Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 31
2 CORINTHIANS 5:9 – 5:21 – PART 2
Now let’s begin with II Corinthians 5:17,18. So get your Bible, and compare Scripture with Scripture. Remember I think God is going to hold us accountable for this question, “What have you done with the Scriptures?” Paul says that so often in his writings, “Thus saith the Scripture,“ Never go by what I say, but I invite you to see what the Scriptures say because this is what we have to rely on. So let’s continue on with this whole concept of the difference it made when Christ died for the sins of the whole world, for every human being that has ever lived. Christ has already forgiven them, and now in this series of verses we’re going to run into yet another word that deals with our relationship with God as believers, and that is “reconciliation.” Reconciliation has been totally accomplished because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
II Corinthians 5:17a
“Therefore if any man…” (anyone, and that includes children)
A lady wrote recently that the moment her 7-year-old hears our theme music he comes running and flops down on the floor in front of the television. We have a lot of kids that are learning from us, and this has always been the scope of my teaching. Hopefully I try to make things interesting enough for even the highly educated adults and yet make it simple and plain enough that kids can understand. Now that’s quite a span I know, but nevertheless I just hope and pray that even our young people will begin to catch the idea that this is an interesting Book. Now back to the text.
II Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: (creation) old things are passed away; (the old life style, the old habits) behold, all things are become new. 18. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, (His finished work of the Cross, His death on the Cross, His shed blood, and His power in resurrection) and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;”
Now I don’t think I have to explain reconciliation to an adult, but to our children it bears taking a moment to explain. Whenever reconciliation becomes necessary there first has to have been a separation. In other words, someone who has never separated or distanced themselves from someone, certainly there is no room for reconciliation, that’s understandable isn’t it? In other words, bringing it into to our every day life, you take a husband and wife who have never had any difficulties, they’ve never had any idea of separation then there’s no point in reconciliation for them. But you take a couple that has had marital problems and have drifted apart, and here they are just almost enemies. They almost detest each other. Well then they are candidates for a reconciliation, and the whole idea of marriage counseling is to bring these two people back to a common ground.
The same thing has happened in the realm of the spirit with man and God. God created man in His own image, had fellowship with him in the garden, and everything was super wasn’t it? God could walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, and it was sweet fellowship, and everything was fine. But then all of a sudden sin entered and man and God were suddenly totally separated because of sin, so they were alienated. What once was together has now been totally separated, and this great gulf that stands between God and man has to be bridged, and only God can do it. Man can’t make reconciliation, God has to. So the work of the Cross has brought in reconciliation to man and God. Come back to Romans 3, and here the word reconciliation isn’t used as such, but nevertheless we get the whole picture. I’ve always said that the first step of faith for the lost person to take is to believe what God says about his condition. And that is that they are breakers of God’s Law, and they are in a situation where they can do nothing pleasing in His sight. Here in Romans 3:23 it says that in such compact language.
“For all (that includes every human being that’s ever lived) have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” That’s a blanket statement. You can’t overcome it any other way but by believing the Gospel. Now verse 24.
“Being justified freely by his grace (not by anything that we do) through the redemption (or that process of paying the price and buying something back) that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood,…”
Now I know a lot of people don’t like to hear the word, “BLOOD” any more, but we can’t go around it, because there has to be that abiding faith in the fact that when Christ died He shed His Divine, precious, sinless blood. And that was the requirement from the Creator Himself, that there had to be a blood payment for mans sin debts, and you can’t escape that. Now continuing on.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26. To declare, I say, at this time his (Christ) righteousness: that he (Christ up in verse 24) might be just, (and absolutely fair) and (be) the justifier (or the One who precipitates, and declares us as justified.) of him which believeth…”
Now you can’t add anything to that. I can’t judge hearts, I don’t know how much God is going to allow, but if I understand my Bible correctly, God is not going to stand for any human being to add to what He has done. It’s going to be against God’s nature, and it’s going to make Him a liar. If He said that He has done everything that needs to be done for our salvation, and then man comes along and says, “Yeah, but I’ve got to do this and that.” Now I hope it isn’t that serious I really do. I don’t think God will bend at all with what mankind tries to add for our salvation. I don’t think God can bend. He has given us in His Word that He has done it all, and then to have someone come along and say, “Yeah but I’ve done this and I’ve done that to add to it.” That reasoning is just not in the Bible in this Age of Grace. Verse 26 again. So the justification comes to:
“…him which believeth in Jesus.”
And of course when Paul speaks of believing in Jesus he’s speaking of His death, burial and resurrection. Now if you’ll come back to II Corinthians Chapter 5 you’ll find this all tied up in this same concept of reconciliation. It all means the same thing that God is going to do whatever this sinner over here needs to have done on his behalf to bring him back to Himself for full reconciliation. But it doesn’t stop there, because Paul says in the last half of verse 18:
II Corinthians 5:18b
“and hath given to us (every reconciled believer) the ministry of reconciliation;”
Now what does that mean? We have to tell a lost world, we have to tell our neighbors, our friends, and our loved ones that the work of the Cross has made it possible for them to be reconciled to God. They can close that gap, they no longer have to go through life and face eternity separated from a Holy God. Everything has been done to bring them to that place of reconciliation. You know that old hymn, Jesus Paid It All, indeed He did. He’s paid it all and then we come along and say, “Yeah, but we’ve got to do this or that, rather than just simply believe the Gospel for our salvation.” Now verse 19:
II Corinthians 5:19
“To wit (that is to say) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; (so far as the reconciliation of lost man and forgiveness is concerned, it is already accomplished. Now we’ll comment on that a little further in a moment.) and hath committed unto us (you and I as believers) the word of reconciliation.”
In other words, we are to let a lost world know everything has already been done on their behalf, and all they have to do is believe. Now when I say that all the sins of the world have been forgiven, and that God has totally paid for them with the atoning blood of Christ, don’t get the mistaken idea then that lost persons who are never reconciled will not have to give an account of sins just because I claim that they are already forgiven. Let’s go to the Book of Revelation for a moment and I’ll show you that they do. Granted, for the lost person to understand that his sins are forgiven, and they are atoned for, and that Christ died for him, and if he spurns it and in unbelief he turns his back on it then, yes, he’s going to have to give an account for every thing that he does in the human body as a lost person. We pick that up here in Revelation Chapter 20 as the lost come before the great White Throne. Remember that every unbeliever from Cain until the last one at the end of the ages is going to come up before this great judgment throne of God. Now this is not the Bema Seat that Christians will stand before God to receive their rewards, but rather this judgment is only for the lost. This judgment is only for unbelievers, you and I are not going to be there. We’re not going to see loved ones who may be coming up here as unbelievers. That would be awful. We will not be at the great White Throne. But for these lost of the ages:
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; (now the God here of course will be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Righteous Judge) and the books (plural) were opened: and another book (singular) was opened, which is the book of life: (now when it’s evidenced that the lost person’s name is not in the book of life then Christ turns to the record. He turns to the books that are a record of their life here on earth) and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
Now the lost who find themselves in this situation can no longer claim that they were paid for by the blood of the Cross, because it’s too late. So now they come up before God and they’re going to have to face those sins as God now passes on the judgment of those things written in the books, according to their works. So never misunderstand me when I teach that all the sins of the world are forgiven, and that lost people don’t have to face them, because that only applies if they become believers. If they don’t believe the Gospel, and appropriate what God has already done for them with the finished work of the Cross, then they will have to face their sins. A couple of lessons ago we talked about how congress appropriates money for different projects, and how that money just sits there waiting for someone to draw on it. Well it’s the same way for salvation. Remember that account for salvation sits there already paid for and is available for anyone to draw on the eternal life account just by believing. And if they won’t believe the Gospel for their salvation then they are going to have to face their sins as an unbeliever at the Great White Throne Judgment.
II Corinthians 5:19a
“To wit, (that is to say) that God was in Christ,…”
It was the Creator of the universe who hung on that Cross. There are people who have never contemplated that. That Jesus of the Cross at Calvary was the same God of Genesis 1:1. who called everything into being. He had to be or He could have never tasted death for every man. I had a person come to the ranch years ago, and the first question he asked me was,`Who in the world is Jesus Christ anyway?’ I’ve said over and over, if only more people would ask that question. And my first answer to that question is, “He’s the Creator of the universe. That’s who He is. He is the God of Creation, He’s the same God only He took on flesh, and He went the way of the Cross.” So Paul is telling us again that God was in Christ:
II Corinthians 5:19b
“…reconciling the world unto himself, (bringing it back to Himself, after He lost it in Adam) not imputing their trespasses unto them;”
Now that means what it says. Until that lost person dies, and has lost his opportunity for believing the Gospel, I don’t think his sins are being held against him. God is ready to cancel those sins in a moment, but when they leave this life never having believed then here they stand at the Great White Throne. Everything that they have ever said or done as a lost person is going to be brought up against them. Yes it’s scary, I know it is, but there’s no reason for it because it’s such a simple thing to believe and trust the Gospel. Now in the next verse we have one of the greatest concepts I think that Paul puts out in all of his writings. And that is where are you and I in the whole scheme of things as believers? Now you know we hear so much about the great commission. I think every Church bulletin board has the great commission posted. Well what is the great commission? I maintain it’s not so much the one in Matthew.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” That was given to the Twelve disciples provided the Nation of Israel could have maintained her relationship with God, and become the vehicle between God and the Gentiles as outlined in the Old Testament, but we know they didn’t so God turned to the Gentiles with Paul as their apostle. So today this verse in II Corinthians just fits beautifully for the believers in the Body of Christ, and here it is:
II Corinthians 5:20a
“Now then we (every believer) are ambassadors…”
Now I trust that you have taken at least one semester of high school government, because that’s when I first learned the term ambassador. What’s an ambassador? He’s a representative of some government, but he’s living in a foreign country. I usually use the analogy of Washington D. C. as the capitol of our nation, and our ambassador for example to Japan is living in Tokyo. Now he’s an American living in that foreign country, but he’s a representative of our government in Washington D. C. In the late 70’s, I think it was, there was a book that hit the bestseller list called The Ugly American. It was more or less an expose of a lot of our diplomatic people who were not good representatives of our government. Their lifestyle was anything but exemplary. But the whole idea was that our ambassadors and foreign service people are to be visible representatives of our government here in Washington. The Japanese people for example should be able to watch our ambassador or foreign service people and say, “Now that is a typical American.”
That’s the whole idea, they are a representative. Now then Paul says you and I as believers living here, in the here and now, are in the same kind of a role. We are left here as ambassadors of our homeland which is in Heaven. Now let’s pick up this concept in Colossians Chapter 1. Here in this chapter Paul has been praying for the these Gentile believers up there in Colosse in Asia Minor.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or has prepared us) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Where is that Kingdom? Well it’s in Heaven. So we are now citizens of Heaven because we are members of that Kingdom of Christ. Now granted that Kingdom is one day coming back on the earth and we’re going to come with him at the end of the Tribulation. And I believe we’re going to reign and rule with Him as members of that Kingdom in Heaven. Now back to Philippians, and I think this just puts the cap on it. Now verse 20.
“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Do you have the picture? The moment we become believers, and we’re placed into the Body of Christ, we are also made members of the Kingdom of Christ in Heaven, but we’re left here as ambassadors. So now what’s our job? To represent our homeland. We are representatives of Heaven itself, we become the ministers of reconciliation. Now if you want a great commission, what a dandy this one is. This one anybody can do. I don’t think that I would go around baptizing people. I know we had a famous individual doing that years back in swimming pools and bath tubs etc., but I’m not comfortable with that. But I have no trouble telling the world that Christ has already reconciled you unto Himself so believe it. What a commission, and what an opportunity. Now back to our text:
II Corinthians 5:20,21
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21. For he hath made him (Christ) to be sin(He took on the sin of the world) for us, who knew no sin; (that precious sinless Lamb of God, The eternal, Sovereign, Creator God took on the sins of the world for us) that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Now a lot of people are afraid of that word “Righteousness.” They think that denotes a holiness that makes you so Heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. Well that’s not the case at all. You see when the righteousness of God is imparted to the believer, it’s simply means, “That now God sees you, God sees me clothed in the righteousness of God Himself. He doesn’t look on the old sinner Les Feldick, nor the sinner whoever you are, but rather He looks on you and He sees the righteousness of Christ.”