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40 Days of Purpose

Ambassadors of Reconciliation

(Part of the “40 Days of Purpose” studies)

This study was written as something to complement the Rick Warren study titled “40 Days of Purpose.” As it presumes the student is reading Mr. Warren’s book, I have omitted various points as being obvious when the student reads. Should this make the logic of the lesson unclear to you, my apologies. The mistakes remain my own.


Many, many Christians are of the fervent opinion that evangelism is the task of “somebody else.” It is difficult to move them from this opinion, for they do not recognize the authority – the lordship – of Jesus Christ. We begin, therefore, with the question of authority.

The Church’s One Foundation

Let us be clear about the point: the church rests upon the firm foundation of Jesus, the Christ. There is only one question: who do you say He is? Let’s look at it in the original:

When Jesus had come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They said, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, "But who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Then Jesus said to him, "How blessed are you, Simon, son of John! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven has. I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my church, and the powers of hell will not conquer it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven."

(Mat 16:13-19 ISV)

(This particular version is much clearer about verb tenses, especially in verse 19). The foundation of the church is the unalterable fact of the Incarnation – that God came in the flesh, as the Christ, the Holy One of Israel. It is his express purpose to do God’s will[1]; we shall presently see what that will is. It is sufficient for this discussion to note that He did that will so perfectly and completely that he has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.[2]

We don’t usually mention that fact, even in the context of evangelism. We gloss over it; for it carries implications that we do not wish to hear. Does his authority extend even into our comfort zone? Has he the authority to actually command obedience? An older generation would have known “Trust and Obey” but we no longer sing such hymns. The phrase is no longer part of our thinking. Therefore we must see that if you are a Christian, you owe obedience to your Lord, Jesus Christ.

Just what is God’s will?

Did you ever ask yourself, “Just what is it that God wants me to do here?” We often confess ourselves mystified by the phrase, “the will of God.” Whatever it means, we’re sure it has no specific application for us. But it does.

Send your mind back into Genesis; walk along with Abraham as he argues with God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.[3] If you will follow that argument, you will see that Abraham argues with God, basing his argument upon the character of God. There is something in God that reaches out to the sinful; He is not a God who takes pleasure in anyone’s destruction:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? says the Lord Yahweh; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live?

(Eze 18:23 WEB)

This is so strongly a part of God’s character that it is written into prophecy that one day all the nations will know God and his mercy.[4] It is foretold that all the nations will some day know God.

The price paid at Calvary

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it this way, but the major difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is “who suffers.” In the Old Testament God works mighty works – and sends prophets to the people. The people abuse and mistreat these prophets – Isaiah, according to history, was sawn in half – who suffer greatly for the privilege of being God’s messengers. In short, the prophets suffer, God does the mighty work.

In the New Testament, the core of the message is that God now suffers – in person. Jesus is God in the flesh, and like the prophets before Him, He told the nation of Israel that it is his will that all might be saved – and now he comes in the flesh to suffer and die – in order to accomplish precisely that. Calvary is God’s commitment performed.

Ambassadors of Reconciliation

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

(2Co 5:20 KJV)

Continue the work

It is an awesome thought: we are sent to carry on the work begun by Jesus Christ and the Apostles – we are to be the ambassadors of reconciliation. Jesus told his the Apostles that as the Father had sent him, he was sending them[5]. The authority given the church is for the purposes of God – and his supreme purpose is the reconciliation of all who will. We are coworkers with God.[6]

The character of service

It is at this point the quiet whispers begin in the back row. Just exactly what is it that God wants me to do? The temptation to the teacher is to say that God has made it quite clear – he wants us to evangelize the world.

But that is not really the question asked. What is really being asked is more along the lines of, “Just what will I have to put up with? What kind of lifestyle will I have?”

It’s a fair question; Jesus himself tells us to count the cost.[7]

  • First, you have to know how to count. The Christian life begins in the inner chamber, in the relationship between you and God. No longer should you examine the prospects by asking where’s the closest mall; you should now examine them from the perspective of one with a strong relationship with God.
  • If you do, you will discover that it makes little difference if you are “abased or abound.”[8] Your measurement of success will be in terms of those you reach for God, not the correctness of your tie.
  • All through it, you must remember that your service to him is a sacrifice. Like David, we should not offer God a sacrifice that costs us nothing.[9] But do not regret this; He is able to reward those who sacrifice for him.
The task: make disciples

Perhaps it would be good to state exactly what we have been asked to do. That “we” is plural; none of us will do all of these things all the time. But all of us should be prepared to do any of them:

  • First, we are to make disciples. Some see this as baptizing converts, but it is much more than that. Baptism is the beginning; there is the entire life of the saint from there. Making disciples takes time and effort.
  • We are not to make converts to our particular opinions, but rather to bring the reconciliation of God to all who will. We are not the ambassadors of political conservatism (or anything else like that) but of the reconciliation offered by God through his Son at the Cross.
  • We may think we can’t do that (see excuses below) – but this applies to all of us. Would you raise your children without Jesus Christ?

Doing the Work

We come to the hard part: doing the work. Just what is it that we should be doing? How can I share my faith with the rest of the world – or even the kid next door?

Our excuses

Excuses tend to fall into patterns – “the dog ate my homework” for example. Here are three; they will suffice to show that our excuses are trivial and his task great:

·         “I don’t know enough.” Did you ever notice that there are no educational requirements on the Great Commission? All you need to know you already do know; if not, how did you become a Christian?

·         “I don’t have time.” If your neighbor fell from a tree and injured himself, would you have time to telephone for help? How much more if he’s headed for hell?

·         “I’m afraid.” Learn from James; perfect love casts out fear.

So what can I do? What does God expect of me, personally?

Sharing the Good News

Let’s take a look at some of the simple techniques:

  • Share “who you are,” not “what you know.” If you are a real Christian, your life should be different. You are a child of God; that changes everything in your life. Tell them who you are, and why.
  • You are the leading expert on the subject of – “you.” If you genuinely believe, there’s usually a story behind it. If you are forgiven – and I hope all who read this are – then you may talk about the one who has forgiven you.
  • The preacher on the street corner makes his message fit for all who pass by; you can tailor yours to the person in front of you. You have an advantage over Billy Graham; you know your audience.
The rewards of his service

God knows us – just as if he himself made us! He knows that we need to be rewarded for doing as we should. So let’s take a look:

  • You will find that your service brings about contentment – a contentment which comes from godliness,[10] The Christian just seems to take things in stride – knowing how insignificant these things are in eternity.
  • Sometimes you will see the results of your work instantly. Billy Graham preaches, and people come forward to receive Jesus. But (as Billy would be the first to acknowledge) he is only reaping the results of other people’s labors. Each of us has a part.[11]
  • Ultimately, Christ will return, and return with reward in his hand.[12] By your works you will be rewarded.

God is just; God is fair. Your work is not going unnoticed; your hardships will not be forever unrewarded. Trust Him, lean upon his authority and obey his word. We are the church, his body on earth. Be the church, and take reconciliation to the entire world.

[1] John 5:30

[2] Matthew 28:18

[3] Genesis 18:17-33

[4] Isaiah 66:18 (and many others)

[5] John 20:21

[6] 1 Corinthians 3:9

[7] Luke 14:28

[8] Philippians 4:12

[9] 2 Samuel 24:18-25

[10] 1 Timothy 6:6

[11] 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

[12] Revelation 22:12

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