Wednesday February 26, 2020
The mystery of God in Christ making Him to be sin in order to reconcile us and the world, 2CO 5:18-21.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
God the Father initiates reconciliation.
Christ is the agent of reconciliation.
What did God do? Negatively, He declined to reckon our transgressions against us (vs. 19), and its positive counterpart, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
And, most startling of all, for our sake God actually made the sinless Christ to be sin with our sins.
The God who refused to reckon our sins to us reckoned them to Christ instead.
His unique sinlessness uniquely qualified Him to bear our sins in our place.
Our sins were imputed to the sinless Christ in order that we sinners, by being united with Him, might receive as a free gift a standing of righteousness before God.
Emil Brunner wrote: “Justification means this miracle: that Christ takes our place and we take His.”
“How God could have been in Christ when He made Him to be sin is the ultimate mystery of the atonement. But we must hold both affirmations tenaciously and never expound either in such a way as to contradict the other.” [Stott, The Cross of Christ]
The church is the ambassador of reconciliation.
Finally on this mysterious passage, the Father is the author of reconciliation, Christ is the agent, and we are the ambassadors of it. There is the achievement of reconciliation and there is the announcement of it. We appeal to others to be reconciled to God. This means that we have to let go of our fear of persecution, which will happen, and open our mouths wide. The gospel is that God, through and in Christ, has reconciled the world to Himself, and we must expound and live in this truth, and also, we must “beg” others on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.
We might think that “beg” is too strong a word. Paul uses deomai which means to ask, to pray, to seek. The NIV, ESV uses “implore”, KJV “pray”, Wuest “beg”, RSV “beseech.”
Very often we emphasize living in the truth, meaningfully conducting ourselves in God’s virtue and morality, so that the light of Christ shines through us. We never de-emphasize that. And here, Paul emphasizes the verbal call of the gospel. Without hypocrisy, we implore others to be reconciled to God through faith. This means being open, and bold, while not being brash or rude. We implore with love, even for our enemy. We actually long from them to be reconciled to God and enjoy the hope and joy as we do.
Desire for another’s good in divine love easily and naturally expresses itself, and that, with great concern.
It is easy to become pessimistic about others. It comes from not caring for them or about them. Since it is a matter of their faith, if they reject the Lord, it is their own fault, but should that reality breed coldness in us? The strict Calvinist is even more pulled into a mindset of pessimism since he disregards personal faith in favor of divine choosing. If God rejected them on purpose, then why be concerned for them? Yet, when we read the Bible we don’t in any way get the feeling that God is unconcerned with the unsaved. He judges them, He brings His wrath to bear upon them, but He also loves and desires for them.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”
“Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: 'Turn now every man from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them, then you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me.”
And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes, and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, 'How shall we return?'”
"Yet even now," declares the Lord,
"Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping, and mourning;
13 And rend your heart and not your garments.
"Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness,
And relenting of evil.
I listed several of these types of verses that show God’s tender desire for the unsaved because they are beautiful. We have been given God’s heart and love. The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit (ROM 5:5). A desire for others cannot be faked. It is a natural result of the love of God. God loves the world because God is love. We have to ask ourselves if we are love, and since it has been determined by God that we are to be love, conformed to the image of Christ, to be imitators of God and walk in love, if in a sober evaluation of ourselves that we find that we are not love, we must seek through the word of God and prayer, what is hindering us and then courageously remove it through faith as well as faith in the power of the Spirit within us to accomplish it.
Continuing on the mystery of Christ now revealed:
Then there is the working of the Spirit of God within the saints and within the church, as well as His restraint upon the world.
Christ answered hundreds of questions and then gave us more, and these new ones are far deeper. It makes some uneasy, and it makes others fill with wonder, awe, and joy. In these we are as children, filled with faith without complete knowledge.
However far such things are investigated, they remain unsearchable, and inexhaustible, however largely they are drawn on. We should not then decide to ignore them, but to search them as deep as we can go, knowing this truth. The search will bear its own fruit in many ways, especially with more understanding of the things that can be known, and acknowledging their mystery, we will avoid the pride that comes from men who attempt divine revelation in their own minds. (And on that thought, I highly encourage you to read the Bible for yourself)
ROM 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
ROM 11:34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
ROM 11:35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?
ROM 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.