2 Corinthians 5:11, 14-21
Tom Rush, staff evangelist
Liberty Baptist Church, Hartwell
It is true that some of God’s sainted millions are scarred and broken. They have lives filled with sin and shame from their past. The good news for them is that they have been forgiven! And that is exactly the good news they are called to share with others. Regardless of how broken or sinful one’s past is, all their tomorrows can be filled with the mercy and grace of God through the shed blood of Christ.
Our passion to share the gospel is rooted in the ministry of reconciliation that God has given to us (2 Cor. 5:9-21). Paul reminded the Corinthian church that they would stand one day before the Judgment Seat of Christ (vv. 9-11). Further, he reminded them that the love of Christ obligated them to obedience (v. 14). Finally, he reminded them that the commission of God was a charge to carry out (vv. 18-21). In short, they were constrained by the fear of the Lord, compelled by the love of Christ, and charged by the call of God, to passionately share the gospel.
Constrained by the Fear of the Lord (vv. 9-11)
Our first motivation to share the gospel is found in the accountability we have to our Lord. At the judgment seat of Christ we will give account for our lives and in particular our obedience to the Great Commission.
There are three things Paul sets forth that mark compliance with God’s call on our lives. First, he says our ambition should be to please God (v. 9). Second, our attitude should be that of being prepared to meet God (v. 10). Third, our action should be to persuade others for God (v. 11).
If we know that we will appear before God one day then we should have enough fear of that event to warn others of the coming Day of Judgment (cf. 1 Pet. 4:18). We persuade men, meaning we convince them of their need for God, we plead for their enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, and pray for their glorious salvation.
Compelled by the Love of Christ (vv. 12-17)
Further, Paul says our activity as a Christian should be compelled by the love of Christ. In consequence of this our daily walk with the Lord should include being ready with an answer (v. 12; cf. 1 Pet. 3:15). In other words, we must know what we believe, why we believe it, and how it impacts others.
Moreover, we should be reliable in our action (v. 13). We should be the kind of people that both God and others can count on to be faithful. Then, we must be constantly renewed in our attitude (v. 14-17). The more we focus on Christ’s love for us the more we sense the urgency in telling others that Christ died for them.
When our lives have been changed by the life of Christ (vv. 15-17) we realize that we no longer belong to ourselves. If our ambition is to please the Lord, then our lives will be abandoned to the One who died for us. We overcome selfishness (v. 15) because we have learned to operate in the Spirit (v. 16). In fact, we are completely changed, from the inside out (v. 17)! Everything is new, we love what we used to hate, and hate what we used to love.
Charged by the Call of God (vv. 18-21)
Every child of God has been given the ministry of reconciliation (v. 18). What a blessing to receive such a privilege from God. Because we have been changed, because the old is gone and the new is in, because we are indeed reconciled to God — we are the proclaimers of the message to others, with Christ as our great example (cf. 4:1). We are God’s “Ambassadors.” Since Jesus is the King of kings we have a great message to proclaim and nothing to be embarrassed about!
It is amazing that God would plead through us! What a great encouragement it is that our sin was imputed to Christ and not to us (vv. 19-20). We, who were His enemies, have been reconciled to God through Christ. If you have repented of your sin, placed your trust in Christ alone, and surrendered your life to His control, then you are one whose sins have been paid for. Therefore you should proclaim that good news everywhere. Tell others — use words when necessary!
In the Roman Empire there were both senatorial and imperial provinces. The senatorial provinces had surrendered and submitted to Roman rule. The Imperial provinces, however, would rebel at the first chance. Ambassadors were sent to keep a rebellion from occurring if possible.
We go as ambassadors for Christ to a world in rebellion to His cause and kingdom. But we come to them to declare peace and not war. We represent Jesus and we plead with them, “we implore you on Christ’s behalf be reconciled to God.”
In the process of reconciliation God is persistent, patient, and passionate. But there is no alternative. We must come on His terms and in His time. Yes, our sin is ugly and the whole of it was placed on Jesus at Calvary. But then, in an act so lowly as to defy logic, His righteousness was made available to us.
That is the great exchange — our sin for His righteousness. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Constrained by fear, compelled by love, charged by the call — we must passionately share the gospel!
Questions for Group Discussion:
- What is your greatest ambition in life? Are you truly prepared to meet God? What will every person face after death (cf. Heb. 9:27)?
- How does the love of Christ motivate you? Are you prepared with an answer for others regarding your hope of eternal life?
- Do you see yourself as one to whom the privilege of the ministry of reconciliation has been granted? If not, why not?
- What is the Great Exchange (v. 21)? Who are you pleading with to come to faith in Christ? Who are you praying for to come to Christ?