2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Today lead pastor Keith Welton continues his sermon series on Life Together with a teaching called “Gospel Focused.”

Sermon Notes

This is what it means to be a Christian: that you recognize you are a sinner, that you have done less than what God required of you, and that Jesus’s death atones for your sin and makes a way for you to have a relationship with God. 

The heart of this chapter is the heart of the gospel. It is the heart of the Bible, to focus on what Jesus has accomplished for us. In Christ we are reconciled to God. 

Let me point out a few things about the gospel in this passage. 

Compelled By Love

Christians are compelled by love. Compelled: of being totally claimed by a task devote oneself completely to, be occupied with; constrain, impel, urge 

In this section of 2 Corinthians Paul is addressing the issue standing before God on the day of judgment. Paul has no desire to appear in the eyes of people something that he is not before the eyes of God. There is no people-pleasing going on with him. And he is trying to get this church to see that. And this leads into a crucial issue. 

Some will boast about outward appearance. Other people work really hard to look good. Extremely concerned with how others will view them. It brings up the inward motivation of a person.  

[14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 

Some people treat God like a cosmic police officer. Like everyone, when they are driving, you do the speed limit plus 5 (or 10). And you drive constantly looking for any speed traps that might be there. You find one and you slow down…for ten seconds…then you get past it and go back to speeding. It’s what everybody does, so it is OK. You don’t love the law, you don’t love the police officer, and you are only interested in yourself, getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want. 

Becoming a Christian is different from that. At the core it is coming to understand the love of God and wanting to please your heavenly Father because you love him, want to please him, and know he has your best in mind. You are compelled by love. 

We come to this because we realize the love that he has shown to us. His love changes us. 

Talks about a new creation. God opens your eyes to who he is; it changes you from the inside out. A small seed is planted and it begins to grow and change you. When your heart changes, it changes everything about you. 

Our love of God is based on something God has done for us…

Reconciled to God

[For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2Cor 5:14-15

Jesus died to take away our punishment. We needed saving. Wouldn’t, Couldn’t, didn’t. Ever since Adam sinned, we have all been guilty before God. You may say that it is unfair to have him represent you. But he did represent you. And he did exactly what you would have done. Maybe say you wouldn’t have done what he did. Couldn’t have done that. Well, you have been in similar situations and rather than know God’s word and be committed to it, you disobeyed. 

Transgressions.  A deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live, false step, sin, transgression; used of serious offenses against God. infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty. to step beyond or across, from trans, across + gradi, to step.

Humans are corrupt. Sure they do some good things. Trespass against God’s commands. They go where he told us not to go. Lie, cheat, steal, sexual immorality, coveting. 

Augustine pears. Rebellious nature.: Pears just to steal them. He had no need of the pears, didn’t need them for food, and would not eat. He stole them just for the sake of stealing. He lived with a mistress, had a child with her, and would eventually come to faith. Actually heard a child playing outside saying take it and read; take it and read. So he opened the Bible, read a verse in Romans, and knew he had to repent. He said his heart was restless until it came to rest in God.”

Sometimes scary to know what is in the heart. 

The Bible says that by nature we are at enmity with God, that we are objects of his wrath. Those are strong words. It conveys the disdain God has for sin, and the disdain he has for those who sin. People may say it is harsh but I explain it this way. When people don’t do what you want you get mad at them. When you know what is best for someone and they disregard you, you get mad, righteously. You are doing everything you can for them and they have no interest. When we intentionally disregard God it makes sense there would be problems in our relationship. 

Reconcile. to reestablish proper friendly interpersonal relations after these have been disrupted or broken (the componential features of this series of meanings involve (1) disruption of friendly relations because of (2) presumed or real provocation, (3) overt behavior designed to remove hostility, and (4) restoration of original friendly relations) – ‘to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation. 

We broke his law and deserve punishment

Jesus was a ransom. Some people–in the early church, especially–took a view of the gospel that Satan had a claim over our lives and Jesus had to pay Satan the debt we owed. That our greatest need was to be delivered from the clutches of his hand. We needed to be delivered from these enslaving forces. That is not an accurate view. This is the ransom theory. 

Penal substitute. Penal: relating to, used for, or prescribing the punishment of offenders under the legal system: Substitute: one who takes the place of another. He died in our place for our wrongs. Satan does not enforce God’s law. God enforces his law. If he says you sin then you die, and you sin, then the consequence is death. We deserved death. Sin separated us from God and merited his punishment. We were objects of wrath because of sin. 

Satan is a street thug. Street thugs don’t have any real power. If the president orders them to be arrested and sent to jail and condemned, they have no power. They are under the law, under the power of another. All they can do is hide in the shadows and subvert the other’s power. There is real influence. 

Jesus takes our place. 

Sinking feeling of knowing you have done something wrong and there will be consequences. 

[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. 2Co 5:18-19 

Sin has consequence. It is wrong and must be called what it is. It makes us feel guilty, ashamed, wretched, lonely, miserable. 

God shows his love to us by taking care of our greatest problem. He sends his son to take the punishment we deserved. With that punishment lifted we can be restored in our relationship to God. Our shame can be taken away, guilt removed,our debt is settled, bad heart is healed. We see his love and it changes us from the inside out. 

I was doing a Bible study at a drug rehab center this week. One of the workers started telling me about his conversion. Said he grew up with health problems and was mad at God. Why me? Why do I have to go through cancer at 16? Said he abused drugs until he was 42. He hit bottom. He also said, “My bottom had a bottom and then the cellar. I got there and I needed to change. I heard the gospel and for the first time in my life knew the love of God. It melted my heart. God had done everything I needed.” He found peace!

[21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is a powerful summation of the gospel. The one who knew no sin, became sin for us. Sin- evil and rebellion that God hates and that deserves a just punishment. God made Jesus to be sin. The one who knew no sin. He was blameless and perfect. Never faltered in his relationship with God. HE took our debt. 

I would assume most of us don’t like to owe people anything. Could borrow a saw from the neighbor, but then I would owe him, so I’ll just go buy the saw that I will only use one time in my life. We don’t like to be dependent on others. It is a humbling thing to admit that you have messed up. To admit that you have rejected God and now have a debt that you cannot and do not want to pay. Jesus pays the debt. 

How are we reconciled? God has sent his son. We have to be reconciled. We have to put ourselves in line with what he has done. Transgression is going outside of what he desires. Reconciliation means we accept his terms, not ours. We turn from our wayward ways. We seek to honor him, follow him, live in his love. 

Power of Repentance and Faith
Relationships experience strain and break. Often because of sin. And they are restored by contrition and faith. We experience this powerfully in life. I am a father of four kids. I have seen and felt this in so many different ways. When your toddler takes a marker and decorates the furniture. When your young boys realize you can throw a metal stake into the basement walls and it sticks. When a child has been lying to you about being on the phone or computer or when your teenager gets an attitude with you and gives you the look of death. Your blood can feel like it is boiling inside. And yet when they come up and say, Dad, I’m sorry for writing on the couch. Dad, I’m sorry for lying to you. Dad, I’m sorry for being disrespectful to you. You hear that and you just want to hug them. You love them. And you are grateful for the chance to see a change of heart and them owning their mess. 

Nothing is worse than seeing one who refuses to acknowledge his wrong. Of making excuses: it was so and so’s fault. You made me get mad. Many times people question the existence of God, not because they really doubt the existence of God but simply because they don’t want to bow down to him. It’s an excuse. 

Be reconciled to Christ. It’s an ongoing practice. And we come through Christ. We don’t try to do good to work off the debt of our bad. We don’t do penance. We could never work ourselves out of the hole. Preach the gospel every day.

What is in the heart is hugely important. It’s an understanding of our sin and a need for a Savior, and that Jesus is the only person, the only thing that can atone for our sin.

We need saving. We don’t need more education, we don’t need medication, we don’t need counseling or better advice. Our greatest need is for a savior. 

Imploring Others 

[Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Cor 5:20

Implore. plead, ask, beg. When you are sick and dying and need help, you implore someone to help you. We implore others because we know that those who are not reconciled to God have the weight of their sin upon them for eternity. 

We are ambassadors of Christ.
God is reconciling the world through Christ. Not just anything. You are an ambassador of Christ. May say, I’m old and retired. You never retire from being an ambassador. Only a teen? You are an ambassador. Only an accountant, landscaper, stay-at-home mom, chef, whatever? God calls you to be an ambassador. And he will use you. He is reconciling the world through you.

We can share what God is doing in our life, how we found peace and our guilt taken away. Can share how we have hope, faith, and confidence that we will stand righteous in the presence of God. 

Paul knew what Jesus had done for him and he wanted others to know it. He felt for others who were without Christ. He knew the consequences of rejecting Jesus and he implored people to be reconciled. He was arrested for telling others about Jesus. He was stoned and beaten. He was in a shipwreck and abandoned. He was not apathetic. He didn’t look at everyone not serving Jesus, shrug his shoulders and ask what’s on TV tonight? He was moved. The gospel should move us in the core of our being. 

This is the essence of the Christian faith. It is what we want to define us, shape us, and our time together as a church. I’m not interested in preaching political parties and concepts. I tell everyone to have an opinion. But make sure your political affiliations are controlled by your soteriological beliefs, your beliefs about salvation. Joe Biden cannot save you from your sin; Donald Trump isn’t going to save you. Let me tell you, they have their own issues that they need a Savior for. 

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.