Ambassadors for Christ

Notes Outline
INTRODUCTION
AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST/RECONCILIATION

INTRODUCTION

    1. One critical concept or theme that we see time and time again in the pages of the Bible is that of representation and example. When we see, encounter, or consider one person or thing, we by definition see it, encounter it, and consider it in connection with something or someone else. Because of the close connection between that which represents and that which is represented, to encounter one is to encounter the other. One thing is adequately depicted, displayed, presented, and portrayed in and through another.
    2. Two key assumptions in the idea of representation:
      1. Adequate correspondence: 
        1. A substantial level of accord and agreement in values and desired outcomes; harmony in mode of operation (the way things are done); likeness in nature and character; unity of purpose; oneness in interest and goals, etc.
        2. If Bethany sends a representative to an important gathering of missions organizations, there must be correspondence; same for a representative of Verizon or Ford, etc.
      2. Rightful authorization:
        1. Representatives must have the backing, approval, and sanction of those whom they are representing
        2. If I say I work for and represent the police or for the U.S. government but really don’t, a big problem—fraud
        3. There is an approval process in place to ensure correspondence. A big question in the Scriptures: Whom has God approved to represent and speak for Him?
    3. Some Biblical Examples
      1. Human beings in the image and likeness of God: made to represent God on the earth
      2. Israel: A kingdom of priests representing God and His ways to the nations; “Be holy because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45); Torah given to instruct them in correspondence; I hate death, and therefore you show the nations how much I hate it by the way you relate to dead animals and human corpses, etc.
      3. Priests: Represent God to the people, and the people before God
      4. Animal sacrifices: “This animal is me”
      5. Prophets: Speaking on God’s behalf; e.g., correspondence between Jeremiah and God:  “fortified city” (Jer. 1:18), “fountain of tears” (Jer. 9:1), “a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9); throwing Jeremiah into the cistern (Jer. 38:6)=throwing God into the cistern
      6. The Flood event and Sodom and Gomorrah (see 2 Pt. 2): “an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly” (2 Pt. 2:6, NIV); typological correspondence; correspondence in sin met by a correspondence in judgment
      7. Israel in the wilderness: God’s response to idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord; warnings to us (1 Cor. 10)
      8. Jesus: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9b, ESV)
      9. Apostles: “Truly I tell you, whoever receives anyone I send receives me, and the one who receives me receives him who sent me” (Jn. 13:20, CSB). Correspondence and authorization assumed.
      10. The Great Commission: Make disciples, teaching them to obey
      11. Paul: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, NIV).
      12. Husbands/Wives, Parents/Children, Employers/Employees, Authorities/Subjects, Insiders/Outsiders, etc. (Eph. 5-6; Col. 3-4; 1 Pt. 2-3)
      13. The seven lampstands/seven churches: Affirmations (correspondence, therefore adequate representation), correction/rebuke (lack of correspondence, therefore inadequate representation); Jesus has eyes of fire, consumed with the light and oil of the Spirit; what about us?

AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST/RECONCILIATION

    1. The crucified Messiah on visual display

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death (the cross), in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (correspondence), 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard (authorized message), which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister (“servant” [NET, NIV]; authorized representative). 

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake (correspondence to Christ’s reason for suffering), and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking (Gk. antaplērō ta husterēmata)  in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God (authorization, trustworthiness) that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…(Col. 1:21-25, ESV)

  • “To ἀναπλ. the ὑστέρημα of one person means to make up for the person’s absence, represent the person in the person’s absence”
  • 17I was glad to see Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus. Having them here was like having you (lit. because your lack these men filled up) (1 Cor. 16:17, CEV)
  • as I serve on the Messiah’s behalf, his sufferings are represented in this weak and mortal body of mine for the sake of his body, the assembly (Col. 1:24, BHT; people see the Messiah’s sufferings through Paul’s)

17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body the marks of Jesus (correspondence; Paul’s scars/wounds in service of the Messiah “brand” him as the Messiah’s slave). (Gal. 6:17, CSB)

    1. “Ambassadors of Christ” drawn from 2 Corinthians 5. The issue of representation very significant in 1 and 2 Corinthians. The church’s witness: divisions and lawsuits, immorality, loving the weaker brother, the Lord’s supper, the practice of the gifts, etc. Also, true apostles/representatives versus false apostles/representatives.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord (correspondence with Jesus; cf. Is. 11:1-3), we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God (God knows his credibility), and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us (Gk. kauchēma; boast, speak highly of; “Look at Christ in them!”), so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart (correspondence with Jesus). 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God (correspondence with Jesus; cf. Mk. 3:21); if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us (correspondence with Jesus; cf. Jn. 14:31), because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves (correspondence with Jesus; cf. Jn. 6:38) but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view (“by human standards” [TEV]. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (reconciliation represented through the sufferings of the messengers): 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors (“Christ’s representatives” [ISV]), as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  

6 As God’s fellow workers (correspondence and authorization) we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, 

“In the time of my favor I heard you (i.e., prayer assumed), 

and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

 

3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path (correspondence with Jesus), so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way (correspondence with Jesus in all that follows; cf. Mt. 16:24-25): in great endurance (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); in troubles, hardships and distresses (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); genuine, yet regarded as impostors (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 9 known, yet regarded as unknown (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); dying, and yet we live on (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); beaten, and yet not killed (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); poor, yet making many rich(be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!); having nothing, and yet possessing everything (be reconciled through the crucified Messiah!). (2 Cor. 5:1-6:10, NIV)

    1. The desperate need for a true and authentic representation of Messiah Jesus in our day.