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                "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS"

                The Ministry Of Reconciliation (5:18-21)

INTRODUCTION

1. An important concept fundamental to the gospel of Christ is that of
   "reconciliation"

2. In 2Co 5:18-21, Paul expounds upon this subject...
   a. He discusses how there is some sort of reconciliation between God
      and man
   b. He describes the role he played in what he calls the "ministry" 
      of reconciliation

3. There are a couple of questions I would like to address in this
   lesson...
   a. Exactly what is the nature of the reconciliation between God and
      man?
   b. What roles might we play in the gospel of Christ as the "ministry
      of reconciliation"?

[It is important that we first properly understand the meaning of
"reconciliation" and its concept as it relates to God and man...]

I. THE PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION

   A. DEFINING RECONCILIATION...
      1. Vine's definition of "reconcile" (Grk., katallasso)...
         a. "It properly denotes to change, exchange (esp. of money)"
         b. "Hence, of persons, to change from enmity to friendship,
            to reconcile"
      2. He goes on to add:  "With regard to the relationship between
         God and man, the use of this and connected words show that 
         primarily reconciliation is what GOD (emphasis mine, MAC)
         accomplishes..."
         a. I.e., there is enmity between God and man (because of man's
            sin, cf. Isa 59:1-2)
         b. Yet the gospel proclaims how GOD has taken the initiative 
            to reconcile man back to Himself
      3. We should note this fine distinction:
         a. God is not reconciled to man, as though God were partly to
            blame for the enmity
         b. Rather, man is reconciled to God, for it is man who moved
            away from God!
      4. Thus the reconciliation between man and God is slightly 
         different, though the difference is important!
         a. When people need to be reconciled to one another, it 
            normally involves a situation where fault lies on both 
            sides to some degree
         b. Not so with the case between man and God; man has moved 
            away from God, and it is man who needs to be reconciled
            back to God, not God back to man!

   B. HOW RECONCILIATION IS MADE POSSIBLE...
      1. It is possible because of the initiatives that GOD took first!
      2. It is possible through Jesus Christ, in particular by His
         death for our sins!
         a. Note these verses that teach reconciliation comes through 
            Jesus - 2Co 5:18; Col 1:19-20a
         b. Note these verses that teach reconciliation comes through
            Jesus' death on the cross - 2Co 5:19,21; Ro 5:10; Col 1:
            20b-22
         c. In other words...
            1) God took Christ, who knew no sin, to represent our sin
               and to receive the punishment due for sin in His death
               on the cross
            2) So that we, who were enemies, alienated from God by our
               sins, might be reconciled back to God!
            3) And through Christ's death:
               a) We might become the righteousness of God in Him 
                  - 2Co 5:21a
               b) We might be holy, blameless and irreproachable in His
                  sight, because our trespasses are not imputed to us 
                  - Col 1:22; 2Co 5:19; cf. Ro 4:6-8
      3. Indeed, reconciliation is possible because God has offered 
         Jesus as a "propitiation" for our sins!
         a. The word "propitiation" describes a sacrifice that is 
            designed to appease for sins
         b. It was used to describe those sacrifices that Gentiles 
            offered to their gods
         c. But in the NT, it is GOD who offers the "propitiation", not
            man!
            1) Cf. 1Jn 2:1-2; 4:10
            2) This illustrates the great love God has for us, and how
               far He has gone in trying to reconcile man back to 
               Himself!

[It is when we understand the meaning and process of "reconciliation"
(along with "propitiation") that we begin to appreciate the wonderful
extent of God's grace and His love for mankind.

But God went beyond just sending His Son to die on the cross as a 
propitiation designed to reconcile man back to God; He has also 
developed...]

II. THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

   A. GOD SENT "AMBASSADORS"...
      1. Note that Paul says God:
         a. "...has given to us the ministry of reconciliation"
            - 2Co 5:18b
         b. "...has committed to us the word of reconciliation"
            - 2Co 5:19b
         -- There is a ministry (service) in which the word of 
            reconciliation is to be made known to others!
      2. The apostles in particular had this "ministry"...
         a. The word apostle means "one sent"
         b. In a special way they were sent to serve as Christ's 
            "ambassadors" to the world! - 2Co 5:20
      3. Therefore, through the apostles...through their word...
         a. God is pleading with us...
         b. Christ is imploring us...
         ...be reconciled to God! - 2Co 5:20
      -- Thus God's great love is manifest in the fact that He also 
         sent ambassadors to tell the world what He has done to 
         reconcile man back to Himself

   B. HIS "AMBASSADORS" TODAY...
      1. The "ministry of reconciliation" continues today!
         a. For people are still lost in their sins
         b. And God still loves those who are lost
      2. But who are God's "ambassadors" today?
         a. Who will take the "word of reconciliation" to others?
         b. Who along with God and Christ will plead and implore:  "Be 
            reconciled to God!"?
      3. While there may not be "formal" ambassadors like the apostles
         were, Christ still has His ambassadors:
         a. The people of God, who proclaim His praises - 1Pe 2:9-10
         b. Faithful individuals, who properly taught can teach others 
            - 2Ti 2:2
         c. In fact, ALL Christians should be involved in "the ministry
            of reconciliation"!
            1) Some may "go", while others may "send" - Ro 10:14-15
            2) Some may "teach", while others may "invite" - Jn 1:45-46
      4. In whatever way we serve, we must remember that we play an 
         important role in God's ministry of reconciliation today!

CONCLUSION

1. How important is "reconciliation" and "the ministry of 
   reconciliation"?
   a. If God is "pleading" and Christ is "imploring", then it must be
      very important!
   b. Indeed, the eternal destiny of one's soul depends upon whether he
      or she has been reconciled to God!

2. Does this not move us?
   a. First to be reconciled ourselves?
   b. And then to participate in the ministry of reconciliation for the
      sake of others?

3. A final thought:  The fact that God "pleads" and Christ "implores"
   us to be reconciled tell us some things that are very important for
   us to realize...
   a. Reconciliation is not unconditional (we must respond!)
   b. Reconciliation is not universal (some will be lost!)

Indeed, the grace and mercy of God offered in the death of His Son must
not be received in vain!  As Paul goes on to say:

   "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not 
   to receive the grace of God in vain." (2Co 6:1)

Only through an obedient faith can we be sure to receive God's grace, 
and have Jesus as the author of our eternal salvation! - cf. He 5:9

Have YOU been reconciled to God?
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