A Church Set Apart – Part 2

Yesterday, we asked ourselves a difficult question. What is it that makes you and I, as God’s people, genuinely different? If you haven’t read Part 1, you can check it out here.

The Message of Reconciliation

In Part 1, we arrived at the conclusion that it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ which sets us apart. The Apostle Paul refers to this Gospel as the “message of reconciliation.” Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 5:14, to find out why.

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;”

Many translations say “compel” rather than “control” but, either way, we see that God is the source behind it all. Having concluded this, Paul continues with, “one died for all, therefore all died.” Jesus died for all and therefore all died.

How Jesus’s death was a substitutionary death for all is an extremely hard thing to wrap our minds around. It is true that we will all die in our lives, but it is also equally true that when Jesus died, we all died.

Now I’d like to point out an important distinction. One died for all, therefore all died. The next verse says, “so that they who live,” (this is a different group), “might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

When Christ died a substitutionary death, ALL died. BUT, not all live. #unlimitedatonement #biblestudy Click To Tweet

Who are the Living?

Christ died for the sins of all humanity (unlimited atonement) and in a substitutionary way all died. But—and here is that important distinction—not all live. The Scripture tells us not all live because not all place their trust in Jesus.

Jesus died for all so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him. Who do we serve, Church? We serve the Lord of glory and his actions are what we are called to model. This is where we see every single theme that we looked at in Part 1. In Jesus we have charity, love, self-sacrifice, justice. It’s all there in him and we are to model him.

In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul continued, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”

Take a moment to think on this: why does Paul say “we know him in this way no longer?” Because he [Jesus] is risen.

Verse 17 goes on to say, “therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature.” “New creature” or “new creation” is how we refer to Christians, and this is why we are called to have compassion and love for one another. We are not considering each other according to the flesh any longer, but according to this new creation. The old things passed away—past tense—and behold new things have come—present. This present tense shows us that these things are coming in this life.

Verse 18 continues with, “now all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Ministry of Reconciliation

We need to understand what this ministry is. It is the Gospel of Jesus. Listen to verse 19, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

The first thing to notice is what verse 19 says:

”God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

We cannot separate the Father from the Son in their expressed, intended will. The Father, through the Son, was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. Church, this is a key part of the Gospel—the mercy of God. Please understand, he is offering not to count people’s trespasses against them. This is a far cry from the idea that is bandied about in the world today which says, “God is so outrageously upset. It’s a wonder he saves anyone.”

Yes, it’s a wonder that he saved anyone. In his justice, God does not have to be merciful but the amazing truth is that he has chosen mercy. He chose to save us. We see in the pages of Scripture that God, through Christ, is not counting our sins against us. Why?

Because of his great love for his creation! This is what Peter meant in 1 Peter 3:15 when he wrote that we should speak of our hope with gentleness and reverence. With gentleness, Church. And, with gentleness, we should be declaring at the top of our lungs that the God of the universe, through Christ Jesus, is not holding against us the sins which we have clearly committed, and that all who hear this Gospel message should repent and believe.

Come back tomorrow as we conclude this idea by looking at The Great Commission—what Jesus has done to reconcile the world to his father and what he expects us to do.

Let’s Talk

How has the idea of “the ministry of reconciliation” impacted your walk with God? Are you walking out your faith in gentleness and reverence? I’d love to hear your thoughts so comment below or reach out at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

Are you walking out your faith in gentleness and reverence? #ministryofreconciliation Click To Tweet

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