Peace – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

Peace

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (pg. 562)

INTRO

-Advent season: celebrating the reality of the incarnation (God took on flesh) So we rejoice, give thanks for that miracle, but we also acknowledge that while we can celebrate, things aren’t as they should be, so we wait with eager anticipation.

-One scholar compared this idea to the difference between D-Day and V-Day in WW2. 

-One way we celebrate is by lighting candles to remember that Jesus came as the light of the world. Each week leading up to Christmas we’ll by studying a different theme of what Jesus came to offer us. This week is peace, next is joy, then love, then hope, and finally on Christmas Eve we’ll be looking at Jesus as the embodiment of all of these characteristics. 

-Peace is a theme prevalent in the story of Jesus’ birth. 

-Zechariah’s prophecy ends with “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

-When the angels appear to the shepherds to announce Jesus’ birth, they proclaim “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

-When Simeon, who had been waiting for this baby sees Jesus he exclaims: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,”

-Doesn’t that seem idealistic though? An article written in 1988 “since the Second World War the globe has only been without a war for…26 days in September 1945.” 

-How do we go about pursuing peace?

READ/PRAY

  1. Persuade (11-17)

-Once again dropping into the middle of a text (there’s a reason I prefer walking exegetically through a book!)

-Written by Paul, 4th letter written by him to the Corinthian church. Meant to continue encouraging them to remain faithful in their calling. First couple chapters are dealing with Paul’s call to ministry, his concern for the church, then he talks about the reality of this new life we have in Christ in chpts 34-5talk about the future realities we will have in Christ, then we need to read vs. 9-10 to understand the “therefore” in vs. 11.

-Our goal in this life and the next is to please God. Everything else should pale in comparison to that goal, that aim in life. Why do we live that way? Because someday we’ll all stand before Christ’s judgment seat. If that fills you with fear, good! That’s exactly why Paul is saying this. He’s building his argument as he’s walking through his argument here, that’s why the first word we heard in today’s text is “therefore.”

  1.  As Ourselves (11-13)

-Knowing what? The fear of the Lord. Don’t you find that a slightly odd place to start, especially as we think about today’s focus: peace! How does fear relate to peace?

-One commentator said “whatever it is that one fears the most that is what one will serve the most.”

-Some people will prefer to translate this as “reverential awe” or “respect” and that’s true, but we give him respect out of fear of what COULD happen.

-A couple illustrations that might help: my son is 4. He knows I love him, care for him, provide for him, but if he starts being disrespectful toward especially his mother, then sees me getting up to interject, he gets a little fear in his eyes! He knows he hasn’t been acting in according with daddy’s rules (even when he says it’s “not kind”)

-I think most people in the room drive, or will someday drive (way to go Fritz!). If you’ve ever been pulled over while driving, don’t you get fearful? I’ve only been pulled over a handful of times, but each time I have my heart rate increased, my palms start sweating, I triple check my speed, start thinking about whether I registered my car this year, look around to see if there’s someone else that they’re following instead of me. There’s a definite level of fear/respect there!

-We also need to remember that, as Prov. 7:1 says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” If you want wisdom, the 1st step is fearing God.

-After that first step of fearing the Lord, we then move outward to “persuade others.”

-I’ve titled this first section “as ourselves.” We often conflate this point to either persuade through our own gifts, persuasions, or abilities, or we try to be a duplicate of someone else.

-One time attending a preaching seminar titled “preaching not ourselves, but preaching AS ourselves.” Or as Paul put it earlier in 2 Cor. 4:5 “what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” All of us are uniquely wired and gifted. No 2 people have the exact same measure of gifts, and that’s exactly why God has given us each other. We are commanded to persuade others here, but it doesn’t give us a specific method (other than pointing everything to Christ). 

-This is a 2 step process for all of us: 1- fear the Lord, 2- use whatever gifts you have to persuade others to join with you in fearing the Lord

-But I also think there may be a sense in which we’ve lost the art of persuasion in our evangelism. I struggle with this! For the sake of not offending I soft-shoe my conversations instead of trying to “persuade” others. As we’ll see in this text, God gives us the blueprints for lasting peace, why don’t we try to persuade others about this reality?

-In the midst of this persuasion (making our aim to please the Lord), we remember that whatever else happens, we are “known to God.” 

-Another translation says this is “well known” or “clearly evident,” to God. In our persuasion, we may me mocked, ridiculed, belittled, but is we could look at things through God’s eyes instead of ours, we’d be just fine! This reality gives Paul, and us, confidence for the rest of this section: 

12

-We don’t preach ourselves, we’re not the point of the story! 

-Others worry about external appearances, but God worries about our internal motivation. It’s not enough to put on a façade of holiness, God even worries about what happens in your heart and mind!

13
-Paul does all this for their sake, to encourage and support them and not worry about what others say

-Since we’ve seen that God cares about your internal motivation and desires, that’s what Paul talks about next, our persuasion must be:

  •  Through the Love of Christ (14- 17)

-We’ve seen our aim is to please God, here we see that the driving force behind that is the love of Christ. Think of it as pleasing God is the finish line, the fear of God is the starting line, and the fuel that gets us there is the love of Christ.

-This word “controls” is a fascinating word in Greek, includes “seized, surrounded, occupied, hemmed in” Is used when Jesus is held in custody by soldiers in Luke 22:63. The point is that once we are in Christ, we have no option but to operate out of His love for others. The primary force that drives everything else in the life of the Christian is Christ’s love. 

-Now, we often miss the implications of that because today love is often used as a synonym with acceptance. People will say if you love me you must accept/endorse everything I want. We’ll take a look at that belief in a couple weeks (spoiler alert, that’s not the best definition of love!). Why is it that Christ’s love is what controls/compels us and hems us in?

-Because we have concluded this reality: 1 died for all, so all have died.

-This idea can be difficult for us to wrap our minds around, in addition to love being acceptance of who I am, the idea of 1 person serving as a representative goes against the second Western ideal of individualism. This is known as corporate solidarity: “the one stands for the many and the many are represented by the one.” (ESV Exegetical Commentary) Just as we saw in Genesis that Adam’s sin cast the cosmos into sin, so in Jesus his 1 perfect life redeems the entire cosmos. We’ll see the implications of that in the next section.

15

-Paul doubles down on this idea, Jesus died for all SO THAT those who are now alive in Him will no longer live for themselves, but for Christ.

-Christ’s love controls us, everything we do is meant to bring honor to God, so we need to die to our own desires, preferences, and ideals so that Christ can be seen in us.

-What does this mean for us in the church? It means we look to honor others even better than we honor ourselves. It means we come to Sunday morning looking to see how we can serve our brothers and sisters instead of coming to get our felt needs met. It means we look for opportunities to humble ourselves and sacrifice for each other. 

-I was thinking this past week about how Jesus describes the righteous vs. the unrighteous as those: fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, and clothed the naked. That’s how we live for Christ!

-This verse is a beautiful, succinct summary of the gospel message! Christ died for all, so that we could now live in Him.

-But if Jesus had just died it wouldn’t change anything. Many people have died. Actually, everyone who ever lived has died (with the rare exception of Enoch and Elisha), and if you haven’t died yet, don’t worry, it’s coming! I don’t say that to be morbid, but I do say that as a reminder that this life isn’t all we have. And that’s only true because of the last 2 words: was raised.

-It almost feels like just a throwaway phrase, doesn’t it? All this big build up to: and was raised. Because if Jesus wasn’t raised, then we have no reason for living, no reason for hope, no reason to celebrate this or any other Christmas.

-Because Jesus was raised, we no longer treat people as mere humans. 

-C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.”

-All this is building to the fact that: anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. This is the theme we saw in Genesis: the first thing we learn about God is that He is the Creator, but he hasn’t stopped creating. Each time someone is saved they are re-born, re-created, brought to true life. This is what Pastor Jeramy talked about last week from John 3: you must be born a second time!

-And now that this new creation has broken through into the old, we have a new ministry.

-Have you ever thought of Jesus as the only perfect picture of this new creation? We have all these hopes/ideas for what heaven will be like, but we don’t to wonder because Jesus already showed us! Might mean heaven is a lot more like this world than we would care to admit!

  • Preach Reconciliation (18-21)
    •  From God (18-19)

-This shows us the wide-reaching implications of our salvation.

-Dane Ortlund: “Whereas for justification the sphere is the courtroom, for sanctification the temple, for redemption the slave market, and for adoption the family, the sphere of reconciliation is that of friendship.”

-Have you ever realized that part of the reason Jesus came was to befriend us? Now I want to be careful because this can lead to an overly casual approach to Jesus, but just as the Father welcomes us in, so Jesus makes us friends. This is what he says in John 15. This friendship with Jesus then pours out into our friendships with others.

-Let’s look at how we do this. “All this” all the realities we’ve seen in the previous verse, the new life, new creation, Christ’s love, it’s from God.

-As we saw in Genesis the perfect relationship between humanity and God was severed because of sin. God’s desire is to restore every aspect of the broken relationship, so God sent his one and only son to bring about reconciliation. 

-Notice that it’s “through” Christ. It is literally through his broken body, but it’s also only through faith in Him that reconciliation happens. It’s only through faith in Him that He will now call us friends!

-Once we’re reconciled to God, we’re given a ministry to carry out: the ministry of reconciliation. 

-This is what Christ’s love compels us to, horizonal reconciliation. Do you see how both components of reconciliation are found here? Vertical AND horizontal. And you don’t get horizonal reconciliation between people apart from vertical reconciliation with God. What does this ministry look like?

19

-In Christ God is actively reconciling the entire world to Himself. 

-Our scope of ministry is literally the entire world! There is no sphere, no domain, no relationship that’s beyond the reach of God’s reconciliation! 

-We have no reason to view any person who is created in the image of God as too far beyond the reach of reconciliation. The gospel that we believe in, that has brought us into this new life means there is ALWAYS reason to hope that God is working in someone’s life, and you might be the person who brings about the message of reconciliation to that person.

-Isn’t that amazing that God uses ordinary people like us?

-As if to double down on the reality of our reconciliatory ministry, Paul says God has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. 

-That word translated “message” is the same word we looked at 2 weeks ago: logos, word. Once again, just as the gospel can’t be communicated apart from words, so reconciliation cannot be communicated without using words. 

-We are called through Scripture to go out into the entire world and speak/preach the words of reconciliation. Each and every opportunity we have in the world to push this message we should celebrate!

-Our city/state have over the past 18 months been rocked by calls for justice and reconciliation, and when we hear people talking that way, we should be on the forefront in joining them in pleading and praying for reconciliation. But we need to remember the answers the world gives will only be 1 sided, they’ll neglect the vertical dimensions to this reconciliation and try to only deal with the horizontal dimensions. God has called us as the church to both demonstrate and PREACH for reconciliation that comes only through Him, and only then can we have a prayer of having true and lasting reconciliation.

-Paul’s final point in this section is that reconciliation is meant to come:

  •  Through Us (20-21)

-“Therefore” this message of reconciliation finds its’ summation in the reality that:

-we are ambassadors

-Do you know how ambassadors work? Same today as in the 1st century. Ambassadors are sent to another country to represent and act on behalf of their home country.

-Just as Jesus was sent here as an ambassador from another world, now God sends us out into the world as ambassadors, representing Him, speaking for Him. This is why Jesus says “this world is not our home.” We’re not first and foremost Americans, we are citizens of heaven. Our primary home, our primary allegiance, our primary focus is our homeland. We’re only here to serve as ambassadors of that other country.

-Continuing that theme, Paul tells us what our ambassadorial message is: God is appealing through us. Another way we could translate that phrase is “as though God were begging through us.”

-Similarly, we “beg you” be reconciled to God! When’s the last time you begged someone to be reconciled to God?

-There’s some pretty weighty words of exhortation in here for us: persuade, implore, appeal. All for the ultimate goal of being reconciled to God.

-Just as reconciliation is through Christ’s death, so our ambassadorial role is THROUGH us, which means each and every day we need to die.

-Paul ends this section in a very appropriate place: repeating the gospel message. 

-This verse is saying God quite literally equated Jesus to sin when He died for us on the cross. That’s where we can sing “the Father turned His face away” because God can have nothing to do with sin. 

-Martin Luther called this the “great exchange,” our unmeasurable debt traded for innumerable riches in Christ!

-Vs. 21 MSG – “How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

-The only hope we have for true and lasting peace is for us to get serious about begging others to be reconciled to God. Until that disordered relationship is put back in place, the world will continue living in a Gen. 3 falling world.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: