Monday, September 10, 2018

Ambassadors for Christ

2 Cor. 5:14-21
(14) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
(15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
(16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
(17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
(18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
(19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
(20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
(21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

This passage contains the Lord’s commission to the Body of Christ in this present age (v.19b). Many commentators claim that only the ministers of Christ are ambassadors for Christ. According to the context, it is ALL who are “IN Christ” (v.17) that are “ambassadors FOR Christ” (v.20). All who have been reconciled have been given the ministry of reconciliation (v.18). What a privilege to be in Christ! With great privilege comes great responsibility. Those who are in Christ have a work to do for Christ! As ambassadors for Christ we have a message that He has committed to us to take to the world.

The Lord Jesus Christ raised up the apostle Paul to be a pattern and spokesman for the church in this present age, and we are told to follow him in doctrine and practice (1 Cor. 4:16-17; Phil. 4:9). There has never been a greater example in the work of evangelism than the apostle Paul. He was a faithful ambassador (Eph. 6:18-20). There are some who seem to follow Paul doctrinally but not practically. In other words, they know about the mystery of the Body of Christ but they aren’t doing much to help build it! May God help us to have and maintain the right balance between doctrine and practice. We may not be able to take missionary journeys like Paul, but we can all be faithful ambassadors for Christ in the opportunities that God gives us. 

An ambassador is one that is sent to another country to represent his home country. All believers are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), and this world is not our home (Col. 3:1-4). While we live in this world we must represent Christ. Consider four things about ambassadors:

1. They are SENT to a foreign land in a time of peace – The “day of his wrath” (Rev. 6:17) has been postponed. When Israel blasphemed the Holy Ghost in Acts 7 the stage was set for God to pour out His wrath. However, God poured out exceeding abundant grace by saving the leader in the rebellion against Him and revealing to him the great mystery of the Body of Christ! We are living in the “day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

2. They REPRESENT their king and homeland – We are here in “Christ’s stead." Christ is working in the world, but it is through the members of His Body, the church. We should desire for Christ to be made manifest in our life (2 Cor. 4:10-11). We are not to be a worldly people but a heavenly people. We must open our mouth and speak the truth but our life must also back up what we say!

3. An important message is COMMITTED to them (ambassador = messenger, see Prov. 13:17; Isa. 18:2) – Paul said, “we were allowed of God to be put in TRUST with the gospel” (1 Thess. 2:4).

4. They are BROUGHT HOME before war is declared – God will take the Body of Christ off the earth in the mystery of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-52) before the prophesied 70th week of Daniel begins. We are looking for Christ from heaven (Phil. 3:20-21), not the antichrist from earth.

I. Our Message
We have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” which means that it is our responsibility to preach the “word of reconciliation” which has been “committed unto us." Who better to give the message of reconciliation than those who have been reconciled? Reconciliation is to bring two disputing parties together. Lost sinners are “enemies of God” (Rom. 5:10). God is holy and therefore must judge sin. God Himself has done a work that enables Him to bring lost sinners into a right relationship with Him.

How did he make Reconciliation? – The answer is found in v.19 and 21.
1. "God was in Christ" – When Christ shed His blood on the cross it was the pure blood of God (Acts 20:28; Col. 1:14-22)!
2. "reconciling the world unto himself" – He did a work through His death, burial, and resurrection that made it possible for the world to be saved. Christ died for ALL (v.14). This offer did not begin until AFTER the fall of Israel (Rom. 11:15). God will not accept man’s attempts at reconciliation (religion). He has been sinned against and He alone sets the terms for reconciliation.
3. "not imputing their trespasses unto them" – The word impute means to put on the account of. God took the sin of the world off it's account and put it on Himself (v.21)!
4. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" - Christ had no sin, but on the cross He was made to be sin for us so that He could die for our sins (v.18; Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-22). 
5. "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" – Those who receive the offer of reconciliation by faith have the righteousness of Christ imputed to their account. We have no righteousness (Rom. 3:10), but in Christ we are made righteous. Reconciliation is based on imputation. The doctrine of imputation is illustrated in Phile. 17-18.

What happens to those who are reconciled (vs.16-17)? God has made reconciliation possible for the world but it is not applied to a lost sinner unless he receives Christ by faith. Reconciliation is not automatic, otherwise there would be no need for us to “beseech” sinners to “be reconciled to God." Those who are reconciled to are made a “new creature." The moment of salvation we are baptized by the Spirit into Christ and are made members of His spiritual body (1 Cor. 12:13). Our identity is in Him and therefore the old things of the flesh are passed away and all things are new! The Body of Christ is ONE new man. In Christ, the fleshly distinction of Jew and Gentile are done away because we are ONE in Him (Gal. 3:27-28; Eph. 2:16). Under the kingdom commission (Matt. 28:18-20), the distinction between Israel and the nations is in effect. In this age we should not look at people as being Jew or Gentile, but as either being in Christ or not. We don’t know Christ as the King of the Jews, but as the Head of the Body.

II. Our Ministry
There is one primary ministry in the present age and all believers are to take part in it (v.18b). It's about the “WORD of reconciliation." Our ministry is based on God’s word. God is not dealing with the world right now as He will in the future tribulation period. Remember that now is NOT the “day of his wrath” but the “day of salvation." God desires to BESEECH sinners through us to be reconciled to Him. To “beseech” is to ask with urgency. We are to let sinners know that reconciliation to God is available and simply “pray” them (ask them) to believe the gospel. It is not our responsibility to save them, but it is our responsibility to go tell them how to be saved.

God does not want us to make the church worldly in order to draw the lost to our building. The local church is about saved people learning the word of God so we can know the Lord and serve  according to His will. We are to go out into the world to reach the lost. We have the Holy Spirit and the gospel of the grace of God, and that is all we need to be an ambassador for Christ!

We are not to water down the message and make it all about just going to heaven when we die. The message is “be ye reconciled to God.” Everybody wants to go to heaven, but not everybody wants to be reconciled to God!

III. Our Motive
What will motivate us to be faithful ambassadors for Christ? The fear of God is a good motive (vs.9-11). However, the love of Christ is the greatest motivation (vs.14-15)! Not our love, but HIS love! 

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