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Faith Bible NEXT 2022: Take Grace

Faith Bible Next: Take Grace
Jamey Bryant

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 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. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.—2 Corinthians 5:11–6:1 (ESV)

Today we continue our discussion about our Faith Bible Church mission statement: We build generations of Jesus followers who take grace to our world. We have discussed Building Generations and Following Jesus for the past two weeks. Today we learn about Taking Grace to Our World.

Our text today is from Paul’s second recorded letter to the believers in Corinth – a church in the middle of a large city known for its sinfulness. When Paul instructed them to extend the love and grace of God to their world, many of them must have thought – to those people?” In many ways, they were doing their best to separate themselves from sinful people, so why would Paul now tell them to embrace them?

Why would they do such a thing, and why should we?

The answer is simple yet profound. Jesus’ mission was to reach sinners with the gospel – the good news of reconciliation, and we are now His ambassadors.

A royal ambassador carried the great authority and responsibility of representing the Roman emperor to the people under his domain. Many Corinthian readers were slaves or impoverished, so thinking of themselves as royal ambassadors must have been a stretch.

WATCH> This clip from today’s message:
ASK> Sometimes, it’s hard to share the gospel with others. What do you think motivated the person who shared it with you? Tell the story of how you came to know Jesus.

ASK> What was Paul’s motivation?

READ> 2 Corinthians 5:11

ASK> Does 2 Corinthians 5:11 mean Paul was afraid of God? Should we be?

READ> Deuteronomy 10:12 and Proverbs 1:7

The “fear of the Lord” is a way of speaking about a person’s profound reverence for God, a reverence that should lead to loving Him and our neighbors with all of ourselves.

READ> Ephesians 5:21, then read 2 Corinthians 5:15.

ASK> In specific ways, how might a person’s life change when living according to Paul’s description in 2 Corinthians 5:15?

ASK> What does it mean in 2 Corinthians 5:16 do not regard others “according to the flesh”?

Our transformation in Christ causes us to see others beyond their behavior or circumstances. We lose our this-world-only outlook, and we start to see them as people loved by God but separated from Him by their sin.

ASK> What does it mean to be a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

ASK> If you went into each new day with the phrase ‘I am an ambassador of the king,’ how would it affect how you enter your workplace, classroom, or neighborhood?”

READ> Isaiah 6:1-8

This is an example of God reconciling someone by confronting that person with God’s awesome character (the “fear” of the Lord), The person’s sin (the need for reconciliation), God’s solution (forgiveness), God’s inquiry (who will go?) and The person’s willingness to serve as God’s ambassador (“Here am I; send me”)

Note the progression: worship and awe at the holiness of God, a sense of lostness, an experience of being reconciled, and a calling to go out as God’s ambassador.

DIG DEEPER

ASK> Is God reconciled to man, or is man reconciled to God? Does it matter which is true? Why?

READ> 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 and Ephesians 2:14–18

ASK> How do our reconciliation to God and our transformation in Christ relate to our ministry to the world?

The term Paul used for “ambassador” in 2 Corinthians 5:20, and Ephesians 6:20 was πρεσβευτής, the proper terms for the Emperor’s Legate. He was to be persona grata with both countries (the one he represents and the one he goes to). He was instructed to translate the Emperor’s message into culturally sensitive forms without allowing the content of the message to be modified by the culture.

ASK> If God “makes his appeal” for reconciliation with others through us (2 Corinthians 5:20), what responsibility do we have for their conversion? How far should we go to persuade them? Give some examples of how we should reach beyond our comfort zone to speak into today’s culture with the message of Christ.


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