17 The Ministry of Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5v16-21

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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)


Our world needs reconciliation in every sphere of our existence. Among nations reconciliation is required as we see the nations rage. We also find it in our own country – also in our homes! The reason for this is due to the Fall where we became alienated from God – wanting to be our own gods. Strife is a consequence of humanity acting as their own gods. We need to be reconciled to God and that requires us to become the righteousness of God! But know that no man of his own accord can become the righteousness of God – it is a failed mission. It is only through dying and being born again in Jesus Christ that we can become that. You can’t change yourself – you must die to self!

The Characteristics of the Ministers of Reconciliation:

  1. Their Resolve (v16):
    Paul has a strong resolve. What has changed? The way he sees both Christ and mankind:
    a) We must not look at people through the standards of man (flesh), as there is nothing good in mankind. Every imagination of the hearts of men is wicked all the time. We need to cease the way we think and behave (living by the flesh) and let the Lord live within us (living by the Holy Spirit). Mankind cannot become the righteousness of God without the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    b) Their regard of the Saviour has changed. They regard Christ not by the flesh, as there is something different! He is the Son of God – the Lord of glory.

  2. Their Regeneration by God (v17):
    There is a reason for the use of ‘therefore’ in verse 17. Sinners must cease being who and what they are and be remade in Jesus Christ (regeneration). The old must pass away and new must come in – through faith in Jesus (see Ezekiel 36v26).

  3. Their Reconciliation to God (v18-20):
    a) The Master of reconciliation
    This reconciliation is from God and not from man (see Matthew 5v5). The meekness of God is not for the weak but for people with power (which is tempered). This tempered power must be used in a redemptive way. Our Master is the God of grace and mercy, who calls on all who are heavy laden to come the foot of the cross.  
    b) The Mediator of reconciliation
    “who through Jesus Christ reconciled us.” God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. Jesus was then raised from the dead.   
    c) The Ministry of reconciliation
    Each one of us and the Apostles (Paul calls himself an ambassador) are responsible for preaching the Gospel.
    d) The Mercy of reconciliation
    That is in Christ, God was reconciling the lost to Him by not counting their trespassers against them. Jesus served as a propitiation for the sins of those whom He has called (see 2 Peter 3v9). Mercy is the sweetest attribute of God – it is what God does not do to us that we must consider (meditate on this).
    e) The Message of reconciliation
    It’s the heartbeat of the Gospel, that God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. After we become aware of the sins of those in Christ, we must forgive them as we have been forgiven.
    f) The Ministers of reconciliation
    As ambassadors, we preach the Gospel to the lost. Ambassadors are chosen and commissioned by God, protected by God and accountable to God.
    Thomas Manton says: “An ambassador should be grave (serious) – should have ‘gravitas’ (weightiness) – discreet.”  They should think before they act and be of sound judgement.

  4. The Righteousness of God (v 21)
    a) Our Great Adversity
    “For our sake” – because of Rom. 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
    Our great adversity is the wrath of God that, outside of Christ, abides on us.
    b) God’s Gracious Atonement
    “He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin…” – being in Christ, God doesn’t count our sin against us, because He piled them on Christ on the cross – one after the other – until He hung there and said “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Christ felt ‘your bad’ on the cross in the extreme! “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that brought us piece, and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53v5).
    “The blood of Christ is the balm of our souls” (John Bunyan).
    c) Our Glorious Acceptance:
    “… so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” – not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Philippians 3v9)
    All you need to do, is to believe in Christ.
    Faith has three aspects: knowledge about, assent to, and trust in Jesus Christ.
    FAITH: “Forsaking All, I Trust Him!”
    “Christ’s righteousness is the best righteousness, and Christ’s grace is the best grace.”
    – Thomas Watson.

Are we reconciled to God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ and do we glorify His Name?