Series on II Corinthians, I Paul's Dedication to Ministry E Supportive, 2 Seeking the Sinner, Text:5:11-21, Title: Compelled by Love.

Introduction

We have seen that Paul gives two motives for service in this chapter.  The first is found in verse 11, Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. Why did Paul teach and preach?  Why should we?  We have already learned that there will be a judgment and that we will have to answer for the way we have used our time, talents and treasure. This is the nature of God’s love. We are accepted in the beloved one, Christ, therefore God is our father and we must give account of our obedience. This is a good motive, but in today’s text we see another motive that stands alongside of the first and complements it. V.14, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. We must understand that the expression, “the love of Christ” means that we do not respond to other people on the basis of their love for us. Many spouses, co-workers, and neighbors have said on  occasion, that a particular person is unlovely.  I heartily sympathize and realize that all people are not lovable. But you are called to love people for a different reason: because Christ loves you.  The love of Christ compels us to two things. we are demented for God and devoted to men.

I Demented for God.

Paul says in verses 12 and 13, We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.  If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. Paul had been accused of being stark-raving mad. Preaching the gospel to the Roman governor Festus he was told, You are out of your mind Paul, your great learning is driving you insane. Apparently the opinion was widespread. Paul had written to the Corinthians in I Corinthians 3:18, Do not deceive yourselves if any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age he should become a fool,that he may become wise. Here is a man who has given up his background, his reputation, worldly success, and who lives in jeopardy every hour. He not only has next to nothing, he is about to lose what little he has including his life and he remained fanatical about preaching the good news. The standards of this age mean nothing to him. This is quite intolerable to most men for whom religion has to be kept in its own neat little compartment and not interfere with their goals of comfort and success. Not only was Paul a fool for Christ's sake, he was proud of it. In II Corinthians 11:16,21 Let no one take me for a fool. but if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool...what anyone else dares to boast about, I am speaking as a fool, I also dare to boast about. Why was he a fool for Christ's sake? Verses 14 and 15 explain, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. Paul’s logic is not difficult.  He is saying that all those for whom Christ died, were condemned. When Jesus died for them he took their condemnation. The upshot of this is that we are dealing with life and death issues. Recently in Dade City, a mobile home caught on fire. The father got his wife out and then went back in twice to rescue the children and succeeded. He was severely injured by the smoke and fire. The final article showed the children with the caption, their hero. Was he a fool??

II  Devoted to Men

But in contrast to this holy madness, Paul says if we are in our right mind it is for you. In other words our gospel makes good sense. We are really not mad though it might seem that way to the world.  We are sober.  And he proceeds to give a sober appraisal of his preaching. He gives us a sober appraisal of mankind, of his mission and of his message.

A Mankind v.16,17

Paul may be a fool for Christ's sake but he is very sober when it comes to his estimate of men.  He says in verse 16, So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Since Christ has risen from the dead we no longer regard him as we once did, that is, as limited by the flesh, by earthly existence. Now he is the Lord in heaven at the right hand of the Father to whom all power belongs.  Now he is the one who sends forth his Spirit to finish his work. This has changed the way we look at men.  No one is regarded from a worldly point of view any longer, meaning no one is viewed merely from outward appearance, or by the standards of this present evil age.  We do not see people's race, or social status, or wealth, or education, degrees or titles.  We are like Jesus who was told that his mother and brothers were waiting to see him and he replied, who are my mother and brothers, those that do the will of God. The effect of this way of looking at people is that we see every man as potentially salvable, as someone to whom we must teach the gospel, and who may believe. We hold this conviction because God is able to make men over, to regenerate them, to raise them from the dead. Verse 17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Love constrains us because we see men differently. Our friend Gene Fackler in PA works for the Associates for Biblical Research, but he also has a prison ministry. I am constantly amazed at the letters that converted prisoners write to their family, friends and those whom they have offended. They’re more articulate than what most of us would write.  God makes a difference in people, and that is why we as Christians, see men differently.

B Mission

According to verses 18 and 19 we also see our mission differently. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are not simply preachers and teachers of religion. We do not merely propagate a set of rules for life, or spread a particular form of worship. We have a mission of reconciliation. The gospel is the message that God, who made all things in the beginning, is remaking all things in Christ.  And, he is inviting men to be part of His new world. This is a ministry of reconciliation because God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The primary issue in reconciliation is not our being offended with God.  We are of course. People blame God for all sorts of things. They blame him for those that are lost; they blame him for natural disasters and sickness and death; they blame him for allowing the world to be the way it is.  And some of us have blamed God from time to time for various things.  But the key issue here is not how we feel about God, but how he feels about us. The fact is that God is offended by our sin. The first step in reconciliation is for God to provide a way for his anger to be removed. This he did in the person of Christ and his atoning sacrificial death on the cross in our place. This is the reconciliation that makes possible the change in us. We love him because he first loved us. Our mission is to teach in word and deed this gospel of grace.

C Message

We see our mission differently because we see the message.  Paul referred to the message of reconciliation in verse 19, and he defines it in verses 20,21, We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. We are to be reconciled to God because of what Christ did. He died in our place, and this is the heart of the gospel. He was sinless, but on the cross our sins were transferred to Him. He was righteous and when we believe, His righteousness is transferred to us. We are just as righteous now in Christ as he was crushed by our sin on the cross.  Since our message is full free salvation, Paul says we must soberly proclaim it to the world.  We are motivated by love because it gives us a new view of men, of our message and of our mission.