Part 5 of the series The Gospel-Centered Life
You can listen to this sermon here.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).
Good News to Share
It’s normal for us to share good news. Yet most Christians find it difficult to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Why are we reluctant to share the gospel? We are often afraid of rejection, ridicule, anger, and embarrassment. Why are we complacent about sharing the gospel? Perhaps we don’t think enough about the destiny of those who die without faith in Christ.
Paul writes, “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:14). The NIV says, “Christ’s love compels us.” We should not be motivated by guilt, but by grateful joy.
The gospel rebukes our reluctance and complacency and compels us to share the good news.
The Message of Reconciliation
God has entrusted to us “the message of reconciliation” (v. 19). Three questions need to be answered regarding reconciliation. First, what is reconciliation? Second, why is reconciliation necessary? Third, how is reconciliation possible?
1. Reconciliation is what God has done to bring us back together with himself.
“Reconciliation is God’s initiative and God’s work, while the direction of reconciliation is also Godward. God is not reconciled with us, as if we were the point of reference and God were the transgressor (!); we are reconciled with God” (Scott Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, p. 245).
2. Reconciliation is necessary because of our sin.
“For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (v. 21). Our sin separates us from God. Reconciliation was “for our sake.”
3. Reconciliation is possible because of the cross.
Christ was “made to be sin” even though he “knew no sin” (i.e., was completely sinless). On the cross, he bore the wrath of God for our sin so that in Christ “we might become the righteousness of God.”
“All this is from God” (v. 18). The gospel is about what God has done for us, not what we have to do for God.
The Ministry of Reconciliation
God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). We are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (v. 20). Paul writes, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (v. 20).
We should not ask if we should be sharing the gospel but how we should be sharing the gospel.
Probably the best way to share the gospel is to do it in the context of a relationship. We all have a circle of influence (family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.). Who in your circle of influence needs to be reconciled to God?
We believe that God is sovereign. Do you think it’s an accident that there are unsaved people in your circle of influence? Perhaps God has placed these people in your life so that you might share the gospel with them. Many times we hope someone else will speak to an unsaved loved one about Christ. But what about you? God has given you the ministry of reconciliation.
Don’t be discouraged if you share the gospel with someone and they don’t believe. Conversion usually happens as a process over time. “The focus of evangelism should be encouraging people in a Christ-ward direction rather than looking for that crossing-the-line experience” (John P. Bowen, Evangelism for "Normal" People, p. 83).