The Ministry of Reconciliation

MEMORY SELECTION: “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.” —II Corinthians 5:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Corinthians 5:14; 6:2

IN THE first Book of the Bible we are told of man’s estrangement from God. When father Adam sinned he was condemned to death and permanent separation from God. This sentence was passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. In Romans 5:18 we read, “Therefore as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” It was, and is, God’s purpose, in due time, to restore mankind to the condition of perfection that was enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the beginning. This will also involve the reconciliation of God and men. This theme of the restoration of mankind is the golden thread throughout the entire Bible.

Since all were condemned in Adam, it was necessary to provide a Redeemer for Adam alone. The balance of the text quoted above reads, “even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” The 19th verse of Romans 5 reads, “For as by one man’s disobedience many [all] were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many [all] be made righteous.”

It was Jesus, of course, who volunteered to come to earth and become a man and take Adam’s place in death. To understand and appreciate fully this most loving and unselfish act we must understand the nature of Adam’s sentence. God said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19) To Adam, his sentence meant everlasting extinction. To take Adam’s place in death meant that Jesus, as a man, would go into everlasting oblivion. (John 6:51) But God begot him with the Holy Spirit at Jordan and began a new life in him, so that after being tried and tested during the three and one-half years of his ministry, God raised him from death and exalted him to the divine nature, to have immortal life. (Heb. 5:7-9; 10:5-7; 2:9,16; Phil. 2:5-11; Mark 10:45; I John 2:2; Eph. 1:19-22) But the humanity of Jesus has gone into oblivion.

In reviewing these things in his mind, the Apostle Paul, in II Corinthians 5:14, states: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” That is, the magnitude of the love demonstrated by Jesus has a compelling influence on the conscience of those who understand. And in verse 15 he tells how this constraining influence finds expression: “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” In other words, Paul is saying that the only expression of the conscience that is reasonable and satisfying to the heart is a full and unreserved consecration to serve the Lord. This means turning from the world and placing all our hopes, aims, and desires on heavenly things. And after we have done this, the apostle states (vs. 18), “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, because we have taken this step of consecration, God reconciles us to himself by the blood of Jesus. And having thus justified us, he deals with us as sons. (Rom. 8:10-14; 5:6-11; Gal. 4:1-7) This is the special privilege of the church during the Gospel Age. But this privilege also has responsibilities.

Then follows one of the most remarkable statements in the Scriptures with respect to the responsibility of the footstep followers of Jesus (vs. 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.” The apostle is saying that since Christ’s death and resurrection the church has been given the responsibility of preaching the Gospel of reconciliation, that is, of letting the world know that because of the sacrifice of Jesus they will have an opportunity for life, that they will be brought back from the grave, and that for the thousand years of the kingdom they will have the opportunity to gain perfection and therefore be reconciled to God. In II Corinthians 6:1 the apostle tells us that we are workers together with God to accomplish this purpose. May the Lord help us that we receive not this grace of God in vain.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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