Sermon: Reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5.18–20

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Would you like to be friends with God again?

Second Corinthians 5.18–20

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • May 21, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. Did you and a friend part ways? 
    1. It hurt.
    2. You missed the fellowship.
      1. Perhaps not at first.
      2. Later you remembered the good times.
  2. Have you and God parted ways? 
    1. Are you hurting?
    2. Do you miss the fellowship?
      1. Everyone who sins parts ways with God.
      2. Yet, He is still where He was before.
        1. Nothing has changed with Him.
        2. We isolated ourselves from Him,
          1. creating our own little dungeons.
          2. What joy is there in that?
  3. God misses you. 
    1. He will do
      1. and has already done,
      2. whatever it takes,
        1. provided that it is right,
        2. to be reconciled with you.
    2. What will you do?
    3. Listen to our text.


  1. Second Corinthians 5.18–20 | Be Reconciled to God

    18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2Co 5.18–20).

    1. Through Christ God did something wonderful
      1. to bring us back to Him.
      2. The life, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ
        1. opened the path of reconciliation to God.
        2. Look carefully at the middle of verse 19
          1. to see how God in Christ
          2. reconciled the world to Himself.
        3. He did not impute our trespasses to us!
          1. God will not hold our sins against us,
          2. if we agree
            1. to return to Him and
            2. live as He instructs.
    2. Who can bring two friends together again?
      1. It helps if he can relate to both parties.
      2. Yet, he cannot be biased toward one party.
      3. He must know the facts that led to the separation.
      4. Both parties must accept the mediator or the work will fail.
  2. Two Old Friends Need Reconciliation: God and Man 
    1. If you have not been reconciled to God, would you like to be?
    2. In this dispute God is both
      1. the greater party and
      2. the innocent party.
        1. Therefore, He can set the terms of reconciliation.
        2. He does not need to be reconciled to us, but
          1. we need it toward Him and
          2. He wants it with us.
  3. Isaiah 59 Reveals the Problem 
    1. is not, and then
    2. what the problem is,

      1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened,
      That it cannot save;
      Nor His ear heavy,
      That it cannot hear.
      (Isa 59.1)

        1. The Lord had not saved them, and
        2. He had not heard their prayers.
          1. Why?
          2. Was there something wrong with God?
            1. Was He deficient?
            2. He is the God who promises always to be there.
        3. Why then would He not save them, and
          1. why did He ignore their prayers?
          2. When many people encounter problems in life,
            1. They blame God or
            2. question why He will not do something about it,
              1. either way indicating that He is the problem.
              2. Isaiah sets the record straight.
    3. Our Creator shows the problem,

      2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
      And your sins have hidden His face from you,
      So that He will not hear.
      (Isa 59.2)

      1. God is perfect and
        1. He is perfectly holy.
        2. He has not done anything to injure the friendship.
      2. The problem is on our part.
        1. We decided that we wanted to do some other things and
        2. whether we knew it or not,
          1. many of those things are highly offensive to our Creator.
          2. Sinful behavior drives us away from Him, because
            1. He is holy and
            2. cannot associate with sin.
      3. By our sin,
        1. we drove a wedge between ourselves and God;
        2. like going to another country,
          1. believing that we had found a better way and
          2. when we got there,
            1. we found that home was better.
            2. Except that we did not know how to get back.
              1. Although the one who caused the offense
              2. must be the one who returns.
                1. Thus, man must move toward God and
                2. not God toward man,

                  …be reconciled to God (2Co 5.18–20).
    4. Reconciliation to God happens through Jesus of Nazareth.
      1. In John 14 Jesus taught that if we follow Him,
        1. we will get back to the Father.
        2. We offended the Creator of the Universe.
      2. How do we fix it?

        6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14.6).
  4. Jesus: The Meditator Between God and Man 
    1. He is both God and man.
      1. Even the perfect man could not qualify, not being God.
      2. An angel could not qualify, not being man.

        5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus… (1Ti 2.5).
    2. Jesus fit the qualifications of both.
      1. He is equal to both parties of the conflict.
      2. He is not biased.
      3. He knows the facts of what led to the separation.
    3. Philippians 2 shows the unique qualifications of Jesus.
      1. No one else in Heaven or on Earth fits the description here.
      2. The qualification process
        1. humiliating Him and
        2. hurt Him.

          5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name… (Phi 2.5–9).
  5. What Stands Between God and Man 
    1. The Law
      1. It condemned.
      2. However, Jesus took on the penalty of the Law.
        1. He fulfilled it (Matt 5.17).
        2. On the cross He said it is finished.
    2. Sin
      1. Animal sacrifices did not do the job, but
      2. they did show the need for sacrifice.
        1. His sacrifice met the need.
        2. Therefore,

          12 I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more (Heb 8.12).
    3. Death and the Fear of Death
      1. The thought of dying terrorizes and enslaves most people.
      2. However, the resurrection of Jesus shows that He has power over death.
        1. Now we have hope for our own resurrection.
        2. He thereby frees us from the fear of death,

          14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb 2.14–15).


  1. John Grisham, the best-selling novelist, recalls:

    “One of my best friends in college died when he was 25, just a few years after we had finished Mississippi State University. I was in law school, and he called me one day and wanted to get together. So we had lunch, and he told me he had terminal cancer.

    “I couldn’t believe it. I asked him, ‘What do you do when you realize that you are about to die?’

    “He said, ‘It’s real simple. You get things right with God, and you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.’ Then he said, ‘You know, really, you ought to live every day like you have only a few more days to live.’

    “That left an impression on me.

    “Few things impart more wisdom than to face up to the fact that we will all die sooner or later.”

  2. My question for you: 
    1. What happens when I die without being reconciled to God?
    2. If I die separated from God
      1. I remain separated from God forever!
      2. Then the separation will be total.
        1. Here it is partial.
        2. Even if a man hates God,
          1. that man still enjoys material benefits from God.
          2. In hell there is total wrath.
    3. Therefore, I want to start reading from Second Corinthians 5.20 again, but
      1. continue for three more verses,

        5.20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 6.1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says:

        “In an acceptable time I have heard you,
        And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

        Behold, now is the accepted time;
        behold, now is the day of salvation.
        (2Co 5.20–6.2)

        1. Why continue to wait?
        2. What else can God do?
        3. Now it is your turn.