The Ministry of Reconciliation
“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.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV
The promise of the above scriptural reference is fairly simple. Through the miraculous, supernatural process of the “new birth” Christ takes the old and makes a new life. As a result of that transformation, we are new creatures, ambassadors of heaven, whose sin has been forgiven to show both the creatures of the heavenlies and earthbound humanity the glory of God.
Just what are the evidences of the “New Life”? The Bible is just full of scriptural evidences of the “New Life” in the body and soul of the believer. Take a few moments with me and review these evidences. Consider these words in terms of a “Spiritual Checkup.” How do you “check out” with these proofs of the “New Life in Christ”? The following listing is not exhaustive – but certainly can be educational!
1. Does your sin bother you? How bad does your sin bother you?
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. – Mark 9:42-43 ESV
To the believer, sin is a very serious issue, not to be taken lightly. I like what a brother said the other day to me, “If a person claims to be a Christian and is in a sinful lifestyle and they shrug or laugh it off, are they really a Christian?”
2. Have you repented of your sins (turned from) or made an effort to change through God’s help?
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus – Acts 3:19-20 ESV
Has there been a point where you sought for repentance and forgiveness from the Lord for your sins, willing to change from the path of sin to peace with God?
3. Do you obey God?
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 1 John 2:3 ESV
If you claim an experience with God, you will want to serve Him and obey Him – putting your wants and desires as second priority, and following Him as first priority.
4. Have you matured in your salvation?
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV
Those who are God’s children desire to grow up and mature – if indeed they are God’s children.
5. Are you doing God’s will?
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21 ESV
You can call Him “Lord” all you want – but those who do the will of God are His true children.
6. Can you share your story of how you came to know Christ personally? When’s the last time you shared that story?
…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect – 1 Peter 3:15 ESV
Do you have a story that shares how Christ has changed you life with another? If you do not have a story, of if you ever shared it, what good does that do you?
7. Are you more attached to things of the world or the things of God?
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. – 1 John 2:15 ESV
The world is filled of enticements and obstacles that get in the way of living the redemptive lifestyle. If God lives in you, then it is possible. If not….
8. Have you conformed to what the world wants you to be or are you desiring to follow God’s plan for your life?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
Those who know Jesus desire to be renewed and tested to find and know the will of God for their lives.
9. Have you denied yourself or are you more concerned to gain what the world has to offer?
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” – Luke 9:23-25 ESV
Those whose are Christ’s ultimately will be willing to forfeit, even their own lives and “happiness” to follow Him.
10. Are you active in church or a small group of believers?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:25-25 ESV
Those who are Christians desire and actively seek a fellowship and relationship with other believers of like mind.
11. Do you have a genuine love for others, even those that have mistreated you?
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:31-36 ESV
This is a tough one huh? Well, God;s helps his children do these things. How are you doing so far?
12. Is your sinful lifestyle out of control?
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:11-14 ESV
Those whose are Christ submit themselves, their very bodies, to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. An out of control believer will not for long be allowed to continue unabated in a sinful lifestyle – or it can be a legitimate question if they truly are a child of God.
HOW DID YOU DO?
This small list are a number of sure evidences – a guideline to determine a person’s spiritual bona fides. Remember – the fulfillment of this list should not be considered a way in which a Christian obtains life. This list should merely be considered as a guide to how a believer has matured in following the lifestyle of following Christ – a lifestyle that would not be possible without the indwelling Spirit of Christ in the first place. The Holy Spirit will help us in our feeble efforts to live the Christian life, to pray, to study God’s Word, and to apply Scriptural truths in our lives.
At the same time, I must tell you – no matter where you are, no matter what you have done to stray away from Christ, it is not to late. If you have never truly made Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life, it is as simple as saying “Yes” to Him, and then following Him daily:
…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. – Romans 10:9-10 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 ESV