Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore on behalf of Christ: “be reconciled to God!” For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
You’re not the same person you were when you came to know Jesus, you’re something altogether different. You WERE a sinner, now you’re a saint. This is what He did for us so we could be reconciled to Him. The separation we had from God is no longer. More than this, He has now given us this same ministry to offer this reconciliation to the rest of the world. WE are how He is setting things right with the world. WE are His ministers of reconciliation. Our message is for everyone, the good news that there doesn’t need to be a separation between them and God… He is for them, WE are for them… “BE RECONCILED TO GOD!” through Jesus Christ, He became sin for you.
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
The gospel isn’t complex and it is not difficult to understand. We do not need to enhance the simple message of our sin, Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection etc. We do not need a “bait-n-switch” of offering one thing only to change it to another once we “get ‘em.” Following Jesus means giving-up your life, everything you are, into the hands of your new Lord… but it’s totally worth it! We are not asking people to add a little Jesus to their life, to change their behavior, or anything else we might try to feed people in order to soften the truth… following Jesus demands personal death to yourself so that He might live through you. It’s not difficult, we sin, that keeps us from God. God sent Jesus to pay for our sins, He did, now you can exchange your messed-up sinful life for His perfect sacrifice… but you can’t keep both. That’s the gospel, and it truly is “good news,” and it’s our story to tell. If someone doesn’t understand, let it be a spiritual issue, not because we didn’t communicate it clearly.
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
When you meditate on the Lord, you spend time looking at Him in His word, you begin to see who He is. He is marvelous! When we give our lives to Him, there is a veil, a barrier between us and God, that is removed. This freedom between us and God allows us to perceive the truth of Scripture. When you’re looking at Jesus, seeing who He really is through His word, as you are learning more and more about Him, you naturally become more like Him. He is where you are pointed, you are headed in His direction. Believers are each a residence of the Holy Sprit and He changes us. Day-by-day, part-by-part, sometimes little-by-little, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, as God makes changes in our lives, we progress to become more like him. Keep your eyes on Him today.
5 Now if anyone has caused pain… to all of you. 6 …this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
When someone comes out and asks for forgiveness, that is to say, they are repentant, you don’t need to drag it out any longer or any more public than it already is. The idea of “Church Discipline” (as it is sometimes called) is not to enact a “punishment” on someone, as though we are their parents, no, it is to help them acknowledge their mistake, ask forgiveness from God and those whom they’ve wronged, and then rejoin the fellowship of their church family. Love keeps no record of wrongs… forgiveness is key to the Christian life. Only forgive if Jesus has forgiven you. Has Jesus forgiven you?
(originally posted by me in September of 2013 as a summary of a few sermons I preached at my former church.)
One of my favorite passages on worship is the example of Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people
This text shows me that worship is a conversation, it is a back-and-forth.