Christ our sin offering
Christ our sin offering
Reconciled to God
Votum and Greeting
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. (Psalm 123:2)
Brethren, greetings in the Name of Him who is, who was and is to come. Grace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Call to worship
Let us worship the Lord.
Our Lord in heaven, we come before You who called us to a new obedience in Christ. We are gathered in the precious Name of Jesus or Lord. He who became the Passover Lamb who rescued us from the terror of eternal death. In his name and for his sake we pray as He also taught his disciples pray, saying:
The Lord’s Prayer
Doxology: Hymn no 131:1,4: “Hail, our once rejected Jesus”
Dear God, our Father through Jesus Christ, Hear, O LORD, and answer us, for we are poor and needy. Guard our lives, for we are devoted to you. You are our God; save your servants who trust in you. Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we call to you. Bring joy to your servants, for to you, O Lord, we lift up our souls. You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear our prayer, O LORD; listen to our cry for mercy. (Psalm 86:1-6)
Hymn: No 206: “Man of Sorrows
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
Declaration of pardoning
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
Scripture Reading: 2Corinthians 5:11-21
Hymn: No 208: “O sacred head surrounded”
Offering and Dedication
Dear Brother and Sister in the Lord,
We don’t need to be told about the pain and suffering of this world. We don’t need wars and famines to be aware of affliction and hardship. We can just look at our own bodies: we have a constant struggle to eat healthy in order to maintain it. But even that we lose in the end; as some would know the pain of losing a life partner or a dear friend.
Let’s put it in the words of 2Corinthians 5:4, “for while we are in this tent we groan and are burdened.”
And on this solemn day that we call Good Friday we are so aware of pain and suffering. We are aware of the death of Him, our Saviour; we know of the darkness that came upon the earth; we still hear the echoing words of our Lord Jesus: “Why have Thou forsaken me!” It is our Saviour on the cross groaning and crying out against God’s judgment upon sin. It is our Saviour taking up the cup of wrath and punishment.
Our life without Christ
What is a tent compared to a building out of bricks and mortar? When I was caught up in a massive sandstorm during one of my outback mission trips in my PIM days, I began to understand the frail life of a tent. The wind flattened the tent; nothing could withstand the fierceness of the wind, forcing the dust into every corner of the tent. As a matter of fact, it almost destroyed my tent. I longed to be home in the safety of the firm structure of the brick building.
Such is our life without Christ. Such is our life without the hope of a heavenly home. Not much to be happy about – especially when we keep in mind that we cannot do anything about it ourselves.
A life without Christ is a self-centred life, only seeking to satisfy itself. Governed by our old nature we are inclined only to love ourselves and hate God and our neighbour. And the more we get sucked in into self-indulgence, the less satisfied we are with life. In the end we realise that life according to the old nature is a miserable, non satisfying existence. We see no hope, the future is dim, and life becomes a day-today encumbrance. Depression may set in and in some cases we become fearful of death – so fearful, that we never begin to live. The judgement throne of God becomes that dreaded day of reckoning; a day of destruction.
But, my brother and sister, we don’t need to reach this point before we must realise there is much more to live for. On days like today, although sombre in character, the Scriptures have a message of hope; a message that tells of restoration and a bright future.
Reconciliation a reality
The Bible teaches us this morning about the wonderful hope of a new life. This new life is about a new home. Not a tent made by human hands anymore; not just precarious fabric that cannot withstand the storms of life. No, there is a building built with precious stones, designed in eternity with Christ as its cornerstone. This home is not temporary like a tent; this home is permanent, an eternal house. And this house does not await only when we die; it is reality here and now.
Let’s look at these verses as it unfolds in 2Corinthians 5:
Eternal heavenly dwelling
Our mortal tents are swallowed up by the eternal heaven home.
No groaning anymore
The tone of the chapter changes from moaning and groaning to being confident. It changes from spiritual nakedness to eternal clothing. It changes from meaninglessness in life to having a purpose. It changes from drifting along in pain and suffering to being driven and controlled by love. It changes from self-centredness to serving God and others as a purposeful life. It changes the way in which we look at others and how we judge them. It changes the old into the new.
Yet, it has its beginning in death. The Apostle tells us how it worked out in his life.
He finds himself in a situation where is exposed to death everyday. He says: “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” (2Corinthians 4:11) He says never loses heart, although circumstances look grim around him. He says he fixes his eyes not what may be seen, but on what is unseen.
His life is not self-centred and hollow. No, he lives from Christ. His only goal in life is to please God. In Romans 6:13 he spells this out:
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Here in 2Corinthians 5:9 he puts it this way:
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:9)
In his dedication to serve God, he presses forward to the point that people said what he was doing it madness (verse 13). No, he says, the love of Christ compels him. This word “compel” is interesting: it describes an action of arresting to the point that you cannot do anything, it describes a position of being the grip of something; but as a result, you can only do as you are allowed to. So, Paul says, he is in the grip of the love of Christ to please God in his ministry.
And what was his ministry about? It was all about the message of reconciliation.
We said the change from a tent to a building, from fear to joy, from groaning to being confident, from self-centred service to pleasing God, is only possible because of death.
The death of Jesus Christ
The death of Christ is inclusive and complete. His death is substitutionary. He died in our place to bring about reconciliation with God. His sacrifice met God’s requirement of justice, holiness and righteousness. “One died, and therefore all died.” By faith we are included into the death Jesus died on the cross of Calvary. Principally, Christ took us with Him on the cross; when He was nailed onto the cross, it was as good as if we were nailed on the cross. His death was a complete atonement for us.
Because his death was substitutionary it brought about new life. It brought about a new dispensation. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”
“He died that those who live should no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.
How is this all possible?
It is all possible because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an act of reconciliation. It is an act of grace that all began with the Father. “All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ”
To be reconciled is to be in a position where your debts are not counted against you. Things are balancing out. Our life is a mess; we earned God’s wrath and there is nothing we can do about it. But God, in his mercy and compassion and love, sent Jesus Christ to make good; to reconcile us to God.
Christ our righteousness
The plan God had to reconcile us to Him was to take his sinless, spotless and blameless Son, and to make Him what we are. Jesus, our saviour, was willing to take the shame and disgrace of the cross as a sinner, as a criminal, to be God-forsaken to take the full punishment of sin, to become our sin offering to bring about a righteousness meeting the holy God’s demand. This is the message of Good Friday. This is the message of the cross. This is the message of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
We preached the word of hope, of a new creation, of a new home, and a new service to God. We preached the message of reconciliation. Now, as the apostle did in 2Corinthians 5:19, we stand before you, imploring, beseeching and urge you:
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
As God’s fellow-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says: ‘In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation. Amen.