Ambassadors for Christ – 1 Corinthians 5:16-21

You Have Never Met A Mere Mortal…

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Powerful Perception

As humans, we have a tendency to look at people as just physical beings.  We don’t actually “see” the spirit, so we look outwardly.  Before we knew Christ, we did the same.  But God has awakened within us our spirit, and made us alive in Christ.  And we now need to look at everyone in this same way – alive or dead.

Zombies are a fictitious creature that are physically dead, but somehow animated (usually through some type of viral contagion) that makes the body appear alive, but without the ability to consciously be aware or responsible for its actions.  In a way, before we knew Christ, we were spiritual zombies.  Our spirit was dead, but our physical bodies were still going about doing things.  Once we become alive in Christ, we see the spiritually dead for what they are – and they aren’t even aware of their condition.

Each and every human ever created – whether from the dust or rib like Adam and Eve, or through conception by the Holy Spirit or physical relations – has a soul.  And each of us have an eternal end – either spiritually alive in Christ, or spiritually dead in the Lake of Fire.  Since we have been awakened, let us make every effort to see people in this way, and to tell them of the good news of Christ, that more may awaken from their slumber before it becomes permanent death – eternal separation from the Lord God Almighty.

Creation Changed

The translation in verse seventeen is not quite right.  It should read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation…”  Every time someone is awakened from their spiritual slumber from death to life, a new body part is added to the body.  And when that happens, the body changes – the church (the entire body of Christ) becomes an entirely new creation, having a new part attached to it!  As new parts are attached, the body is able to perform its job better, because it now have more opportunity with its fuller capability to serve the Lord.

And just as Paul said, “The old is gone, the new is here!”, the body is now different and new, and something that it wasn’t before.  The old body now looks different and can act different – it is something new that the world has never seen!  Every time someone accepts Christ, the body of Christ grows and needs to be viewed differently.  We ignore the change to the body to our very peril.  Each piece needs to grow into maturity; otherwise, it will drain the body of resources, and perhaps even make the body look sickly, weak, ineffective, or outright distasteful.  The body must be nurtured, fed well, and exercised in order for it to work effectively.  We cannot ignore new body as it morphs into its new shape and function without severely impacting its health.

Reconciliation Retold

We have been given the message of reconciliation.  Like a messenger who has been given a time-sensitive and urgent message to deliver to key allies in a war, we have been given the message of reconciliation of God and Man through the God-man Jesus Christ.  The message that God is now reconciling us through the shed, perfect blood of His one and only Son Jesus Christ is of paramount importance to get to our allies – those who will listen, receive, and obey the message.

Deliver the Declaration

We have been tasked with getting the message out to all the world.  All people need to hear the message, so that the body can remain healthy and growing, and ensure that all who would be reconciled to God would do so.  You have heard the message.  Be reconciled!

At this time, even in the Middle East, where night has fallen and no one can work, Jesus is sending them dreams and visions, revealing Himself to all who would listen to Him, and imploring them to be reconciled to God.  But even those who have not heard the message will be held to account:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Don’t fall down on the job; be the messenger that God intended for you to be.  Deliver the message to everyone, and let God work on their hearts and the growth of the seed that you have sown.  Remember – You have never seen a mere mortal.  Everyone has an eternal destiny.  Help others find theirs, as you have found yours.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When I look at people, what do I see?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have been gracious to me, and opened my eyes that I would see, and opened my ears that they would hear.  You have redeemed me out of the miry muck of sin, and have given me the robe of righteousness that covered Your Son.  Father, give me a heart that reaches out to those who do not know You.  Help me to model Your character to them, and to treat them as You have treated me, with love, compassion, mercy, and grace.  Help me to reveal You to them, and to speak up regardless of the circumstances.  But in all things, give me a heart of obedience to the Holy Spirit, so that in Your timing, Your way, and with Your words, the message of reconciliation will be properly delivered to all.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Character of God – Psalm 119:89-91

God’s Word Endures Forever

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
91 Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.

Wonderful Word

God’s word endures forever.  His word guides us in our ways.  We can rely on God’s word not changing, for God is truth, and there is no deception in Him.  The steadfast nature of God’s Word helps us to remember that He is faithful as well.  We can depend upon His word to guide us in the way we should go.

The counsel of men is fallible, and can change over time.  God’s word has the perspective of eternity, providing us with a more full understanding of the character and nature of God, as well as understand His righteousness and man’s evil.  The permanence of truth is should be a great comfort to all who seek it and learn from it.

Fully Faithful

God is always faithful.  His faithfulness spans generations, and is eternal.  And even though Heaven and Earth will pass away, God’s faithfulness will not.  God will always keep His word.  When we are tempted to believe that God is not being faithful, we only need to look at the endurance of our planet to remember that God does not change.

Loving Laws

Since God’s word will not pass away, we can always be assured that He will be fulfilling His promises.  God has made us many wonderful promises that He has fulfilled and continues to fulfill today.  His laws guide us in truth and righteousness.  It is only through the law that we recognize our true condition and can turn from sin towards God.  Permanence seems to be forsaken in the world today for the less permanent wants and desires of man.  Nothing in God’s word will pass away until everything is accomplished.  We ignore God’s Holy word at our own peril.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I delight in the character of God when I am going through trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You do not change like shifting shadows, but are the same yesterday, today, and for eternity.  Help me to remember Your steadfast love as I encounter the many trials I face today.  Strengthen me in the knowledge of Your character and desire to fulfill in Your time all that You have promised.  Keep my heart continually pointed towards Yours as the difficulties of life pull at me, and help me to cry out to You for my every need.  Surround me with Your peace, and guard me in my ways.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Perspective of God – Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is a form of Hebraic poetry.  It takes the form:

    B   –   B
  /               \
A                   A

Ellis Scolfield writes, “Hebrew poetry is parallel in nature. A Hebrew poet would say something one way and then repeat the same idea later on in different words. These repeats could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even several chapters long. So how can we identify repetitive prophecies when we see them? By recognizing the Hebrew poetic style in which it was written.  [Textual scholars call this type of repetition the bifidic form.]12  (Brackets added for quote reference clarification)

Isaiah reveals to us something that we should already know – God’s thoughts and ways are beyond ours.  We are so bound by time, that we generally don’t have an eternal perspective.  But there are other instances where this is apparent.  Isaiah shows us something unusual in Isaiah 57:1-2:

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

We generally think that it is a great tragedy when someone is taken home to be with the Lord, especially if they are young.  But communicating with us through Isaiah the prophet, God says this is a blessing; that the righteous and devout are taken away to be spared from evil.  Oh, how we long for the influence of evil to finally end!  The pain and suffering it causes; its ripple effects sweeping people into chaos like a tsunami rushing inland.  It leaves destruction and loss everywhere it touches.  Rather than having to resist that force, and pick up the broken pieces, they are taken away, where they are with the Lord now and for eternity.

Our perspective is focused on the loss of their companionship, wisdom, fellowship, giftedness, relationship, and other factors in which we are immediately affected.  From God’s perspective, it is for their benefit that they are now with God, and no longer subject to the trials and temptations that afflict us until the glorious second coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  In this, we can see our selfishness at our perceived loss rather than their great gain.  And in our grief, sorrow, and mourning, we can all too soon forget that God’s sovereignty and perfect plan are in action, and that we will, in the lens of Eternity, see them again soon enough.

If you are mourning and grieving, your pain is real;  Let God comfort you through it.  And when you emerge on the other side, rejoice!  For He has done a wonderful thing and has blessed your loved one with the privilege of being in His presence and in final rest and peace from the evils of this world, soon to be reunited with you in glory!

 A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my heart grieves the temporary loss of my friend and loved one.  Help me to work through the pain of loss.  Although I know that I will see them again when Your Beloved Son comes triumphantly in the sky, or possibly even sooner should You bless me with the opportunity to be in Your Presence before that great and terrible day, I am still in shock.  I am numb as I try to process this.  Please comfort me in my pain.  Uphold me, and restore normalcy to my daily routine.  Surround me with Your love as a mother hen gathers her chicks close to her under her wings.  Oh God, how it hurts!  Remember me this day, Lord, and give me the ability to just breathe.  This I ask and pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

[This post is dedicated to T. G., who recently lost his wife]

1 Packer-Tenny-White, The Bible Almanac, 1980, p349.

2 Ellis Scolfield, Bifids and Chiasms, [Unknown], p1.