"Reconciled to God"   

Colossians 1:15-20
Theme:  In this passage, we're shown what is involved in a sinner becoming "reconciled" to God.

(Delivered Sunday, December 10, 2000 at Bethany Bible Church. All scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.)   

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight - if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister (Col. 1:21-23).  


     The great theme of these words is God's ministry of "reconciling" us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  Paul spoke of this ministry of reconciliation in an all-encompassing way in verse 20, where he said that it pleased the Father by [Christ] "to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven".  But in the verses before us, Paul makes this ministry of reconciliation personal, applying it specifically to his readers; "And you ... He has now reconciled ..." 

* * * * * * * * * *

     "Reconciliation" is the act of making peace between two people or groups that were at odds with one another.  It's something that happens often in human relationships.  We've all heard stories about former friends who misunderstood one another or who were offended by one another in some way, and who wouldn't speak to each other for years; but who somehow resolved their differences and were "reconciled" to one another.  The hostility between them had come to an end, and they were no longer mad at each other.  Whatever it was that stood between them had been taken out of the way.  The wall of division between them had been taken down; and they came together in peace as friends once again.  It happens between family members; it happens between business partners; it even happens between nations.  Stories of "reconciliation" are always wonderful to hear.

     One of the most famous "reconciliation" stories of all time is the story the Lord Jesus told about the "prodigal son".  Did you know that the adjective "prodigal" means "to be wastefully or recklessly extravagant in one's behavior"?  That sure described this young man - the youngest of two sons.  He boldly came up to his father - jumping in out of turn before his older brother - and demanded his inheritance before it was his proper time to receive it.  "Father," he said, "give me the portion of goods that falls to me" (Luke 15:12).  His intention was to go out on the town and live it up.

     This was a terrible thing for this man's son to do - and not just because it was a foolish waste of money.  In making this demand, the boy was basically insulting his father.  He was demanding his inheritance from his father before his father had died; and he was doing so in such a way as to demand to be separated from his father's loving authority. Nevertheless, the father in this story consented, and gave his irresponsible young son what he demanded.

     This young man foolishly squandered his total share of his father's livelihood on "wasteful living" - throwing it all away on prostitutes and wild parties.  But he eventually spent all his money; and then the bottom fell out.  Poor, hungry and desperate, he took the most lowly job a Jewish person could imagine - working for a farmer, pouring out slop for the pigs.  At this point in his social career, the pigs were enjoying a higher standard of living than him.  And when he caught himself thinking about how the pods that the hogs were eating looked appetizing, he was finally shocked into his senses before he got on the ground and joined them.  "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and to to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants'" (vv. 17-19).

     This boy was his father's own son; but you can see how separated and distant his wicked actions made him feel toward his father.  He couldn't even bring himself to come back to his father as a disobedient "son".  Instead, in shame and utter humiliation, all he could do was hope that his dad would permit him to fill out a job application for a position as a hired servant.  And on a purely human level, who could blame his dad if he had said no?

     But perhaps you know the rest of the story.  When his father saw the boy coming down the road, he immediately rushed out to embrace him and kiss him.  The boy couldn't even get his well-rehearsed apology out of his mouth before his father told all his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (vv. 22-24).

     That's not only a beautiful picture of "reconciliation"; it's a picture of God's attitude toward those who leave their sins behind, and humbly come to be reconciled to Him.  You see; one of the key players in this story is the boy's older brother; and he didn't exactly rush out and welcome the boy with open arms.  He was so outraged that his father would allow this 'prodigal' back into the household - let alone roll out the red carpet for him - that he wouldn't even go in to his father's house where the boy was!  He came to his father and said, "Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.  But as soon as this son of yours came [he couldn't even bring himself to call him 'my brother'], who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him" (vv. 29-30).  I'm sure that, if the older son could have his way, the 'prodigal' would have been sent away with nothing more than a TV tray and a bowl of pig pods! - and I'm not so sure about the TV tray! - or the bowl!

     Sadly, whenever it comes to being reconciled to someone who has done us wrong, our attitude is more like the older brother's than like the father's.  But the father - typifying our heavenly Father's attitude toward those He's reconciled to - said, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found" (vv. 31-32).  God our Father is always ready and eager to be reconciled to prodigal sinners who come to their senses and return home for mercy.  In fact, the whole point of that story is to show that God loves reconciliation! As Jesus said, "... There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).

* * * * * * * * * *

     We all need to be reconciled to God, because He is holy and we're all sinners.  We've taken His good gifts to us and have squandered them in sin.  The distance between Him and us is one of our own making.  The Bible tells us "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity" (Isaiah 59:1-3).

     And what's more, we ourselves could never do anything to remove the barrier that our sins have placed between ourselves and God.  All that we could ever do is come crawling to him humbly for mercy - and even then, His mercy would be more than we had a right to expect.

     But the good news is that God Himself has done everything necessary for full reconciliation to happen between Him and us.  He Himself has done all that's necessary to remove the barrier of sin that lies between us.  He has made peace possible through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.  And now, every time a genuinely broken-hearted, sorrowful sinner falls in faith before the cross of Christ, confesses his or her sins, and pleads with God for His mercy, God throws a 'welcome-home' party.  God always embraces the repentant sinner and welcomes him or her as His own child.  He is always eager to be "reconciled" to every sinner that turns to Him for forgiveness. He is always glad when the enmity between them comes to an end, the wall of sin that separates them from Him is taken down, and peaceful, loving fellowship between Him and the forgiven sinner begins. 

* * * * * * * * * *

     Everyone needs peace with God - including you and me.  In fact, a true, genuine relationship of peace with God is the single greatest need every human being has.  Peace with God is more important than food, or clothing, or material comfort, or riches, or fame, or anything that can be had on this earth.  Everything that this earth has to offer will eventually fade away; but the only thing that will last forever will be what is ours as a result of our being reconciled to God and He with us.

     When a man or woman is not at peace with God, nothing else in life is right.  Everything will be out of sorts, within us and around us, until we are reconciled to God in a condition of peace.  And so, Paul's subject in these three verses - reconciliation with God - is the most relevant subject there is.  God wants to be reconciled to sinners; and everyone in the world ought to know about it.

     What's involved in becoming "reconciled to God"?  Notice, first, that Paul shows us ...


     One of the first things to establish is that reconciliation is a genuine need.  Before a man or woman can be brought into genuine peace with God, he or she has to accept that there exists a state of enmity between God and themselves because of sin.  The need for reconciliation has to be believed in and accepted before true reconciliation can happen.  And so, Paul writes to the Colossian believers and tells them, "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled ..." 

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     Paul was writing to a group of Christians who had already been reconciled to God.  He began his letter by calling them "saints and faithful brethren", and by saying, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:2).  But he reminds them in this letter that they weren't always "saints and faithful brethren", and that they didn't always have peace with God.  He points back to their past - saying that they were "once" or "formerly" alienated from God.

     To be "alienated" from God means to be "estranged" or "excluded" from Him.  It means being an "outsider" to the things of God - someone who is shut out and cut off from Him.  To those of us who have been reconciled to God through faith in Christ, nothing could be more dreadful than to be "alienated" from Him; and before we placed our trust in Jesus Christ, that's what we all were.  Paul used this same word in Ephesians 2:12, when he reminded the Ephesian believers that, formerly, they were "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise."

     And what's more, our being "alienated" from the things of God was a product of our own sinfulness.  Paul later used the same word when he said that these Ephesian believers "should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph. 4:17-19).  Being alienated from God is a result of our moral choice to live in rebellion against Him.

     And second, we see that these Christians were not only at one time "alienated" from God; but they were also passionately aggressive toward Him - "enemies in your mind", as Paul called them; that is, enemies toward God right down to the very attitudes of their hearts.

     According to the Bible, there are basically only two kinds of attitudes we can have - only two ways you or I can orient our minds. Either our minds are oriented toward submission to the things of the Spirit of God, or our minds are oriented toward submission to the dictates of our own flesh.  There aren't any other options.  And Paul says that the mind that is set on the flesh is, by nature, oriented in hostile enmity toward God.  He wrote; 

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded [that is, having our mind-set on the flesh] is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:5-8).

     Formerly, these Christians were gripped with a mind-set of hostility toward the things of God.  And they gave visible demonstration to that mind-set by the way they lived - "by wicked works".  They were at one time in the same condition Paul described the Ephesian believers to be in - "dead in trespasses and sins", 

... in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (Eph. 2:2-3).

* * * * * * * * * *

     Why does Paul bring up such sad memories?  Why does he remind these Colossian believers of the terrible condition they were once in?  He reminds them of how distant from God they used to be, because he wants to highlight how much God has done in reconciling them to Himself.  They were once alienated from Him, enemies in their mind toward Him, proving their condition by the wicked nature of their deeds.  But how wonderful that Paul could apply the phrase "now reconciled" to them!  There's no sinner so bad that they can't be called "now reconciled" through Christ!

     And all the praise for this goes to God Himself.  Paul doesn't give any credit for their reconciliation to them.  He doesn't say that they 'have reconciled themselves' to God, or that they 'managed to bring about peace' with Him.  Paul attributes it all to the work of God's grace.  "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled ..."

     How did God do this?  This leads us, next, to ... 


     Paul goes on to say that God reconciled them through Christ, "in the body of His flesh through death ..."

     At first, that sounds like a pretty strange phrase - "the body of his flesh".  It seems like a superfluous thing to say; because after all, what other kind of body would Jesus have had than one of "flesh"?  But I believe that the Holy Spirit guided Paul in writing those specific words.

     I believe that the Holy Spirit looked ahead to a false teaching that would spring up occasionally in church history that denied the full humanity of Jesus.  This heretical teaching, referred to by theologians as "docetism" (from the Greek word dokeġ; which means "to seem to be"), held that Jesus' humanity wasn't real - that He merely "seemed" to be human. It logically followed from this belief that, if Jesus wasn't fully human, then His death on the cross wasn't real, and that His resurrection wasn't real.  We see the modern consequence of this false teaching today, when even some theologians and religious leaders say things like, "Jesus didn't literally rise from the dead; He was simply 'raised from the dead' in our hearts."  Well; here, the Holy Spirit puts it pretty plainly - God reconciled us to Himself through the body of Christ's flesh through death. It's as if the text goes out of its way to emphasize that this is a real human "body" of flesh and bones that we're talking about.

     Paul was being led by the Spirit to emphasize the full humanity of Jesus to us for a specific reason.  Jesus is forever the eternal Son of God (as He was magnificently described in verses 15-20); but He is the God who, at a point in time, also became fully human.  Full deity and full humanity are forever embodied in the person of Jesus.  And that's tremendously important to God's work of reconciling us to Himself for at least two reasons:

     First, in order for a holy God to be reconciled to sinful humans, those humans must be made "righteous".  And in order to credit perfect righteousness to our account, the Son of God had to become a human being and do for us what we cannot do -- that is, live the righteous life for us that pleases God and satisfies His requirements.  As Paul says in Romans 8:3-4; 

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:3-4).

     Jesus lived the life that pleases God - keeping perfectly all of God's commandments.  Theologians often refer to this as the "active obedience" of Jesus.  And what's so wonderful about it is that by faith, the perfect righteousness of Jesus is credited to our account.  God declares us "righteous"; because we're clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.

     But it's not enough that Jesus lived the perfect life for us that we were incapable of living.  We've also actively sinned against God; and the justice of a holy God demands that our sins must also be paid for by death.  "The wages of sin is death", as it says in Romans 6:23.  And so, Jesus became fully human and lived a sinless life before God, so that He could then bear our sins on Himself on the cross, and pay the death penalty for those sins.  His sacrifice for our sins is often referred to by theologians as His "passive obedience."  As Peter wrote, 

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

     And thus, with Jesus righteousness imputed to us by His life, and our sins atoned for by His death, there remains no more barrier to stand in the way between us and God.  The wall of sin is broken down; and we are free to be reconciled to Him! 

* * * * * * * * * *

     Several years ago, during a presidential debate, a man stood up and said something that took on the status of a national cliché: he said, "Can't we all just get along?"  And when it comes to having peace with God, many people believe that God should be expected to fit in with the same sort of attitude.  "Why does God have to be so bent out of shape about 'sin'?  Why can't He just get over it and move on?  Can't we all just get along?"

     But when people talk this way about God, they're asking for the impossible.  God is a holy God; He can't just "get along" when sin is involved.  If He did, He'd cease to be a holy God.  Such people are basically demanding that God change who He is so they wont have to change who they are.

     God has reconciled us sinful human beings to Himself; and what's so wonderful about it is that He didn't do it by simply learning to "get along" with sin.  Instead, He has made reconciliation possible by genuinely and completely removing the barrier of sin through the sacrifice of His own Son Jesus!

     And the means by which He reconciled us to Himself are marvelously effective.  Look next at ...


     Paul writes, that God reconciled sinners to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, "to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight -"  Isn't that awesome?  These people who were formerly alienated and enemies in their minds through wicked deeds have been reconciled to God through Christ; and now, they stand holy, blameless, and above reproach before God!  They were now holy; with no more sin to cause them to be alienated from a holy God.  They were now blameless; with no more guilt to be attributed to them in God's eyes.  They were now without reproach; with nothing that anyone could ever hold against them in God's judgment.  God didn't change Himself in order to be reconciled to these sinners; instead, He completely changed them!

     Look at the details.  First, notice that their new condition is a work of God.  It's His doing.  Paul doesn't suggest that these believers merely "presented themselves" to Him in this condition.  It would be a terrible presumption for sinners to try to present themselves, on their own volition, to God as holy, blameless and above reproach.  Rather, the same Person who does the work of reconciling them is said to be the one who "presents" them to Himself.  As it says in Ephesians 5:25-27, Jesus so loved us that He gave Himself for the Church, "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish."  No one could ever present sinners before a holy God but that holy God Himself.  And that's what God does with us in Christ.

     And second, notice that this new condition is a work of God that meets His own approval.  It satisfies His holy standards.  Paul said that we're presented holy, blameless and above reproach "in His sight".  It wouldn't do us any good if we were to be presented holy, blameless and above reproach in each other's sight.  Who'd care about that?  We can all 'fake it' in front of each other anyway.  The only thing that matters is that God looks upon us and finds us to be holy, blameless and above reproach "in His sight."  And that's how we stand before Him in His Son. Jude 24-25 says, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen."

     That "exceeding joy" will belong to our Savior as much as to us (John 17:24; Heb. 12:2).  As the Puritan Thomas Manton suggested, Jesus' "exceeding joy" will be "as an act of delight in rejoicing in his own success, that all that were given to him are now fit to be settled in their blessed and glorious estate."  God the Father wont give up on us until He is fully satisfied with His work in us through Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

     And the amazing thing about this description of our condition in Christ is that it defines God's 'purpose' in reconciling us to Himself! His reason for reconciling us to Himself through Christ is because He desires our holiness, our blamelessness, and the complete removal of reproach from us!  His work of reconciliation isn't for His good alone, but also for ours! 

* * * * * * * * * *

     Now; notice how suddenly the word "if" introduced in all this. This glorious reconciliation is based on God's work of grace toward us through the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  It's not based on anything we do toward Him to earn it.  But the "if" reminds us that we do have a part to play in it all.  We have a responsibility in the work of reconciliation.  In fact, all of verse 23 has to do with our part in God's work of reconciliation.

     This leads us, then, to ... 


     Paul could say that these believers - formerly alienated and enemies in their mind, as was proven by the fact of their wicked works - were now reconciled to God, and thus presented as holy, blameless and above reproach in His sight.  But he said this was true only "if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard ..."

     This reminds us of the main purpose behind Paul's letter.  He wrote it because he wanted to protect his readers from a false teaching that sought to tempt them away from a settled confidence in the full sufficiency of Jesus Christ alone.  The main proposition of this false teaching was that Jesus alone was somehow insufficient to keep us in God's favor; and that we needed 'something extra' to make us complete before God.  And so; Paul urged his readers in 2:6-10, 

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (2:6-10).

     Paul reminds them that they're reconciled to God only through faith in Jesus Christ.  There is nothing else that they need than what they have in Him.  And so, it was all-important that they continue steadfastly to rest their hopes solidly on Him, and not let anything sway them from that confidence in His full sufficiency.

     He uses a fascinating combination of words to express this idea. He says, first, that we are reconciled to God only "if indeed you continue in the faith"; and the word he uses for "continue" is a combination of two Greek words: epi which means "upon", and menġ which means "remain".  Thus, this word means to "continue upon" something - "to keep continuing for as long as it takes"; or as the famous New Testament scholar A.T. Robertson translated it, "continue and then some".

     Paul then adds emphasis to this "continuing" by resorting to words that would very likely have been used by builders in those days.  He urges them to be "grounded" upon Christ, or "established" upon Him.  Then, he urges them to be "steadfast" or made "firm" in Him.  Finally, he urges them not to be "moved away" from the hope of the Gospel.  And if you think of yourself as a spiritual building, you can get the idea: one that has its foundation laid on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is continually built up into firmness and strength through an ongoing fellowship with Him, and that is retrofitted so that it isn't shaken off its foundation during the 'earthquakes' that the devil throws at it.

     The point of all this is that it is only those who remain in the faith for the long-haul that can make the claim to be reconciled to God. This isn't a promise for those who say, "I'll give Jesus a try for a while; but it it doesn't work for me, I'm baggin' out."  When folks treat the faith that the gospel message in that manner, they're treating it as nothing more than a 'religion' - when in reality, it's a vital, ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus.  As Jesus Himself said, "Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4).

     There are some folks who rest all their hopes on the fact that they prayed "the sinner's prayer" when they were very young (even though they kept right on living "the sinner's life" long after the prayer was over). Such people place their eternal hopes on something that they did long ago in the past; but don't give any attention to nurturing an ongoing faith in Jesus and His cross in the present.

     I like to think of it this way: the important issue in the Christian life isn't how you begin; it's how you end.  Assuming, of course, that our 'foundation' is built on Jesus Christ and nothing else (1 Cor. 3:11); then it really isn't important how it came about that we placed our faith in Jesus.  We put a lot of emphasis on that; but that's not the really important issue.  Some people may come to faith in Jesus through a gospel tract; others through a friend witnessing to them; or some through the ministry of an evangelist or pastor; or others (such as myself) through hearing the gospel on a television broadcast.  I even know of a very wonderful, elderly Christian who doesn't know how she came to Christ.  It happened somehow when she was a very tiny little girl.  But all she knows is that today - right now - she has her faith squarely on the Lord Jesus and His cross, and she will until the day she goes to be with Him; and that's the really important issue.

     Paul's words remind us, then, that our faith in Jesus cannot be a "one-time-only" event.  It must be a continual, day-to-day, moment-to-moment trust.  It must be in the "present" tense; not in the "past tense".  If our faith in Jesus isn't an ongoing reality, then it's based on something we did - perhaps a 'sinner's prayer' we prayed, or a 'decision card' we filled out, or an 'alter call' we responded to - but not on the person of Jesus Himself and what He did for us.  Those who are truly reconciled to God prove it by the fact that they continue in an ongoing, living relationship with Jesus, and keep on clinging to the truths of the faith no matter what the cost.  That's why Paul could say that we're reconciled to God, but only "if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard ..." 

* * * * * * * * * *

     And Paul's words "which you heard" reminds us of yet another aspect of the "human responsibility" in God's work of reconciliation.  Paul goes on, lastly, to describe ...


     He said that this is the gospel "which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister."  And this reminds us that this great message of "reconciliation" through Jesus Christ is a message that has been entrusted to us to share with others.

     First, notice that it's a gospel which is proclaimed and made available to all.  Paul says that it's "preached to every creature under heaven".  What Paul means by this is that, everywhere that there are people, God has commissioned that this message be preached.  Before He went to the Father, Jesus told His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19); and He told them, in Acts 1:8; "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  Paul said, in verse 6, that this message had come to the Colossian believers, "as it has in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you ..."  Truly, it is a message that is being preached to every creature under heaven.

     This reminds us that the gospel of "reconciliation" isn't just a message for Jewish people.  It isn't just a message just for any specific race of people.  It isn't just a message for the Americas, or for the Europeans.  it's a message for all people everywhere!  God is reconciling people from every part of the globe to Himself through Jesus Christ!

     But notice, secondly, that it's a message that must be "heard". And so, it's a message that must be "ministered" through human instruments. Paul said that its the gospel which is "preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister."

     Paul used the word "minister" to describe his role toward the gospel.  It's a word that basically means "a servant" - very much like the idea of a table-waiter.  Paul didn't claim to have "invented" the gospel; rather, he simply "serves it out" to others.

     And this reminds us that God has made no other arrangement for the proclamation of the gospel of "reconciliation" than that it be "heard" by those to whom it was "preached" through the lips of those commissioned to "minister" it.


     What a privilege we have!  We get to announce the greatest and most relevant message there is!  We get to share with poor, lost, hurting people - alienated from Him, and enemies in their minds and actions, and messed up in every way - that God Himself has done everything that is necessary for them to have real peace with Him.  We're commissioned to deliver the message of "reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ" to the whole world!  As Paul wrote, in another letter; 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

(copyright 2000 by Pastor Greg Allen and Bethany Bible Church. Reproduction without permission, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.)

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