The Ministry of Reconciliation

Title: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Text: 2 Corinthians 5.11-6.2

Introduction: *Pause the recording – I got an email from our contact this week.

Hey Calvary Friends!

I just wanted to give you a brief update on the work among the *UUPG. Last week Brother Five (from the video) brought his 5 y/o son to K* because he had a high fever.  Our team member Noel took him to the international clinic to see an American doctor who was able to diagnose an ear infection and give him the proper antibiotics.  While in K*, he shared that on Christmas Eve he and the local M’s were celebrating Christmas with some *UUPG villagers and they shared the Christmas story in the context of Creation to Christ. They decided that they didn’t want to do a “hard sell”, but just share the meaning of Christmas because they are Christians.  God had other plans in mind.  Three *UUPG men asked them later, “if this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what must we do about it?”  Praise the Lord that we now have three new *UUPG brothers!

Can I say, that Monday morning during my quiet time I was just freaking out! Our *UUPG Brothers were practicing what is called The Ministry of Reconciliation.

This passage in 2 Corinthians is a clarification of just what The Ministry of Reconciliation is. I’ve taken Paul’s passage and divided it into four parts:

  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our Mission.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is evident in why we do it: Our Motive.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is defined by our service: Our Ministry.
  • The Ministry of Reconciliation is put in to practice in our words: Our Message.

Transition: Let’s begin with The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our Mission.

1.     Our Mission (11)

exp.: We Persuade others; rd v 11a; this verb gives us direction for where we’re headed. The context of this entire passage is that Paul has been keeping his eye on the future. He knows where he is headed if and when he dies. He knows he is weak – a jar of clay, carrying a valuable message – message of hope. Last week our focus was upon the future: Paul’s confidence in the future. You might remember he gave:

Two Examples demonstrating the contrast of the now and the not yet:

  • The inner man and the outer man
  • The tent and the building

            Two Experiences of suffering and persecution in this life demonstrating this reality:

  • The inner man groans and yearns for Heaven . Groaning
  • The Holy Spirit is given as a Guarantee that one day what is mortal and momentary will be swallowed up by what is immortal and eternal.

            Two Expressions of our faith is seen clearly through

  • The Reality of our situation and the preference we hold And 2nd,
  • The Resolve to live our lives to please Him – for we will all be judge – people live as though there really is a heaven.

So, in light of all this – we persuade others! It’s what we do! Being viewed as weak – we persuade others. Being persecuted – we persuade others. It’s what we do!

The Ministry of Reconciliation is clear in our work – our mission. If our mission is what we do, then our Motivation is why we do it. So we see 2ndly, that The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in:

2.     Our Motive (11-13)

exp.: Look at v 11a; knowing the fear of the Lord; this isn’t communicating a scare tactic; This isn’t anything like what you see in the conversion tactics of Islamic radicals or the Muslim extremist;

ill.: I went and saw American Sniper Friday night. The Language is atrocious, and if you ever served in the American Armed forces, you probably have an idea of how bad it was. The violence, extreme. War is. In the movie, we meet again some of the leaders of the Islamic Regime: Abu Musab al-Zarkawi and his right hand man. This #2 guy who name I’m not even going to try to pronounce, would use a drill to torture his own people with to get them to comply with his demands.

App.: We fear the Lord, but meaning is different. Proverbs 1.7; 4.7; 9.10; Ps 111.10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! What moves us is the deep respect and awe we have for our Father in Heaven. And, he notes that it’s not just knowing the fear of the Lord, rd v 11b; This is a basic reminder of what he’s already told them in 4.2: But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And just so you’re not confused: rd v 12; Our motivation is:

  1. Knowing the fear of the Lord
  2. Not you! We’re not commending ourselves to you, again; v12
  3. We’re not doing this to look good on the outside. Rd v13
  4. No this is all about God, no matter what that might look like! No, what we are and what we do is known to God! And that’s what’s important to us; that’s what motivates us to persuade others.

Transition: The Ministry of Reconciliation is clarified in what we do: Our mission; it is evident in why we do it: Our motivation; 3rdly, The Ministry of Reconciliation is defined by our service: Our Ministry.

3.     Our Ministry (14-19)

exp.: In v14-19, Paul gives the Corinthians three effects Christ’s love has on us; rd v 14;

  1. The Love of Christ Controls Us – v14-15; this word is a hard word to understand in English;
  • hold together, sustain τὶ someth. (Ael. Aristid. 43, 16 K.=1 p. 6 D.: τὰ πάντα ς.; PTebt. 410, ll. Cf. IG XIV 1018 to Attis συνέχοντι τὸ πᾶν [s. CWeyman, BZ 14, ’17, 17f]; PGM 13, 843. Other exx. in Cumont3 230, 57; Wsd 1:7; Aristobulus in Euseb., Pr. Ev. 13, 12, 12; Philo; Jos., C. Ap.2, 208) συνέχει αὐτὴ (i.e. ἡ ψυχή) τὸ σῶμα Dg 6:7. Pass. 1 Cl 20:5.
  • close by holding (together) , stop trans., shut (στόμα Ps 68:16; Is 52:15. The heavens, so that there is no rain Dt 11:17; 3 Km 8:35) συνέσχον τὰ ὦτα αὐτῶν Ac 7:57.
  • press hard, crowd τινά someone Lk 8:45. Of a city (2 Macc 9:2) οἱ ἐχθροί σου συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν 19:43.— Phil 1.23: I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
  • hold in custody (Lucian, Tox. 39; PMagd. 42, 7; PLille 7, 15 [III bc]) Lk 22:63.
  • of untoward circumstances seize, attack, distress, torment

I think a good way to define this for us would be to think of control, as in he has reigned us in and controls us like a man on a horse with a bridle; rd v 14a;

Kent Hughes: The primary focus was on Christ’s love for us and not our love for him. The belief that on the Cross Christ acted on behalf of the whole human race became the foundation of Paul’s thinking and action. When the implication of the statement, “He died for all” (v. 15), began to get hold of Paul, it changed permanently his feeling about every person in the world. The fact that every person he met was the object of God’s eternal love and was one for whom Christ died defined the nature of his ministry. This is why Paul’s evangelism never exploited or manipulated people. He had come to love them the way Christ did.

App.: When you come to the same conclusion as Paul, your Philosophy of evangelism is solidified: We become like Ezekiel 33.11, where God said11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Transition: We know the fear of the Lord and we know his control over us, leading us ever onward to persuade others to follow Him, too: The Love of Christ Controls Us, 2ndly –

  1. The Love of Christ Changes Us – v16-17; Not only has the Love of Christ brought us under his Control, but it has changed us. I’m not who I used to be! Like a caterpillar compared to a beautiful butterfly, I too have been changed. I see that so clearly, So, I don’t regard myself or my savior in the same manner as I used to do. Nor do I see others the same way. People are more than just the flesh you see. People are more than the glitter and the gold – there is a soul in there with a destiny. I want to be a part of the change!
  2. The Love of Christ Commissions Us – v18-19:
    1. All of this is from God: it’s not man made!
      1. Through Christ, He reconciled us to him
      2. And gave us the ministry of reconciliation!

Transition: and He commissions us to take this message – this is our message –

4.     Our Message (20-6.2)

exp.: Then, He entrusted us with this same message of reconciliation! Rd v 20; Oh, be reconciled to God: He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked might turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die? rd v 21 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. The theological term for this is Justification. Wayne Grudem writes in his book Systematic Theology about the need for justification in our lives:

First, when Adam sinned, his guilt was imputed to us; God the Father viewed it as belonging to us, and therefore it did. Second, when Christ suffered and died for our sins, our sin was imputed to Christ; God thought of it as belonging to him, and he paid the penalty for it. Now in the doctrine of justification we see imputation for the third time. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, and therefore God thinks of it as belonging to us. It is not our own righteousness but Christ’s righteousness that is freely given to us. So Paul can say that God made Christ to be “our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). And Paul says that his goal is to be found in Christ, “not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). Paul knows that the righteousness he has before God is not anything of his own doing; it is the righteousness of God that comes through Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21–22).

And then Paul brings the Gospel home in 6.1-2; Read; Today! I implore you today, to seize this auspicious occasion and come to Christ. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. He made him to be sin who knew no sin: God is Holy. Infinitely Holy – Pure.
  2. Do you remember when I quoted Grudem: Adam sinned, his guilt was imputed to us; God the Father viewed it as belonging to us, and therefore it did.
  3. For our sake he made him to be sin. That is, when Christ suffered and died for our sins, our sin was imputed to Christ; God thought of it as belonging to him, and he paid the penalty for it.
  4. Now, you don’t have to have Christ pay the penalty for your sin. You can do that yourself. The punishment – eternal death. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what Hell is.
  5. Story of the Bai Yi. Three Bai Yi men asked them later, “if this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what must we do about it?”  Praise the Lord that we now have three new Bai Yi brothers!
  6. I would say: Since this story is true, and in light of the crucifixion, what will you do about it?

Conclusion: Invitation to come to Christ; in a moment, Chris will come and lead us in praise. This is your opportunity to respond.

Observations & Implications:

  1. As you see Paul’s passion here, ask yourself if you have a similar passion to see people saved? If so, how is that evident? In what ways is that demonstrated?
  2. When you witness, and I’m assuming you do, Can you articulate the Gospel as succinctly as Paul has? If you can’t, would you respond this morning and ask one of the elders to help you learn this?
  3. Is anyone offended or bothered by your witness and persistence? Include God in that survey. There comes a time when you must make a verbal appeal for someone to accept Christ. You turn to them and ask, would you like to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior? Would you like to ask Him to forgive you of your sins.

So, Our invitation is for you to respond:

1st, to Christ

2nd, to evangelize those around you

3rd, you’re looking for a church home. You like what you see and want to get involved.

4th, God is placing a call to ministry on your life.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Scripture, Sermons

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