Last week we saw that our God is great at creating second chances for us to have a new beginning in our lives. We were looking at Paul’s words in 2 Cor. where he tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”, (v.17, NKJV). But this same passage also tells us the reason God has made us to be a new creation. We continue reading in 2 Cor., “ Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”, (v.18-19 NKJV).
This is a profoundly significant passage because it tells us what God expects us as new creations to do. If we are to make space for Christ to work in our lives in 2014 we must understand that He has “given us the ministry of reconciliation”, “and has committed to us the word of reconciliation”. It’s just not the elders or the pastor who are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. It’s every believer who’s been made a new creation. Therefore it’s important to understand what this ministry of reconciliation is all about.
The Greek word for reconcile was a word that referred to exchanging coins, or to change thoroughly. God’s relationship with the lost world is changed completely through the Lord Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is God’s act of grace on behalf of His fallen and helpless creatures. God has done it all. Reconciliation involves removing rebellious and sinful man’s enmity towards God for a new relationship of love with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. God has not declared war on the world but rather at the cross God declared peace. This is a past accomplished fact. But God has then made us messengers of this incredible word of reconciliation. God wants people to know that they can be reconciled to Him and He’s entrusted this ministry to you and I.
Another important word in this passage is the word “imputed”. Paul says God is “not imputing” their trespasses to them. Imputation was a concept borrowed from the banking world. It meant to put on one’s account. There is a 2 fold ministry of imputation seen in Jesus’ work. First, all of our sins were put on Christ’s account and God treated Jesus as though He had actually committed those sins. Because He had no personal sin He was qualified to be our sin offering and willingly bore the judgment of our sins. Second, all of Christ’s righteousness has been placed on our account. God was pleased in grace to reckon the righteousness of His own Son to our account. What an incredible exchange has taken place. God now sees us through the righteousness of His own Son rather than through our sins.
Many Christians today avoid being messengers for this word of reconciliation. Part of the reason for this is that we live in a pluralist society where all views and opinions are considered equal. So many people, even Christians, have embraced the attitude,“it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere”. This can’t be farther from the truth. Last night on some country road a skunk was crossing the road and saw 2 bright beams coming towards it. It raised its tail in all sincerity to let out its stink bomb to stop the 2 beams. This morning you have a dead skunk stinking up the whole countryside. We’re talking about a heaven or hell difference when it comes to the destiny of those who need the word of reconciliation. How about you- will you make space in 2014 to take the word of reconciliation to those in your life who need the Lord Jesus Christ? Your answer may have an impact for eternity.
All for Christ,
Pastor Rich Sivo