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,” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.
Before leaving this rich passage we need to understand the passage in context to chapter 6:1-2. “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Paul has made it clear that we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and we who have accepted that reconciliation are now to be ambassadors for God. To be in Christ is to be totally committed to the saving grace of Jesus in our life and allow Jesus to live that grace out through us for the benefit of others. We saw on one of the previous posts that reconciliation to the Father was based upon Jesus bearing our sins while we receive the gift of His righteousness. (v. 21)
In Chapter 6:1-2 Paul is now reminding his listeners not to “receive God’s grace in vain.” What does he mean by this? I believe it means exactly what it says that when we are offered the gift of redemption we don’t turn away from it. It is in verse two, however, that we have the key for the whole book of 2 Corinthians.
The Corinthian church had many problems from immoral sexual practices to allowing false teachers to preach and influence the congregation. Paul is making it clear that all the promises of redemption and rescue spoken of and dreamed about in the Old Testament are now fulfilled in Jesus. There is no tomorrow as far as salvation is concerned, it has happened in the person of Jesus Christ. “I tell you now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Many people believe that to pray effectively we should begin by reading a passage of Scripture, absorbing the meaning, meditate upon it and then pray asking God to enlighten us regarding the nuances and deep meanings of the text. If there ever was a text created for that style of study, meditation and prayer it is this one. What does it mean, “now is the day of salvation,” for a Christian?
I have studied, visited, prayed, and encouraged a great many people over the years to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. It always surprises me how many people put off the invitation to accept Jesus as Lord of their lives for a more convenient time. The reason it surprises me is that I was never selling anything or demanding something from the people but instead offering a free gift of eternal life and it was theirs for the receiving.
Jesus has done the reconciling for us through becoming sin who knew no sin and carrying those sins to the cross so that we could be declared righteous by the Father. The Gospel has been carried to us through dedicated Christians (ambassadors) who have experienced this transforming power of being in Christ in their own lives and their message of reconciliation is accompanied by the convicting work of the Spirit. All we have to do is accept God’s love and free offer of salvation and we become saved people.
There are no excuses for not accepting Jesus as Savior of our life. What could be more important that it would be elevated above trusting in God to be Lord of our life? I believe the answer is found in the idols of our life, the things that we elevate above God. Most people are not opposed to the Gospel of reconciliation when they hear it but they reject it because they are frightened they may be asked to give up something that is even more important to them than their salvation.
For many men it is sports that keep them from making that commitment to follow Jesus. Church, Bible study groups, and Christian fellowship get in the way of either playing or watching sports. They have made their decision that sitting at home in front of the television watching their favorite team play is more important than meeting with God.
For some ladies it is fear of losing their social connections in the community. They believe that they will be outcasts to their friends and not be invited to be part of their social group any longer. And yet Jesus says, “now is the day of salvation.”
If you’ve never made the decision to follow Jesus, now may well be your day of salvation. If you’ve been a Christian for many years but your love has grown cool, today is a perfect day to recommit to Jesus and put Him first in your life again.
As Ruth and I walked our town this morning I reflected on how for so many years I put Jesus on the shelf and lived my life according to my idols. Then one day, a full sixteen years after I had drifted away from God, I picked up my Bible and God spoke to the depths of my heart. Everything that seemed to be an obstacle and reason for not following Jesus just drifted away in an instant. I found myself on my knees confessing my indifference and repenting for my rebellion and carelessness in my relationship with God. I no longer wanted to receive God’s grace in vain. Grace had come to my door and it was my day of salvation. It was my time, “of God’s favor,” and what a joy it has become to walk with God again.
None of us are out of God’s reach or too far gone that today can’t be our day of salvation. It is a simple matter of asking God into our heart and letting Him lead and guide wherever He may take us on this ride called life.
Be courageous and be strong having no fear because God loves you and has called you His own.
* What does it mean to be in Christ? It’s when you are so in love with Him that you are willing to give your life for Him. Many people around the globe are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, this is being in Christ. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…