Day #120: Daily Bible Reading Plan - April 27th
Scripture Reading: II Corinthians 4 - 5 …
An ambassador is one who is sent to represent someone who is higher in authority. The task of the ambassador is to speak and to do what he or she is told by the one who sent them. In most cases, an ambassador is one who travels to a foreign country to represent the ruler or leader of his homeland. Think of this in terms of who we are in Christ. Paul says here in Chapter 5, verse 20 that we are "Christ's ambassadors!" and ultimately, GOD's ambassadors. He says that it is "as though God were making His appeal through us!!" What appeal?? "Be reconciled to God!"
Could there possibly be a more important task? If you and I believe, really believe, that those who do not know Jesus Christ, who have not received Him as Savior and Lord, are doomed to everlasting judgment in the fires of eternal hell, can there anything be more important than being instruments of God, sent in the name and power of Jesus Christ, to rescue people from such a fate. People have gone to extreme measures to rescue people from danger in fires and floods and other disasters. Yet, there often seems to be little enthusiasm to rescue people from hell …
Of course, we have our excuses. Someone has said that an "excuse" is "a reason wrapped in a lie." Paul addresses our excuses in Chapter 4, as he addresses believers. He commends himself and the message he brings by explaining that "if our gospel is veiled (if some people don't understand it), it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (4:3-4). But he goes on to say that for believers, "God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (4:6).
God is at work in the Gospel, as Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 1:16: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Ah, but the ambassadors are weak. You and I are not strong enough to go out and to proclaim the message. We are sinners ourselves and we are not ready to proclaim this truth to others … so many think. Listen to what Paul writes, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!" (4:7). God doesn't expect or desire us to do this by our own power! He wants to display HIS power IN us.
Believers live in the "not yet" … We know the truth, we are empowered by the Spirit, yet we are not yet all that God wants us to be or that WE want us to be. Still, "we KNOW that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence" (4:14). God will finish the work that He has begun (Philippians 1:6). "Therefore, we do not lose heart (we do not become discouraged). Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (4:16-18).
There's more to come! But we can't wait until we are perfect to be ambassadors for Christ. He can and will use us in our weakness. Paul goes on to explain that while we live in this "earthily tent" (5:1), we long for immortality. There is no fountain of youth, but God has promised in Christ that we will be made new! We will put off this earthly body and be clothed with immortality when Jesus returns (I Corinthians 15). "Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come" (5:5).
Can you say that you "would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord"? (5:8). It must be our goal to please Him as much NOW as it will be when we are in His perfect presence in the glories of heaven and in the new heaven and the new earth. My life is HIS … NOW! Therefore, we have work to do. "Christ's love compels us!" (5:14). "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (5:17). We rejoice when people come to know Christ and the Spirit gives to them the desire to please Him. The angels rejoice in heaven over one sinner who repents and believes (Luke 15:7,10). And WE who believe get to be God's instruments to bring reconciliation to those who were separated from God, who were "without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
In one of the clearest summaries of the Gospel, Paul explains: "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (5:21). And then he goes on in the first two verses of Chapter 6, where we will pick it up next time, to say, "NOW is the time of God's favor, NOW is the day of salvation!" (6:2). As aliens and strangers in this world … as those who have been brought out of darkness into His marvelous light … as those who are now ambassadors, sent out into the world to represent the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we as believers in Christ are sent to call others to be reconciled to God in the one way He has provided: through faith in Jesus Christ!
THIS is the task of the Church, "the called-out ones." We must not be distracted from that task and we must not make excuses for our failure to proclaim the Gospel to all creatures. Most congregations engage in all sorts of activities and FEW, if ANY of them fulfill God's purpose to call people to Himself through faith in Jesus. Church membership is not the same as discipleship, becoming a follower of Jesus. Jesus said that whoever would come after Him must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit will the transformation take place that marks a true disciple of Jesus and reveals that the sinner has been reconciled to God and united to Christ.
PRAY earnestly that the body of Christ would, in this day, renew its zeal to reach the lost and to build Christ's Church. The day is coming (perhaps its beginning is already here) when the love of most will grow cold and many will turn away from the faith to pursue idols (Matthew 24:10-12). "But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end will come" (Matthew 24:13-14). If you are a believer, you are an ambassador of Christ to those around you and to those whom God will send you. As an ambassador of the KING, our Lord Jesus Christ, take your task seriously and be equipped to share the Gospel, understanding that even though you are weak, HE is strong!!
"O Lord God Almighty, it is by Your power, and Your power alone, that we go forth to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We have received much and You have said that for those who have received much, much is required. Help us, now, to go into all the world with the Gospel of Your grace in Christ Jesus, that the lost may be found and reconciled to You through faith in Your Son. Strengthen us for the task, we pray, and make us bold witnesses for Christ. In Jesus' name, Amen"