Wednesday 17 February 2021


              2 Corinthians 5 v 6 v 10

 In this Epistle, the words of Paul are particularly relevant, be reconciled to God.’

The passage begins telling us we are ambassadors for Christ, and an ambassador is someone who represents their Sovereign in a foreign nation. As Christians, we are citizens of two nations; our national one in which we observe our country’s rules, but also in the Kingdom of God whose rules we are committed to obey. Wherever we reside, we are to represent God faithfully and devotedly, living according to his Word, and being a credit to himWe have the awesome duty of bringing people back into a living relationship with God; that is what we are here for, to lead people to God.  We are the hands, feet and mouth of God on earth.  Jesus said He would build His Church and He meant He would do this throurgh his followers.

 We are living in a world which is hostile to Christians, materialism and hedonism are big factors in people’s lives, and God is seen as a restrictive force. But there is a need for a spiritual dimension in every person’s life, and the Church is the only body which can provide that need.

When God looks at our world He sees the hurt in people's lives, the misery they are going through. He sees all the hatred, violence and bitterness.

This is a troubled world; so many people with problems, financial, moral, domestic, spiritual, and breakdowns.  There are people in our towns and cities living lives isolated from family and friends, victims of broken marriages or romances, or just lonely people.  Some have become prisoners of alcohol, drugs, or some other addiction and long to break free from that addiction and find freedom.  The Bible gives a simple answer, turn to God

There can only be liberty and freedom when the Holy Spirit is present, and that means turning to God.  There is a need for them, and indeed for all of us to turn to God.

There is a very widely held belief that everyone, irrespective of lifestyle, will end up in heaven when their life here is over.   I have taken many hundreds of funerals over many years and I imagine barely 100 have been Church members.  Yet in everyone, relatives have assured me their deceased will be in heaven.  One lady told me her niece didn’t believe in God, but was a lovely Christian girl.  (I am still trying to work that one out)  Another asked me not to make the service too religious.

The Bible states that people turn away from God at their peril, and the greatest need to day is for reconciliation with God. Jesus Christ died on the Cross for that.  He held out two arms, one reaching out to us, and the other reaching out to God to bring us closer together.  His message was that all could be reconciled to God.

God seeks reconciliation, bringing together those separated for any reason.  It is because we have turned away from God and decided to our own way that so many have become separated from Him.  Nothing could be sadder than to be estranged from God who made us; but we have the assurance that God has found a means of reconciliation and it is our duty to declare it to those willing to hear.

In the Epistle today, Paul writes, ‘God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them’. This does not mean that God is not concerned about our sins; He knows that we cannot be free until something is done about them.

The Bible states we have all fallen short of the glory of God because we are sinners, but what God wants us clearly to understand is that our sins do not keep us from coming to him. We can come to God knowing we will be received and forgiven.

The New Testament never speaks of man seeking reconciliation with God, God is the One who takes the initiative and provides the means by which we can be reconciled by sending Jesus to the Cross to accept the punishment we deserve, so restoring our relationship with Him.  That means that the cross of Jesus Christ was substitution. Christ stood in our in order that our sins were placed upon the head of Christ.

But we have a part to play. We have to respond to God’s call for repentance, which means to turn around and adopt a new way of living.  It means putting God and Jesus first in our lives, to let God be God and not be forced out by other things.  We may have to admit we have fallen short of what God expects from us.    Only when we have submitted ourselves to Him will God grant us forgiveness and we will be reconciled to God. 

The apostle Paul was very anxious that the truth of what God has done in reconciling us, His people unto Himself, through the work of Christ, be declared through preachers. This great fact, he says, must be proclaimed.

God has called on His Church to witness that He has reconciled the world to Himself and given us the privilege and responsibility to proclaim the gospel and it is important we do so because of the eternal consequences that depend on what we say; and let it be known that all who hear it may be drawn to Him because of the work of Christ upon the Cross.

 The Church is the body of Christ and belief in the Church is essential.   The doctrine of the Church however must be based on the teaching of the Apostles which has been passed down to us in the New Testament. 

Many of us here will remember when the Church was held in much greater respect that it commands today.  It was seen as a place set apart from the ways of the world; a place seen as holy with something special to offer, something spiritual and supernatural.  This is no longer the case, which means our task is much harder.   We can only truly perform the task God has set us when we preach the doctrine handed down to us by the Apostles, and we have to be careful that we do not wander away from the true gospel in order to achieve the approval of society..

 The Church at large in the Western nations has not been united in proclaiming the gospel as handed down by the Apostles, partly because it is something people do not want to hear, and partly because many preachers don’t want to tell it, fearing unpopularity, if in fact they really believe it themselves.  I doubt you will hear many messages in the pulpits of our land such as you hearing

Some may say I am a good Church going person and this call to be reconciled is really for other people.  If anyone thinks all Church going people are good, they are living in a world of make believe.  People go to Church for various reasons, not all worthy; business advantage, giving a false appearance of being holy.  I have seen Ministers driven from their Church by embittered people who were upset at not being given the attention they felt they deserved.

Charles and John Wesley were religious men, Ministers of the Church, but it was some years later when first Charles and a few days later John, after a meeting realised there had to be a complete realisation of salvation in Christ alone.

This is not just a call for so-called ‘bad people’.  The Epistle calls on us all to come to God with all our hearts. But all this is done through the action of Jesus on the Cross.

The Bible states, ‘salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we must be saved’.  Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’ 

These are not welcome statements to make these days being seen as politically incorrect. It is more popular to say all religions lead to God and there is only one God, both of which are incorrect.  They are false statements and not biblically correct.  We worship the God of Israel, other faiths do not.  Islam states God has no son, and worships Allah and would not recognise any God of Israel.  So whilst we must accept other faiths and the fact that some good moral precepts are held, we cannot depart from Apostolic teaching.  There is only one way to God.

The Bible states, ‘ by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is a gift from God’ God is His gracious spirit had mercy on us and gave His Son as a sacrifice, so that all who believe on Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  We have to accept there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; we have to depend on Jesus for that.  Our only hope of salvation is based on a total and whole hearted faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

The Cross is at the very heart of our faith, but not of any other faith, and it is all about judgement on human life which many may not like, but that should not stop us from preaching about it. There is a reluctance to speak of judgement; of heaven or hell, yet Jesus spoke about such 46 times.

The Cross makes a judgement upon human life. Jesus taught this when He gave the parables of the sheep and goats; the tares and wheat; of  two roads, giving warning of our eternal future.

We cannot preach any credible message without the Cross being at the centre, it has been the standard for God’s people and the Church.  The Cross is displayed outside and inside Churches to remind people of its importance.

There are people in our Churches who are dissatisfied with life and don’t know why this is.  The reason is they are trying to please God and mankind, to serve God and the world at the same time. Their conscience tells them what they should do, but their mind is calling them to do something different.

Today is the first day of Lent, many people will say we have to give up something no matter how trivial. As good Christian people, maintaining our difference in life to the non believer. and rather than concentrating on giving up, do our duty as ambassadors and give out,--the gospel.

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