Today’s Scripture:  2 Corinthians 5:20-21

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.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.  2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Introduction:

We end this series where we began…in 2 Corinthians 5 with a charge by Paul as ambassador’s for Christ to be carriers of this ministry of reconciliation that he outlines in verses 17-19.

So…let’s get into this final message, and close out this series.

Today’s Message:

We finish our study on reconciliation where it all began on day one…2 Corinthians 5:17-21. So that means we’ve now come full circle, and that reconciliation is taught so well here that we need to look at it again. For the purpose of today’s study we’re actually looking at verses 20 and 21, but this whole passage of scripture is important to read over and over until you come to the revelation that reconciliation was all about God, and not about us.

Reconciliation is all about the work that God did through His Son’s life, death, burial, and resurrection.  It’s about God’s plan from the beginning, and how the Cross was always the focus.  The focus was never on our sin, but on the fact that sin caused His relationship between us had been broken.  Reconciliation is a term that’s used when a couple that either has been or was thinking about divorce.

When a married couple experiences something that causes them to consider divorce reconciliation is possible, but it requires work on both sides in order for that marriage to reach a point of reconciliation.  The best part of the ministry of Reconciliation, and what God did for us is this…He did the work for both sides!

He did His part, and He did our part.  He sent Christ into the world to be sin, and provide the sacrifice necessary for us to be reconciled with Him, but He also did the work on our side by removing every barrier between us and Him…except for one…our ability to choose to accept or reject what Jesus did.

Let me say that in a different way.  The ONLY thing necessary on our part to enter into this reconciliation with God is by becoming a “whosoever” that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be saved (or Sozoed).  Remember what we said about the Greek word Sozo?   Just in case you missed it in the last message it means: “to save, to make whole, to
preserve, or make safe”.  Thus the word ‘Salvation’ is an all-comprehensive word and it includes in itself all the benefits
of the Cross and the operations of God’s grace in the believer’s life.
To put it simply, Salvation refers to the Deliverance/Freedom/Rescue from Sin: Its Penalty, Power and Presence.

So…that’s why we as Christians can rest.  That’s why Matthew 11:28-30 is known as the Great Exchange.  God already did all the work, but it’s up to us to choose to accept what He did, and be that whosoever that calls upon the name of Jesus.

So…let’s look at our scriptures for today. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The first thing that we read is that we are ambassadors or as the Amplified puts it…representatives of Christ. So, let me make something about as clear as I can possibly make it…the only way we properly and authentically represent Christ is when we teach the ministry of reconciliation…and if we preach anything other than this version found here in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 we are misrepresenting Christ…and therefore no longer ambassadors of Christ.

One of the things that I take the most serious when writing these messages is that I never, ever want to write anything out of my strength or ability…because while I might be able to write something decent…the truth is if I’m not writing by inspiration of the Holy Ghost…there’s a good chance I’m going to write something that misrepresents Christ…and I don’t want to do that.  I take very seriously the charge to “preach the Word”, and as an ambassador for Christ…that’s exactly what I intend to do.

I realize that not everything I write is going to be well received, and there are some that will even be offended.  That’s okay with me.  If people were offended by what Jesus said and taught…then it’s very much an encouragement to me when I’m persecuted for His name’s sake.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating here:  I’m more concerned about offending God then I am the world.

If you are teaching people that they need to be baptized in order to be reconciled to God…you are not an ambassador of Christ…and you are misrepresenting Him…and when you stand before Him you will answer for every misleading word you preached, and for all of the people whom you have led astray.

If you are preaching that people need to speak in tongues in order to be reconciled to God…you are not being an ambassador for Christ…and you are misrepresenting Him…and when you stand before Him you will answer for every misleading word you preach, and for all of those whom you have led astray.

Many will teach you that water baptism and Holy Ghost baptism (with evidence of speaking in tongues) is a requirement when it comes to salvation.  There’s a problem with those teachings, and it’s found once again in the story of the thief on the Cross.  Listen…whenever you have a question about what’s required to be sozoed, and have the assurance of eternal life with Jesus…ask yourself this simple question:  Did the thief have to do it?

Listen.  Is there any record at all that after conversion the thief was allowed to get down off the Cross, and be water baptized?  We all know that the Holy Spirit hadn’t come yet because it came many days later in the book of Acts.  So…Jesus was the only One who was resurrected from the dead.  So…we know the thief didn’t come back to life to be baptized in the Holy Ghost and start speaking in tongues did he?

So…if the thief is with Jesus in Paradise right now, and I believe he is.  He wasn’t water baptized nor did he ever utter one word in tongues.  So…if the thief didn’t have to do it to be assured of a place in Paradise…why would we?

God is no respecter of person right?  So…if it was as easy for the thief to call Jesus Lord to enter into eternal life with Jesus…then it’s that easy for us.  That…friends is reconciliation.

Yes.  I do agree that it’s a good thing to be water baptized.  It’s an outward expression of an inner decision, and it also symbolizes that we’ve died to ourselves, and rose out of the water in Christ.  It’s also a good thing to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  I’m not saying that we as believers shouldn’t do those things…I believe that we should, but where I draw the line at is where religion makes the line.

Neither water baptism nor Holy Spirit baptism are requirements for salvation because if they were…Jesus couldn’t have promised the thief a place in Paradise.

If you are preaching that people need to clean up their lives before they can be reconciled to God…you are not an ambassador for Christ…and you are misrepresenting Him…and when you stand before Him you will answer fro every misleading word you preached, and for all of those whom you have led astray.

Okay, this one should be pretty simple.  Did the thief have time to get down off his cross, and make amends to everyone he stole from?  We don’t read that Jesus said to the thief:  “You must first clean up your life, restore all the goods you’ve stolen, and then you can be with Me in Paradise.”  He didn’t say that did He?

So…if Jesus didn’t say that…why do we preach it on Sundays?  If Jesus turned to the thief, and the ONLY thing He says is “this day you WILL be with Me in Paradise”…then why is it we feel the need to add to it?  All that thief said was:  “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” that was in Luke 23:42 (NKJV).  What was Jesus’ response?  “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” that was in Luke 23:43 (NKJV).

If you preach that salvation is obtainable any other way than that…you’re not an ambassador for Christ, but your denomination.  Your denomination cannot save you…only Jesus can.

If you teach any other possible way to earn, work for, or attain by any other means other than receiving reconciliation by faith in what Jesus did for us, that reconciliation with God is our responsibility, and that full reconciliation with God is dependent in any way shape or form upon us…then you are not an ambassador for Christ…and you are misrepresenting Him…and you will also answer for every misleading word you preach…and you will also answer for every single person you have led astray.

Yes…I’ve written this a few times, and that means the Holy Spirit is serious about the fact that if you’re misrepresenting Christ then you will answer for every person you lead astray.  If you’re preaching anything other than this ministry of reconciliation…which is the gospel…which ought to lead people to becoming whosoever’s who call upon the name of the Lord to be sozoed…then you’re misrepresenting Jesus Christ…and you will have to answer for that misrepresentation.  I didn’t say that…the Holy Ghost did…therefore if you don’t like it…take it up with Him.

The Bible is very clear here that there is only ONE message when it comes to the ministry of reconciliation…and that is that you are reconciled to God not because of anything you do, anything you can do, or anything you try to do. Reconciliation in no way, shape or form is your responsibility. Reconciliation is not dependent upon you, and requires nothing of you. Reconciliation with God is just as free as salvation, redemption, healing, restoration, and everything else that was purchased on the Cross by the Blood of Jesus.

We are ambassador’s of Christ, and if we preach anything other than what is written here about the ministry of reconciliation we are misrepresenting Christ…period…end of discussion.

I think two of my favorite verse in the Bible are John 14:6 (NKJV) which reads:  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” and Romans 10:13 (NKJV)which reads:  “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Do you know why?  Because they are direct and to the point.  There is no guess-work involved, and there’s no “open interpretation”.  Jesus said He is the only way to the Father, and Paul by inspiration of the Holy Ghost says that salvation is really this simple.  Jesus is the way, and calling upon Him as Lord equals “sozo”.

If you’re adding anything to it…then you’re full of pride and relying upon yourselves and your good works and your denomination to save you.  If you take anything from it then you have devalued the Cross, and that’s not a good thing to do neither…since the Cross is where we as Christians begin and end.

So…are you an ambassador for Christ or are you misrepresenting Him?

God wanted us to understand that every possible thing that was between us and a fully reconciled relationship with Him was made public by putting it all upon the Jesus Christ. What the Cross did is this: It brought everything that was in the dark hidden places that was keeping us from having a right relationship with God, and made it all public. Every single solitary sin that could ever and would be committed was on display on the Cross in Jesus. That’s what the Bible means when it says that He mad Him who knew no sin to BE sin so that we may become the righteousness of God in Christ. God did this. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

We’re back to the point I was making at the beginning of this message, and that’s the point that God has already done all the work that’s necessary for us to be fully reconciled to Him.  In fact, I love what the Holy Ghost gave me to say next:

I don’t know how to make this anymore clear to you. What God did with the Cross was absolutely perfect, flawless, and without error. There was no mistakes, there wasn’t anything left out, there weren’t any unknown sins that man could or would ever commit that God didn’t know about when He made Jesus sin, and when Jesus cried out “It is finished”…part of what was finished was man’s having to work, strive, and try to attain what was no only attainable through what He did on the Cross. At the very moment that Jesus cried out asking why God forsook Him Jesus was entirely sin, sickness, and disease. (you would know this if you ever read Isaiah chapter 53)…and at that moment all sin was judged, punished, and paid for in full by Jesus Christ.

I think my favorite thing about what I wrote in that message was this point right here:  “What God did with the Cross was absolutely perfect, flawless, and without error. There was no mistakes, there wasn’t anything left out, there weren’t any unknown sins that man could or would ever commit that God didn’t know about when He made Jesus sin,”

God’s work through Jesus Christ is flawless.  God made zero mistakes.  He did a perfect job, and that’s why Jesus could say “It is finished”.  What was finished?  Until that time…man really did have to “work” to be reconciled to God.

Listen.  Jesus became ALL sin.  There wasn’t one sin left out when Jesus went to the Cross.  Not gossip, not slander, not drunkenness, not murder, not adultery, not pedophilia, not homosexuality, and not being a preacher of false doctrine.  Every sin that you and I could think of by commission and by omission was placed upon Jesus.  The ONLY sin not covered by the Cross…rejecting Jesus…but that sin is forgiven the moment you become a whosoever that calls upon the name of Lord.

Are you working for what you cannot obtain or are you resting in the finished work of the Cross as a whosoever?  I’ll be happy to let you know that I am a whosoever…and I happened across this that describes me best…and it’s the story of every Christian who understands that we can rest…not because we deserve it…but because Christ offers it to all of us whosoever’s.

Yes…I’m a Christian. Yes…I can be the biggest hypocrite ever. I backslide. I stumble. I fall. I stray onto the wrong path. But God is working in me. I may be a mess, but I’m His mess. And He is slowly straightening me out. And the day will come when I will be by His side, His work in me completed. And until that day I will take His hand, and let Him do in me whatever needs to be done, no matter how painful it will be for me. When He is finished, it will all be worth it.
Because I am saved by His amazing Grace, “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6.
It’s not by my efforts, though works, not just faith alone, is essential for being a saved person. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:10.; “Faith without works is dead.” -James 2:26;

If you’re looking for perfection…I cannot offer it to you.  I do, however, know the One who can…and that’s really the most important part of the ministry of reconciliation…introducing people to the One who can do what we cannot…and what we could not.

Conclusion:

I know it’s taken a long time to get to this last message of this series, but I’ve had a busy couple of weeks…and this is really the first time in a while that I’ve been able to sit, and clearly hear from the Lord.  I’d much rather take a while between messages and be sure I’m hearing from God, and write something on my own where I run the risk of misrepresenting Christ.

Today, right now, at this very moment you have the opportunity to be perfectly, and flawlessly reconciled to God. If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, and are trying to attain that which is only available through Jesus Christ…then today is the day to do just what the thief on the cross did…and be reconciled to God.

“Dear Jesus, I want you to come into my heart! THANK you for dying on the cross for my sins so that I could be fully accepted by you. I receive you right now today as Lord and Savior. Thank you for forgiving me, completely reconciling me, and giving me eternal life with God. I give my heart to you. In Jesus name I pray…Amen”

Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer…it’s finished. You are saved, you are reconciled to God, and you have just received eternal life.

If you have already said that prayer, and you are a believer. Then stop trying to earn something that was freely supplied…and do like Paul writes…and enjoy your reconciliation with the Father…because you are already reconciled to God.

Not because of anything you did, but because of what Jesus did…in your place.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24)

Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer