Ambassadors for Christ
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
TOPIC: Ambassadors for Christ
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama,
July 9, 2006
We have it on good authority that 40% of all the people who have ever lived are alive today. We know that some 350,000 children are born every day. Of that number, 250,000, we are told, will never hear the gospel.
Every year, the world’s population experiences a net gain of seventy million persons. Over the next seven hours, more people will be born than we Southern Baptists won to Christ through our International Missions Board. At our present rate of evangelism, the world continues to grow more and more unchristian slipping deeper into spiritual darkness.
What has been the church’s response to such a spiritual crisis? Less than one-half of all evangelical churches have an outreach program. Last year, over 10,000 SBC churches failed to baptize a single soul for Christ. In a world of accepted liberalism, tolerance for sin, and less and less willingness to confront a lost generation of their need for a savior, we are fast becoming a pagan generation.
Would it surprise you to learn that God has a plan for effective evangelism for a day like ours? By the way, the word ‘evangelism,’ simply means “good news.” Just a few weeks ago I shared with you this definition of Evangelism. Evangelism is the compassionate sharing of the good news about God’s love for sinners and His offer of salvation that comes through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, leaving the results to God.
Please take your Bible and open to a powerful passage of Scripture found in 2 Corinthians 5. Let’s begin reading in verse 14.
14For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 16Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The word ‘ambassador,’ is a word that describes one who is both a messenger and a representative. An ambassador does not speak in his own name. He does not act on his own authority. What he communicates is not his own opinions or demands, but simply what he has been told or commanded to say.
Christians who themselves have experienced the reconciling power of Christ, are commissioned with the task of being ambassadors for Christ.
I. WE ACT AS AMBASSADORS OF REPRESENTATION
18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
The Apostle Paul, as a Christian minister, never sought to represent himself. In fact, Paul told the believers at the churches in Galatia, 20“I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.
Galatians 2:20, NKJV
His life was to be the mirrored-image of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul could say to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:16, 16Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
It was in the first century city of Antioch of Syria that the followers of Christ were first called Christians. The name means, “little Christs.” It was really a term of derision. Yet it was a compliment to those who had exchanged their lives for the life of Christ. By the way, the Christian life is more than a changed life, it is an exchanged life.
If you regard yourself as a Christian today, then you need to understand, the Scriptures tell us that you are expected to be a representative of Jesus Christ. You are to look like Him, talk like Him, live like Him and love like Him!
When people see you, do they see a “little Christ?” Do you represent Him well? As a Christian, you are His representative, His ambassador. How well are you doing?
To truly represent our Lord to a lost world, we must be empty of ourselves and full of Christ in us. Either you are filled with Christ’s Spirit, thus bearing the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” or you are filled with your own self, which is sinful flesh. Unconcern, selfishness, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, jealousy, unkindness, harsh speaking, lying, deceit, lust, laziness, and selfishness, describe the man who walks according to his own flesh nature. I call this rotten fruit. Paul said this kind of Christian is a carnal Christian ruled by your own fleshly desires.
Do you understand that it takes a surrendered Christian who bears the fruit of the Spirit to effectively win others to Christ? Did you know that each disciple could help another person become a fully-committed follower of Christ every six months; it would take only 161/2 years to have won more than 8.5 billion people to Christ. That’s nearly two billion more than are alive today. (2004)
T/S – Not only are we to be ambassadors of representation, but we are also to be ambassadors of reconciliation.
II. WE ACT AS AMBASSADORS OF RECONCILIATION
18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
Reconciliation is a beautiful word. It contains the thought of changing an enemy into a friend. Abraham Lincoln said the way to destroy his enemies was to turn them into his friends.
Reconciliation is a word often used in our day to describe the healing and restoration of broken marriages and homes.
Few people realize that the Bible says that a sinner is an enemy to God. In Romans 5:10, For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” The fact that we were enemies indicated our hostility toward God, not God’s hostility toward us. Romans 5:8 tells us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The means through which we have been reconciled to God is the cross of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 21 again. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
ILL. Illustrate by using the mic as a cross and hands as sinners and God. All we like sheep have gone astray, but God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
So then, this ministry of reconciliation has been committed to us, as ambassadors for Christ. Our message of reconciliation is a message of pardon, of peace, of purpose, and promise.
Our mission as Christ’s ambassadors is to reach out to those who are estranged from God and in need of reconciliation. James Draper has said, “Any church that is not reaching out to win the lost is an insult to God.” Whatever else we may do as a church, we must never forget our calling to be ambassadors of reconciliation. We must win the lost at all costs.
“Tell it again, for someone needs it.
Tell it again.
Tell it again, until someone heeds it.
Tell it again.
There is no other story that can take us to Glory.
So tell it, and tell it, and tell it again.”
Martin Luther once asked a friend, “If Christ had done what you are doing, who would have been saved?” Friends, let me ask you today, “If Christ had done what you are doing, who would be saved?”
You are an ambassador for Christ. You are to be His humble representative and his holy messenger of reconciliation. Will you today take seriously that call to be Christ’s ambassador?