This morning, we looked at the first two “in Him” statements from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. First, we learned that we are dead in Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Since Jesus died for all, then all of us have died. In other words, since Jesus was dying as our representative, God now views every believer as having died on the cross with Him—we no longer deserve to die for our sins because we are dead in Him on the cross. And since Jesus died for us, we ought to live for Him instead of ourselves.
Second, we learned that we are a new creation in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). As a result of being in Him, we have become a new creation. Our old lifestyle has passed away and we have become a totally different people.
While these are wonderful statements of what we have been given “in Him,” they are not all. Tonight we will look at the third benefit each believe has in Jesus.
3. We are reconciled in Him (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
Summary: In Christ (in Him) God has reconciled us to Himself. Our sins are no longer held against us and we are viewed as friends instead of enemies. God now sends us out as ambassadors to the rest of the world, calling for them to be reconciled to Him.
In verses 18-20, there are two thoughts. First, God has reconciled us to Himself. Second, God has sent us out as ambassadors of reconciliation to the world. However, the thoughts are mixed together in the verses. You will notice that the first thought is mentioned in the first half of verses 18 and 19 while the second thought is mentioned in the second half of 18 and 19 and all of 20.
You should also notice that all of these things are because of God. He is the mastermind behind all that we have in Christ. So keep in mind that God the Father is behind all that God the Son has done for each of us.
a. Because of Jesus, we have been reconciled (18a, 19a).
What is reconciliation?
In the English language, reconciliation could involve two friends reestablishing a close relationship, a married couple getting back together after a separation, someone finally bringing himself to accept the facts about something, or making ledger entries agree.
The word used here can mean “restoration to favor” (Mounce) or “to remove enmity between parties at variance with each other” (Hodge 518). In context, the reconciliation was necessary because we were at odds with God due to our sinfulness (see v. 19).
What was the problem? Our problem was not just a list of sins against God; we had been declared to be enemies of God. We usually think of the devil as the enemy of God, but “Any person who disobeys the Lord’s commands is declared to be God’s enemy. Sin sets us against God” (GotQuestions).
Colossians 1:21 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”
At this moment in history, there is a rift between the USA and China. The recent “spy balloon” situation has led to a discontinuation of talks between our ambassadors. We don’t trust what the other country is doing and are not on good terms despite our good trade relationship. Reconciliation with China would only be possible if they admitted their wrong and we accepted their apology. But that enmity between our countries will probably continue until things are resolved somehow in the future.
The need for reconciliation between God and man is much more important. On one hand, we have our perfect Creator who has setup the way we should live. On the other hand, we have sinful people who are not interested in what God thinks. Read through the end of Romans 1 to see how serious this has become.
What could be done?
Notice what the beginning of verse 18 says. “All things are of God.” When it comes to reconciliation between holy God and sinful man, there is no hope for man to turn from his son on his own. Sinful man is not interested in being made right with God because he loves his sin and is spiritually dead toward God. So, “in this case God is the reconciler. Man never makes reconciliation.” (Hodge 518).
Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
The point of that passage is that God was the one who acted when we could have cared less. It is the same point made here. All of the reconciliation is because of God. He reconciled us to Himself through Jesus (18). He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (19a). He chose to not impute our trespasses to us (19b) but instead punished His own Son Jesus for what we did so that we could be reconciled to God.
Colossians 1:22-22 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
All of this means that God has done everything needed to reconcile the sinful world to Himself. We who were enemies of God have been reconciled to Him through Jesus. Now what should our reaction to this be?
b. Because of Jesus, we want others to be reconciled (18b, 19b, 20).
In the second half of the above verses, we see that God has called us to be involved in telling the world about His desire for reconciliation. We have been given a ministry of reconciliation, a word of reconciliation, and the position of ambassador of reonciliation.
The ministry of reconciliation (18b)
Whenever a new president begins his role, he surrounds himself with people who will help him to accomplish his agenda. Our current president’s cabinet are in charge of “15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General” (White House). They each have their different “ministries” or areas of responsibility.
When it comes to God’s agenda, He has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. The people who surround us in our neighborhoods, work places, and neighborhoods are the people to whom we are to minister. We are to tell them about God’s desire to reconcile them to Himself. We have this ministry, but what are we to say to others?
The word of reconciliation (19b)
Whenever we need to understand what a word means, we go to the dictionary. Just for fun, I went to the dictionary to look up the definition of “word.” It defined it as “a sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning” (American Heritage).
In 2 Corinthians 5:19, this “word” is more than just a single word. It can also mean “a thing propounded in discourse… a message, announcement” (Mounce). It is an idea that has a specific meaning. There is history behind it. It needs to be explained in a way that can be understood.
God has given us the meaning of the word reconciliation with two objects. He wants us to understand what this word/idea means and then explain it to others. Do you think that you could explain what biblical reconciliation means to someone who doesn’t know? If not, take some time to study it for yourself so that you can. We need to do this because God has given us an important position.
The ambassador of reconciliation (20)
In verse 20, we see that God had appointed Paul and his ministry team as ambassadors of reconciliation. They had been sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel so that people could be reconciled to God. But is this limited to just preachers, evangelists, and missionaries? I don’t think so. “All believers should serve Christ as His ambassadors” (Lowery 568).
What exactly is an ambassador? He or she is “an authorized messenger or representative” (American Heritage). A country’s ambassador is a diplomatic representative who “does not act on his own authority. What he communicates is not his own opinions or demands, but simply what he has been told or commissioned to say” (Hodge 522).
This is true of God’s ambassadors. Each of us has been given the words to say to those who have not yet been reconciled to God. And on top of that, we know God and have experienced the blessing of being at peace with Him. Who better could be chosen to represent the Lord to the sinful world than one who has been saved out of it?
Do you feel like you are qualified to be an ambassador for the Lord? This is like asking you if you feel like a righteous person. Most of us would humbly recognize our own limitations and say that we are not qualified to serve God as an ambassador. But think about this. You already have a relationship with other people that I don’t have. To those in your sphere of influence, you are the best person to speak to that person. They know you and trust you as opposed to someone from the outside. You can probably be a better ambassador to your family than I can. Please use that opportunity. But also remember that God can use you to speak to strangers as well. You are not limited to representing the Lord only to those you know and are comfortable with.
In this section, we have seen that in Him (Jesus) we have been reconciled to God. We who were sinful and enemies of God were not overlooked and left to perish. Instead, God took the effort to make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him through the death of His Son. Instead of us being punished for our sins, Jesus paid for them. And when we turn from our sin and put our faith in Him, our relationship with God is reconciled.
The experience of being reconciled to God is something others don’t know about. They are still at odds with God because of their sin. They don’t know that they need to be reconciled to God or that He is interested in being reconciled. Who will tell them? It is up to you and me to speak as God’s ambassadors so that the world can know and believe and be reconciled to God. Will you do that this week?
“καταλλαγή” as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/katallage on 2/12/2023.
“λόγος” as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/logos on 2/12/2023.
“Ambassador” as viewed at https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=ambassador on 2/12/2023.
Hodge, Charles, A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, Carlisle: Banner of Truth, orig. 1857-1859, reprint 1974, pp. 508-27.
Lowery, David K., “2 Corinthians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, pp. 567-68.
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983, pp. 110-14.
“Reconcile” as viewed at https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=reconcile on 2/12/2023.
“The Cabinet” as viewed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet/ on 2/12/2023.
“What does it mean to be an enemy of God?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=46141 on 2/12/2023.
“Word” as viewed at https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=word on 2/12/2023.