2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 23
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Ambassador for Christ – Part 3. First of all, the mission that we’re on involves a message that is undeserved. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:18. He says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” Now, when Paul says, “all of these things are from God,” he’s referring to all that God has done to reconcile us to Himself.|
Undeserved Mission of an Ambassador for Christ
We’re going to finish up chapter 5, 2 Corinthians 5,. And we’ve been talking about “Ambassadors for Christ,” and this is part 3 of that little series that we have as we move through 2 Corinthians. Tonight we’re going to talk about the “Undeserved Mission of an Ambassador for Christ” as we look at verses 18-21.
Now, let me get you into this tonight. In Roman times there were two kinds of provinces. There were the senatorial provinces and there were what was called imperial provinces. Now, you have to know the difference. The senatorial provinces were made up of people who were peaceful, and they were not at war with Rome. But the imperial provinces were not that way at all. They were dangerous because at any minute they could be triggered and they could fight against Rome. So it was necessary for Rome to send ambassadors to these hostile imperial provinces on a mission that would help bring peace and would cause rebellion not to break out.
Now Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit of God, took a word that they would understand in a minute and used it in our text that we’re going to be looking at today. He purposely chose this meaningful word “ambassadors,” which in the Greek text is in a verb form. It’s not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s in the present indicative tense. It means he was constantly, always being an ambassador on a mission for Christ. And that’s the idea he’s trying to convey.
The word for that word “ambassador” is presbeuo. It’s the word that implies an older person or an elder person in a group who was always appointed as a spokesman to represent the king, a ruler, or a community. In Jewish cities this person was one who could speak the exact words of his sender. In other words he had a message to bring, but he could put no input of his own into it. Similarly today an ambassador represents governments, we know that. You’ve been in other countries, gone by the US Embassy. We’ve seen the ambassador that lives there. He represents countries and governments or prime minister that has appointed him.
Now, as soon as an ambassador begins to speak out of line from the one he represents, immediately he’s relieved of his post. Now, Paul was an ambassador for Christ. Paul has felt the cruelty and the hostility of this world, this imperial province if you please, that we all live in. He had felt the hostility of them when he had simply told them the words of the One who had sent him. He uses the term “ambassador” two times in his epistles, and the other time that he uses it is in Ephesians 6:20. Look what he says, “for which I am an ambassador in chains.” Now Paul wrote Ephesians from prison, as he did Philippians, as he did Colossians, as he did Philemon. He understood that to be an ambassador in an imperial province was to face hostility, and he had felt the pain that had come from that. Now believers, you and I, are sent into this world into a hostile imperial province, and we’re sent to bring a message of peace to all that will listen to us. That’s what our role is on this earth. It’s not to get older and retire and get a motor home and see the world.
We’re here for a purpose, and that purpose is very focused and very clear in Scripture. Paul begins in chapter 5:11 with what an ambassador for Christ is. We’ve already seen this, we’re just reviewing. We saw that the goal of an ambassador is to persuade men. He understands that he has to know the Word of God so that he can reason with the minds of this world, but he knows that he can’t persuade anybody. Only the Holy Spirit of God makes that appeal through him as we’ll see in the message today. He’s the One who changes hearts.
But we also saw the grief of an ambassador. Here’s a man who lives his life as an ambassador, representing the One who sent him with a message and he wants people to hear that message that will set them free, but the grief of an ambassador was, especially Paul, he couldn’t even count on the people that had been persuaded by the very message that he was sent to tell them. He couldn’t count on them to stand up for him when he was unduly criticized and accused, falsely accused. They wouldn’t stand for him, but that’s just part of it. We understand that.
Then Paul has also shown us the character of an ambassador for Christ, one who has to go through what he has to go through, in the fact that he has a selfless heart. We saw in our study how the ambassadors for Christ are constrained, they’re controlled by the love of Christ which is a selfless love. We have seen that God gives His ambassadors a special discernment. They don’t see people like the world sees them. An ambassador for Christ sees people the way God sees them: they’re either lost or they’re saved. And even if they’re saved, maybe they’re walking after the flesh. They see more of the spiritual condition of man rather than the color of their skin or the wealth or poverty that they experience. They don’t see through the eyes of men, they see through the eyes of God.
An ambassador for Christ has had such a radical, spiritual change in their life that Paul even calls them and himself a “brand new creature.” He says in 5:17, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Well, today we’re going to see the mission, that undeserved mission of an ambassador for Christ. We’re going to look even deeper. We are, as ambassadors for Christ as we’ve already tried to say, we’re sent into this world. If you think that you don’t have a purpose being a believer, listen, you’re missing the whole point. God works through His people. God is still on this earth. He lives in us and we’re in an imperial province, one that is hostile to God. But we’re bearers of His message of peace: peace with God first, then we can have peace with men.
Today we’re going to discover that our mission has within it a ministry, a message, and a method, but all of it is undeserved. I want us to understand that what we do have is such a privilege. So many believers are ho-hum about what they say they believe. Oh my friend, if you can just see into Scripture, let God open your eyes, let Him open your heart to what God wants you and me to be about in these days before He comes for His church. Let us rejoice together as we understand, even in a deeper way, what it means to be an ambassador for Christ.
The mission we are on involves a message that is undeserved
First of all, the mission that we’re on involves a message that is undeserved. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:18. He says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” Now, when Paul says, “all of these things are from God,” he’s referring to all that God has done to reconcile us to Himself. The context has been very specific and very clear.
The word “from,” and I’ve used this word with you many times, is the little Greek word ek. Now that’s important. My pen right now is in my pocket. I want to take it out of my pocket. This pen originated within my pocket. It’s taken out of it, ek. It denotes the source, the origin, the author of something. That’s what that little word means. Salvation is not in any way, shape or form from man. And this is theology that we need to put our feet down on, it will hold us up. Nothing of man has anything to do with salvation. It all comes from God. It is out of God, it originates with God, God is its Author. It was God who out of His great love for mankind that sent His Son into this hostile world to die for our sins.
Now all of these things are from God. And then he says, “who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” God reconciled us to Himself through Christ. I want us to think about that for a second. If you don’t ever meditate or think about what God is saying, we should be the initiators of reconciliation because we are the offenders. Always the offender is the one to go to the one that he’s offended. In apostolic times, even the Jews believed that man had to initiate this reconciliation with God through prayer and confession of sins. They understood that. But as we seen in the New Testament, which sums up all of the Old Testament, we see that it’s God who is the One who has initiated reconciliation with Himself. And He did this through His Son.
It was His Son that came to us to die for us. The word “reconciled” implies our separated condition from God. It implies the hostility that mankind has towards God. Now you have to understand something about reconciliation. You don’t need reconciliation unless there has been a separation, unless there has been an enmity that has built between you and someone else. There’s no need to reconcile people that are at peace with one another.
Have you ever been at enmity with someone else because of what you’ve done? Have you ever done anything that has caused enmity or hostility? When I was in college, I just loved college but I hated class. But I was in this one class and I’d had this professor for four years. I loved this guy; he liked me. He was a hunter. I’d go squirrel hunting in the morning and I’d come running into class late. We’d take up 40 minutes of the class; the class loved me, because we could just kill a whole class hour talking.
Well, here I was sitting in the class and this gorgeous girl comes in. She was second runner up, Ms North Carolina. She was Ms Highpoint. She sat right next to me. Well, I could tell she was a freshman because she wrote down everything the teacher said. He didn’t give his tests on notes; I knew that. I was drawing pictures, looking out the window, trying to keep myself entertained. He always told you what he was going to give on the test the week before. All you had to do was study that and you’d do fine.
But she didn’t know that and she’s writing down everything he’s saying. Everything he’s saying, and finally he said something too quickly and she looked over at me and she said, “What did he say?” I created a hostility between the two of us when I said back to her, “Kiss you! I don’t even know you!” That caused a separation from the two of us. In fact, it took me a long time to make that one right.
You see, you don’t reconcile with somebody that there has not been a break in fellowship, a break in relationship. And this is so important to understand what he’s saying here. We’ve been separated from God. That’s his whole point.
The word reconciliation is the word katallasso. Now that’s the word meaning to radically change something from this to that. And in the context, when we’re reconciled to God, we’re changed from being his enemy because of our sin we have offended Him, we’ve sinned against Him, we’ve been changed from being His enemy, we’ve been “reconciled” to becoming His friend. That’s what the word means. It’s a beautiful word picture.
Paul uses the word “reconciliation” in Romans 5:10 to show how desperate we really were for this change. He says in Romans 5:10, “For while we were enemies”—you see, some people don’t seem to understand that without Christ you’re an enemy to God—“we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” And by the way, that little phrase right there is the Christ-life that God has offered to us.
Isn’t it interesting how many people you hear on television and they make this statement and I shudder every time they say it. They think that man is basically good. If you want a picture of what man’s like apart from Christ, just go back and read Ephesians 2:1-3. That will tell you what we’re like. It says in verse 1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Now that’s what mankind is apart from salvation, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was only through the supreme sacrifice of Christ that we could even entertain the thought of being reconciled with God. Before reconciliation had to take place, God did something. He made the move. Salvation, reconciliation, is from Him.
So Paul says in our text, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us,” we didn’t do anything to get reconciled; he reconciled us, “to Himself through Christ.” Christ came into this hostile world to reconcile people like you and me. The word “reconcile” is in the aorist active tense. You say, “Well, thanks. Now what does that mean?” Well, what it means is that God did this of His own choice and of His own free will. Nobody threatened Him; He didn’t do it out of any other motivation. He did it out of the character of who He is because He loves the creatures, He loves mankind. He loves what He had created. God, out of His great love, sent His only Son into this hostile, hateful world to die for our sins. Why? So that we, enemies of God, might be reconciled to Him.
I just don’t want to go too fast. I know you say, “You never go too fast,” but I want to slow down even more. Let’s make sure we get the picture because so many people do not see themselves as unrighteous. So many people do not see themselves as enemies of God. They don’t have a clue that they’re dead. This is why so many times I have said the seeker-sensitive mentality, and maybe they mean something else with it, is really non-biblical. Men are not seeking after God. What are you talking about? God is seeking after man.
And Isaiah said that. “No man seeks after God. No, not one.” The picture of Scripture is not of a man seeking for God, the picture of Scripture is of God seeking after man. God did not abandon us when Adam plunged us into the depths of sin. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Instead of abandoning us, God took the initiative to restore the relationship. He gave us His only Son to die on the cross for the remission of our sins. He reconciled us to Himself by having Christ pay the debt He did not owe when we owed a debt we could not pay. And Christ, only in Christ is the enmity, the separation removed. And when you receive the Lord Jesus, and I love the testimony tonight, when you receive the Lord Jesus, then He comes to live in you.
And as Romans 5:1 says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So we have a message. What a message. It doesn’t matter if a person is rich, it doesn’t matter if they’re poor, it doesn’t matter if they’re black, it doesn’t matter if they’re green. It doesn’t matter what color they are. God sees hearts and we are His representatives, we are His ambassadors if you have received and tasted of this. If you have Christ in your heart you now become a vessel that God wants to use to take this undeserved message to people who have no clue what we’re talking about.
We were isolated without His fellowship, but He invited us to joyful communion with both the Father and the Son. Now that’s a message that is undeserved. Vance Havner said, what’s happened to us in the 20th century, we have lost the wonder of our salvation. I’ll tell you what, every day you take a breath when you wake up, it ought to overwhelm you. Only by the grace of God did you even take that breath. And do we understand that salvation is not a mockery, salvation is not a game, salvation is not something, listen, salvation is reconciliation. We have been reconciled to God. There’s no enmity between us. We have a message that is undeserved.
The mission we are on involves a ministry that is undeserved
But the second thing, why we’re on this mission as ambassadors for Him, we have a ministry that is undeserved. Look at verse 18 again, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” He gave us the ministry of reconciliation. The word “gave” there is the word didomi, which means to give out of one’s good will and good intention. Again, this expresses the heart that God has had in salvation. Again, it is in the aorist active tense. It means again, that God not only initiated our reconciliation, but out of His own goodwill toward us, He wants to include us in His divine plan to take this message to all of the world.
Now contextually the word “us” would have to refer to Paul and to his team, and would help us to understand why he defends his apostleship, because that was a part of God’s divine plan in the ministry of reconciliation, of getting the message to other people. But in a much broader sense, no way in the world you can limit it to that, because every one of us has been brought in. We’re all ministers now. The moment you say yes to God you become a minister. And so God has that on His mind also. Paul is not just talking about himself and his team; we have to see it in a broader sense. Every one of us has been given this ministry. We’re actually usable to God.
I don’t know about you, maybe some of you have arrived. You kind of look to me like maybe you’re already there, but I can’t imagine how God uses me. I cannot imagine, you can put me in the car going home and I act like the worst pagan that ever lived with some of the people that are driving in front of me. Is that you? You can give me half a second and I’ll realize my flesh and I’m thinking, “How in the world, God, do You use people like me?” And I’m sure you’ve said the very same thing before Him. That’s the undeserved part of this. God gave to people that He has made reconciliation with, gave to all of us the ministry of reconciliation.
Just think about it, He not only reconciles us to Himself and He has a divine plan of reaching to others, so He uses us in His divine plan. If you’ll look down in verse 1 of chapter 6, you’re going to see where we’re headed. And all this just flows together. He says in verse 1, “And working together with Him,” and that’s what this whole thing is all about, “we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” Now that’s the picture right there.
The moment you get saved, you’re in a yoke with the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve used this before, but this is a miniature picture of a yoke. The neck of one ox goes over here and they bring these things up and they click it. The neck of another head goes through there, and that’s the way they work together. It’s like they’re in a team. It’s a 200% relationship. It’s 100% the power of this one ox, because they always put the younger ox over here, the one that hasn’t got enough sense to get in out of the rain. They put the one that’s been around awhile over here. He knows what he’s doing. So they have this younger one who is in a yoke with this one right here. And when they walk together, now you can imagine if this one over here chooses to go his own way, and chooses not to obey, it’s going to cause some real scars in his neck.
When I was in the Philippines in Manila they showed me some of those scars on those oxen’s necks. And they said those were the rebellious ones. And I thought about Scripture. That’s exactly the way we are. So we’re working together with Him. So what does that mean? That automatically implies that we need to be surrendered to Him at all times. The very moment I say yes to God, I’ve said no to my sin; at that very moment that I am yoked together into His purpose, and then He then can begin to use me to reconcile others to Himself. He gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
The word “ministry” is diakonia. We can also translate it “servant,” or “service.” If you want to know what service you can render to God, say yes to Him. Be a mouthpiece, be a vessel through which God can make His appeal to other people. That’s what we’re here for. Can you imagine the people that you’re around in one weeks’ period of time that maybe you’ll never even see again, how many people has God sensitized you, in the midst of your busy schedule, to see people the way He sees them. And when you see them that way and you’re obedient to Him, He prompts your heart and then He’s the One making His appeal through you as you’re reasoning with them in the Word of God.
The best way in the world a believer can serve the Lord is by saying yes to Him and share the message, live the message. We are ambassadors for Christ in this hostile world, in this imperial province that’s rebellious and hostile towards God. We’re aliens, we’re strangers, we don’t even belong here but we’re just passing through. And while we’re passing through we have a treasure in these earthen vessels. And what Paul is saying is, “Oh, listen, the joy of it all is He hasn’t just reconciled us out of that hostility, He has put a message within us so that we can now reach others who are hostile toward Him.”
And the message that we share, verse 19, we keep coming back to it. He says, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” Oh my, the theology that is in these passages. I hope you’re not missing it. God was in Christ. How many people have told me, “Jesus, He’s okay, but He’s not God. He never claimed to be God.” Oh, my goodness, wake up and smell the roses. Jesus repeatedly said, “I’m in the Father and the Father is in Me.” John 10:38, “but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” John 14:11, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.” John 14:20, “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
That’s the next step. And then he says in John 17:21 in his priestly prayer, “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send me.” God was in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:19 says, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” Now that phrase right there not only sums up all that Christ did for us but especially points to the cross and His atoning death for us.
Now the cross was God’s way of reconciling the world to Himself. The debt of sin had to be paid. Paul says God was “not counting their trespasses against them.” That’s amazing to me; He didn’t count our trespasses against us but instead sent His Son to pay the penalty of man’s sin; “namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Now because Christ has done what He’s done, we are now entrusted with this ministry, this message of reconciliation. That overwhelms me. God inaugurated reconciliation in the coming of His Son, but not only that, God continues reconciliation by entrusting people like you and me with the message, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Now let’s make sure we understand that little phrase “the word of reconciliation.” The word for “word” is the word logos. Any time you see this word and it’s used particularly in 1 Corinthians 12 and to differentiate he changes the word in one verse from laleo to logos, and what he’s talking about is people that babble around and make no sense. The word logos always means the “intelligent, communicable, thought-through Word of God.” It never is anything other than that. It’s understandable, it communicates, it’s intelligent. Jesus was the living Word, in the beginning the Word was with God, the divine intelligence was with God.
And then verse 14, and the word, that divine intelligence, that understandable, the intelligence, was made flesh in Jesus and Jesus of course is the personification of that. The definite article is used before the word “word.” You say what does that have to do with anything? When a definite article is used, it means a specific word of reconciliation. What it is referring to here is the Word of God. I want you to know something, the Word of God from cover to cover is the gospel message. You say, “Everybody knows that.” Are you sure? You see, what he’s talking about here is not the “Roman Road” that people used to lead people to Christ. They think that’s the gospel message and so somehow they confuse the gospel message with a passage here and a passage there, here a verse, there a verse, everywhere a verse, verse.
And somebody came up with a tract and said this is the gospel message. No, sir. This is the gospel message: God has given us the Word of reconciliation. I love the missions groups called the New Tribe Mission. I got to know them real well when I was pastor of a church in Mississippi, and they were about ten miles away. They had their jungle camp nearby, and when I was there they invited me to come over. And I want to tell you something, they didn’t invite many preachers. They said you’re kind of rare to be able to come into a jungle camp.
In a jungle camp they go to unreached tribes. They drop them off the edge of the world and they go to people who have never heard the gospel before. And they have to make their chairs, they have to make their tables, they have to learn how to make their own houses. They had to learn how to make their own stove out of a barrel they cut in half and they had to cook on it. And I got to go for one of their meals and I want to tell you what, put it on your forehead, your tongue would slap your brains out. That was the best stuff I’ve ever eaten. Biscuits that were made in a barrel; it was awesome.
And you know what I love about the New Tribes Missionaries? They go to people that have never heard anything, they don’t take a bunch of tracts and cram it down their throats. They take the Word of God and they start in the book of Genesis and the go to the book of Revelation. They show how man was created by God in the book of Genesis. They show the fall in Genesis 3, they show what happened when the fall occurred and then they show the promise that is veiled in Genesis 3 that “you shall bruise his heel but he’ll bruise your head,” talking about the Lord Jesus that would come one day. They take them through the covenant, they show where Abraham was pulled out of the land of Chaldea and how that Abram was given the name Abraham, which was God’s name, and God covenanted with him; and Abraham had Isaac and Isaac had Esau and Jacob. Jacob, the younger son, became Israel and Israel had twelve sons and out of the tribes of Israel the tribe of Judah, the line of David, the Lord Jesus got His humanity on this earth and they explain to them why this had to take place. And Isaiah 53 that He was bruised for our sins and He died for our sins. And then they walk them through the gospel and then they turn right around and say, “Do you have Jesus Christ living in your heart?”
What did they just do? They didn’t take the Roman Road. Man, they took the Bible road from Genesis to Revelation. That is the Word of reconciliation; this whole Bible is the plan of salvation. This whole Bible is the gospel; the whole Bible is the Word of reconciliation. And our mission that God has given to us as ambassadors is to know this Book so we can reason with the minds of people, so that we can help them understand from God’s Word, knowing that it will be God that will persuade the hearts of men.
I want to tell you something: Not only is my reconciliation and my salvation undeserved, you just don’t know enough about me to appreciate that. The gospel message from the Word of God, as ambassadors in this hostile imperial province that God has placed us in, it is Christ living in us that accomplishes this task of reconciliation. That’s so undeserved: knowing that “I can’t, God never said I could; but He can and He always said He would.”
Verse 20, “Therefore,” now any time you see a “therefore” you always look to see what it’s there for, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating [making an appeal] through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” The words “as though God,” be careful, that’s an English translation. A much better translation is “as in fact God is making an appeal.” You see, it takes it off that iffy state and it’s very absolute. It’s a very strong phrase.
Paul knew his place in that he was only a vessel. He knew that. He understood that. But it was God making His appeal through him. Paul made the plea, saying “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” But it was God that was truly making the appeal through the apostle Paul.
The word “appeal” is the word parakaleo. Now listen, it literally, if you took it apart etymologically and looked at it, it would mean “come alongside.” But it can be, and you have to be very careful, it can be translated “to call for,” somebody making an invitation, somebody making a call for someone. So what is God’s appeal to all mankind? That appeal is to be reconciled to God. So God lives within us. We beg men, “listen to the message, listen to the message.” But God in the message is appealing to their hearts. He’s coming alongside the lost and those who are in enmity with God, He’s coming alongside them but He’s making the appeal. We’re reasoning with their minds through the Word, but God, behind all of that, is making His appeal.
“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.” This is God’s plea to all mankind without any exception. God wants a relationship with us. That’s so awesome to me. He has His ambassadors, and He has them in place all over the world. Remember back in chapter 1 we realized God put you where you can be best used? Remember that message? How many people said, “Why did He put me out here with no humidity and flat-roofed houses?” But God puts us where we can best be used for Him. We’re ambassadors; He knows where to place us as we share His message and His Word, He makes His appeal to those around us to be reconciled.
I just wish I knew the world that you live in. I can’t reach a tenth of the people that you can reach. I’m not in their circles. I remember going to a deer camp one time and I just went to be an ambassador, just to see what God would use me for. They found out I was a preacher and every time I walked toward the men that were gathered, “Oh, here comes the preacher.” And everybody would just get quiet. I can’t touch a lot of people, but you can touch a lot of people. You’re His ambassador.
You say, “Wayne, I don’t even like the place that I work.” Well, I wonder why God has created that uncomfortable situation that you’re in. God wants to use you in that. You’re in a hostile place, but you’re His ambassador. To reason with the minds of men so that God might persuade and change their hearts. Every time the Word of God, the word of reconciliation is preached, taught, shared, whatever, God is appealing to men through His Word, His love. The Word of God is the message that all mankind is desperate for in our day and in every day to hear.
Verse 21 it tells people that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” I think this is one of the epistle’s most outstanding verses that summarizes all of God’s good news to sinners. It really helps us now understand the meaning of reconciliation even though we kind of have it; it seems to be more fully explained in this one verse.
The apostle explains that God took His sinless Son and made Him the sin-bearer in our place. Christ redeemed us by taking upon Himself the curse that rested on us. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,’” Christ wore our sinful robe of humanity to the cross so that we, as imperfect as we are, might wear His robe of righteousness. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And to think, to think, He’s made us as His ambassadors to carry a message to the lost and to the dying world. We’re on mission for Him. If you’ve ever wondered about a purpose in your life, you’re on mission for Him. We have a message that is undeserved, we have a ministry that is undeserved and why in the world would He choose us, but He did. And we have a method that is totally undeserved.
The mission we are on involves a method that is undeserved
We have a method that is totally undeserved. All we have to do is be obedient and open our mouths and share what God has told us to share. He’s the One who brings about the persuasion and the reconciliation. So everything that we do somehow lands right there. It doesn’t matter what it is. Even though we’re equipping church and we equip believers, why do we equip believers? Because an equipped believer becomes a true ambassador for Christ. All of it works together in God’s economy.
Last week when the choir did what they did, I tell you, I was overwhelmed. I cried through about half of it. It was just incredible. But you know what I really enjoyed even more than what the choir did? I was so excited and so filled up. I walked down the steps and was standing right there. Two young men came. One of them came to me, stopped me right out here, and he said, “I’ve seen you on television and I’ve been here one time before, this is our second time. Can you help me with something?” I said, “Well, if I can.” He said, “How can I have Jesus in my heart?” “That’s something I can help you with.” And he had a friend with him, I realized then they were together and he said, “This is my friend,” and he gave me his name, and said, “He wants to know how he can have Jesus in his heart.” Boy, we were right over there, they prayed to receive Christ last week and I thought to myself, “When the Word is sung, when the Word is taught, when the Word is shared, when the Word is proclaimed, it’s the Word of reconciliation.”
And in the midst of all of it even though we’re enjoying it or not enjoying it, in the midst of it, God, through the human personalities and frailty of man, through all of that, He’s making His appeal to the hearts of people that He knows is there that needs to hear what’s being said. And I’ll tell you what, that excites me beyond anything else. What has God said to you about the assignment He’s given to you in the world in which He’s placed you? What has He said to you?
You are an ambassador for Christ and we’ve been sent into an imperial province, a hostile world with the message of God’s peace. And that’s what Christianity is all about. And one of these days, hopefully it might be in the midst of teaching, singing, sharing, proclaiming, right in the middle of it, you take about a final breath and as he says earlier in chapter 4, we go right into the presence of the Lord Jesus. Wouldn’t that be awesome? And we live that way down here. That’s what it’s all about.