2020-01-05 – 2 Corinthians 5.16-21 – A New Beginning
Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 5.16-21 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: New Year | 2020-01-05 – 2 Corinthians 5.16-21 – A New Beginning, pg 1025
(New Years Eve Lock-In; New lights in Kitchen; Basement Storage Room cleaned up; Received Wyman R Coulter Trust monies for the reflooring of our basement)
Happy New Year and good morning everyone. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today. I pray your New Years is starting out well.
Last week we shared a reflection of the past year and the message was entitled Finishing Well. Finishing our year well, but more specifically as Christ followers we should also be striving towards finishing well our earthly lives too.
Now today we are going to continue the theme here, but since we crossed now into the New Year of 2020, our sermon is entitled A New Beginning.
Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5:16, pg 1025 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, but let us first start with prayer.
A world record swimmer by the name of Kim Linehan once was being interviewed about how she prepared for her competitions. She said she commits herself to endless exercise and she swims 7 to 12 miles everyday. When asked what was the hardest part of her exercise regimen? she answered “Getting in the water”.
The same dynamic can be applied to our Christian walk. When we accept our calling to become Christians, it is A New Beginning for us and we really become a new creation in Christ. And then just like the swimmer, at some point we need to get wet. We need to fully put on Jesus Christ and become the true ambassador and disciple that God desires for each of us to be. This morning I am first going to read the relevant Bible verses in its entirety. Then afterwards we will pull it apart a little and further discuss. Starting at verses 16, the Apostle Paul wrote:
16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective.
Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Again, I feel compelled to pull apart and decipher these verses as we go through them this morning, for there is a lot of our Christianeeze vocabulary that might be unknown to some folks. So starting back at the first verses, Paul wrote:
16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective.
Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.
When we become a Christian, this means we are starting anew. It’s kind of like a Reboot. On my computer, I may have been doing many different things, like writing a paper, cruising the internet or playing games. But when I reboot, all those previous actions and work are gone, and I am now starting anew with a fresh environment. The same goes for our relationships and history after we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we reboot our own internal computer, we start looking at the world and our relationships with a fresh perspective. It’s like we have a new pair of glasses with new lenses that we now look upon the world with. Our relationship with Jesus has become anew, and we will now look at Him as not just a man or profit, but as Lord, Savior and King. Everything will start making more sense now in your faith walk too. Doctor Luke wrote in Luke 8:17 “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light”. Our Jesus is the true light of the world, and He has blessed us with His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us. We should now expect to see a radical change in our character and our relationships over time as He guides us and lightens our paths. People ask me all the time, “how will I know if I am a Christian?” to which I reply, look at your life, have you seen the change?
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
The term New Creation Paul wrote about here, goes along with what Jesus told the Jewish ruler Nicodemus about being “born again”. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”. The terms “new creation” and “born again” literally mean “born from above.” John 1:12 states that “all who receive Jesus, he gave the right to become children of God”. So we are effectively adopted by the father. And our old self and our old lifestyle has no longer a bearing on our future with God in heaven. Everything old has passed away and we become new in Christ. Verse 18 continues:
18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
To be “reconciled” is to be restored to friendship or in harmony with one another. When friends resolve their differences and restore their relationships, reconciliation has occurred. When Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied God’s judgment for our sins. Jesus paid our penalty and made it possible for us, to find peace with God again. And “Not counting their trespasses” means not judging their sins. Not counting their wrong-doings against them. Instead God now counts our trespasses, our sins against Jesus Himself, ironically the only person in the world that was without sin. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. This is called “imputed” righteousness. To impute something is to ascribe or attribute something to someone. When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake he made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” Praise the Lord
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”
You probably know that Ambassadors are official representatives. Shirley Temple was a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. When she represented the United States, she spoke with Presidential authority. Likewise Christians are Ambassadors for Christ now to the world. God chooses to appeal through us to the lost people of this world. To carry the Good News Gospel message to people so they too can choose to follow Him too. What a wonderful privilege it is to represent Jesus. We shouldn’t ever take this charge lightly, as it has eternal implications. So just as we have now been reconciled to God, Jesus desires for us to be leading others to “Be reconciled to God” as well. If we truly recognize the price He paid for our freedom, then we should gladly want to be His Ambassador.
21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Again Jesus Christ, the only sinless person who ever lived. He took upon Himself all the past, present and future sin of man while He was on the cross at Calvary. He became sin and paid our penalty so that we could be reconciled with God and go to Heaven. That sin was so burdensome that Jesus even sweat blood as He was preparing to die our Bibles say. It also says that because of our sin that He was baring that day, Jesus even lost fellowship with His Father God as He was hanging on the cross. He yelled out, “My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” It truly hurts my heart to even think of what He went through on my behalf.
Such amazing grace. And such a wonderful Savior we have, Amen?
The main point for this New Year’s message today is that God’s promise to us is true: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a New Creation; the old is gone, and the new has come!”
The Reverend Billy Graham suggests that there are seven gifts God gives us when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ. [SLIDE]
The first thing that happens is that God gives us a New Relationship.
Once we were separated from God because of our sins − and not just separated, but alienated from Him. The Bible Says we were “excluded, without hope and without God in the world”; Ephesians 2:13 says “Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.”
The second thing God gives you when you commit your life to Christ is a New Citizenship. Of course you are still a citizen of our great United States of America, but now you are also now a blessed citizen of the kingdom of God.
My son Stephen was born while I was stationed in Germany. Because we were American citizens, Stephen was considered an American citizen. However, because He was born in a German hospital, he was also considered a German citizen. He had dual citizenship until he turned 18 and then he chose to drop his German citizenship.
Now that we are Born again Christians, as long as we are on this earth, we also kind of possess dual citizenship. On one hand we owe allegiance to our nation, and are instructed by God to be good citizens. But we are also citizens of the kingdom of God where Christ is King. Our supreme loyalty is first to Him, as someday, the Bible tells us in Revelation 11:15, this world’s kingdoms will pass away and become “the kingdom of our Lord and of Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever”. I truly look forward to that day.
So in becoming a Christian, God gives us a new relationship, a new citizenship, and He also gives us a New Family. You aren’t just related to God; you are now related to all the other believers too. Everyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ is now your spiritual brother or sister. This is one reason why you are never alone if you know Christ. You are part of God’s family now, with brothers and sisters in Christ who love you and want to help you, that is if you will let them. It boggles my brain knowing that some who profess to be Christian but then refuse to go to church to be with their new family. That is not God’s will, He wants us to be together. That’s what church is all about. It is a gift from God to us and we should never take it for granted.
And as Christians we now also have a New Purpose. Having a purpose is a good thing. We all know that some people that are very focused on their purpose, using all their energies to reach their goals. While others seem to drift through life with little purpose or direction, living for the moment and never thinking about where they are headed. However, I would argue that most people probably live somewhere in between. But when we come to Christ, God gives us His Purpose, and we should now want to live for Christ, and not just for ourselves. Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book called Purpose Driven Life that was a best seller for 10 years and sold more than 30 million copies. This proves that people are searching for a purpose. Well God has a purpose for you, and I can summarize that whole book he wrote by saying that your God given purpose IS TO SERVE. Serve God and serve each other. Embrace your new purpose and you will find true joy in doing so.
And with that new purpose, every Christian now also has New Power. One of the Bible’s most comforting truths is that when we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. God gives you His Power. As written in Acts 1:8, Jesus promised, “you will receive His power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”. We weren’t meant to live out this Christian life in our own strength. God has provided His Holy Spirit to help us. And even with just a little bit of faith in His Power, we can do anything that God calls us to do.
When we come to Christ, God gives us also a New Destiny. Once we were headed for hell; now we are headed for heaven. Once we were bound for eternal separation from God; now we know we will live with Him forever. Once we had no hope of an eternal life worth living; but now we do. The Bible says in Romans 6: “The wages of sin is death. but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. AMEN? In the midst of life’s problems and heartaches, never forget: This life is temporary. One day all our burdens will be cast aside, and we will be with Christ forever. Indeed, before us is a New Destiny for those who belong to Him.
When we come to Christ and God gives us a Whole New Life with a new relationship, a new citizenship, a new family, a new purpose, a new power, and a new destiny. So we should never take lightly what Christ did for us on the cross − and never take lightly what God has given those who have turned to Christ in repentance and faith.
But this isn’t the end of His bounty, for God also gives us one final gift:
a New Journey, a whole new path to follow until the day He takes us to heaven. In other words, your decision for Christ isn’t an end, but truly A New Beginning − the beginning of a Whole New Life. We are called to become true Christian disciples; and this Christian life is an amazing New Journey – one that will take us the rest of our lives to navigate through. Question is: Are you willing? And Are you ready?
As we now prepare to close this first message of the New Year, reflecting back upon that world record swimmer I mentioned at the start, let us now jump into that Holy Spirit water and get wet. Let us all start living like a true Christ follower together with a New Beginning in Him.
A New Beginning