Last week, Jeff challenged us to “wrestle our brains” into meditating on the truths that Jesus has made all things new and that God will never again remember our sins. These truths should be the foundation of our faith.
This week, he posed the question, “New for What?” or “Why have we been made new?” In Isaiah 42:6, the Bible says we have been set aside for a “righteous purpose,” so what does that look like in our lives?
Jeff invited us to turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 for the answer. In the passage we read:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The first question Jeff asked was “Who is new?” For the answer, we look at verse 17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
What an exciting truth that anyone who has accepted Christ as their Savior has become a completely new creation! Jeff described this as a “spiritual, mystical, majestic transformation” when the Holy Spirit descends upon a person at the moment of salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us,
19 Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.
Jeff encouraged us to be excited about this truth. In other translations of 2 Corinthians 5:17, we see the expression, “Behold all things are new!” Jeff encouraged us to make use of the word “Behold” in our day-to-day conversations this week, as we would be more likely to get people’s attention. Whether or not that’s a good idea, we should nevertheless carry a spirit of encouragement an excitement when considering that Jesus has made us new through salvation.
The second truth Jeff focused on appears in verse 18:
Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
The word reconcile appears in this verse twice. Jeff focused on this word, as it gives us great hope in our salvation. Webster’s dictionary defines reconcile as “to restore to friendship or harmony.” Again, this is an incredibly encouraging truth. It implies that before our salvation, we were out of harmony with God, but through Jesus’ sacrifice, we’re brought back into friendship and harmony with God. Jeff furthermore described this as a relationship made right and a restoration of unity that brings relief to us in our lives. Despite times when we may feel that our fellowship with God is out of tune, we can know for certain that our relationship with Him is grounded in Jesus Christ.
Knowing that we have been reconciled with God through Christ, we also see that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. God has called us to help reconcile others to His grand purpose. He has called us to go into our communities and be peacemakers and reconcilers. In all facets of our lives, we should seek to set things right, not stir things up. We must become servants to this purpose and use our actions each day to reconcile others with Christ.
This theme continues in verses 19-20:
19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”
Jeff highlighted the truth that when we accepted Christ, our citizenship changed. We were no longer citizens of our countries of birth, but forevermore citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. In light of this, God uses us to make his appeal to unbelievers. We become ambassadors for our new Kingdom, hoping to reconcile those around us to God and his plan. These verses also reiterate the truth from last week’s sermon that God does not count our trespasses against us. This is another marvelous truth that we may carry with us as we seek to reconcile others to Christ!
We see finally in verse 21 that Christ took on sin in order to reconcile us to God. It is humbling to think that the God who created us also mastered a plan to save us that involved his perfect Son descending into a world of chaos to take on our sin and remember it no more.
In light of all the truths presented in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Jeff turned our attention to three realities because of reconciliation:
- We should seek to practice righteousness in our everyday living.
- We must not accept the condemnation of Satan, others, or ourselves. Romans 8:1 tells us there is “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
- We must let joy and gratitude overwhelm us constantly.
Jeff mentioned several practical steps to remind ourselves of these realities constantly. First, reflect on spiritual truth by spending time reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture. Then remind ourselves daily using apps on our phones, index cards in our wallets, or notes on our car dashboards. The Holy Spirit will guide us if we put forth an effort!
Finally, Jeff laid out four challenges to embrace a ministry of reconciliation:
- We must begin to look for ways to bring people in our lives to faith in Christ. Jeff described this as turning on our spiritual radar.
- We must prepare ourselves to bring people in our lives to Christ. This is accomplished through study of Scripture and having a strong foundational knowledge of the Gospel.
- We must pray for the non-believers in our lives. Pray for specific opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
- A sure-fire way to share this message is to share our story. Tell others how we have been reconciled and then leave the results to God.
Jeff closed with Romans 8:20-22:
20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.
Creation longs to be set free from bondage. It’s our purpose as Believers to reconcile them to Christ. This begins simply with reconciling broken or hurt relationships in our own lives. We must first forgive others so that Christ’s forgiveness in our lives will be evident. Keep these truths in mind throughout the week as you go about the normal routine. Always consider our purpose as reconcilers, and be encouraged by the truths of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21!