Probably the one benefit of the salvation that more people cite as a motivator for their salvation than any other is this one: Hell. God wants to take Hell out of your future. The removal of the horror of future eternal damnation in Hell removed, is no more clearly seen than in the element of the gift of salvation called Reconciliation.
Why? Because reconciliation saves us from an eternal suffering to pay for our sins because we died as strangers, at war against, and alienated from, God.
This involves the one event that God promised would happen, warned everyone to prepare for—and yet it takes almost everyone off guard and by surprise.
That is of course death—and the judgment of God upon all who die in their sins.
Every second two people die somewhere on this planet.
May I remind you that this is the most frequently fulfilled prophecy of all? God says it is appointed for all humans to die, because all have sinned. So far other than two (Enoch and Elijah), every human that has ever lived has fulfilled the prediction God made.
One Moment after
Have you ever thought what happens just one moment after death? So that we would know and be ready Jesus instructs us in His Word. Open with me to John 8:24.
First, Jesus warns that the very worst thing that could happen to anyone is for them to die in their sins.
John 8:24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Next, He lets us know that death does not end life, it just changes the location. There is no cessation of conscious existence. Look with me again at II Corinthians 5:6, 8—
2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
Tonight we will study the final truth Jesus speaks of most frequently. He lets us know that the dead awaken from the momentary rest of death in a very real, very painful, very different place. The first thing that they experience is the inescapable reality that they will now have to live with the results of their choices.
So every second over and over again the prophecy of God's Word happens. People face death alone. People face death in their sins. People face death in horror, pain, and the endless punishment their sins deserve. So what has God done? He has left His personal family members on Earth to go and share the only way out of eternal disaster. That is the ministry of reconciliation.
Now look a bit further at II Corinthians 5:12-21, that is our text this evening.
For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 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. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Ministry Of
You and I are here because there's one thing we can do on earth that we can't do in heaven—and that is what God calls the ministry of reconciliation. Five times in the verses we just read the term "reconciliation" is used in its various forms. Reconciliation defines the very heart and soul of your responsibility as a believer, and of mine, as long as we live in this world.
Sometimes our beliefs in Christianity can get very complex; and our personal lives can get very complex. Each of us face the constant threat of our schedules as believers getting very complex. So from time to time we all need to simplify. We need to take everything down to the irreducible minimum of what everything in our lives are about as Christians.
Paul, moved by the Spirit of God does that in these verses. He tells each of us that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Our whole life is to be built around simply this: Our God given duty is to tell people they can be reconciled to God.
We are to tell as many people as God brings into our path as we live out our lives on this earth—the fact that God will forgive all of someone's sins forever. We are to let people know that the relationship they were born with as a direct descendant of Adam (see why a correct view of creation is so important to salvation): of hostility, hatred, enmity, bitterness, and alienation from God can be totally changed.
Through reconciliation enemies of God become His friends. Aliens from the wrong family (Satan’s) can become sons and daughter of God (John 1:12). That is the good news called the Gospel. The essence of what Christ's church declares to this dreadfully lost and desperately needy world is not that God wants fix your marriage.
The glorious, everlasting Gospel is not that God wants to make your life happier.
The secret hidden in Christ from ages past and now revealed is not that God wants to make you prosperous, successful, or assure you of a life comfort.
The Gospel is that our human alienation as sinners from our Holy Creator God carries the dreadful price of eternal damnation. And for those who receive Christ, believe the Gospel, and take that free gift can be reconciled with God and enjoy His glorious Heaven forever.
Is the Truth
The Gift of Salvation means every sin past, present, and future was already dealt with by Jesus Christ on a Cross of wood, two thousand years ago, on a hill called Golgotha.
May I repeat again what Paul explains to us: each of us, for our entire lifetime have the incredible privilege to tell as many people as we want to simply this: “God will forgive all your sins forever, are you interested”?
The ministry of reconciliation is all we are on earth for. The message of reconciliation is the essence of all that we as the church exist to proclaim—lost, hopeless, helpless, doomed humans, on the way to eternal destruction, can be reconciled to God.
Literally, it says in verse 18, "He placed in us the ministry of reconciliation." Then again at the end of verse 19, "He has committed to us the word or the message of reconciliation." The word "word" here is the Greek word "logos" and it defines what is true and trustworthy as opposed to "mythos" which was the Greek word for myths, lies, deceptions and fictitious things.
We have the truth in the midst of all the myths. We live to announce that God can be reconciled to sinners. That enmity between hopeless, wicked people and a holy God can end. There is a way to be reconciled to God.
God alone can change our relationship and that's the good news. God so loved the world He made a way of reconciliation, to reconcile us sinners, and make us His friends and His children. All the gods of the world’s religions have to be appeased by some human works. In pagan days it meant taking your little baby and burning that baby to a crisp as the Canaanites did for centuries, to pacify the god Molech.
But the true God of the Bible is a reconciler. Reconciliation is the “divine provision by which God's holy displeasure can be appeased” . Humans can never make reconciliation. Reconciliation with God is never what we do, it is only embraced by faith. God has provided the reconciliation, we can only receive it.
To explain this theologically, reconciliation with God is “not something we accomplish when we stop deciding to reject Him, but something He accomplished when he stopped deciding to reject us”. God is the only source of reconciliation that leads to endless life, eternal forgiveness, and unshakeable assurance.
The Greatest Verse
In the Bible
Verse 21 has the answer, and because of our critical need, this could be called the greatest verse in the Bible. It only has fifteen Greek words. Understand this verse, means that you understand the Gospel. God wrote down for us 15 Greek words that define the meaning of His message of reconciliation we are to share.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
On the cross, God treated Jesus as if He had committed every sin ever committed by every person who would ever believe. Though, in fact, Jesus committed none of them. Listen to how John Mac Arthur explains it:
That is the great doctrine of substitution. And that's the first side of imputation. God imputed our sins to Him. He was guilty of none of them. God treated Him as if He committed all of them. And He just unloaded His fury for all the sins of all the people who would ever believe in Him in the history of the world. He unloaded all His fury against all their sins on Christ.
"In order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." That's the other side of imputation. This is just mind-boggling to me. Let me tell you what that last half means.
LIFE OF JESUS
Have you ever asked yourself the question, "When Jesus came into the world why did He have to live all those years?" If I was planning the plan of redemption I'd have had Him come down on Friday, die, rise on Sunday and go back to Heaven Monday. I mean, that was the only deal, it needed to happen, wasn't it? Have you ever though that through? Why 30 years? Why 30 silent years? Isn't that quite a remarkable to you that you have one little tiny vignette in the life of Christ at the age of twelve and that's it? And that's not of monumental theological significance. He was a twelve-year-old who got separated from His parents and He was wandering around the temple asking questions of the theologians there. And He made the one comment that He needed to be about His Father's business, which a noble Jew could have made. A devout Jew, concerned about things of God who was His Father.
But you have 30 years of absolute silence. You have 30 years of no record. Look this is God on the Earth! This is the Almighty, glorious God of Heaven living in the world and we have absolutely no information about this. We don't know anything about what happened
What was He like? Well, we know He grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God. And then we know absolutely nothing. We have 30 blank years of the life of God on Earth. Isn't that wonderful to think about? I mean, I just wish there was ---I wish the Gospels didn't start with the birth of Christ and leap to the baptism.
There's 30 years in there, what was going on in there. The reason He had to be here all those years was identified at His baptism when John said, "I'm not going to baptize you." Remember that? And He said, "No, you have to. I have come to fulfill all righteousness." That was just part of doing what righteousness required. And the reason, that Jesus lived a full life was that He might live a complete life fully righteous. That He might live a complete life absolutely without sin, absolutely perfect, so that that perfect life could be credited to your account.
That's the backside of imputation. On the cross, God treated Jesus as if He lived your life so He could treat you as if you lived His life. That's the Gospel. That's substitution .
The 4th Element of
The Gift of Salvation
Have you received the one and only gift that you (and everyone else) really needs?
THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS—CRITICAL NEED #1
Because of our sin—we are all debtors to God’s Righteousness; so we need forgiveness.
So salvation is all about Jesus coming to live and then die the substitutionary death to take the hopeless debt we owe to God and pay with His own life our eternal death sin has caused us to be responsible to pay--that’s forgiveness. A Sinner stands before God as a debtor and that debt is forgotten by His payment.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace NKJV
Have you experienced the relief of knowing that all your sins, everyone of them—past, present, and future, are GONE? Your sins are paid for, and your eternal life is purchased—and you have the receipt in your hand, written in the very blood of the One who paid the price. Christ's record of that payment is forever settled in this book the Bible!
THE GIFT OF JUSTIFICATION—CRITICAL NEED #2
Because of our sin—we are all guilty convicts in God’s sight; so we need justification.
So Christ died to take guilty convicts and destroy any record that that ever committed a crime and takes their place in the punishment—that’s justification! A Sinner stands before God as accused and is declared righteous by His imputed righteousness.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, NKJV
Have you experienced the peace of justification, all guilt removed, all punishment forever taken away from God’s sight?
THE GIFT OF REGENERATION—CRITICAL NEED #3
Because of our sin—we are all dead in our trespasses and sin; so we need regeneration.
So Christ died to take dead and rotting spiritual corpses and make them vibrant, full of endless life and brand new—that’s regeneration!
Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, NKJV
Have you experienced the power of an endless life, and every day partaking of the powerful presence within of the very Lord God Almighty?
THE GIFT OF RECONCILIATION—CRITICAL NEED #4
Because of our sin—we are all enemies of God; so we need reconciliation.
So Christ died to take enemies and make them friends—that’s reconciliation! A Sinner stands before God as an enemy and is made a friend by His peace.
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. NKJV
Have you experienced the wonder of friendship with God?
Through seven divine works of God, guilty sinners are made ready for dwelling in the Presence of God forever; and their bodies formerly slaves to sin instantly become the very dwelling place, and temple of God.
How does God do all that? He does it through the seven elements that make up the Gift of Salvation. Remember with me what God does in each of us who believe:
1. In FORGIVENESS: God removes my debts. Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
2. In JUSTIFICATION: God changes my State. Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. In REGENERATION: God transforms my Heart. Ezekiel 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
4. In RECONCILIATION: God becomes my Friend. Romans 5:10-11 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.