect them to remain silent in the face of critics towards Paul. They hadn’t said a word. You can almost hear in his voice again that the hurt and the exasperation to those who should know better. He says, “I’m not trying to explain myself. You know better than that. I’m not commending myself to you. I’m giving you an occasion to be proud of us, to have something good to say about us.”
All that Paul has told them in our text, about his heart, about his motive, about his work, about the work of his team, was to give them something to say that was good in the face of the critics of those who hated the message of grace. He says, “So that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not at heart.” He speaks of his critics, those who peddle the Word of God as being proud of appearance and not at heart. In other words they’re fake. They’re fake. There’s nothing on the inside. And Paul shows the gravity of how he’s been accused.
You know, a lot of times we don’t know exactly what was said. He sort of alluded to it, but he tells you in verse 13: “For if we are beside ourselves it is for God; if we’re of sound mind it’s for you.” The phrase, “for if we’re beside ourselves” could be translated in our day in our culture for if we have lost our minds, and I like that. The Greek word is the word existemi, which means to be crazy, to be out of one’s mind. This was the very word they used of Jesus when He was doing His miracles. And it says in Mark 3:21 “When His own people heard this they went out to take custody of Him, for they were saying, ‘He’s lost His senses.’” The same word. By using the word “we” Paul’s saying not just me, they’re accusing my whole team of losing their mind, losing their senses. And he says, listen, if that’s what they say it looks like to them, if that’s what the lost world who rejects this message, if that’s what they say about it then so be it. It was for God that we have done what we have done.
You have to get into this. I don’t know if I can explain it or not, but I’ll try. Isn’t it interesting how the lost world looks at a believer who’s committed to Christ like that millionaire seeing that beautiful girl in a leper colony and they think they have lost their mind. I’ve had somebody in my own family, not immediate, but a distant relative tell me, Wayne, it’s the stupidest thing in the world I can find that you would go into the ministry when you could be so productive in other areas of the world. And I constantly hear people say, well, Wayne, welcome to the real world. I would love for those people who say that to take in my shoes for one week and find out which side is really real.
But, you see, they think it’s stupid. “He’s lost his mind. He’s crazy”. And Paul says it doesn’t matter to me if that’s what they think. I understand they don’t understand. He knows why. If they mistake our fiery devotion in which we’ve conducted ourselves, if that’s so far over your head don’t worry about it. God already has it figured out. He knows what it’s about and He’s going to reward us one day when we stand before Him. We’re not here to make everybody understand who we are. We’re here to persuade men as to who He is.
But then he says, “You also found us to be of sound minds.” Certainly most of you have seen that in us that if you can surely see that “it was for you.” Paul said there’s certain things you can understand. You can’t understand a lot of what we do. You’ll agree with the skeptics. You’ll think that we’re crazy, but at the same time there are certain things you do understand. And Paul is saying, listen, when the critics come, camp out on what you do understand. Stay, speak to them in the face of hostility and tell them what God has done in your life. There’s certain things you can understand and that was for you.
Well, nothing new under the sun is there? Instead of defending the man God used or the lady or whoever that God used to persuade them and change their life, the worth of his message and of his life, the silent majority, I’m so sad to say, listened to the critics. So Paul’s telling them “I’m giving you something that you can say to them. I know you’re afraid. I know they intimidate you. But understand that there’s grief to being an ambassador for Christ.” You can’t even depend on the people sometimes closest to you. You can’t depend on the people that have been persuaded and their lives have been changed to stand with you. In 2 Timothy Paul says “Demas has left me.” And he said “when I stood before my accusers no one stood with me.” That’s pretty tough. That’s the last part of his ministry. He’s going to die in this imprisonment and he has nothing that he can hold on to.
But the thing that he hangs on to is God knows, and soon and very soon he’ll stand in His presence and the works that God had done through him will be there. The building however it is, whether it’s a garment or whatever it is will stand there and God can say, “well done, good and faithful servant.” The people down there didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I did. And Paul said that’s enough.
An ambassador for Christ has a goal. Reason with men, which means he’s disciplined to study, but be in the power of the Spirit to see them persuaded. But the grief to that man is he cannot depend on men at any time, even the saved, even the persuaded, many times because of fear will not stand with him. But he says that’s okay. That’s okay, God knows. You see the devil himself cannot stop God’s work. You know that. Nothing thwarts the purposes of God. He cannot stop the way it goes on or the work that’s done, but what he can do, he can get inside the body and find weak people who don’t have the gall to speak correctly. And what he can use them for is to try to discourage the ones that God is using. But so what? An ambassador for Christ shouldn’t expect to be pleasing to men ever, any man, but be pleasing to God.
So if you want to be an ambassador for Christ know that the goal of an ambassador for Christ is to persuade men, not please them. And the grief of an ambassador for Christ is that he cannot depend upon those whose lives have been changed to defend him in the face of his critics. His solace is that God knows.
The world is crying out, where are the ambassadors for Christ? Yeah, it’s costly. It’s very painful, but it’s worth it all. I wonder if you’re an ambassador for Christ. Everywhere you go Jesus in you is passing that way and God through you is drawing other people to Himself. Is that what your life is like? Listen to what happened to the disciples just to make sure you understand. James, the son of Zebedee was beheaded in Jerusalem, the first of the apostles to die during the Easter season in about the year AD 44. Matthew was slain with the sword in the city of Ethiopia. Mark was dragged through the streets of Alexandria until he expired. Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece. James the Less was thrown from a pinnacle, or wing of the temple and killed. Philip was hanged up against a pillar in Pergia. Bartholomew was whipped alive until death. Andrew was scourged and tied to a cross where he preached to the people for two days before dying. Jude was shot to death with arrows. Thomas was run through the body with a lance. Simon the Zealot was crucified. Peter was crucified upside down. Mathias was stoned and beheaded. John was exiled to the penal island of Patmos and later became the only apostle to die a natural death. But every one of them knew what Paul said. The pain that we go through in this life is momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory, His life manifested in us that’s going on at the same time. Paul said, “Buddy, when you look at what’s coming it’s worth it all. There’s no regrets.”