Posted by: The Simple Guy | February 17, 2010

God Pleading with US?

Sunday I preached on 2 Cor 5:16-21, but for context I had to back up into last week’s text, so I actually started with verse 10.  Here is the text.

2 Corinthians 5:10-21 MKJV
(10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to that which he has done, whether good or bad.
(11)  Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. But we are revealed to God, and I trust also that we are revealed in your consciences.
(12)  For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but are giving you occasion to glory on our behalf, so that you may have it to answer those boasting in appearance, and not in heart.
(13)  For if we are out of our mind, it is to God; or if we are in our senses, it is for you.
(14)  For the love of Christ constrains us, judging this, that if one died for all, then all died;
(15)  and He died for all, that the living ones may live no more to themselves, but to Him who died for them and having been raised.
(16)  So as we now know no one according to flesh, but even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we no longer know Him so.
(17)  So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
(18)  And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
(19)  whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.
(20)  Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(21)  For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The speaker from last week covered verses 10 – 15.  So why did I have to go back over it?  Well, verse 16 starts with the little word “so”.  My ESV translation uses the word “therefore”  and of course, when the word “therefore” is used, one must always find out what it is “there for”  (corny phrase, I know, but a good rule to use when studying God’s word – helps to keep the first three rules of Bible study in mind – Context, context, and context)

Paul has been addressing some accusations that have been made about him by the church of Corinth.  Apparently, they thought he was a bit crazy, or out of his mind according to verse 13.  So what was it that made him appear to be out of touch?  Well, he had verse 10 in mind.  All of us must stand before the Judgment seat of God.  I have never seen this seat, and neither have you, or the Corinthians, or Paul for that matter.  But Paul firmly believed it was an absolute reality.  He lived with it in mind.  Not just for himself, but for those who he met and interacted with.  We will all answer for what we have done.  Be it good or evil.  By the way, the previous speaker brought out that this word “evil” could have also been translated “worthless.”

As I studied this text, there were 4 things that jumped out at me.

First, I noticed the exclusive and inclusive words in the text.  (all, none, no man, etc.)  If you will, scroll back up and read it again looking for these words.

The word All is mentioned in verse 10, as discussed above.

Then it shows up again in verse 14.  One died for all, so all died.  Who is the “One”?  Christ.  He died for whom?  ALL.  Ok, so what exactly does “all” mean here?  To quote a pastor I used to know, “All means all, and that’s all all means.”  So let’s look again at the context.  The same all in verse 10 is the all in verse 14.  Christ died for all who will stand before God.  We will look at this in more detail later.

“All” shows up again in verse 15.  Essentially what it says here is that the reason He died for all, (and they all died in Him) is so that they can live in Him.

All of this precedes verse 16’s “So” or “therefore”.

Now we switch to an “exclusive” phrase.  “no man” or “no one”  We see no one according to the flesh.  By the way, this is one word in the Greek, and it is the exact same word used here:

John 1:18 MKJV
(18)  No one has seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (emphasis mine)

Get the picture?  The same “no one” who has seen God, is the “no one” we can view according to the flesh.  That’s talking about this world.  We aren’t supposed to view anyone based on this world.  You know, who they are, what they have done or are doing, (even to us).  Why?  Because Jesus already died for that, and they died in Him.  (verse 14)  Sound radical?  Well it is, but that is what it says!  Let’s dig in a little deeper now.

First, we looked at inclusive and exclusive words.  The next thing that really jumped out at me was verb tenses.

Ok, notice in verse 14 that Jesus died (past tense) for all, and all died (past tense again) in Him.  So that they may live (present tense  moving into the future tense) in Him (verse 15)  Look at verses 14 and 15 again:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 MKJV
(14)  For the love of Christ constrains us, judging this, that if one died for all, then all died;
(15)  and He died for all, that the living ones may live no more to themselves, but to Him who died for them and having been raised.

See the change in verb tense here from past to present and into the future? Remember this, because it happens again later in the chapter as Paul explains in more detail what he was speaking of here.

As a side note here, repentance is when we change direction.  Notice the change of direction here in verse 15.  Those who live to themselves can now live to God.  Right there is the essence of the problem.  We live to ourselves and away from God.  If this is not corrected, if we do not turn and live to God, we will still be running away when the door slams shut behind us at the final judgment day.

That third thing is the idea of reconciliation.  But first lets’ look at verses 16 and 17 together.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 MKJV
(16)  So as we now know no one according to flesh, but even if we have known Christ according to flesh, yet now we no longer know Him so.
(17)  So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Ok, now remember how we aren’t supposed to look at anyone according to the flesh?  Why?  Because we don’ t look at Christ according to the flesh.  Who died in Christ?  All.  Christ raised.  All has become new.  This is another God – centered argument.  We are to look at everyone THROUGH Christ. Why?  Because that is how God sees them.   By the way, “old things” here is another word that is interesting.  This word is only used a few times in the Greek.  Jesus used it when He said repeatedly “you have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt. . . but I say. . .”  ‘Old time” in that context is the same word translated “old things” here.  (see the sermon on the mount Matt 5,6, and 7)

The “old things” that have passed away are specifically the condemnation that was in the law.

So the “old things” have passed away, and “all things have become new”  What are these “all things”

Look at verse 18:

2 Corinthians 5:18 MKJV
(18)  And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

All things are that God has reconciled us to Himself, and God has given us a ministry of reconciliation.  These “all things” are reconciliation. – instead of the condemnation that came from the Law.

Here is the 3rd thing that jumped out at me.  Reconciliation.  Let’s look at the rest of the text, and pay attention to the verb tenses here.

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 MKJV
(19)  whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us.
(20)  Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(21)  For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Ok, verse 19 says God was reconciling the world to Himself, in Christ.

Then it says He was putting the word of reconciliation in us. (past tense)

So now we beseech ( beg, plead, implore) you, “be reconciled to God.” (present tense).

Now let’s talk about reconciliation for a minute, then I will sum this up.  When you reconcile your checkbook, what are you really checking, the checkbook or the bank?  The checkbook.  We don’t reconcile the bank, we reconcile the check book to the bank statement.

I want you to notice something.  You will never find anywhere in scripture that speaks of God being reconciled to us.  We always need reconciled to Him.  God never changed.  We are the ones who were wrong.

So, to sum it up, this is what I see.  God made the books balance on the behalf of all mankind through the deposit Christ made on our behalf.  God made Christ, who had no debt of sin, to be the debtor on my behalf.  The wages of sin is death.  Jesus died.  Debt paid.  Done deal.

However, this deposit must be applied in order to pay the debt.  What does that mean?  Well, picture it like this.

If Congress decided in this downturn to pass a law that no one who lost their job should lose their house.  So they pass a law to this effect.  If you lose your job, take your pink slip, and your mortgage statement down to the bank.  Then write a check for the full amount that you owe on your house, and the government will cover the check.

So I lose my job.  But I don’t like the current administration.  So I refuse to write the check.  Well, the funds are available, but I will still lose my home.

I believe that this is essentially what the next chapter says.  The chapter opens by essentially saying, “Look, don’t receive this grace in vain, now is the time for salvation.  Today is the appointed day.  Don’t delay.”

So what am I saying?  Well, in simple terms, I think that the sin of the world has been paid for in full.  However, God is still God and will be honored.  The only sin that cannot be forgiven, is to reject the payment that was made on our behalf.  There is no other offer.  The deal is there, take it or leave it.  But it will not always be available.

But to top it all off, if you look closely at verse 20, you will find that it is God himself, Christ in particular, who beseeches the world through us.

So we looked at exclusive/inclusive words

We looked at verb tenses.

We looked at reconciliation.  What is the fourth thing?

The fourth thing that jumped out at me was the word “beseech”

The word translated beseech in verse 20, is the exact same word used repeatedly for “comfort” in chapter 1.  So the last half of chapter 5 is a more detailed explanation of what “the God of all Comfort” looks like in action.

Have you been reconciled to God?  Time is running out.

Craig

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Responses

  1. I wonder if Peter had similar thoughts as you when he wrote:

    “But, beloved, let not this one thing be hidden from you, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a rushing noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. And the earth and the works in it will be burned up.
    Then, all these things being about to be dissolved, what sort ought you to be in holy behavior and godliness,
    looking for and rushing the coming of the Day of God, on account of which the heavens, being on fire, will melt away, and the elements will melt, burning with heat?
    But according to His promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. ”

    2Peter 3:8-13

  2. Some really good, well thought out and well explained points there Craig. I really benefited from reading this.
    When you said ‘You will never find anywhere in scripture that speaks of God being reconciled to us. We always need reconciled to Him. God never changed. We are the ones who were wrong.’; it reminded me of John 3:16 somehow…breaking down the words into sections you def. see the initiative beginning with God, for all, requiring reconciliation from us.
    Love you guys!
    k.

  3. Craig,

    I would add that God indeed needed to be reconciled to us because of the fact of His wrath being against us. His just wrath aginst sinners and our enmity against Him were both satisfied by the substitutionary work of God in Christ.
    Second, I do believe that the “all” is not so much a declaration of universal atonement as it is a declaration of the benefits and identity of all of those whom the Father has given Christ.(these are the ones who died with Him). This would also apply to the passage in Peter’s epistle in which He addresses the elect and specifies that God is longsuffering to “usward”. It doesn’t really make sense otherwise, because, allowing time to go on longer is not going to get everyone saved, but, on the other hand, if there is a specific foreknown people who will be called throughout various times in history, it makes perfect sense to suffer time to continue until all of the sheep are brought into the fold.

  4. Tom,
    I must say I have struggled with aligning my Calvinist leaning theology with this text. But I seems pretty clear to me that all means all.
    But a key (in my opinion) to understanding this text is found in verse 14 where Paul says, “judging this”
    My understanding is that Paul had concluded that Christ died for all, and thus all died. He behaved based on this conclusion. He left the foreknowledge, election, predestination, free will argument up to God while he behaved as though it was for all.
    Having said that, There is an idea percolating in my head about how this works, but the thought is not totally formulated yet.
    Craig

  5. Craig,

    I think I see your point in relation to the merits of Christ’s death. I whole-heartedly agree with the belief in the infinite value of His atoning blood. I was only seeking to add the consideration of it’s actual purchase. That is, as you noted, that only believers will actually partake of this reconcilliation and also, what I added in my previous comment, that only believers are accounted as having died with Christ. The glorious thing that you articulated from this passage is the fact that God has indeed reconcilled Himself to us by the propitiatory work of His Son. God is not against us! Men must receive by faith the truth of this reconcilliation, but, that’s where the impossible part comes in for proud, fallen men, apart from God’s prevenient grace.
    Great truths Brother!


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