Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 3 — “The Ministry & It’s Description”

Lesson 8: "The Ministry: It’s New World Order" - II Cor 5:17-6:2

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

-II Corinthians 5:17-21. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

-II Corinthians 6:1-2, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured (aided or helped) thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”


-Introduction: This is one of the great passages of Scripture. So much is covered that a life-time could be spent in its depths. Two overall subjects leap out at the reader: the message of the ministry and the new world order of the ministry. We will be looking at the New World order of the ministry. We’ll look at five things here,


          -1.  A message of regeneration: man can become a new creature, a new man (v.17).

-2.  A message of reconciliation: a world of men brought back to God (v.18-19).

-3.  A message committed to ambassadors: a world of men made co-workers with God                  (v.20).

-4.  A message of redemption: a world reconciled by a substitution for sin (v.21).     

-5.  A message that demands a decision (2 Cor. 6:1-2).


#1) A message of regeneration: Man can become a new creature- a new man.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Two things here,


-First, what does it mean for a man to become a "new creature"? Very simply, it means just what the Scripture says: the man actually becomes a new creature—his whole being, nature, life, and behavior changes:


-Whereas a man was dead to God, as a new creature he becomes alive to God.

-Whereas a man had no relationship with God, as a new creature he is given a relationship with God.

-Whereas a man was not sure about God, as a new creature he is absolutely certain about God.

-Whereas a man never fellowshipped and communed with God, as a new creature he fellowships and communes with God all the time.

-Whereas a man was living in sin and immorality, as a new creature he lives in righteousness and holiness.

-Whereas a man had to face death, as a new creature he never has to die.

-Whereas a man was doomed to judgment and eternal separation from God, as a new creature he is destined to live eternally in the presence of God.


-Second, how does a person become a new creature? Note the words of this Scripture: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." It is being "in Christ" that makes a person a new creature. When a person truly believes in Christ, God places and positions him in Christ, in all that Christ is. Christ lived and died and arose, so to be in Christ means that a person lives, dies, and arises in Christ. The person who believes in Jesus Christ is identified with Christ: that is, he is counted and considered to be "in Christ," reckoned and credited as "in Christ."


Spelled out in a little more detail, when a person believes in Christ, God places and positions the believer "in" Christ. The believer's faith actually causes God to identify the believer with Christ...

-To count the believer as having lived in Christ when Christ lived upon earth. Therefore, the believer is counted sinless and righteous because Christ was sinless and righteous.

-To count the believer as having died in Christ. Therefore, the believer never has to die. The penalty and condemnation of his sins are already paid for in the death of Christ.

-To count the believer as having been raised in Christ. Therefore, the believer has received the "new life" of Christ. Just as Christ had a new life after His resurrection, even so the believer receives the "new life" of Christ when he believes in Christ.


To be in Christ means,

-That a believer walks and lives in Christ day by day.

-That he does not "walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1, 4).

-That "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:12).

-That he bears the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

-That he abides in Christ, that he becomes as connected and attached to Christ...


From this, it is clearly seen that a person who is "in Christ" is a new creature. This is what is meant by such Scriptural terms as being "born again" and becoming a "new man." However, no better words describe the experience than the words of II Corinthians 5:17 where it says, “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This is the message of the Christian ministry: a man can start life all over, no matter how corrupt he has become or how far down he has fallen. God longs to make a new creature out of him.

"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:22-24).


"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9-10).

First we saw a message of regeneration: That man can become a new creature- a new man,

#2)  A message of reconciliation: a world of men brought back to God.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”


The message is one of reconciliation—a world of men can be brought back to God. Reconciliation means to change thoroughly, to change from enmity (enemy) to friendship, to bring together, to restore. The idea is that two persons who should have been together all along are brought together; two persons who had allowed something to come between them are restored and reunited.


The thing that broke the relationship between God and man was sin. Men are said to be enemies of God (Romans 5:10), and the word "enemies" refers back to the fact that men had become sinners and ungodly (Romans 5:6, 8). The "enemies" of God are the sinners and ungodly of this world. This simply means that every man is an enemy of God, for every man is a sinner and ungodly. This may seem unkind and harsh, but it is exactly what Scripture is saying. The fact is clearly seen by thinking about the matter for a moment.


The sinner cannot be said to be a friend of God's. He is antagonistic toward God, opposing what God stands for. The sinner is...

          -Rebelling against God            -Disobeying God

          -Rejecting God                         - Fighting against God

          -Cursing God                           -Denying God

          -Ignoring God                          -Refusing to live for God.

 

As stated above, it is because we are sinners and enemies that we need to be reconciled.

There are three persons involved in reconciliation.

-First, God Himself is the first person involved in reconciliation. God is the One who reconciles us. Note the words, "All things are of God." If the time ever comes when a person wishes to be reconciled to God and to change his life and become a new creature, he has to come to God.

God alone has the power to change a man; God alone can give a man a new birth and make a new creature out of him. No man has the power to change enough to make himself acceptable to God. Men just do not reconcile themselves to God. They cannot do enough work or enough good to become perfectly acceptable to God. Reconciliation is the act of God and of God alone. God is the One who reaches out to man and reconciles him. Man does not earn reconciliation; he receives the reconciliation of God.


-Second, Jesus Christ is the second person involved in reconciliation. God reconciles us to Himself by the death of Jesus Christ. Very simply stated, when a man believes that Jesus Christ died for him...

-God accepts the death of Jesus Christ for the death of the man.

-God accepts the sins borne by Christ as the sins committed by the man.

-God accepts the condemnation borne by Christ as the condemnation due to the man.

Therefore, the man is freed from his sins and the punishment due his sins. Christ bore both the sins and the punishment for the man. The man who truly believes that God loves that much—enough to give His only begotten Son—becomes acceptable to God, reconciled forever and ever.


"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).


"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Ephes. 2:16).


"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20).


-Third, Ministers are the third persons involved in reconciliation. God reconciled us to Himself by committing the ministry of reconciliation to men. The only way the world can ever hear about the great ministry of reconciliation is through believers. Believers must proclaim the message of reconciliation or it will never be heard.


"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).


"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Ephes. 2:16).


-Note: How did God work out reconciliation? God did three things to make reconciliation possible,

          -First, God came to earth "in Christ," that is, in the person of Christ. As this verse says, "God was in Christ." This is a phenomenal statement. This means that...

-When Jesus Christ came to earth, God Himself came to earth.

-When Jesus Christ bore sin for man, God Himself was bearing sin for man.

-When Jesus Christ died for man, God Himself was dying for man.


This means that God Himself was in the person of Jesus Christ reaching out to man—that God himself had come to earth to reconcile man. This means that God Himself loved man so much that He came to earth to seek and to save that which was lost. The truth is so glorious that Jesus Christ Himself pounded the truth home to the hearts of people.


"As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15).


"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).


"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:37-38).


"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).


-Second, God does not impute sin to men. The word "impute" means to reckon, count, and credit. It means to charge or put to a person's account. If God does not impute or charge sin against men, then it means that He forgives their sins. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, God was in Christ dying for the sins of men. God was making it possible for men to be freed from the guilt and condemnation of their sins.


Picture the scene: hanging there on the cross, God in Christ was not charging men with sin. He was dying for the sins of men. God was not there upon the cross to impute sin against men; He was there making it possible for men to be forgiven their sins.

 

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).


"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).


-Third, God has committed the word of reconciliation to ministers. God has not left the word of reconciliation up to men. God has taken the initiative. God calls and equips ministers of God to proclaim the word of reconciliation. He has done everything possible to reconcile men.


"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God" (Col. 1:25).


"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).


"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust" (1 Tim. 1:11).


"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour" (Titus 1:2-3).


First we saw a message of regeneration: That man can become a new creature- a new man, second we saw a message of reconciliation: a world of men brought back to God,

#3) A message committed to ambassadors: a world of men made co-workers with God.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.”


This is a great passage for ministers of the gospel. Note two striking points,

          -First, ministers are given the highest of titles: they are "ambassadors for Christ." The "ambassadors" are persons who are sent forth as official envoys to represent the Sender and to announce the message of the Sender. Four things are always true about the ambassador,

          -The ambassador belongs to the One who sent him out.

-The ambassador is commissioned to be sent out. He exists only for the purpose for which he was sent.

-The ambassador possesses all the authority and power of the One who sent him out.

-The ambassador is sent forth with the message of the Sender.


-Secondly, ministers are given the greatest of messages: "Be reconciled to God." The message is so critical that ministers are to "beseech" men: which means to beg, entreat, cry, and plead with them to be reconciled to God.

Note that it is "for Christ's sake" that we are to plead with men. Christ has paid the ultimate price to make reconciliation available to men: He has taken the sins of men upon Himself and borne the condemnation for them. Because He has done so much, every man owes his life to Christ—every man owes it to Christ to be reconciled to God. For Christ's sake, a man should give himself to God.


First we saw a message of regeneration: That man can become a new creature- a new man, second we saw a message of reconciliation: a world of men brought back to God, third we saw a message committed to ambassadors- a world of men made co-workers with God,

#4) A message of redemption: a world reconciled by a substitution for sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


The message is unbelievable—a message of redemption, that is, of a substitution for sin. This is one of the great verses proclaiming the unbelievable love of God. It is a verse that has so much compacted in it that even a lifetime of study could not fathom its depths. It is impossible for man to grasp how God could make Christ become sin for us. Yet, this is exactly what Scripture declares: "He [God] hath made him to be sin for us." How was it possible for Christ to be made sin for us? Note the three points that are declared here,

          -First, that Christ "knew no sin." One of the very reasons Jesus Christ came to earth was to live a sinless and perfect life. As Man He never broke the law of God; He never went contrary to the will of God. He never sinned, not even once. He lived a perfect life. Therefore, He stood before God as the Perfect, Ideal Man. He was the Ideal, the Pattern of what a man should be. He had secured the ideal, perfect righteousness; therefore, His righteousness could stand as the ideal righteousness for man. His righteousness could embrace and cover man. As the Ideal Pattern, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ could be counted as righteousness for man.


"Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?" (John 8:46).


"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).


"For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26).


          -Secondly, God "made Christ to be sin for us." This was absolutely necessary. Why? Because man needs more than just righteousness to stand perfect before God. To stand righteous before God is not enough, for man has already sinned.

Man already stands guilty of breaking God's law, and the judgment and condemnation of death has already taken effect upon man. Man is dying both spiritually and physically, and the fact is clearly witnessed by the dying of people throughout every community of the world. Therefore, the condemnation and judgment against sin had to be taken care of. This, too, God did. God did it by laying all the sins of man upon Christ—all the guilt and condemnation of sin. God placed all sin upon Christ and let Him bear it all Himself. Christ became sin for us. How was Christ able to do this for us?


He was the Ideal, Perfect Man. Therefore, He could become the Ideal, Perfect Sin-Bearer. He could die the Ideal death, the death that would satisfy the justice of God's eternal court and holy nature.


"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us [the same as saying made sin for us]: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).


"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).


"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).


"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).


"And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin" (1 John 3:5).


"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).


-Thirdly, God's purpose was that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. What does this mean? Very simply, when a person trusts Christ, God takes that man's faith and counts it as righteousness. The man is not righteous, but God considers and credits the man's faith as righteousness. Why is God willing to do this?

-God is willing to justify man because He loves man that much. God loves man so much that He sent His Son into the world and sacrificed Him in order to justify man.

-God is willing to justify man because of what His Son Jesus Christ has done for man.


-What did He do?

-Jesus Christ has secured the Ideal righteousness for man. He came to earth to live a sinless and perfect life. As Man He never broke the law of God; He never went contrary to the will of God, not even once. Therefore, He stood before God and before the world as the Ideal Man, the Perfect Man, the Representative Man, the Perfect Righteousness that could stand for the righteousness of every man.


-Jesus Christ came into the world to die for man. As the Ideal Man He could take all the sins of the world upon Himself and die for every man. His death could stand for every man. He exchanged places with man by becoming the sinner. He bore the wrath of God against sin, bearing the condemnation for every man. Again, He was able to do this because He was the Ideal Man, and as the Ideal Man His death could stand for the death of every man.


-Jesus Christ came into the world to arise from the dead and thereby to conquer death for man. As the Ideal Man His resurrection and exaltation into the presence of God could stand for every man's desperate need to conquer death and to be acceptable to God. His resurrected life could stand for the resurrected life of the believer.


Very simply, God loves His Son Jesus Christ so much that He honors any man who honors His Son by believing in Him. He honors the man by taking the man's faith and counting (crediting) it as righteousness and by giving him the glorious privilege of living with Christ forever in the presence of God. This is what is called justification. The word justify is a legal word taken from the courts. It pictures man on trial before God. Man is seen as having committed the most heinous of crimes; he has rebelled against God and broken his relationship with God. How can he restore that relationship? Within human courts if a man is acquitted, he is declared innocent, but this is not true within the Divine Court. When a man appears before God, he is anything but innocent; he is utterly guilty and condemned accordingly.


But when a man sincerely trusts Christ, then God takes that man's faith and counts it as righteousness. God counts the man—judges him, treats him—as if he was innocent. The man is not made innocent; he is guilty. He knows it and God knows it, but God treats him as innocent. "God justifies the ungodly"—an incredible mercy, a wondrous grace. How do we know this? How can we know for sure that God is like this? Because Jesus said so. He said that God loves us. We are sinners, yes; but Christ said that we are very, very dear to God.


-Thought. The message of God's ministry is an unbelievable yet glorious message. It is the only message that can truly save a sinful, hell bound person—the message of redemption, of a substitution for sin.


First we saw a message of regeneration: That man can become a new creature- a new man, second we saw a message of reconciliation: a world of men brought back to God, third we saw a message committed to ambassadors- a world of men made co-workers with God, fourth we saw a message of redemption: a world reconciled by a substitution for sin,

#5) A message that demands a decision.


2 Corinthians 6:1-2, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”


Note three facts.

-Ministers are co-workers with God. They actually have the great privilege of working together with God. What is the work that they do with God? The minister who works with God does exactly what Scripture says: he "beseeches," that is, urges, begs, and pleads with men to receive the wonderful grace of God. What is that grace? It is the glorious truth that God has provided salvation through Christ and proclaimed that salvation through Christ.


-The message of redemption is not to be received in vain. A person must not hear the message with empty, deaf ears. Redemption and salvation are available. God has made it possible—He even begs and pleads with men—to be saved; but a person can receive the message with empty ears and heart. He can either do nothing about the message or deliberately reject it. A person must not receive the grace of God in vain. God's grace is much too wonderful—it is the only hope and way of redemption and salvation.


-The decision to be saved is to be made now. Now is the only reasonable time to be saved. There may be no tomorrow; in fact, there may not even be one hour left for any of us. Any person's life can be snatched away any moment of any day by accident, disease, or heart attack. Verse two declares two significant facts,

-This is the acceptable time when God has heard the cries of men. This is the day of salvation when God has succoured (aided or helped) men.

-Paul, the minister, cries out: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Note the forceful implication: the day is coming when the day of salvation will no longer be available.



* Next lesson: The Ministry: Its Call to Consistency and Endurance, II Cor 6:3-10



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