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. — 2 Corinthians 5: 20
The Apostles call upon both the living and the dead to be reconciled with God.
In 2 Corinthians Paul writes that God has reconciled mankind to himself through Jesus Christ. This applies to us. He has reconciled us. Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and for me. We had not even been born yet and had not as yet done anything at all, whether good or evil. We had not earned anything and had not accomplished anything. And nevertheless God performed this great work upon us. Jesus died for us because he wanted to reconcile us with God and bring us salvation.
God sacrificed His Son for all human beings
When God sacrificed his Son, he could already see the people of today. He saw all those who mock him and deny him. He also saw those who do not respect his will and who fight against him. He saw all of those who work against him and destroy his creation. He saw those who today demean, kill, and torture other human beings. God saw all of this. And he sacrificed his son for all of these human beings. From this we gain a tiny inkling of how great the love of God really is.
God’s offer of salvation is valid both here and in the beyond
In our Bible text the Apostle calls upon mankind to accept God’s offer of salvation. It is directed to human beings both here and in the beyond. It is for this reason that the Apostle ministry is also active today in preaching the glad tidings, proclaiming forgiveness of sins, and dispensing the sacraments to the living and the dead. In the same manner, the work of redemption is also being carried out in the beyond.
God’s offer of salvation can only be accepted in faith
When people come to believe in Jesus, they profess that Jesus:
- is the son of God,
- has died for all mankind and that he has resurrected, and
- is the deliverer through whom mankind comes to God.
Such people will be grateful, and it is on the basis of this gratitude that they will follow Jesus and live in accordance with the gospel. This is because they feel how great the love of God really is.
Effects of faith
Belief in the sacrifice of Christ has its effects both here and in the beyond. Faith produces:
- Trust: True Christians trust in God. They have no reproaches or complaints against God.
- Willingness to reconcile: Those who believe that God has reconciled them to Himself will likewise be prepared to reconcile with Out of gratitude and trust in God, they will be prepared to reconcile with their neighbour.
- Longing for the day of the Lord: This longing will become apparent. It lives in the heart and defines wishes, attitudes, and conduct.
God offers eternal fellowship with himself to both the living and the dead. He does this through the Apostle ministry: “Come one and all! God desires to reconcile you completely! He wants to lead you into eternal fellowship with himself!” We do not need any merit of our own to heed this call. We need not be the best of people. The only requirement is to accept the gift of grace in faith!
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for departed service held on Sunday, 1 March 2015 at Midrand Congregation