Series: The Ministry of Reconciliation
Sun am 20 November 2011 – Kobus Swart
Jude1:4(Msg); Col. 3:5-14; Heb. 12:6, 2 Cor. 5:14-20; Phil. 3:15 (Amp); John 8:2-11; Luke 19:1-10; Matt.18:21-35; Rev. 13:8; Matt. 6:14-15; John 20:19-23
The overwhelming love of God must not be misunderstood. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, but we must see this in context. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license–which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master (Jude1:4Msg). The love God has for us is not a license to continue a life of sin. God loves us the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way.
Several Scriptures bear this out. For example: Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him– a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Col. 3:5-14).
People take portions of Scripture out of context and major on them at the expense of other truths. It is one thing to preach the finished works but it is another thing to live the finished works. The finished works means that I have died with Him. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal. 2:20).
Sometimes we think that God loves us so much that He will turn a blind eye. Wrong! He loves us too much. For those whom the lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives. (Heb. 12:6)
How do we participate in this ministry of reconciliation?
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 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. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer (2 Cor. 5:14-16).
The love of Christ controls us. If we can live this, the world will be impacted by the Church. If we are controlled by the love of Christ and no other motivation. One died therefore all died. It is through this truth that I must see any other person. When we can see that, we are moving closer to the ministry of reconciliation. What it really means is that we don’t judge anybody according to their old Adamic history. View things from the finished position. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
The ministry of reconciliation that is required of us must be of the same standard and at the same level as God’s ministry of reconciliation of humankind to Himself. After the Fall Adam and his descendants lost the dignity of their sonship. Like the parable of the prodigal son, humanity chose the prodigal journey. In Christ the door was opened for humanity to return to their Father. Unfortunately there is the “elder brother” mentality in so many Christians who became ensnared by religion. And having been overcome by a feeling that they have “worked hard and remained faithful”, they refuse to share in the Father’s joy when the prodigal returned home.
God has in Christ reconciled the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we areambassadors (it refers to somebody that has come of age) for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God(2 Cor. 5:19-20). This ministry of reconciliation can only be effectively exercised when you are a true ambassador, when you are spiritually mature. So let those who arespiritually mature and fully grown have this mind and hold these convictions (Phil. 3:15 Amp). Controlled by the love of God, we must see the finished works in Christ’s death and resurrection before we can understand the final exodus from the enslavement to the sin consciousness. We must refuse to see people after the flesh, irrespective of culture and background. We must include everybody into the world that Christ died for and who was reconciled to God. If this can be lived out practically, we can hasten the day of all human history being consummated in Christ.
The ministry of reconciliation must be done responsibly; our judgment must be of the same standard as that of the Father, because we are called to be the righteousness of God in the earth.
How did Jesus demonstrate this?
What were the words of Jesus to the woman who was caught in adultery by the Pharisees? “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11). Here is a demonstration of the Fathers heart who reconciled all humanity to Himself through Christ. Christians are often very quick to throw stones.
Regarding Zaccheus, after all his wrong doing, Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). All he did was to receive Jesus into his house. Compare also Matthew 18:21-35.
Nowhere in the above examples, do we find any reference to the “sinners prayer”!
God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself. Our sin was forgiven before we even committed it, the Lamb was slain and our names written in the Book before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Before we judge anyone else, let us look at ourselves; have we been responsible for hurting people? What a man sows he shall also reap.
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions(Matt. 6:14-15). The biggest sign and wonder we can have is for us to see our brother through the mercy seat and be eager, willing and able to forgive.
Now notice this statement by Jesus
So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained” (Jn 20:19-20)
The Amplified version adds an important condition: Having received the Holy Spirit and being led and directed by Him, if you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained (John 20:23 Amplified).
Why are there so many people still trapped in sin consciousness and condemnation in spite of the words of Jesus on the Cross – “IT IS FINISHED”? Has the Church failed to walk in this mission? There is a ministry God wants to entrust to the spiritually mature. God wants to put this ministry of reconciliation in the hands of the ambassadors. Can this be the key to the wrapping up of history?