The primary task and the primary distinguishing mark of the disciple of Jesus Christ is the proclamation of the Lord Jesus and of His salvation to the entire world. As followers of Jesus, we are to manifest His saving power by living holy lives and, from that essential foundation, we are to “tell of His glory among the nations” (Psalm 96:3) so that men and women everywhere will worship Him both now and for all of eternity.
The purpose of this series of articles/studies is to examine the various pictures of proclamation presented to us in the Bible and develop those into practical ways to proclaim Christ to a world that is blind to His glory, deaf to His voice and indifferent to the work that He has accomplished by His death on Calvary’s cross. I hope that these articles will equip disciples of Jesus to think through how they can become bolder proclaimers of the Lord.
So far, we have talked about two pictures of proclamation, each of which emphasizes a different aspect of the herald’s task. We have talked about the sower from Matthew 13 (6/22/2018), which emphasizes intentionally scattering many seeds of the gospel and of Jesus Christ in the hopes that some of these widely broadcast seeds will find fertile soil for faith. And we have talked about the Watchman of Ezekiel 33 (11/18/2018) whose distinguishing mark was issuing a clarion warning about the coming judgment and urging people to flee from the wrath of God’s judgment.
Part 3 – The Ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ (on behalf of Christ, Greek ‘huper Xristou’), as though God were entreating through us. We beg (you) on behalf of Christ (‘huper Xristou’): Be reconciled to God!”
The apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB
Paul says that ‘we’ are ambassadors for Christ. This is a declarative and unambiguous statement of fact: “We are ambassadors for Christ.” But a key question is, “Who is the ‘we’?” From the context of this section of this letter, it is clear that the “we” here refers to all Christians. Part of the responsibility of salvation is the obligation for all believers to be involved in the ministry of reconciliation (5:18) using the word of reconciliation (19) to be ambassadors for Christ (20). Brothers and sisters, you and I are the ambassadors of Christ.
Since, then, you and I are ambassadors for Christ, it is incumbent upon us to understand and carry out the tasks and responsibilities that have been assigned to us as our Lord’s ambassadors.
So, what are some features of being an ambassador?
Like any ambassador, the believer is a citizen of one kingdom sent out personally by his King to live in another kingdom and to represent the interests of the King and of his kingdom and to do the King’s bidding in that foreign land. This is a general task of all ambassadors.
Also, while the ambassador may be sent out to further the king’s commercial or economic or financial interests in the foreign land, it is also common for the ambassador to be sent out to proclaim the power of the king he represents and to offer the other kingdom terms of peace. In this sense, the ambassador for Christ is similar to any ambassador, because our primary message is to proclaim our King’s offer of peace.
What distinguishes “the ambassador on behalf of Christ” from any other earthly ambassador? First, we represent Christ. We are ambassadors ON BEHALF OF CHRIST. This means that we are sent out by Christ to make those who are ignorant aware of our great King and of His power and of what He has accomplished on the cross. In that task, we must emphasize that our holy God is offering sinful men and women terms of peace. “You can be reconciled to our great God if you will bow before Him and repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” So, we are ambassadors sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ. The King we represent is greater than any other king.
Second, we “beg on behalf of Christ (5:20).” Unlike other ambassadors who advance their mission through sophisticated diplomacy or social networking, the verb that describes our work as ambassadors is “beg.” We beg people to be reconciled to God. We know that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (5:10). We know that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 12:29). We know the fear of the Lord and, therefore, we persuade men (5:11) and women to run to Christ for safety. We beg men and women to abandon their illusions of goodness and to realize their dangerous position before a holy God and we beg them to accept the only terms of peace that God offers: “Fly to Christ for safety and refuge and reconciliation.” We are beggars for Christ, ambassadors sent out to beg people to be saved from the wrath to come. We are not too proud to beg because our King may decide at any moment to return and judge the world. Therefore, we beg with urgency, pleading with people to not perish, but to come to repentance. O, be reconciled, we beg you!
And so, we beg everyone and anyone, at all times and on every occasion. We beg all people to be reconciled to God as our way of life, as our occupation, because that is what ambassadors of Christ do. Christ is now in heaven, and He has given us the assignment to be His ambassadors and to beg people to be reconciled to God on His behalf. We have a stewardship (1 Cor. 9:17) as His ambassadors to fill the role that Christ has left for us to do. If we do not beg people to be reconciled to God, who will? We have been given the sobering privilege to be ambassadors on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ to beg people to be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus’ cross.
And what is the means of reconciliation that we offer perishing men and women? How can sinners be reconciled to a holy God, a God who will justly punish all sin? How can sinners escape the wrath of the Lord God and not be consumed in the judgment? As ambassadors for Christ, we not only warn of the need for reconciliation, but we also proclaim the means. The gospel is the means, which declares that all believers have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son and we will be saved from the wrath of God through Christ (Romans 5:9-10).
Paul then concludes this section on reconciliation with a one-verse summary of the gospel: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
So, we see that Christ has called us to be His ambassadors and has given us the ministry of reconciliation to proclaim peace to all of His enemies who will bow the knee to Him.
SDG rmb 1/5/2019