GOD’S WORK OF RECONCILIATION IN CHRIST MOTIVATES US TO PURSUE A MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION
Talking both about reconciliation of the unsaved (many of Paul’s opponents who were putting themselves forwards as teachers were actually unsaved) as well as the Corinthian believers putting aside whatever sin was affecting their relationship with the Apostle Paul and hence with God.
5 MOTIVATIONS TO PURSUE RECONCILIATION
I. (5:11-13) CONSTRAINED BY THE FEAR OF GOD – ACCOUNTABILITY DRIVES OUR MINISTRY URGENCY AND INTEGRITY
(:10) Context: Judgment Seat of Christ
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
A. (:11a) Motivation Stated = Fear of God
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord”
B. (:11b) Fear of God Makes Us Urgent Transparent Persuaders
“we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”
Nothing worse than persuasion that is crafty manipulation and exploitation.
C. (:12-13) Our Testimony of Integrity Not Self Serving
“We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”
– Paul could defend himself with a clear conscience because he was innocent of the charges leveled against him by his opponents in Corinth
– When we have done something wrong there is a need for repentance as the foundation for reconciliation
Ryrie: Lit., we went mad, probably referring to some specific occasion when Paul’s critics charged him with madness.
II. (:14-15) CONSTRAINED BY THE LOVE OF CHRIST — CHRIST’S LOVE MAKES US MINISTER UNSELFISHLY
A. (:14a) Motivation Stated = Love of Christ
“For the love of Christ controls us”
Translation here could be “holds us together”; we have a desperate need for unity in the truth; not a bunch of separate cliques within one fellowship
B. (:14b) United with Christ in His Death
“having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died”
We do not have to judge whether a specific Christian is worthy of our reconciliation; Christ died for him as well and he is worthy!
C. (:15) Living the New Life for Christ
“and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
III. (:16-17) CONSTRAINED BY A RADICALLY NEW PERSPECTIVE — WE EVALUATE MEN FROM A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE
A. (:16a) Motivation Stated = Radically New Perspective
“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh”
B. (:16b) New Perspective Towards Christ Contrasted with the Old
“even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”
Paul had made himself the standard and the judge; he was the one who decided what personality types he liked; etc. But now he (and we) must allow the Spirit to be the standard. We are to view others as a new creation in Christ.
Ryrie: Before his conversion, Paul regarded Christ as merely another man.
Stedman: What did he think of him? Why, he thought he was a lowdown, worthless rabble-rouser, a tub-thumping street preacher from a dirty little obscure town that nobody thought anything good could come out of. He thought because Jesus had no political standing, no family position, no training and no education that he was worthless. He tried his best to exterminate the religion that gathered about him because he regarded him as an imposter and a phony.
C. (:17) New Perspective Towards Believers (including self) Contrasted with the Old
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
– allows us to easily forgive one another and pursue reconciliation
IV. (:18-21) CONSTRAINED BY A HEART FOR RECONCILIATION — OUR CHANGED RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS THE BASIS FOR OUR RECONCILIATION WITH FELLOW CHRISTIANS
A. (:18) Motivation Stated = Changed Heart
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
B. (:19a) God’s Global Work of Reconciliation in Christ
“namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them,”
C. (:19b-20) Our Ministry of Reconciliation to Others
“and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation; Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Stedman: Why do we send ambassadors? Well, because countries do not always relate to each other very well. Things need to be explained, need to be approached with diplomacy and caution and carefulness. That is what an ambassador is to do. He is to be a representative of a government, handling himself with such care and confidence that the message that his government seeks to convey is given in the most painless and least offensive way possible. Now that is dangerous. You can get yourself killed or taken captive as an ambassador in this world today.
D. (:21) Substitutionary Atonement = Grounds for Reconciliation
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Zeisler: This word, “righteousness,” is a magnificent term. Every desire you have for beauty, wholeness, value, purity; every time your heart calls to you to be something worth being, you are longing for the righteousness of God. “Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Our bodies were made for physical sustenance and call out for it when deprived even for a short time. Our souls were made to know righteousness, and a sensitive conscience implores us to be made right with God. “Be all that you can be,” says the Army recruiting slogan, referring, of course, to this life. In some ways (on a much more profound level) this is the message of the Bible: “Be all that you can be.” Be the righteousness of God himself in Christ. Jesus became sin so that we might become in him the righteousness of God. What a wonderful truth!
V. (:6:1-2) CONSTRAINED BY URGENCY — PROFITABLE CHRISTIAN SERVICE DEPENDS UPON IMMEDIATE RECONCILIATION
A. (6:2b) Motivation Stated = Urgency
“Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation”
B. (6:1) Profitable Christian Service at Risk
“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain”
Paul was working together with God because he was striving for the same goal;
Christians should not be working against one another – Deut. 22:10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together” – sometimes God must marvel at what kind of animals we manifest ourselves to be;
Don’t act like a donkey!
Danger of losing one’s reward at judgment seat of Christ
C. (6:2a) God Stands Ready to Do His Part
“for He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’”
Must deal with the conflict immediately; it takes priority; no time to try to schedule something for weeks down the road
Harris: In its original context the quotation belongs to a section of Isaiah 49 (vv. 7-9) where Yahweh directly addresses his Servant who has been “deeply despised, abhorred by the nations” (Isa 49:7, RSV), promising him vindication before men in due time and calling on him to carry out the work of restoration after the return from exile.
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1) The “fear of the Lord” is not just an OT doctrine. Christ’s work as Judge of believers makes us sober-minded and circumspect in ordering our motivations and action to be pleasing to Him. The prospect of reward is very great.
2) The supreme love of Christ for us as shown in being made sin for us and dying for us should control all that we do and mortify our selfishness.
3) He rose again “on our behalf” so that we might live in right relationship with the Father and with one another with the power of a changed heart.
4) Christ is carrying out His present ministry through us … so that the exhortations we make are actually coming from Him.