Scripture references come from the HCSB translation unless noted.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
What About Now?
Bugs Bunny asked Elmer Fudd, “What’s up, Doc?” And to his chagrin, Elmer could never really give a concise answer. Most people who reference themselves as being ‘Christian’ most likely cannot explain what it means to be ‘saved’ or to be ‘born-again’ because they do not know. Their answer might be something akin to this, “Jesus has forgiven my sin and I am going to Heaven?” But, are they able to explain “But, what about now?”
What does it mean to be saved, to be born-again? There is much, much more to the word than most people even imagine. In fact, these ‘most’ people most likely have the idea that nothing has changed except their former sins have been forgive. However, there is concept of what happens next. Sadly, these ‘most’ people only want to know that their former sins have been forgiven and have no thought of what should happen next.
Paul gives us a hint, “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.” verse 16. In order shed some light on what the Apostle is explaining let us begin with the last phrase in these verses, “He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Reconciliation, What is This?
According to Webster’s Dictionary the word ‘reconcile’ simple means: “to restore to harmony,” which indicates a previous state of brokenness. In God’s Word the correct idea is sin, an act or way of life which is not in harmony with God’s righteousness and this is the reason, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:9-14. Jesus came to repair that which was broken, meaning the relationship between man and God. Man broke it and only God is able to repair the wound.
From the moment Eve entertained the temptation from the serpent in the Garden, the serpent being Satan, and she said to herself, “Surely God did not really mean that I would literally die if I take a bite from this fruit.” The moment she tasted, spiritual death was introduced into her life. She shared this shame with Adam and the now we experience ‘the rest of the story.’ Because Eve relented every person, including Adam, has been infected with the desire to do that which is displeasing toward God. And, we do. You and I do accept Satan’s temptation and break the sacred relationship we have with God and we must seek to be reconciled each time. We can do nothing, but only by His relentless grace of forgiveness are we able to know what it means to be restored to His righteousness, to be reconciled.
This is why Jesus was crucified. But we must not forget that after 3 days He was resurrected and then returned to Heaven.
For this reason Paul writes, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24.
However, simply because someone, perhaps you, has been ‘born-again’ does not mean there is nothing more to be done. Yes the rift for which one confesses Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord has been repaired, more sin will occur and there will continue to be brokenness unless efforts are made to not allow those things to take place. We will sin, but we do not have to sin. There are choices to be made and steps to be taken. Reconciliation continues.
There is work to be done. Again the Apostle writes words of wisdom for every Believer, “”Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” 1 Corinthians 2”9-13. As God repaired the rift He prepared and gave to us spiritual gifts through His wisdom which empower Believers to become that which we could not apart from Him.
Because We Are ‘In Christ’
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” verse 17. We have been reconciled to Him and the way we were is no longer. Those who have been born-again are new creations in Christ Jesus. We are made new because of His grace in order to perform good works, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.
The difficulty that most people who claim to be ‘Christian’ face is the continuing reality of the dark world in which everyone lives. Our world is for the most part under the dominion of Satan and his minions which we face daily. But to do so without knowing how to confront difficult temptations cannot bring the joy, peace and fulfillment in life that Jesus has promised. “So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:7-10. The Thief is present, but in order to defeat him and experience the abundant life Jesus has promised we must learn to grow in His grace. And we are enabled because we are ‘in Christ.’ Sadly, most people do not know this and fail miserably every day. Their failure may indicate that they have never been ‘born-again.’
People who claim to be ‘Christian,’ but live in sin and apart from God do so because of their disobedience to the instruction of the Word of God, and are therefore miserable creatures. But for those who are actively pursuing the righteousness of God through the reading and studying the Word of God become righteous because of faith realized. Look at what Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10. Because we belong to Him, He makes provision for our spiritual growth in order that the ministry of reconciliation which has been given us can be realized.
Jesus is Lord.