Today’s message is entitled “Christ’s Ambassadors.” So let’s begin by asking what is an ambassador? The dictionary defines an ambassador as “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” For example, the US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, former governor of Iowa, lives in Beijing.
2 Corinthians 5:20a (ESV) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
Every believer is therefore an ambassador for Christ. We are sent by the king of a kingdom, Jesus, king of the kingdom of God as His official representative. But where are we sent? Let’s begin to answer that question by looking at the universal picture.
Ephesians 2:1-2 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Since everyone has sinned, everyone begins life dead in their sins and following Satan, the prince or ruler of the kingdom of darkness. Jesus brought the good news of the gospel to rescue people from the dark kingdom.
Mark 1:15 (ESV) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
To be saved is to repent of your sins, believe in Jesus and transfer your allegiance to King Jesus and His kingdom.
Colossians 1:13 (ESV) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
When a person is saved, they are rescued from the kingdom of darkness and become citizens of the kingdom of God. An ambassador of Christ, therefore, represents the kingdom of God to people living in the domain of darkness who need to be saved or rescued. Our orders from King Jesus are
Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
If you seek first God’s kingdom, as His ambassador, God will provide everything you need to fulfill your mission. God calls people to certain areas of the world to be His ambassadors.
Let’s watch what God is doing through Assembly of God missionaries in the African island of Madagascar. The video is called “Everyone Achieves More.” We’ll pray for these missionaries at the end of the message.
Today, we’re going to look at the letter of 2 Corinthians written by the apostle Paul. Sometimes people wonder why we should seek to follow Paul’s example as he was an apostle and we aren’t.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
You may not be called to another country or continent, but the principles that we’re going to learn today apply to all of us right where we live in St. Louis. So, let’s begin to discuss what it means to be an ambassador for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:11a (ESV) Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
As an ambassador, we are to persuade others to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. What are the tools that God has given us to persuade others? The first tool is to communicate the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel to people who don’t understand it. You can communicate God’s Word through speaking to someone, through inviting someone to church or to posting something on your Facebook page.
The second tool to persuade others is prayer. Your prayers activate the Holy Spirit to work on someone else’s heart and your prayers hinder the work of Satan in their lives. The third tool is various gifts of the Spirit that God desires to release through your life to provide proof that He’s alive and cares about people. Notice that this verse says that we are to …
2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Verse 11 begins with a Therefore, so we need to look at the preceding verse, verse 10. Verse 10 speaks of all believers appearing before the judgement seat of Christ to be judged for what they have done. We want to be found faithful to the commands and call of God on our lives. So, we must make being an ambassador for Christ a priority in our lives.
2 Corinthians 5:13 (ESV) For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
When you boldly speak God’s Word, when you seek to persuade others, you will encounter haters. Haters are people who are part of the kingdom of darkness and seek to oppose you and the mission that God has given you. Jesus had haters all over in His ministry. Some said that He was insane or beside Himself. Others called Him demon-possessed. Yet others said that He was a drunkard. None of those charges was true. So, just as Paul encountered haters, so will everyone who seeks to follow Jesus’ example of persuading others to believe.
As Christ’s ambassadors, we mustn’t stoop to the tactics of the kingdom of darkness in our persuasion. Calling people names is not an effective way to persuade, nor is it proper behavior for an ambassador of Christ. We mustn’t be timid, but bold and courageous. Why? Because we present the greatest kingdom of all time, the kingdom of God. We present King Jesus, who has all power and authority.
We have the hidden power of the Holy Spirit working in us, working in the people we are persuading and working the all the surrounding circumstances. So, we can be confident that good things will happen as we make it a priority in our lives to persuade others to believe. As we seek to persuade others, we must be …
2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV) For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
There are two aspects to being controlled by the love of Christ. First of all is the love of Christ for us. We are secure and confident that nothing can take that love away from us. Secondly, since Christ’s love fills us, we can have that love for the people we are being ambassadors to. Even when they are acting like the citizens of Satan’s kingdom, which they are. As we are controlled by Christ’s love, we will not act in hateful and disrespectful ways for others the He also loves, even though they are not yet believers.
2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV) and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
This is the core of the Gospel. Christ died for our sins, that we might be forgiven and live for Him. You see, every unbeliever who lives in the kingdom of darkness lives for themselves. Every true believer lives for Jesus, not themselves. To live for Jesus means that you do nothing in life to please yourself, you only live to please Jesus. Jesus’ purpose in life was to seek and save the lost. So we please Him as we make His purpose our main purpose in life, seeking the lost. To do that, we must …
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (ESV) 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.
An ambassador of Christ doesn’t view people with just his natural eyes. He views people as Jesus views them. God will give you discernment to see who is a believer and who is not. For those who are not believers, God will enable you to see what they will become when they believe. God will help you look past the ugliness of their sin and seeing them transformed into a new creation by the power of the Spirit. You see, sin destroys people, it turns them into self-centered people living only for themselves. Yet, when we view people with spiritual eyes, with Jesus’ eyes, our faith can grow to see them part of the kingdom of God.
Let’s review how Christ’s love impacts us as Christ’s ambassadors. We love Christ because He first loved us. As believers, we have moved from worshiping ourselves to worshiping Jesus Christ. That sets us free to love other people, unbelievers in the context of evangelism with God’s agape love. Agape love is love that is not contingent of the other person loving you back. A believer seeking to persuade unbelievers is not going to be loved back by those unbelievers. In fact, your love will often be returned by hated. Natural human love can’t tolerate being hated in return, but agape love can. Agape love can keep on loving until the other person becomes a believer and can return that agape love. Be controlled by Christ’s love in your persuasion of unbelievers because …
2 Corinthians 5:20a (ESV) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,
Being an ambassador for Christ is not a choice. If you are a believer, you are an ambassador for Christ. The question is whether you are a good ambassador or a poor ambassador. A good ambassador will represent God’s kingdom as Jesus would, boldly in the power of the Spirit. A poor ambassador is someone who is afraid or ashamed to share the Gospel, more concerned about themselves then the kingdom. An ambassador is not representing themselves, they are representing the kingdom of God. Now, let’s look more closely at the duties of Christ’s ambassadors. As an ambassador …
2 Corinthians 5:18 (ESV) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
An unbeliever is unreconciled to God, they are an enemy of God, separated relationally from Him by their sin. Through faith in Christ’s forgiveness of their sins, an unbeliever can be saved and reconciled to God. Believers are given the ministry or service of reconciliation. In other words, they are the ones who bring people to the point of faith through the Spirit so that they can be reconciled with God. Whenever a believer leads a person to salvation they have fulfilled the function of an ambassador, reconciling an enemy of the kingdom with the King. Thereby bringing them into the kingdom. And the ministry of reconciliation is promoted through …
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (ESV) 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.
These verses now make clear and summarize the entire passage we’ve been looking at this morning. God then speaks through his ambassadors, that is you and me and makes an appeal to all the lost who are ensnared in the kingdom of darkness. Our message is to implore, to beg earnestly for unbelievers to be reconciled to God, to have their relationship with God restored. That only happens through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful privilege and responsibility to represent the kingdom of God as Christ’s ambassador.
When a person is reconciled to God, they become part of God’s family. When you’re part of God’s family, you are brothers and sisters with the other members of God’s family. The end result is that when someone becomes a believer and is reconciled to God, they are also reconciled with all other believers in the family of God. Becoming a member of God’s family is something that will last forever. So, the relationships in God’s family are stronger and longer lasting, they’re eternal, then even physical family relationships. Now, of course if the members of your physical family are also believers, then they are also part of your eternal spiritual family. Your brothers and sisters are first and foremost your fellow believers in your local church with whom you serve and fellowship. God’s desire is for us to keep unity and peace in the church family.
Today, we’ve talked about the privilege and responsibility of being Christ’s ambassadors. We are called to represent the kingdom of God in a world that has drifted far from God. Our mission is to persuade others to believe. We are motivated by the fear of the Lord and controlled by Christ’s love. Our call is to live for Jesus, not for ourselves. We view other people through spiritual eyes, seeking to bring them closer to Christ. As Christ’s ambassadors, we have been given the ministry and message of reconciliation. We must make it a priority in our lives to see people reconciled to God, becoming part of God’s family.