2nd Corinthians 5:11-21
I’m going to invite you to the book of Second Corinthians. Chapter five is where this one we’re going to go and dive into today’s text in second Corinthians Chapter five. There’s other announcements, by the way. You can check those out if you want to know what they are. But second Corinthians, chapter five, this this section of scripture, I told you last week, we started into chapter five, first ten verses. We’re going to conclude with the last ten verses of Chapter five today. When you look at this passage of Scripture, this is this section in particular, is that one of those sections of the Bible that should be be recurrent within the mind of a believer as they follow after Christ this as these verses move on, you’ll see the power behind these passages and what it means for you in light of being a follower of Jesus. Especially if you’re thinking in your mind as you come to to know Christ and want to pursue Christ with your life, or you’re just saying, Man, I want my life to matter. I want it to count, I want it to be important. I want to live on purpose. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret anything. But I want each day to count. And and this section of Scripture is that kind of section of the Bible that reminds your heart of of who you are in Jesus and how you are to live.
In light of that, when you look at this, this particular passage and everything that we’ve read up to this point, one of the things I love about Second Corinthians is that this this is a passage we’ve talked about with us that is very personal on the for the Apostle Paul, out of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote, there is none more personal in the second Corinthians. And part of the reason this letter becomes so personal is because Paul, he planted the church in Corinth, but the church had turned on him, and some of the people that had joined the church were living a life contrary to the Apostle Paul and leading the people astray, and they began to malign and attack Paul. And so Paul writes a letter, a very personal, to this church. He wrote a few letters to this church, more than two letters, actually. You have at least two in your Bible. But he wrote letters to this church regarding their relationship. And second Corinthians becomes one of those most the personal relationships that the Apostle Paul has has penned. And I think it’s a beautiful letter to consider, because as we live in light of Christ, we recognize that the people around us may not always agree with what you are in Jesus and how you want to pursue Christ with your life. And Paul, through the struggles that he faced, helps us to understand how to live in light of Christ, regardless of what people in this world might say for you or against you.
Our heart is to live for an audience of one, and people are going to have all sorts of decisions they may make about you because of that. But when your life is solely focused on Jesus, you realize that you live to please Him and not people. Because if you strive to live to please people, you’re not going to be happy anyway. You weren’t created by them and you weren’t created for them. That God created you for an intentional purpose. And one of the things that we find within this story that I absolutely love is that so often as human beings, when we we feel attacked or maligned, we instantly want to stand up and defend ourselves. And the Apostle Paul doesn’t do that at all. In fact, the Apostle Paul says, You know what, you’re right, I am weak, but thanks to Jesus in Christ, I become strong. And rather than promote himself, he promotes everything about the goodness of Christ. And and what becomes so important for that, for for us as believers, is that we recognize we look at the Apostle Paul, we tend to put him on a pedestal and think he’s the greatest Christian to ever live. I could never be. Paul, why would I read a letter so personal to the Apostle Paul when I know I’m not an apostle and I’m never going to be like Paul? But the reality is because the Apostle Paul teaches us within the book of Second Corinthians that he’s not leaning in its own strength to do what Jesus has called him to in the world.
It provides for all of us a platform to understand now what can Jesus do through me? Because it’s never been about you. It’s always been about His strength working through you and you can shed the Superman came. We only need one in this world and his name is Jesus. And we get to depend on his power to work through us in this world. And so today, Paul is going to talk about our compelling mission as a body of believers, and he’s going to do it hinging really on two words we’re going to or one word he repeats twice. And verse 11, you’re going to see him say this word, therefore, and any and all the response that he said to this point, he says therefore and here’s the concluding thought of how he he wants himself. And for us really to see how to live our lives in light of Christ and then does it again in verse 16 and 17, he says, therefore, and this. And then he shares with us how to live in light of our position in Jesus. And so he’s going to talk about two ideas that we’re going to see here together, starting in verse 11, and then down into to verse 15, verse 11, he begins with our our motive.
What is our our motive and why we do what we do. And then verse 16, he’s going to start from there picking up our message, because the reason we do what we do will lead to what we should say as God’s people when we walk and that that conviction and with that compelling message. So verse 11 of chapter five, let me pick up there, verse 11, it says it like this, therefore, therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord. We persuade others. But what we are is known to God and I hope it is known also to your conscience. Paul saying, You know what motivates me to do what I’m doing? What should motivate us to do what we’re doing? Therefore, it is the fear of the Lord. If you remember last week we started and stopped in verse ten where the Apostle Paul identifies for us that we are all going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And that’s a very sobering thought, isn’t it, that that you’re accountable to someone other than just you. And the accountability that you carry isn’t just to another human being or to some government power. It is ultimately an accountability to God himself. And Paul then says that the understanding of that accountability to God coming before the judgment seat of God helps us to think through the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is an important thing to for us as believers, to to consider and even unbelievers, because he’s he’s coming at this from a perspective of a believer, I think, thinking of the unbelieving world, realizing that all of us one day are going to meet Jesus face to face. And the fear of the Lord is a very sobering thought. But when Paul talks about it from from Paul’s perspective, he’s not saying this from from being afraid of God, but rather a reverential all of the authority in which God carries over, over all of creation, realizing he is going to come before that creator and there will be a reckoning. But for the Apostle Paul, in recognizing the fear of the Lord, it is an important position for believers. I think it’s Luke Chapter 26 that says When Christ appears that we who are in Christ should lift our heads. It’s interesting when you study the New Testament and the response to the to meaning God face to face, that oftentimes when the Bible refers to believers, it describes them in a posture of great anticipation, looking forward to it, lifting up their heads. But when the Bible talks about unbelievers, it’s tucked tail and run, never turning and repentance. For us, the fear of the Lord should also include with this great anticipation, because we understand in Jesus that the authority of God is not working against us, but rather is working for us.
That in His great authority, everything that is coming against an offense, against God’s people, He will wipe away every tear and every pain from our lives. And Revelation, chapter 21, verse four and five, declares that to us that Jesus will bring all sin into judgment. And as we said last week in Romans Chapter eight, God will work all things together for good to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. But nonetheless the Lord has that authority. I read it like this in a quote in a book. He says, This fear refers to a reverential all of God that directs the way one lives. Paul does not live in unhealthy dread of God’s judgment because he knows the love of Christ who gave himself for him. But his extraordinary experience of God’s love and forgiveness does not deaden his consciousness that God remains a holy and righteous God. There’s other passages in the Bible that reminds us in our position in Jesus, like Second Timothy, chapter one, verse seven, God gives us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind or first Timothy. Chapter two, verse 18 Perfect love casts out fear. I mean, this is not a promotion for your heart to be afraid of God, but but to recognize the authority of God over all of creation. And that he will bring forth his judgment. And therefore, he says it in light of this, that therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
The pol understands in light of this judgment that God has given us an opportunity to declare his message, to bring others in alignment with Christ, to understand who they are and why they were created, and for their life to matter, too. And so we go into this world to persuade others on behalf of Christ. To know him. I think it’s important for us to stop and ask, what does it mean to persuade? Because I think we can approach the world with such passion over our position with Jesus that our persuasion a lot of times can come across as guilting or nagging. Nobody likes that. Nobody likes to be told what to do. And nobody certainly likes to be told what to do very forcefully. Belief is a very sacred thing. What you walk in, in your faith is a very important thing. And we as people, when we want to rest on that with with conviction, it’s important, I think, as believers to share the truth, but as we share the truth, to share it in such a way that it helps others discover it, not to just simply tell them what to believe. It’s like this when you live in a home as a as a father who walks with Jesus. When I think of my children, I want my children to know the Lord and to walk with the Lord and not make a lot of the dumb decisions I’ve made with my life before I came to know Jesus in college.
As a parent, I see the need to declare to them the truth, but to also bring in the positions to ask them, What do you think about this and how does your heart want to respond in light of what this says? That way. It’s not me simply dictating what their faith should be, but for them to have opportunity to wrestle with it in their own mind, to start to own it. We don’t tell people simply what to believe, but we introduce them to the truth so that they can believe. Oftentimes we recognize when it talks about this persuasion that there might be people in this world that carry some sort of of other belief in life or may not even have shaped a conviction as to who they should be in light of God. They’re simply just living. And certainly there’s a truth behind why we do what we do or a belief behind why we do is what we what we do as people. But we may not have thought through the the depth of the conviction that drives those thoughts. And so we get an opportunity to introduce the truth of Jesus in light of anything else people could believe in life and and help them understand that. And so we think about what is persuasion. It’s a reasonable explanation. As to why Jesus should matter in their lives.
Because you’ve come to learn why Jesus should matter in your life. What I’ve found when I engage people in this world that may not hold to the biblical truth of Jesus, that oftentimes when people choose not to believe in Christ, if they’ve been introduced to him at all, or any sort of biblical concept of Christ, that oftentimes they may reject him simply because I think as people we like to argue that it’s a logical reason and there might be some logic to it, but I think oftentimes it becomes an experiential reason. Sometimes you’ll meet people and they may claim to be an atheist. And as you start to discuss with them what it means for them to be an atheist or to reject God, then what you find is the reason that they really reject God is either one. They’ve had a bad experience somewhere with someone that might claim to be a follower of Jesus, and they just don’t want that. Or two. They have this picture of God that they have. They have come to think is a true picture of God. But when you start to study scripture and you see who God, how God communicates himself in his character, that that’s not God at all. And you can affirm for them. Well, if I believe what you believe about God, I would be what you are to. But here’s what I’ve come to understand about God, and here’s where his word says it.
So what do you think about this passage? It’s a reasonable explanation of who God is. And not only that, to walk in the understanding of of the the significance of how the gospel can transform. And this is what Paul is doing here. The reason I am persuaded to do this is because of the fear of the Lord. That there is sin and sin will be judged. And we have an opportunity to talk about deliverance. To persuade the heart. We don’t have to bribe. We don’t have to. To guilt. You’re going to face God’s judgment. That’s more than enough. And then to share the beauty of of Jesus in all of that. We’re not always successful as God’s people when we do that. I mean, you read in the Book of Acts chapter 26 and verse 28 when Paul made his case before King Agrippa. King Agrippa even says, as Paul lays out a reasonable purpose for believing in Christ, Agrippa then turns to Paul and says, Paul, it’s like you’re trying to persuade me to be a Christian to. Not always successful in the persuasion of following Jesus. But but let me just say this. Whether you’re a believer in Christ or not. Do not be afraid. To follow the truth no matter where it leads. I find in my interaction with people in this world that they start to weigh what the cost might be in relationships to their friends and family if they were to be honest with the truth.
But Jesus tells us it’s the truth that sets you free. That’s one of the things we like to encourage here at Alpine Bible is we just don’t want to tell you to stop asking questions or to shelve your questions, but but to genuinely ask your questions as it comes as it comes to your relationship with God and pursuing him. I think faith is the most sacred thing that you have as a human being because it shapes everything that you do, who you are and the purpose for which you live. And so so we should find in that candidness of of pursuing God a place without feeling like we’re going to be attacked or someone’s going to look down on us, just ask the questions of life and as it relates to truth and and find ourselves walking in it. So Paul says, therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But. But what we are is known to God. And I hope it’s known also to your conscience, Paul. Then he goes on from here and he he really leans into how he’s living a life of this persuasion, the fear of the Lord living this persuasion. And He talks in the second half of verse 11, then how he’s doing that we are what we are is known to God, and I hope it’s also known to your conscience. He’s saying, look, we’ve we’ve not been pretenders.
We’ve not put on a facade. We realize in everything that we’re saying to you, Paul, Paul’s arguing to the church that we realize it’s accountable to God. And that is a very sacred, important thing. When you share biblical truth on behalf of the Lord, it’s his message to you. But we are accountable for every word. And so he’s saying what we are is known to God. And I hope I hope that you’re seeing it, too. That we’re not here just to impress you with us. We don’t. We’re not playing a popularity game. This is about you and God. And there’s nothing more important than that because that becomes the basis to shape everything that you do within your life. And he goes on verse 12, We are not committing ourselves to you again, but giving you cause to boast about us so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart and saying, Look, I’m not going to come to you again and argue why I’m an apostle. I’m not coming here with the credentials to impress you with a position. But you see who we are as other people may come into the church and try to impress you with their charisma on the outward appearance. That’s not about. It’s the beauty of what Jesus is doing in us and through us. That’s what we want to be about.
Can I just be honest, as a pastor, one of the things that I struggle with and I see the but I see also the value in is social media as it relates to the gospel in this world. I see it as a platform, a hub. It’s kind of like works like a town square. If you want to meet people, you’ve got to meet people where they are. There’s a lot of people in social media. Let’s tell people about the Lord on social media. Right. But one of the things I struggle with. It’s to take that platform and make it about me. I am not into the celebrity pastoral, whatever junk of the world. I don’t see a lot of value in it. I don’t even want to be about that. I just I just want the simplicity of of knowing Jesus and walking with him in the life and encouraging others to do the same. There’s nothing more precious than that. If I if I need to, I guess, make myself a celebrity, too, that maybe I don’t know I don’t know what I’m saying. But I just struggle with seeing that sometimes among people that just want to get behind a spotlight and tell the world all about themselves rather than about how great Christ is. And that’s what Paul is saying here. People are coming in to the church and and that’s what they want to promote, this outward charisma of the greatness of who they are.
And that’s not what we’re going to be about. At the end of the day. I just want to faithfully live for Jesus. And Paul’s saying, and I hope you see that. At the end of the day carries the substance of what we should be about in verse 13, for we are beside ourselves. It is for for God if we are in our right mind, it is for you. And this is how far is saying he’s willing to go. Look, I’m going to look crazy if I have to look crazy if that matters for the sake of the gospel to go out, you may. And that’s what the church is doing at this point. Some of the leaders are coming into the church and they’re trying to pervert the church and declare a different message to the church, referring to themselves as super apostles. They took it a step up from the apostle. Now they’re they’re the super apostles and they’re coming in trying to twist the message. And Paul is saying, look, they may be calling me crazy. And it may look crazy. But if that’s what it takes for the sake of Christ being made known in this world, then brand me crazy. It kind of leaves us with a similar question just to simply ask How far are you willing to go for the sake of Christ? But when you read about the apostle Paul, he says this in first Corinthians four, verse eight As someone who was hungry and thirsty and ragged and brutally treated and homeless and cursed, and a laborer who works with his hands and he was deemed the scum of the earth, the refuse of of the world.
That’s how far Paul is willing to go. And not only then, when you look at this passage, if you just kind of consider Paul saying, okay, therefore here’s my motive, therefore the fear of the Lord. So I’m persuading. And then he goes on and the second half of verse 11 and verse 13, he kind of he describes for us what that persuasion looks like, how he’s going to live his life, not there to impress people with who he is, but want them to be impressed with who Jesus is. He then takes the thought of the fear of the Lord and He marries it to another concept. And these both of these become significant for the life of the believer. I would tell you, you walk in the tension of both of these ideas when you pursue a life of Christ to be made known in this world. And He says it for some verse 14, For the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this, that one has died for all. Therefore all have died. So it’s these two thoughts as a believer, if you want to have this mode of to live this compelling machine message in this world that you recognize, these two ideas of who got is the greatness of God, as the fear of the Lord has made known this reverence of who the Lord is.
And I will tell you, in our culture and society today, we tend to take God. And it’s the tendency really of every culture throughout time, but we take God and we kind of bring him down to our level. And we don’t revere him as he deserves to be revered. We almost make him as if he’s common as being more like a human being than God himself. And Paul is saying, no, no, no, no. We need in our mind this great reverence for for the the magnitude of who God is. Let let your mind be and be captivated by the power and authority of this great God. To know that one day you will meet him face to face. And everything that we do, as he says in verse 11, is exposed to God that this power of this God is who you are under. And as you consider that. Don’t also lose sight of this. The love of Christ made. The love of Christ, he says, controls us to the point where he’s saying it compels us and there is no escape. And this is incredible when I think of passages that articulate really the beauty of those two thoughts. For me, Isaiah Chapter six is remember and as Isaiah Chapter six or God says in verse ten, who, who shall go for us? And Isaiah says, Here am I, Lord, send me.
But everything leading up to that moment when Isaiah was called to the Lord, it describes for us Isaiah is coming before God and it says the throne room shakes, the threshold shakes at the power of God. And the angels cry out, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory. And then Isaiah, in response to seeing that that image of God or that vision of the Lord, he says, Woe is me, for I am a dead man, I am a man of unclean lips. And I dwell amongst the people of unclean lips, and my eyes have beheld the Lord, the Lord of glory. And so there is this reverence to the power of God made known in his life. But then it says. And then one of the Seraphim flew from the altar and with tongs they took one of the coals and they brought it down and they touched my lips. And Isaiah was made. So as Isaiah looks at the great magnitude of who got his. He also sees a personal God who forgives him and heals him and loves him. And that motivates. To recognize that other people can know that God to hear my Lord send me. And this is what Paul is saying in this passage, right. For the love of Christ controls us.
While we see the transcendence of our king. He also becomes personal. Compassion. A servant. Full of love to rescue us and deliver us from the sin that destroys us. So that we could be free. Because we have concluded this, that one has died for all. Therefore all have died. Now, there there is this theological world that likes to dress up in their clothing and debate over this verse. Steve Urkel may be a little as some of us know, Steve Urkel is right. They ask the question, what is what is all here? One says Christ died for all. What? What is all? Or who is that all? What it can’t mean? What it can’t mean in this passage. It can’t mean that Jesus death was sufficient for everyone, because that would be universalism and there would be no reason to preach the gospel and tell people to embrace Jesus. But but what it what it does lead us to conclude is that Jesus death is certainly efficient for everyone that believes. Jesus. Death is sufficient, but it’s certainly efficient for everyone that puts their faith in him. And then he goes on and says this to us in verse 15, and he died for all that, those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him, for their sake, died and was raised. So you see, there’s this life that that we receive when we put ourselves in Christ or when we are in Christ, that we find the efficiency of Jesus to make us new.
And we’re wrapped experientially in this love of God and promised a hope of all of eternity in Jesus. This becomes our mode of. So if I can give you the the point of one point number two, if you didn’t get it, it’s we’re founded on the fear of the Lord. And number two is compelled by the love of of God. And we think about this, this love and what Jesus has done for us. The question I think we could ask is how could we have a choice to do something other than other than love God? Why would we do anything other than love God if the Christian message is true? To not love God would be utterly insane. A God who has pursued you. A God who has given everything for you that you could find freedom in Him to see the greatness of this God, who who could take His life and give it for all of us, that we could be set free in Jesus and find His death efficient for our lives. That is an incredible God. That is compassion towards us would become so specific that his death would be particularly for you. When you read a section of scripture like this and as we discuss it together, it’s important to to to recognize that this passage is not just about an intellectual ascent. But to allow your soul to rest here.
What Paul is playing out in these verses, I think get even more spectacular as they move forward. But but he’s outlining for us these two concepts that are so healthy for any Christian or anyone as they seek to pursue after God in this world is is to understand the reverential fear of the Lord, like who who he is and who we are in light of that. But also the sacred love of God becoming personal. Those two tensions should establish the church as it moves forward in Christ, in this world and and to be motivated by this message that we carry for the Lord. And so. Point number two, let’s talk about his message for a minute. Verse 16, from now on, therefore, you see that therefore, again, giving us another concluding thought and how to respond in light of all of this from now on. Therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. There was a particular strain in Judaism that actually didn’t even believe in a resurrection. The soul that this life was about. All you got. Well, Paul’s making the argument here. He’s saying, look. We realize that things aren’t just physical. That there’s something spiritual that’s happening among everyone, because all of us are also created spiritual beings and saying, Look, I made that mistake with Jesus. The Apostle Paul recognized Jesus merely just as a as a physical human being.
But he has come to realize in his life there was more substance to Christ than just the physical. There was something spiritual happening with with Christ that became something significant for all of us. He’s saying, I’m not making that mistake anymore. When I when I think about Jesus is not in that scope anymore. And when I think about every human being in this world, there is far more to humanity than just the physical. There is value in every soul because every soul is made in the image of God, and every soul is designed for eternity. And so this this becomes important for us not to to lose sight of that. So so therefore and realizing the importance of every human being, he then says this. Therefore if anyone is in Christ. He is a. I’m going to stop there for a minute. Anyone in Christ or a Christian. Right. This was describing. If I said to you this morning, what is a Christian? Or how would you describe that position of what it means to be in Christ? Don’t cheat and look what Paul says. But what would you say if you were sitting down with a friend and. And we’re just described what it means to be in Christ. Paul, I think in this moment, as the spirit leads him to articulate what he writes. The phrase that he chooses to use here to describe the followers of Jesus is brilliant.
It is. I don’t know that there is any better word that you can choose to put in this position, because through this one word, he’s taken not only a Jewish understanding of scripture, but he is encapsulating the entire point of the Bible. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The oldest passed away. Behold, all things have become new. That is brilliant. When you think about your position in Christ, and that’s the first blink in your notes or excuse me, under our message, the first link under the title, our message is it is an invitation to become a new creation. Jesus is desire for your life is to make all things new in you. But when Paul writes this word the way he chooses to, to to pick this word, to describe what it means to be in Christ. Incredible. I mean, outside of a biblical understanding, really, this is kind of a weird phrase. Describe a Christian new creation. What does that even mean? It’s kind of a weird thing to just say, you know, you do all kinds of things you could pick to choose here. But he says new creation. But we come to understand that this is this is a gospel theme throughout all of the Bible. This is this is the picture of what your your the word of God communicates to you from beginning to end. If you start if you start in in Genesis chapter one, you see God making creation.
And the purpose of his creation is to experience relationship for him and then all of eternity. That’s why when you read the six days of Creation, the last thing God does in his creative work and is He creates humanity in his image to relate to God. And on the seventh day he rests. And the reason He rests is that so that human beings can enjoy that relationship with God forever. The seventh day was never intended to end. It was to be resting in God’s presence for all of eternity. And then mankind sends. And sin brings destruction corrupts all of creation. And the wages of sin is death. But as you read through the Scriptures, what you find from Genesis three and on is this promise of God to come back and restore all of creation all the way to when you get to Revelation 21, verse five, you see the description of creation having been restored. But right now in that in-between between Genesis and Revelation, here we find ourselves in God’s story. If you’re in Jesus, then you’re redeemed in Christ. And what God has done in you is He starts. He has started to make all things new in the place he began making all things new is within your heart, within your soul, in Jesus. You have become. This new. Creation. It’s brilliant. It ties the theme of of all of scripture.
Isaiah 43, verse 18 to 19, talks about the new creation. Isaiah 65, verse 17, the anticipation of this new creation revelation in verse 21, verse five, it talks about the end with the new creation. Ephesians Chapter two, verse 15, Chapter four, verse 24, Hebrews Chapter eight, verse 13. It’s all all pointing to this, this moment where Jesus will transform, begin his transformational work in his people, that his people can carry forth his message, longing. Ultimately, for that time, he will make everything a new creation. He told us in second Corinthians chapter five versus two and verse four that we grown within our soul. And it’s not a groaning of complaining. It’s this groaning of anticipation, of recognizing that ultimately, one day God will make all things new. Our message. Our message is an invitation to become a new creation and theologically important to understand, but also also practically. Practically to recognize them with this new creation you get now a new focus in life. As a church. We’re not here to offer moralism. I’m not here to offer religion or legalism. We’re here to offer something entirely different. A new creation. The God wants to be in a new work in your life, in your relationship with him. And ultimately, in practically speaking, the beauty of this passage is saying to us. Jesus changes lives. This new creation communicates Jesus changes lives. And and then he goes on from there and verse 18 and and you’ll start to see as you think about this message that is this invitation to become a new creation.
He then he then brings to us an even stronger theme of how how that happens. Look at this. And hopefully you just hearing this read, you can you can anticipate the theme word, but I’ve highlighted it for you in case you missed it. All of this from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the Ministry of Reconciliation that is in Christ. God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors of Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God for our sake. He made Him to be sin. Who knew no sin so that we might in him become the righteousness of God. I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty sure it is okay in this passage to think about God as a God of reconciliation. And therefore, in light of that, God calls us to be a people of reconciliation. Reconciliation implies and implies there is a problem. You don’t need reconciliation unless there is a problem. Right. And it’s applying in this passage. There is a problem. But but at the same time, it’s not just leaving us in that problem. It’s also recognizing there is a God that pursues. A God who delivers his grace.
A God who gives the opportunity for us to know him and to be transformed in him through this Ministry of Reconciliation. And that becomes our message. This invitation to become a new creation. Not by your strength. Not by what you do. Not by how well you think you might impress God. But because of what Jesus has done for you. He became sin. Who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him. It’s what Jesus has done on our behalf. That gives us this place to be able to come before God and embrace what Christ has done on the cross and to find our lives completely transformed in Jesus. And from that point, the way that we choose to live our lives is not out of guilt, not out of shame, because Jesus is covered that. But now it’s motivated by love. Because there is this guy who did not give up for us and recognizing how great the fear of the Lord might be. Yet this God has become so personal. That we would have an opportunity to respond in light of that for for him. And which is why when when Paul is describing this, he gives us a title. If you want a title this morning, I’m going to dub you with a title. But you get to you get to title yourself verse 20 ambassadors. As you think about this Ministry of reconciliation, what is it you carry? You carry this position of as an ambassador? Now, I’m going to tell you, just being frank and honest here, out of all the titles, Paul could have given me grand poo ball.
The world to me is more impressive than ambassador. I’m not real thrilled about the title and Ambassador, but. But the picture it paints is incredible. So you think about what what an ambassador’s position is in this world. It’s to represent a dignitary from another kingdom to another group of people. This isn’t something that we should see ourselves as having, having half or having need to do or or not need to let me say having to do it. That’s a better way to say it. This is not something that you have to do. But but rather it’s better to see this as something that you get to do. Represent God. In this world. To a people that are in need. To be reconciled. To the Lord because God wants to know. To the point that God gave his life for them. That we would even have a place where we could be invited around the table to talk about as goodness. And as Paul says in the beginning, out of the fear of the Lord, persuade others to come to know this love of Christ. Moral guilt not to offer religion. But an invitation to relationship. At all things within their lives could be made new, this new creation. The crisis presents to us because of not what we have done, but because of what he has done for us.
So let me end with this. More than anything church. Our heart should be. To want people. To know Jesus. This is what Paul says. I, I implore you, in this passage of verse very in verse 20, we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. So let me say if you’re here this morning. And you don’t know the Lord. Do you really want to meet God face to face? With sin in your life. Do you really want to meet God face to face without having taken on what Christ has done for you? Without embracing that gift that Jesus has covered by taking on your sins on your behalf, that you could be set free. Do you really want to meet the magnitude of the fear of the Lord that way? I think the encouragement for you is to consider the the beauty of this passage is that we face the reality of God being the authority of all things and bringing a reconciliation against all. But providing all of us an opportunity to walk in this race. And point number two for you as a church, for us as a church, we think about embracing Jesus. What does it look like for us to stand in that truth? I don’t think we want to be obnoxious or annoying. Um. And though sometimes as a Christian community, we can be a little weird.
I remember when I first came to Jesus, I was at a function that was not with my church, but it was outside of the church with a group of Christians. I just remember new, new to Christ. And I’m looking around this room and I just thought, Man, Christians, we’re weird. We got some. We got some quirkiness about us sometimes. But, but, but, but at the same time, there’s some appreciation for it because. Because it points to not. Not the greatness of who we are. But the beauty of who Jesus is. What does it look for, look like for us to stand in that truth? Well, maybe if I gave a little background of a story of something that I think if I’m compelling and living in light of Christ, I don’t know what it is. Every time I flash up a picture of someone from 1800s or early, they always look two sheets to the wind and like they were having the worst hair day of their life when it’s probably the only time they ever had a photo. I’ve concluded that people 1800 years before just people just didn’t own mirrors. That’s I don’t know if I had to if I had the opportunity to go back in time, I think that would be my one thing I would take with me. I would take a mirror for people, especially before the photos. But but this guy, his name is Elijah Lovejoy and Elijah Lovejoy.
He he was a schoolteacher. He was a minister. He was a journalist and he was a newspaper editor. And he was also an abolitionist. And he chose to start a newspaper in order to promote the importance of being an abolitionist. And the story goes and the conviction of of the word of God in his life. Elijah continued to promote that. But groups of people continue to be angry against him. And mobs would come and they would attack him and they would beat him and they would destroy his printing press. And he refused to quit and he continued to move forward. And one day a mob showed up and they were out for blood. But through that whole process, Elijah Lovejoy, he’s got several quotes, but he says this as the Bible inculcates upon man but one duty in respect to sin, and that is immediate repentance. And it’s saying repentance is not this place of walking in guilt. It’s recognizing we are guilty, but it’s not this place of just walking in this guilt and shame of feeling bad. But rather repentance is to realize that our lives are contrary to God and Jesus has come to give His life for us. And I turn from from the things of this world and being king of my own life. And I turn to the one true king who gave his life for me. And allies saying this is what the heart of people need to realize.
And he’s thinking as an abolitionist how how people are are in this atrocious life of of of bringing people into slavery. And the heart needs to turn. The God is not pleased by that. Devalue another human being made in the image of God is not what the Lord is after. The message of Christianity is giving dignity and worth of people because it realizes that they are made in the image of God and that God has come after them to pursue them, to give His life for them. They may find freedom in him. And he goes on and says, if by compromise they try to get him to quit and compromise. And he says, If I compromise is meant that I should cease from my duty, I cannot make it. I fear God more than I fear, man. Crush me, if you will. But I shall die at my post. Not just a few days after he made this statement, the mob showed up to his printing press and they killed him. But he walked with a conviction of realizing who people were made in the image of God and that Jesus has given His life for everyone. And He would not sit by idly and not bring dignity and worth to to humanity. Because of the goodness of who God was and how God made himself known in his life. And the story even goes on from there that the mob that killed them, none of them were brought to justice.
None of them were even brought to trial. In fact, individuals that stood up for Elijah Lovejoy, they were prosecuted for standing up for him. One of the individuals that was one of the killers that day that that met Elijah Lovejoy as an angry mob. He went on to become elected as the mayor of Alton, Illinois. I just loved Lovejoy’s printing press was was in Illinois. But something else that’s interesting about history is that Elijah Lovejoy had a friend. And that friend had been recently elected. To the Illinois legislature. And that friend would go on to become the president of the United States. And I think of words like this and how important it said in Abraham Lincoln’s life what happened to Elijah Lovejoy? He he continued to remind himself of it, and he wore that. And the Gettysburg Address. He even said this as it began. He says Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now, I don’t want to do the mistake of marrying nationalism with Christianity. I think oftentimes when we do that, we lead down a dangerous road. But I do want to identify that in his statement, he recognized that the founders of our country saw the importance of human worth and the place of.
They discovered the importance of human worth wasn’t something they conceived in their own mind, but rather it came from the Word of God. All men are created equally and I was under the conviction of that lived out in his life that not only practically Abraham Lincoln could see slavery end as he gave the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But also it becomes a way of living your life in light of the beauty of the Gospel and who we are and before Christ. But there is a fear of the Lord that all of us are accountable to. And at the same time, God has given us incredible dignity and worth by giving His own life for us and making us in his image that we could connect to our Creator for all of eternity. And not only is he our creator, he’s also our Savior and king. And we have an opportunity every day to go into this world with a message that is contrary to anything else this world has to offer. Every message of this world is something about you performing to prove how you might be valuable. And the message of Christ is to demonstrate to us our value is not made up in what of what we do is as people. But our our value is made up in what he has already done for us, made in his image, given his life that we could become new creations. And in that. Walk in that newness every day and knowing our creator and our king.