2 Corinthians 5:17-20
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Although we have reviewed this passage in recent days, I wanted to take a fresh look at it again. Perhaps there is something we are missing for it to come up again….
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
This is our primary launch verse for the New Year … perhaps even for the New Decade. The old has gone, the new is here! We desire and pray for new creation to come and fill us … to fill the prodigal … to fill our homes … to fill our church. We must break the old patterns and the old habits … the sin that so easily ensnares us (Cf. Hebrews 12:1) God declared that in Christ, He is doing a new thing! This is what the Lord says— “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Cf. Isaiah 43:18-19) And this shall be the message for 2020. God will redeem and restore those who have forgotten Him … those who have wandered and become lost … those who are broken and in need of His power to heal and to save!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
Indeed, God has declared this year to be a year of reconciliation … for all to experience reconciliation with Him through Jesus Christ! He reconciled us who believe and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. ALL THIS IS FROM GOD! Forgiveness and reconciliation is His will! “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (Cf. John 3:16-17)
19 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
The Good News … the Gospel … is this very passage. God is reconciling the world to Himself! The Father is doing so through His Son … the Lord Jesus. His will is active … perpetual … steadfast … unchanging. God is faithful even when we fail. His mercy endures forever! His love endures forever! His love is unfailing! These are the truths confirmed in Scripture and fulfilled in the Son. God has demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) Jesus bore the ultimate penalty for our sins. Only through faith in Him is our sin not imputed against us. This is the message of reconciliation that has been committed to us. For our modern culture, perhaps the hashtags should be #redeem #reconcile #restore #resurrect #revive #rest.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Indeed, we are His ambassadors because we have put on the mantle of Christ and followed Him. As I read this last verse of the passage, the thought kept coming to my mind: “Today is the day of salvation!” In 2 Corinthians 6:1-3, Paul wrote: As God’s co-workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. There is a sense of urgency … a sense of imminence … to the message. We implore the prodigal, the wayward, and the lost to be reconciled with the Father. God is appealing, and that through us, to a world that has been ravaged by darkness and rebellion and unbelief. And though people may have hardened their hearts because of the abuse, pain, rejection, bitterness, and brokenness they have experienced in this fallen and sinful world, God is still calling out to them … speaking to their inner hearts … and asking them to listen and to hear His voice. And He says, “Do not harden your heart … just believe me!”
Hebrews 3:7-19 (NIV)
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Cf. Psalm 95) 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
This is the appeal God is making through us because He committed to us the message of reconciliation. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) And so through prayer and fasting, God is preparing us. His church will itself experience a new birth. It will become a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here! Oh, how I pray that each of us will become obedient to this call upon our lives. All this is from God…. May each of us, “Reach One. Teach One.” Amen.