"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Ministry of Reconciliation - II Cor.5:18-21

Tipo de Sermón: Expositivo

Titulo: El Ministerio de la Reconciliación

Texto: II Corintios 5:18-21

Tema/complemento: Dios nos ha dado el ministerio de la reconciliación

Asunto: Estamos aquí satisfacer el ministerio de la reconciliación

Propósito del Orador: Quiero motivar mi audiencia tomar parte del ministerio de la reconciliación
Interrogativo: ¿Porque debemos satisfacer el ministerio de la reconciliación?

Transición: Debemos satisfacer el ministerio de la reconciliación porque es comandado, es temporal, y es bendito.

“The Ministry of Reconciliation”

“Good afternoon, brothers. Thank you for coming this afternoon. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to preach to you from this pulpit, where so many men of God and missionaries have preached in the past years. I do not feel worthy of this honor – I am nobody – but I am very excited about what I believe God wants to say to all of us today. I am here to preach God’s Word to you. I am not here to share my own thoughts, opinions, or ideas. If I was, we should all just go home now, because nothing I say is important. But today I have the opportunity to be God’s messenger and to communicate His message to us. So if you would, please open your Bibles to the book of II Corinthians. As you are turning there, I want to ask you a question:

Why are we here?
- Why are you here? The answer to that question could be different for every person in the world, could it not? Some people are here to make money. Their goal in life, their only purpose for living, is to make money. How much? Nobody knows, but it’s always more. Some people are here to have a family. Their purpose for living is to get married, raise children, buy a home, and provide for their family. Some people are here for fame. Their purpose for living is to be well-known among men. They may do this through a life of sports and athletics, movies and Hollywood, politics and government, or business and enterprise. Some people are here for love. Their purpose in life is to find love in relationships with another people. Some people are here for people. Their purpose is to help mankind, improve the world, and change the society. These are all purposes that people could have for their lives. Some are more noble than others. But in this church today, I am preaching to believers. I know that the majority of you know Jesus as your Savior. And therefore, every one of us in this church have the same purpose for living, according to this passage that we’re going to study tonight.
- So you are probably all thinking “The Great Commission”. Well, I’m not going to preach about the Great Commission tonight, not because it’s not important, but because the guys told me, “All of the gringos who come preach on the Great Commission!” Ah, right? I mean, you all know why, don’t you? I promise you that it’s not because we think you’re all simple, ok? I’m serious. That’s not why. I believe that all of the gringos, all the Americans, all the preachers from the States preach on the Great Commission because that it what’s on our minds. That is the reason that we have come to your country – to obey the commandment of our Lord! The Bible says in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Amen.” God’s Word says in Acts 1, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When Americans come here to Mexico, it is because we want to fulfill the Great Commission.
- But tonight, I want to talk to you about something more basic. Oh it is related to the Great Commission, but it does not have the same focus of going “into all the world”. Tonight, we’re going to study together a passage that describes the most basic responsibility of every believer in Christ. Tonight, we are going to find out, if we don’t already know, “Why are we here?” The answer is this: We are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation!

- We’re going to read together II Corinthians chapter 5, verses 18-21. Let’s stand together in honor of God’s Word. Everyone together, “All of this comes from God…” May God bless the reading of His Word. Let’s pray… “Our Father, we give you thanks for the opportunity to study Your Word this afternoon. I ask that you would give us wisdom tonight as we study this passage. I ask that you would open our eyes to the responsibility that you have given us here on this earth. I ask that you would speak through me, that you would teach us, and that you would motivate us to fulfill the purpose for which you have left us here on the earth. I ask you to give me Your words; help me to speak your message clearly, for I know I can do nothing without you. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.”

- We are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation. My purpose in this message is to motivate us as Christians to fulfill this wonderful ministry God has given us. In this passage, we learn three things about this ministry of reconciliation. We learn that the ministry is commanded, the ministry is temporary, and the ministry is blessed. So let’s begin with the first point of this passage in verse 18

I. The Ministry Is Commanded (v.18a)
- We see this fact in the phrase, “Now all these things are from God…” That means that they are…

a. By the Will of God (v.18)
- “All these things” – What things? Look at verse 17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” The whole work of reconciliation is from God. It is by the will of God, not the will of man.
- “Sinners cannot decide to be reconciled to God and devise a plan to reach Him. That is what all false religion in the world is. All the world’s false religions are the same thing – sinners devising a way to be reconciled to God. Christianity is God determining a way to be reconciled to sinners. God alone can change our relationship, and that’s the good news, ‘God so loved the world that He’ made a way of reconciliation.” Notice also that the ministry is literally…

b. By the Command of God (Mat.28:19-20;Ac.1:8;Tit.1:1-3)
- You know the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples…” “You will be my witnesses…” Is that an option or a command? It is a command! Jesus didn’t say, “Well, I’d really like it if you would go out and made disciples.” He didn’t say, “Would you like to be my witnesses?” No! He said, “Go!” He said, “You WILL be my witnesses.” Brothers, the ministry of reconciliation is commanded! Tell me this, if you can. Where did we receive the idea that we can control our own lives? Does anybody know? I don’t know, but it’s not from the Bible! What does the Bible say? “…You are not your own…You have been bought with a price...Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.” My brothers, we are not servants of Christ – we are His slaves! Slave is the word in the original Greek text. Young people, do you remember this? We talked about this in Sunday School last week. A servant is one who places himself in a position to serve another by his own will. A slave has no choice. A slave has been purchased by his master. A slave must do everything his master commands. Brothers, we are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation! Notice also that the ministry of reconciliation is commanded…

c. By the Heart of God (Lk.19:10; Mat.4:19; Ez.34:16)
- Luke 19:10 tells us that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” When Jesus called His disciples in Matthew 4:10, He said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Listen to this passage from Ezekiel 34, “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick…” It is the heart of God to seek sinners. When Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, we don’t see Adam walking through the garden saying, “God, God, where are you?” No, it was God saying, “Adam, Adam, where are you?”
- God has always been the seeker of men. And when our Lord returned to heaven, He commanded us to carry on his ministry, the ministry of reconciliation. We are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation. Notice now in our passage, the second point; that…

II. The Ministry Is Temporary (v.18b-20)
- I want to read you a quotation from one of my favorite pastors and theologians, Dr. John MacArthur. When I was the youth pastor at Cornerstone in Illinois, I often tried to explain this concept to my teens, but was never able to put it into words this clearly. Listen to this, Dr. MacArthur says…

"You know, Christianity can get very complex. Your Christian life can get very complex. Your Christian calendar can get very complex. And so, If I might, I'd like to simplify everything and pull it down to the irreducible minimum of what it is that you're all about and I'm all about as Christians. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. It is simply this: Our duty is to tell people they can be reconciled to God. That's what we do. Our mission is to preach the fact that God will forgive all someone's sins forever. That the relationship of hostility and hatred and enmity and bitterness and alienation from God can be totally changed - that enemies can become friends, aliens can become sons. That is the good news...The good news is that alienation from a holy God, which carries the price of eternal damnation, can end, and you can be reconciled with God and enjoy His glorious heaven forever, all your sin having been dealt with. Our high calling and our high privilege is simply to tell people that God will forgive all your sins forever. Are you interested? This is what we live for; this is what we preach for; this is what we teach for; that people might be reconciled to God...That's what we do. That's why we're here. Folks, that's the only reason you're here at all! If we had been saved purely for fellowship with God, we might as well go to heaven, because the fellowship here isn't what it ought to be. If we were saved purely for fellowship with each other, we might as well go to heaven where it is perfect, because it's imperfect here. If we were saved to have triumph over sin, we might as well go to heaven, because the triumph here is severely checkered, isn't it? And we all live in Romans 7 somewhere - wanting to do what we don't do and not wanting to do what we find ourselves doing. We've here because there's one thing we can do here that we can't do in heaven, and that's the ministry of reconciliation...That term defines the heart and soul of our responsibility as believers in the world..."

- Look once again at verses 18-20. These verses describe for us exactly what the ministry of reconciliation is. Verse 18 says, “…who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…” So this ministry is only done through Christ – through His power and through his work on the cross. Verse 19, “namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” This is literally how a righteous, holy God can allow sinners like us into heaven. He cannot overlook or ignore our sins, but He does not count them against us. He satisfied His judgment against sin when Christ bore that punishment on our behalf. And this is literally how we should present the gospel to people – that God will not count their sins against them if they accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We have already seen in Acts 1 that…

a. We Are the Witnesses (Acts 1)
- In that passage that Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth…” Geographically, that would be as if Jesus said to this church, “You will be my witnesses in Jiménez, and in all Chihuahua, and in Mexico, and to the remotest part of the earth.” This ministry is temporary, but we are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be witnesses everywhere we go. This is the only reason we are here. Jesus also described our temporary role in the ministry of reconciliation in the Sermon on the Mount when he called us…

b. We Are the Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16)
-“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This passage teaches that our ministry of reconciliation includes the way we live our life. A girl friend of mine in the States reminded me last week of a phrase her mother taught her: “Be a witness everywhere you go and use words if necessary.” And the greatest responsibility of all is taught in our passage.

c. We Are the Ambassadors (John 17:4,6,9,11,15,18,20)
- Do we really understand what it is to be an ambassador? An ambassador is one who goes in the place of his master. An ambassador speaks what his master would speak. An ambassador acts as his master would act. An ambassador is to complete the mission that his master wanted to complete. Verse 20 says, “…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…”
- Tell me this: Is Jesus Christ here with us today? Sorry, trick question. Yes, He is here with us. We know that from the Bible, “I am with you always, even until the end of the world”, and we believe it as Christians. But is he physically here with us, so that a lost person could walk by that door and see Jesus Christ in here with us? No, He is not. The only “Jesus” that the world can see is a Christian. You are the only Jesus that some people will ever see. My pastor at my home church in Illinois would often quote a poem that says this: “You’re writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by deeds that you do, by words that you say; people read what you write, whether faithless or true; say what is the gospel according to you?” We are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation. This ministry is commanded of us; this ministry is temporary; but notice from the last verse in our passage that…

III. The Ministry Is Blessed (v.21)
- Look at verse 21, one of the most powerful verses in all of the Scriptures, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” What a blessing! Could there be any greater blessing in our lives? God made His own Son to be sin in our place, so that we can become the righteousness of God. When God looks at you as a Christian, He no longer sees a sinner – He sees His own Son. God punished Christ as if He had committed every sin that I have, and He treats me as if I have lived my life with the perfect righteousness that Christ did. What mercy! What love! What a blessing! As we take part in the ministry of reconciliation, I tell you all, it is a blessing! The Bible says in…

a. Lk.15:10
- “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents…” If you have seen this happen, then you know what I am talking about. I cannot describe to you the joy that fills your heart when you see God work in the heart of a sinner, bring them to an understanding of their need, and grant them faith in His promises and repentance from their sins. It will totally change your life! When you share the gospel with another person and see God work in their hearts this way, you feel like you’ve done nothing, because God has done all the work. You were just His messenger. You feel unworthy to be used by God in this way, but very blessed to be a part of that work. Before we close, I want to share with you a few…

b. Testimonies
- …where I have seen God do this amazing work. The very first Saturday I was here, I had the chance to go on visitation with Adrian. And that was a very different experience than in the States. Many times in the States, you have a hard time just getting people to take the tracts. On that afternoon, I saw how open people are and ready to receive the gospel. That afternoon, I stood by and watched as Adrian led two ladies in a prayer to receive Christ as their Savior. That was a very powerful experience. Over the past 3 months, I’ve been able to see many different people receive Christ. God is working here in Mexico! We are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation and this church is fulfilling that mission! I have shared these next two stories briefly with you, but I want you to hear them in detail. A few weeks ago when Brother Lanny was here with the medical team, I had my first opportunity to lead a lady to the Lord all on my own. And I will tell you all, I was scared to death. I was standing right back there in the corner when the Lord pointed her out to me and said, “Go talk to her.” And I argued with God. I said, “God I can’t do that. The gospel is something that she HAS to understand to believe. I can’t be messing up my Spanish when I talk to her.” She was sitting there reading the little Bibles we had in the seats. I could tell that she didn’t know what she was reading and I was reminded of the story of Philip in Acts 8. He met the eunuch from Ethiopia, who was reading the Bible, and so he went up to him and said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” And the eunuch said, “How can I unless somebody explains it to me?” So I walked up to this lady, whose name was Marina, and I said, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” She looked at me and wanted to say yes, but just shook her head. So I said, “Would you like me to explain it to you?” She said yes. So I tried the best I could to explain the gospel to her – that she was a sinner, she needed a savior, and could make that decision today. The whole time I was talking, I just kept saying, “Do you understand me?” She did. So I led her in a prayer and she received Christ. It was just amazing! I felt as if I had just been watching somebody else witness to her and not myself.
- This last story, I told you last Wednesday. When I was living here in town with Brother Brian, almost every night, I would walk down to the sports park and get quesadillas for supper. Then on the way back, I would stop at this store to get a drink. Well, two weeks ago, as I was in the store, the owner, Maria, was there with another lady. And as I was paying for my drink she says to the other lady, “This guy comes in here about every night and he’s always so happy and has a smile on his face.” So the other lady says to me, “Is that true? Are you always happy?” I said, “Yes ma’am, always!” I saw that this was a good opportunity to share Jesus, so I was looking for a tract in my pocket, but I didn’t have one, so I left the store and went home. When I got there, God told me, “Go back there and talk to her.” So I took a few tracts and went back to the store. When I found Maria, I told her, “Ma’am. I have something for you. You asked me why I’m always so happy. Well it’s because of this. I am a Christian. I have Jesus living in my heart and I have a purpose for my life. I’m a pastor from the United States and I’ve come here to share the Word of God with people. So I’d like to give you this to read.” She said she would read it, so I told her, “Well I’ll probably be back here tomorrow or another night, so we can talk about it if you want.” So that Wednesday night, I asked all of you to pray for her as I went back to talk to her. So I was praying that she would have read the tract and that God would make her ready to receive Christ. As we began to talk that night, I asked her if she understood the tract. I asked her that if she were to die tonight, based only on these verses, where would she go. This is what she said: “Well, I don’t know. I mean I certainly don’t want to go to hell, but this says that sinners can’t go to heaven. And I know that I’m a sinner, so I just don’t know…” And I said to her, “Well I know.” She said, “You know?!?” I said, “Yes.” So I told her how she simply needed to believe and confess it with her mouth and that night, Maria accepted Jesus as her Savior. I tell you, brothers, that the ministry of reconciliation is a blessing!

Conclusion: Brothers, we are here to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation! It is commanded of us, it is temporary, and it is a blessing! May we recognize this great responsibility and privilege and go out there and win the world for Christ…

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