Come Back To God!

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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV

How easy it is to judge others from our limited, human perspective. We are so quick to assess the value or worth of others based on externals. We are even prone to establish someone’s unworthiness or lack of value based on how they look, their ethnic makeup, economic background, educational status or personality profile. In the Old Testament, we have the account of when Samuel the prophet went to the house of Jesse to find a new king to replace Saul. When he set eyes on Jesse’ son, Eliab, Samuel said, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” (1 Samuel 16:7b NLT). But God responded, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:8 NLT).

Because of the life-transforming work of Jesus Christ and the Spirit’s power to give new life to those who were dead in the trespasses and sins, Paul states, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” (2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT). Prior to coming to faith in Christ and recognizing Him as his Savior, Paul saw Him from a purely human perspective. Paul was a Pharisee who viewed Jesus as nothing more than a charlatan, a political revolutionary and threat to the religious status quo. But ever since his encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul’s view of Jesus had changed radically. And his view of others had changed as well – “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT). Salvation was meant to be life-changing. it wasn’t just a matter of someone switching religious allegiances or choosing another way of pursuing a right relationship with God. What Jesus offered was radical, out-of-the-ordinary life transformation that resulted in a totally new life, a new nature – immediately. Those who placed their faith in Christ were instantly transformed from death to life, from darkness to light, from enemies to friends of God, from condemned to forgiven, from guilty to innocent, from outcasts to members of the family of God. And Paul says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV).

It was all God’s doing, not man’s. Salvation is the work of God, from beginning to end. He is the one who reconciles. He is the one who redeems, restores, forgives, justifies, regenerates, and sanctifies. He provides new life. He places His Holy Spirit within us. And He accomplished it all through Christ. God sent His Son to be the payment for the sins of mankind and to be the acceptable sacrifice, whose innocent life was given to satisfy the His just demands and holy wrath against man’s rebellion against Him. “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT). It was through Christ that God had determined to restore His lost creation. It was through Christ that God had ordained a means by which He could satisfy His own righteous judgment against sin while providing a means of showing His love for mankind.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 ESV

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. – Romans 5:8 NLT

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 ESV

This message of God’s love and offer of reconciliation had been given to Paul and his companions. They had become ambassadors of God, sharing the good news of how men and women could be made right with God and restored to a right relationship with Him. “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT). They viewed themselves as conduits of God’s grace. They were vessels in the hands of God, pouring out His goodness and grace upon all those they encountered, not pre-judging or predetermining who deserved to hear. They simply told of God’s Son; His death, burial and resurrection; His offer of salvation; and the simple, solitary requirement of faith. They shared. God saved. Christ had provided the means. Paul simply shared the message. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT).

Sharing the gospel is really quite easy. It is simply pleading with people to come back to God. It is a desperate, loving appeal for them to accept the only means by which they can be restored to a right relationship with God – by faith in Jesus Christ. It is not up to us to determine who deserves to hear. It is not up to us to judge who is worthy of receiving the message. It is not our job to predetermine who we would prefer to have as a brother or sister in Christ. We have been given the message of reconciliation. Like Paul, we have been appointed ambassadors by God, with the sole responsibility of spreading the good news of His Son’s death and resurrection to a lost and dying world. God’s offer of salvation is non-discriminatory, and so should our appeal be.



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