"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" The Ministry Of Reconciliation (5:18-21) INTRODUCTION 1. An important concept fundamental to the gospel of Christ is that of "reconciliation" 2. In 2Co 5:18-21, Paul expounds upon this subject... a. He discusses how there is some sort of reconciliation between God and man b. He describes the role he played in what he calls the "ministry" of reconciliation 3. There are a couple of questions I would like to address in this lesson... a. Exactly what is the nature of the reconciliation between God and man? b. What roles might we play in the gospel of Christ as the "ministry of reconciliation"? [It is important that we first properly understand the meaning of "reconciliation" and its concept as it relates to God and man...] I. THE PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION A. DEFINING RECONCILIATION... 1. Vine's definition of "reconcile" (Grk., katallasso)... a. "It properly denotes to change, exchange (esp. of money)" b. "Hence, of persons, to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile" 2. He goes on to add: "With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words show that primarily reconciliation is what GOD (emphasis mine, MAC) accomplishes..." a. I.e., there is enmity between God and man (because of man's sin, cf. Isa 59:1-2) b. Yet the gospel proclaims how GOD has taken the initiative to reconcile man back to Himself 3. We should note this fine distinction: a. God is not reconciled to man, as though God were partly to blame for the enmity b. Rather, man is reconciled to God, for it is man who moved away from God! 4. Thus the reconciliation between man and God is slightly different, though the difference is important! a. When people need to be reconciled to one another, it normally involves a situation where fault lies on both sides to some degree b. Not so with the case between man and God; man has moved away from God, and it is man who needs to be reconciled back to God, not God back to man! B. HOW RECONCILIATION IS MADE POSSIBLE... 1. It is possible because of the initiatives that GOD took first! 2. It is possible through Jesus Christ, in particular by His death for our sins! a. Note these verses that teach reconciliation comes through Jesus - 2Co 5:18; Col 1:19-20a b. Note these verses that teach reconciliation comes through Jesus' death on the cross - 2Co 5:19,21; Ro 5:10; Col 1: 20b-22 c. In other words... 1) God took Christ, who knew no sin, to represent our sin and to receive the punishment due for sin in His death on the cross 2) So that we, who were enemies, alienated from God by our sins, might be reconciled back to God! 3) And through Christ's death: a) We might become the righteousness of God in Him - 2Co 5:21a b) We might be holy, blameless and irreproachable in His sight, because our trespasses are not imputed to us - Col 1:22; 2Co 5:19; cf. Ro 4:6-8 3. Indeed, reconciliation is possible because God has offered Jesus as a "propitiation" for our sins! a. The word "propitiation" describes a sacrifice that is designed to appease for sins b. It was used to describe those sacrifices that Gentiles offered to their gods c. But in the NT, it is GOD who offers the "propitiation", not man! 1) Cf. 1Jn 2:1-2; 4:10 2) This illustrates the great love God has for us, and how far He has gone in trying to reconcile man back to Himself! [It is when we understand the meaning and process of "reconciliation" (along with "propitiation") that we begin to appreciate the wonderful extent of God's grace and His love for mankind. But God went beyond just sending His Son to die on the cross as a propitiation designed to reconcile man back to God; He has also developed...] II. THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION A. GOD SENT "AMBASSADORS"... 1. Note that Paul says God: a. "...has given to us the ministry of reconciliation" - 2Co 5:18b b. "...has committed to us the word of reconciliation" - 2Co 5:19b -- There is a ministry (service) in which the word of reconciliation is to be made known to others! 2. The apostles in particular had this "ministry"... a. The word apostle means "one sent" b. In a special way they were sent to serve as Christ's "ambassadors" to the world! - 2Co 5:20 3. Therefore, through the apostles...through their word... a. God is pleading with us... b. Christ is imploring us... ...be reconciled to God! - 2Co 5:20 -- Thus God's great love is manifest in the fact that He also sent ambassadors to tell the world what He has done to reconcile man back to Himself B. HIS "AMBASSADORS" TODAY... 1. The "ministry of reconciliation" continues today! a. For people are still lost in their sins b. And God still loves those who are lost 2. But who are God's "ambassadors" today? a. Who will take the "word of reconciliation" to others? b. Who along with God and Christ will plead and implore: "Be reconciled to God!"? 3. While there may not be "formal" ambassadors like the apostles were, Christ still has His ambassadors: a. The people of God, who proclaim His praises - 1Pe 2:9-10 b. Faithful individuals, who properly taught can teach others - 2Ti 2:2 c. In fact, ALL Christians should be involved in "the ministry of reconciliation"! 1) Some may "go", while others may "send" - Ro 10:14-15 2) Some may "teach", while others may "invite" - Jn 1:45-46 4. In whatever way we serve, we must remember that we play an important role in God's ministry of reconciliation today! CONCLUSION 1. How important is "reconciliation" and "the ministry of reconciliation"? a. If God is "pleading" and Christ is "imploring", then it must be very important! b. Indeed, the eternal destiny of one's soul depends upon whether he or she has been reconciled to God! 2. Does this not move us? a. First to be reconciled ourselves? b. And then to participate in the ministry of reconciliation for the sake of others? 3. A final thought: The fact that God "pleads" and Christ "implores" us to be reconciled tell us some things that are very important for us to realize... a. Reconciliation is not unconditional (we must respond!) b. Reconciliation is not universal (some will be lost!) Indeed, the grace and mercy of God offered in the death of His Son must not be received in vain! As Paul goes on to say: "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain." (2Co 6:1) Only through an obedient faith can we be sure to receive God's grace, and have Jesus as the author of our eternal salvation! - cf. He 5:9 Have YOU been reconciled to God?