2 Corinthians 5:17-21
(a sermon based upon a lesson by Tom Holland)
We call it “The Book” and it is. It is: “the Book of Life, the Words of Life, the Word of God” I can give you a one word summary of this book “Salvation”
“Receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls”. James 1:21
The Bible is not a book of science, but when it speaks scientifically, it speaks accurately, “God hath made of one blood all nations for to dwell upon the face of the earth”. Acts 17:26
It is not a book of history, but when it speaks addressing historical matters, it speaks accurately. “4These are the histories of the heavens and of the earth when they were created” Gen 2:4
Neither is it a book of astronomy, but when it talks of astronomy, it speaks accurately. “He does sit upon the circle of the earth”
Basically this book is about, “Salvation“ and when you study this “book: it is like examining a very expensive diamond, every facet unique and beautiful.
As we study the word “salvation” We would see the different facets of salvation. One facet would be “Redemption”, set free from the law of sin and death. You would see ”Justification” God pronouncing us pardoned or freed of our sins, Forgiven and “Reconciliation.” What a beautiful possibility, what an encouraging idea. “Reconciliation” becoming friends again. And I want us to key on this possibility.
If you’ve been reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, this lesson can remind you of how blessed you really are, 2 Corinthians 5:17
17Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.
For those this morning are not yet reconciled to God I bring you good news from the Word of God, because of what God has done on your behalf, through the death of His Son you may also be reconciled to God, becoming friends again with God. (John 15:14) The possibility of “reconciliation” is possible for the whole human family, because of a Gracious and Great God.
Now with this in mind, I call your attention to our text for this morning 2 Corinthians chapter 5, andI love the book of 2 Corinthians. I love it more and more, as I read and study through it .
Do you enjoy reading biographies? Many of us do. A good biographer, can tell you what is going on in the life of the one he is portraying, that kept that person going in face of difficulties, trials and tribulations.
So what we have in 2 Corinthians is an inspired auto-biography, from the great apostle Paul. Did he have difficulties? Read 2 Corinthians 4:8
8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Read chapter 11, He said of the Jews, five times I received 40 stripes save one, three times he had been beaten with rods, he had been thrown in jail, they nearly killed him……. It just goes on and on. So the question is, Paul if you had to endure that kind of constant persecution, troubles on every hand “what kept you going”? And it is all laid out beautifully in 2 Corinthians.
I don’t have time to say much, but one thing in our text that kept Paul going was: A mission that was greater and a calling that was greater than this man himself. And that calling, that mission, was so very great that he just lost sight of himself in the conquest of that great challenge
& 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
17Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. 18But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. 21Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Five times he uses the word “Reconcile, Reconciliation”. It is a tremendous concept, what an idea. I want to focus on first “the implication” behind the word, and once we have looked at that implication we want to see reconciliation what it means and its importance. And last note the location of reconciliation. .
Implication! There’s a problem, what is it? There’s been a separation. And when there’s been separation, you need reconciliation.
You know, it’s unfortunate for friends to be alienated. It’s sad when parents and children are alienated. It is tragic when husbands and wives are separated. It is dangerous, when nations are separated or alienated. And it is potentially eternally destructive when people are separated or alienated from God.
Listen to the old prophet explain the problem,
1Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
What’s the problem? It’s a problem of separation, separation from God by iniquities, lawlessness, by sin, by missing the mark. And separation results in alienation. I mean here are people that are separated from God and even alienated from God. And when I pick up the little book of Colossians and start reading Chapter one, verse 21 “21And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, 22yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death”,
Alienated by wicked works and this is the problem. Now unfortunately out of this alienation comes a terrible loss, and Paul explained it this way in Ephesians 4:17
17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart
Alienated from what? “the life of God” We live in a world of the living dead. Oh the lights are bright, the music loud people having a great time. “They’re dead folks”. That young man that was off living the “good life”, (Luke 15) was dead. And his father knew that his son was dead. Not physically… He had an existence, spiritually he was dead. Luke 15:32
“for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found”.
Notice Ephesians 2:1-2
1And you hath he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
The majority of people today are simply marking time, They have a biological existence, but they are dead, “dead in trespasses and sins”. This is the problem of being alienated from God, but it is only the beginning of the problem. You see, the way the thing progresses is:, you’ve got separation from God by iniquities and sin, then comes alienation from God and from life.
God created us to reflect the glory and the honor of our Creator, but instead, there’s sin and alienation. The French philosopher Pascal once remarked, “every person has a hole in his or her heart that can only be filled by God”. And I believe that is fundamentally true. It is interesting though very sad to see people try to fill that hole with pleasure, with sports, with power, popularity, and on and on it goes. With material things, and it will never happen.
Many years ago when a million dollars was a lot of money, American Financier Bernard Baruch was interviewed and was asked, “what does it take to make a millionaire happy”? He said, “Just one more million”,
We read about a very wealthy man, who thought life
could be found in material things, in fact if he married a foreign woman who
became homesick for the hanging gardens, of
He built his life in “abundance of things”, but Christ would later say, “Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15
Here’s his conclusion, “It’s vanity”.. it’s like running after the wind. That hole in the human heart will never be filled by the offerings of this world. But when we have the right relationship with God then everything else can fall beautifully into place. But until there is that life in Jesus Christ, we are in a state of death.
But that is not the end of the sad story.
Separation, alienation, and condemnation. Now that is where is really, really gets
serious. Take a passage like
Well what about those who are not in Christ Jesus? Condemnation. Separation, alienation from God, results in “condemnation”. Persons putting themselves on death’s row. When the Bible uses that most frightening word in our English language, the little word “lost”, it is simply trying to communicate to us that here are people who stand on the brink of eternity separated by what? One automobile accident, one plane crash, one heart attack, standing on the brink of eternity, totally unprepared for judgment totally unprepared to meet God having existed under alienation because of condemnation, by their choice, then they are snatched into eternity.
And it may be like a dying lady in the hospital dying and called for a preacher. - With fear and terror written across her face, she said to him “preacher, I’m not afraid to die, but I’m afraid to meet God”, and she slipped away snatched into eternity, alienated from God..
Oh that’s a dark picture right isn’t it? It’s almost like you are flying forty thousand feet in the air, caught in a vicious storm, the thunder is jarring the plane, the lightening is flashing, you are hoping it doesn’t hit it. You are buckled in as tightly as you can get, you are holding on with everything that you have, doing a lot of praying. Then all of a sudden you leave the storm, the sun is shinning. It’s peaceful, its calm, oh what a blessing.
So we leave the storm now, and we come out where it is peaceful now in the presence of God.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.”
2 Corinthians 5:19
Now who was the offended Party here? God! What does the offended Party do? He says to those that have offended Him, “I don’t want this condition to continue. So I will send My Son down there to rescue those the perishing. I will send my Son, and let Him pay the price for the way all of you people have offended Me. I know that you are going to reject Him and you will even crucify Him but I will withhold the armies of heaven while My Son is being mistreated, placed upon an old rugged cross. I will hold back the armies of heaven while men are driving nails through His hands and through His feet. and He is tugging at My heart by saying , “if it be possible let his cup pass from me, nevertheless not My will but Thine.” I could send 10,000 angels but I will hold back the armies of heaven….. even has He cries out “My God My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
God the offended One, God who had to endure the human rebellion, the careless indifference, the iniquities the sins that had grieved Him at His heart.- “God how could You do that? I mean we were the ones that offended You! “ And God says: “You’ll never understand it, but I love you and I regret what Satan has done to My creation, I will send My Son so that He can bring you “reconciliation” back to Me”.
What is this reconciliation? Explain this please. And God says: “I’m not going to impute your sins, your trespasses, that’s what it means. I’m going to blot them out.”
Peter explained it in Acts 3:19,
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. “ Thaat’s a beautiful possibility isn’t it? Remember the little poem,
I came to my teacher, with trembling lips, my task undone.
Dear teacher, do you have a new sheet for me,
I’ve soiled this one.
She took the old sheet stained and blotted
and gave me a new one all unspotted
And looking into my eyes she sighed,
“Do better this time my child”.
God says, “I’ll take all of your sins, all of your iniquities, all of your transgressions, and I blot them out”. You see, a price has been paid so that they could be blotted out. An adequate price that has been paid. And Jesus paid it all. We sing it, “All to him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
Now, we are talking about reconciliation, not imputing unto us our trespasses. Hear it: 2 Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Righteousness, made right in God’s sight
pardoned and forgiven. One of
so many wonderful things about the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul explains to us in
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Now certainly the Old Testament had revealed many times that God was a righteous God, but the way God makes men righteous is revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And God makes us righteous by forgiving us.
I’m going to give you one of Brother Hardeman’s illustrations. He would take out a handkerchief and he would say, there are two ways that this handkerchief can be clean. One never soiled, two soiled but cleansed. Amen
You and I can be cleansed, we can have our sins blotted out. Is there not a deep longing in many a human heart to be made right in God’s sight? I think it was captured in these lines, “I wish there were a beautiful place called the land of beginning again, where all our mistakes and all our heartaches could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never put on again”. There’s no utopia like that, but thanks be to God there is a Man of beginning again and that Man is Jesus Christ,
Very quickly, lets talk about the location of “reconciliation” this is very, very important.
& Ephesians 2:11-16
11Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
The cross is the means of reconciliation, the church is the location of reconciliation. Beloved, that’s not my opinion, that is what the “Word of God” says (Ephesians 2:16) we’re reconciled in one body, and he has already told us back in Ephesians 1:22-23 that body is the church. If I’m reconciled in the body, and the body is the church, where is reconciliation? Is it out here in the world or is it in the church?
I wonder how many have not been reconciled to God. The possibility is for all mankind.
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”.
If we deny our self this great blessing, we are robbing ourselves of peace and the greatest joy that could ever come to a human being on this earth.
2- We’ll leave this old world one of these days. And we’ll either leave under condemnation, or we’ll leave under the safety of men and women who die in the Lord.