Lesson: Ambassadors for Christ
By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – May 15, 2022
Taught From – 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Our lesson this week is going to be one that you have heard me preach about recently – Living for the Good Fight – and quite frankly, something I preach about quite often. We are going to be taking a look at Paul’s encouraging of followers of Christ to be His ambassadors. As you have heard me say before, we are stewards (representatives) of God. This week’s lesson is being taught from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.
Persuading the World
Our lesson this week opens with Paul saying, “knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (v.11). Now, our lesson is picking up right where we left off in our lesson last week where we were focusing on the heavenly kingdom but also the judgment of God.
Facing the Lord
We saw Paul speak of the Judgment Seat of Christ in our lesson last week – Our Heavenly Dwelling. Now, you will recall that I spoke about both the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne judgment last week. I did this because we saw Paul say, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (v.10).”
‘We’ is in reference to believers as this letter was intended for those of the Church of Corinth. Paul said that we will be judged according to what we have done, whether good or bad. If the believer is going to be judged, you better believe that the wicked will also be judged.
We know this because God’s final judgment is often spoken of in scripture. Jesus personally spoke about Lord’s final judgment and the end result of His judgment on several occasions. Jesus spoke about this judgment when He spoke about how the Son of Man will come in glory and judge all the nations (Matt. 25:31-46). As we know, the righteous will go on to dwell with Him for all of eternity and the wicked will be cast away from God for all of eternity.
So, with this knowledge in mind, everyone should strive to live in a God fearing manner to please the Lord. You would much rather go before the judgment seat of Christ because at His judgment, He stands as our mediator and you will be rewarded. Whereas, at the Great White Throne, those who did not accept Christ, will be cast away from God’s presence for all of eternity. So, with this knowledge in mind, Paul and Timothy went about persuading others to live a life pleasing to God.
Compelled by Christ
So, why did Paul feel compelled to share this knowledge with others? Paul tells us that he and Timothy were compelled by the love of Christ (v.14). Again, the love of Christ, through the inner dwelling of the Holy Spirit, dwells in the hearts of all who genuinely believe in Him.
As Jesus said, “God loved the world and gave the world His only begotten that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” This love, we should know by now, is a saving love. Because this love dwells in us, the child of God should be compelled for others to be saved from sin (v.15).
You will often hear me speak about the behavior of one who genuinely believes in Christ. The believer should not be selfish – inward thinking – as that is the way of those who are worldly. No, the believer’s thoughts should extend outwards as this is the way of Christ. Does this mean that we cannot love ourselves at all? Absolutely not. Jesus taught us that genuine believers should love their neighbors as they love themselves.
Loving yourself is natural but, because we are of Christ, our ways should evolve from looking at things from a worldly view. With this thought in mind, we will see Paul say, “Therefore, 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 (v.16).” Paul was speaking about our evolved mindset not to view things from a worldly view.
Led by the Spirit
You see, at one point in time, the ones who closely followed Jesus while He was physically in the world, viewed Him as just another man. However, people like Peter, began to come to a fuller understanding that Jesus was more than just another man – He was the only begotten Son of God (Matt. 16:13-16). This was the type of discernment that Jesus remarked to Peter, “for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matt. 16:17).”
Again, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and we as genuine believers are to be led by the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we should see things differently than we once did when we were not led by the Spirit – we are a new creation (v.17). We should not concern ourselves with the outward appearance, as those who are of the world. Our concern should be for the soul and with this concern, we should minister the good news to all people.
Ministry of reconciliation
We will now see Paul touch on this work of ministering the good news to all people as we continue forward. Paul wrote, “all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (v.18).” This was a work that was done through Jesus who became mankind’s propitiation so that we can find forgiveness in the Lord’s eyes (v.19).
Reconciliation (restoration) was required so that God could be at peace with mankind. Where man once had the clothing of glory, we shed that clothing when man fell in the garden to sin. Sin corrupted mankind in the soul and because of this corrupting, a wall was raised between mankind and the Lord . This wall was raised because the Lord will not dwell nor be in fellowship with sin.
Again, notice that all of this is about the soul. The Father gave His only begotten Son for the purpose of saving souls. Reconciliation was about restoring the opportunity for one to be in fellowship with the Lord. So, when we begin to speak about the ministry of reconciliation, we have to understand that this ministry is for the soul.
If you are going to minister to the soul, how can you be concerned about the outward appearance? If you are going to minister to the soul, how can you do so while still viewing things through a worldly lens? You cannot – it simply does not work that way.
An ambassador of Christ
Paul concludes these thoughts on persuading others by being led by the Holy Spirit by saying that we are ambassadors for Christ (v.20). What does this mean?
An ambassador is, again, an authorized representative or messenger. So, Paul is saying that we as genuine believers are authorized representatives (messengers) of the Lord. Who has given us the authorization? Christ. Remember, the genuine believer is commissioned (tasked) by Christ to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20).
Not only has the genuine believer been commissioned by Christ, God Himself, but we also have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us. The work of the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, is to transform us into the image of the Lord. We also know that the work of the Holy Spirit guides us in the way of Christ. So, as we saw Paul say earlier, he is compelled by the Spirit, to minister the good news.
In that same verse, you will see Paul say that as an ambassador for Christ, he would minister as though the Lord was pleading through him. I also want to make it clear that Paul points out that he implores (or persuades) others to be reconciled to the Lord. Notice, Paul never spoke in a manner of dictating others to be reconciled!
This is a big thing for me as I have seen many souls pushed away from the Lord because some so-called ambassadors dictated or tried to force others to God. Our work as an ambassador, we must understand, is a work of imploring, persuading, and encouraging. We should be led by the Spirit and not by any other doctrine. When we are led by the Spirit, we are doing the best thing possible to be a good ambassador for Christ.