Community Bible Chapel Podcast
3/17/19 Ambassador – It Can’t Be Taught
Sue and I were watching one of those talent shows recently and a young lady started to sing.
-The judge started to cry at her voice and the story she told in her song.
-At the end, the judge commented that what she just did – “can’t be taught.”
-And I began to think about how much I desire to see others come to faith in Jesus Christ.
-Where that excites me greatly, I also see that I fall short.
-The Apostle Paul said he was willing to sacrifice is how salvation to see his brothers accept Christ.
-And I’m not quite there yet.
-Much like the singer had something that can’t be taught, our heart for the lost is also not something that can be taught.
-We can teach about the need and give statistics and give techniques for reaching the un-believers, but unless our heart changes, we will walk past them on the street or live next to them for decades without reaching out to them.
-We will either be content to take our salvation and live our lives waiting for heaven.
-Or we will round up the wagons and live to protect our way of life in a culture that is becoming more hostile every day.
Last week, we introduced a new series we are calling “Time to Engage”.
-In light of our culture – it’s not time to round up the wagons, but it is time to engage our culture with the truth in the love of Christ.
-And that starts by developing a heart for God and a His heart for people.
-The more I read God’s Word, the more I see God’s heart for His people.
-I pray you spent some time considering God’s heart, because the more we grow to know it, the more we will adopt it.
-The more we know and adopt His heart, the farther we will go to reach out to those who are facing eternity separated from God.
-The Gospel is the key – “that Jesus died for sinners”.
-That changes everything.
Now, today we are going to dig into II Cor. 5:16-21.
-Paul has been writing the Corinthians about the difference Christ makes in our lives.
-He has been defending the Gospel and helping them understand the profound and fundamental change that happens in us when we believe.
-And we pick up his discussion in verse 16 . . . .
The passage is part of a larger section of Scripture where Paul is urging the Corinthian church what it’s like to live for Christ.
-Corinth was a very worldly and vile city, much like our culture today, so as we study this passage, we can’t say: “PJ, that isn’t were we live” – no it’s exactly where we live.
-The church in Corinth had brought in all kinds of practices into the church with them that Paul had to help them get straight.
-The passage begins with a “so then” which makes us look back for the context.
-Paul has been urging us to apply the death and resurrection of Jesus into our lives by putting off selfish living and putting on the selfless life of Jesus.
-In this passage, he takes that idea to another level that starts with . . .
1. A New View of Others V. 16
-Typically, we tend to view people in a couple ways.
-We look at our neighbor.
-He’s friendly, doesn’t cause us any problems, seems to live a moral life by today’s standards.
-And we conclude that he’s a “pretty good” person and maybe I don’t need to talk to him about the Gospel because he’s okay.
-Now, in our humanness, we tend to compare.
-He’s not as bad as most people, so he’s a good person – he’s okay.
-But that view diminishes the holiness of God because God’s standard isn’t everybody else – it’s His perfection.
-Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
-So we need to make sure that we view our neighbor from God’s perspective and exalt the holiness of our God.
-Or we look at the person in the news paper who was just arrested for ____.
-His sin is public and obvious and we conclude that they are too far gone to be saved.
-We bring judgment to bear upon them because they are a sinner and we begin to think that the Gospel wouldn’t reach them anyway.
-But our view of them diminishes the depth of God’s mercy and grace and His Gospel as being inadequate for certain, or multiplied sins.
-We spend a lot of time in our Life Group this week looking at Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector to grow our Biblical understanding of people.
-Now we might wonder how to do that, and Paul tells us that something wonderful has happened that changes everything.
-God has reconciled us to Himself in Christ.
-Because of that event, we no longer view him as just a man or good teacher, but as our Messiah.
-And because of that, we have to reinterpret all of life and history in a new way.
-Human history is re-interpreted as salvation history.
-Our lives are re-interpreted in light of God’s salvation.
-How we view other people is re-interpreted as people that Jesus is reconciling to Himself.
2. A New Reality For Ourselves. V. 17
“We are a new creation in Christ”
-That is a game changer!
-I can not think of a more profound statement and truth that has a larger impact on our lives.
-But it does raise some questions of what that “new creation” means
-Is it referring to some private super-spiritual experience, or does God zap us with a lightning bolt and we instantly have the Bible memorized?
-No, it’s referring to being made new in Christ, which means that we have become like Him, having a brand new purpose in life.
-Being found in Christ, much like the Kingdom of God, is an already and not yet reality.
-The transformation is the “already” glory of God of our salvation and results in the “not yet” but growing obedience to please Christ that is our sanctification.
-All of that is the work of God in our lives as Paul writes in 3:18
“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
-So, the “new creation” is not some “mystical” spiritual experience, but is a transformation of purpose in life.
-And only God’s power can explain the re-creation of a life that once lived according to the flesh but now lives by the Spirit as Galatians 5 speaks of.
-In Christ, we are able to finally shed our selfish desires and adopt the selfless – loving ways of our Savior.
-The “new creation” becoming like the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
-And we want to make sure that we understand that this new reality is totally by God’s initiative and work.
-You and I contribute nothing to our redemption – it’s God who has redeemed us. “Not counting our sin against us.”
-And it comes with a pre-supposition – that we are sinners.
-It was an action of God to not count our sin against us and grant us forgiveness.
-Our relationship with God was broken in our sin and God is justly offended.
-Yet, He willingly reconciled us to Him in Jesus Christ.
-Matthew Henry writes
-He is saying that God did the work to reconcile us to Himself.
-And that work didn’t damage his Holy character, though we deserved justice and death as we broke the first covenant.
-In Christ, God made a new covenant with us that extends grace to us because Jesus died in our place and we receive His forgiveness.
-That is wild – that grace exists and we rejoice with David in Psalm 32:1 “Blessed (happy – joyous – cartwheels) is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
3. A New Purpose V. 18-21
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors”
-Now, we have to start with this perspective – being Christ’s Ambassador is not a choice you make – where you wake up and decide what to do today.
-If you are redeemed in Christ, then you are his ambassador.
-It’s not a “potential” but a “reality”.
“An ambassador portrays the message, methods and character of the one they represent
Message – the Gospel.
-We looked at what the Gospel was last week in Cor. 15
“Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again.”
-The Gospel is not our “getting right with God”, but God’s declaration of the Good News that He has paid for our sins.
–The Gospel is not us reaching up to God, but God reaching out to us.
-We don’t have to do some great thing or get our lives right so that God might save us.
-The Gospel is an announcement of what God has done to save us so we might trust in Him in response to what He has done.
-This is the message God has given us that we have to speak to all people. Method – Service
-Since God reached out to us, we can’t wait for people to reach out to us, we must follow our Savior and reach out to the broken.
-It might amaze us that Jesus didn’t come as a conquering King in His first advent.
-Phil. 2 says that Jesus “though God, made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant”
-In Christ, God came to serve to win us to Himself.
-He didn’t have to leave all the benefits of being God in heaven to take on human flesh.
-Some might have questioned why He would “lower” himself to reach down to us.
-He was willing to bear the brokenness of the culture to reach us.
-Are we willing to serve to engage the broken culture with the Gospel?
-I know we would all say, “yes”.
-To have compassion on people who need Jesus.
-To spend more time with people.
-To give more of our finances to reach out to people.
-To change how we interact with people in a changing culture.
-Which means we need to change how we converse.
-That’s the purpose of the name change we are working on.
-So we might be in a better position to reach our culture.
-So they might hear the Gospel!
-In this age of grace, we are called to serve – to love others with the same sacrificial love that Jesus loved us with.
-God makes us His ambassadors and we must use His methods or it will cloud
Character – How we live
-We talk about this all the time.
-We are to be growing in the fullness of God’s character and we are to live that in the context of this world we live in.
-Far too often the church (individuals) feel is needs to sit in judgment over un-believers and we tend to rail against what the world is doing.
-It shouldn’t surprise us that the world does what it does.
-Because most of us tend to be judgmental, we tend to put on this aspect of God’s character without the fullness of His character.
-That doesn’t mean we don’t speak out against sin in the training of our family and the church.
-That doesn’t mean that we don’t speak out when our culture celebrates the killing of babies – in or out of the womb.
-But it does mean that we don’t stand in front of an abortion center with a sign that says that “abortion is murder”.
-It does mean that we hold a sign that says
“if you are confused or hurting, we are here to help.”
-The church as far too long taken the place of judge in the world by passing judgment on it, when our own salvation has come about through God’s kindness.
“So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
-And as you live as a “new creation” that God is creating you to be, you will be living out God’s character before an un-believing world.
-As we live out the message, method, and character of Jesus Christ, we implore others to be reconciled to God.
God has given us the means to engage the culture with the Gospel that brings hope and life.
-The Gospel has given us everything and it demands everything as God makes his appeal through us.
-Now, life is busy and there is no way we are going to jam pack a few more religious experiences into it.
-But Paul is not talking about adding anything to our already busy lives,
-That new life comes through the joy of the Lord in our salvation.
-And we can’t teach that – you have it or you don’t.
-If you have your salvation – you are a new creation and life is different.