- Sermon Notes
Living As Ambassadors for Christ
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Background of 2 Corinthians
Paul planted this church in Acts 18. Things were not going well in Corinth and for that was reason Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to try set the church back on the right path. Paul then visited the Corinthians which he called in in the beginning of this letter the “painful visit.” Many were refusing to recognize Paul’s teaching and authority but still there were some who were coming forward now in repentance.
We can relate to Paul this letter as he experiences constantly the feelings of being misunderstood. He planted this church and they have now rebelled against his leadership. They have moved on from Him and in doing so many of them have moved away from the true gospel and love of God. Yet, Paul did not give up on them.
Paul was an ambassador of Christ and he is calling us to do the same. He is going to clearly map that out for us in this passage with the hope that we would catch the truth of who we are in Christ. It is this truth that is going to separated us from the world but also propel us into the world to see others reconciled to God.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
1.How do we live as Ambassadors of Christ
First we need to understand what it means to fear the Lord.
A.What does it mean to fear the Lord?
-Fearing the Lord does not mean that we live in this constant fear that the Lord is going to smite us or hurt us. But instead we live a lifestyle that would never harm the Lord himself.
– We seek to please the Lord and serve him. We seek for his will to be done in our lives. We seek to trust him with the ups and downs of our lives
-We live a lifestyle of holiness that stands up for the faithfulness and truth. To live to glorify His name as opposed to disgracing the name of the Lor
Many of us don’t care that our actions and words degrade the very God we believe in to the people in our lives and in our community.
Revelation 3:15-17—I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
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-We are all inconsistent. We all have flaws and have failed. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you are perfect but many us don’t fear the Lord enough to care whether we have failed or succeeded.
B. Authenticity will lead to persuasion.
There is nothing real anymore it seems in this artificial world. We are called as believers to be authentic which means we need to know that we haven’t graduate from the gospel. We haven’t stopped needing God’s grace. Our culture is constantly focusing on this glossing everything up in order to make the appearance that everything is perfect all the time.
– If only we could really hear the arguments behind those family photos on facebook. Or see all of the rejected selfies taken before one was picked, filtered, and captioned properly.
-When someone is authentic and real about who they are it is going to be weird and stand out from the culture. This is what Paul was getting at I believe in verse 12-13.
-Paul experienced many people throughout his ministry who were criticizing his teaching and many who thought he was crazy.
-In Acts 26, Paul is making his plea before King Festus and King Agrippa and begins to display to them the gospel. Pleaded with them that his ministry amongst the people is point those to the Messiah Christ.
In Acts 26:24- Festus says “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.
-Paul was okay with the appearance of insanity. Paul is declaring in this passage that something greater compels him than the approval of man.
Galatians 1:10—Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
-What compels Paul is the love Christ has given him.
C. Ambassadors of Christ are compelled by love
If Paul is insane it because of the insane love God has given him. He is crazy in love with the Savior who crazy loves him.
– For us who have experience Christ love. It is real to us. It has shifted our reality of ourselves and of the world around us. It stirs us. It works in us. It won’t let us go. We can’t escape it.
1 John 4:10- This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
– In the KJV version of this passage it says “for the love of Christ constraineth us.” This love has captured us. We are caught!
– The love of God has taken hold of Paul’s heart like it has taken hold of many of you. You are caught up in this divine romance. You have experience the favor of God. That love is powerful.
– Story of falling for Selena- True love has a way of compelling us to act. True love has a way of making us live differently than ever before.
What is true love?
John 15:13- Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
– His love pushes us forward because we realize our place in the story. We were dead and now the life we have is truly Christ life within us.
Galatians 2:20— I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me
-We didn’t chose him he chose us. He chose us and now has entrusted us to continue in to walk in his love.
-If we want to live for Christ as his ambassadors then we must first realize that it is not us who live but Christ who lives in us.
Ephesians 2:1-5—As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
– You died church! I think many of are still trying to live and save ourselves. We are trying to be our own savior and we are trying to save everyone around us.
– The ambassador does nothing more than represent the one truly in charge. It is so easy to begin to think that we are the ones saving the world but we are simply giving the message. I have nothing to offer anyone except my grave clothes… my story and the message of who raised me!
– Jesus is declaring to what is dead… COME ALIVE!
– Because Jesus’ love he gave his life to wake up the dead in us.
– Paul says “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
– Our life is no longer ours because before the life we have in Christ we were dead. It seems drastic because it should be.
– The love that compels us is not simply a good feeling, a pick me up, but is truly a love that gave everything for us so we could be new.
Acts 17:28- In him we live, we move, we have our being.
2. Ambassadors are changed from the inside out!
-Verse 16 states that our perspective has shifted.
A. Our point of view of the world has shifted in Christ
1 Corinthians 1:18— For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
– When the scales come out of your eyes
– When your eyes are open to what was sealed over by the world, your flesh, and your sin… you suddenly see things clearly.
–Story of getting glasses- Standing in the department store for the first time and being able to read.
-Verse 17- New creation! The old is gone, the new is here!
-God is in the business of recreation and fresh starts.
Isaiah 43:18-19- Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold I will do something new, now it will spring forth.
-New creation happens in an instant but the transformation continues as God sanctifies us to ourselves.
-Jesus called those living in sin to himself and that was always met with criticism.
Mark 2:13-17- 13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
-The Pharisees could only see who Levi and his friends were in the perspective of the world- Jesus saw them in the perspective of the kingdom.
-It isn’t that Jesus came for the sick and some of us are already righteous. We are all the sick in need of the great physician.
-Paul experienced the the same issues when he was first converted. Everyone was afraid of him because he was Saul, the Christian killer, to them.
-The old is gone! This is hard for others to handle. It is also hard for us to not fall back into.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
-Don’t let your past hold you back from the freedom Christ has given you. The new has come and it is bursting at the seems. The old can’t stay.
B. God has reconciled us!
-Paul says “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christand gave us the ministry of reconciliation:that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
-Reconciliation is the end of our estrangement and broken relationship with God. It is God calling us back into relationship and friendship with him once again.
-God no longer counts our sins against us.
Psalm 103—For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
-Many of us are going to God and asking for forgiveness for things that he has already forgiven. We are stuck on something God has already redeemed. We are beating ourselves with something that God has dropped.
-God has also stop counting the sins of our neighbor?
So why are we still counting the sins of our neighbor against them?
1 John 4:19-21– We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
-Maybe you find yourself right now in a stalemate with someone who has hurt you or sinned against you. You’re not going to call until they call. You are not going to apologize until they apologize.
-The ministry of reconciliation is a call to invite other back to the grace and forgiveness of God. Inviting them back to be perfecting in his love.
-If you want the gospel to proclaimed in your life sometimes the greatest way to do it is to learn to love and forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
-Paul says in verse 20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God we’re making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
-God is make a plea thru us who are redeemed! Come back to him for God does not hold your sin against you.
-We get it wrong so often. We say “Come back… clean yourself up… and be reconciled.” What did God offer to us?
Colossians 3:13—Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
-Jesus has so loved us that we can’t hoard it for ourselves.
-The ministry of reconciliation us representing Christ as his ambassadors
Verse 21- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This is the essence of the gospel in one verse.
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We are called to live the lifestyle of a ambassador of Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-2—Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we [a]are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one [b]according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ [c]according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [d]he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and [e]He has [f]committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.