Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ministers of Reconciliation

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Earlier today, I got a call from a friend who had been reading a post on this blog. After telling me that she had learned much and enjoyed the many posts, she asked: “don’t you like Rick Warren?” whose recent statements and decisions were the topic of a recent post. I replied; Of course, I like Rick Warren very much. He is clearly one of the most Godly committed men I have ever met. But, we are all human, I can be wrong ... and so can Rick Warren. The fact that I don’t agree with him, and that I think he made a wrong turn in his ministry has nothing to do with whether I like or respect him. Just so that there is no confusion here as to where I stand I must say: I do not want to offend Pastor Warren or any of my friends who are his followers. But as a Christian, I hope after reading my posts they will reconsider their plans.

This is a BIG deal!
Rick Warren's best seller: Purpose Driven Life introduced his "50 year" global P.E.A.C.E Plan and has been translated into 52 languages. According to his website, more than 500,000 evangelical churches are partnering in what I believe has become an unbiblical ecumenical effort. Warren subsequently expanded that model from an exclusive endeavor of Christianity to one requiring the support of all religions.

The "P" in his P.E.A.C.E. plan originally stood for "Planting Churches" as the key antidote for curing the world's ills. Later, however, before a panel and audience of representatives of the world's religions, Pastor Warren changed the "P" from "Planting Churches" to "Promoting Reconciliation" If his intent was to reconcile the world through the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be in wholehearted agreement. But reconciliation with false religions is not the ministry of reconciliation that each of us have been given as our personal ministry and mission in 2 Corinthians 5. To not challenge this well meaning but false leading, would be for me to not follow my calling and commitment to Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Paul discusses this ministry of reconciliation we have all been given. When Paul says: “seeing we have this ministry” he is referring to our call as ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation “as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” This is not about reconciling the world’s religions with Christianity. It is Christ reaching out to all men and women through Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit; and reconciling unbelievers one by one to the Creator of the universe. The one and ONLY Savior of humankind. Christ is providing eternal life ONLY through His grace and sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. There is only one place in His plan for other Gods, and their religions: eternal hell. The unrepentant followers have two choices: reconciliation; or eternal condemnation. Many would say this is harsh and yes it is, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches ... nothing more, nothing less. Is this legalistic or judgmental? I do not believe so. We all have the exact same spiritual problem, and there is only one solution: Jesus Christ. For me to teach or promote anything other than this truth would be hypocritical, deceitful, and the worst thing I could possibly do. We are all the same, all equal, with the same problem, and same solution.

Christianity is easy for all to understand, treats everyone fairly and equally, and discriminates against no-one. We are not allowed to rewrite God's plan of salvation to fit our own personal needs, desires, beliefs, or religions.
I am confident Pastor Rick Warren would agree with me on these points.

“As we have received mercy, we faint not” This phrase makes it clear that we do not deserve the good fortune of eternal life with God in Heaven … it is His free gift by grace; we have been saved and entrusted with this ministry. Paul did not deserve his ministry and neither do you or I … but we each have the same ministry that Paul was given, whether we step up to the challenge or not is another question. We faint not speaks to the courage it takes to stand up to the false teachings of the world and the schemes of the god of this world. His goal and plan is to lead people away form Christ and the truth of the gospel. It is our challenge to stand firm … and to not form alliances with spiritually doomed religions. It is not easy to stand firm when those we love might think we appear foolish. It is much easier to remain silent and to be politically correct. Tolerance and political correctness does not make a false religion true. Silence only encourages those we care about to possibly continue on the wrong path. Only when I challenged the false teachings of Mormonism did my friends turn to the good news of Jesus Christ. No one wants to be viewed as legalistic. But Jesus said; “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. When we start seeing ourselves as Christ sees us … others will see Christ through us.
We are to be ministers of the Spirit of righteousness and the love of Christ.

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully” What are the hidden things of dishonesty that are tools that the enemy uses to bring us defeat as ministers of the gospel? Hypocrisy, our daily walk, manipulations of God’s word, contrary teachings of the world, false religions. I could write an entire post on this one sentence. Each of us must do a personal review of what we believe and why we believe it. Is it consistent with what God’s Word and the Holy Spirit lead us to understand as truth? Or is it the plan of a well meaning pastor or teacher? False teachings at the seminary level are leading a generation of pastors away from Biblical inerrancy. Faulty translations and manipulated paraphrases are being used to distort the Bible’s original meaning, and promote popular ideas; and the next thing you know we have a “green bible.” The Bible is not hard to understand if one is being led by the Spirit of Truth. If not, it is impossible to understand or accept … and that is the problem. We are to be ministers of the gospel; ministers of reconciliation. We need to keep our vision focused on Christ and His purpose for us.

“But by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. To commend is to: represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; or to recommend the gospel of Christ to those God brings before us. That is our mission. A primary mission of the church should be to make this clear to every believer; and to teach and equip each believer in how to present ourselves as worthy of this lifelong ministry God has given each of us. God wants to move on peoples hearts through our words and our walk by the power of the Spirit of Truth.

But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. Certainly clinics that are ministering to the sick in the name of Christ can be used to lead the lost to eternal life in Christ. This is a commendable ministry of living the love of Christ. But not if these clinic caregivers are housed in a mosque or temple and manned by Muslims or Buddhists. This verse is very telling regarding the subject at hand. The enemy of Christ, “the god of this world” Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that the truth of the gospel will be foolishness to them. Only when Christ removed the veil and opened my eyes to the truth was I able to understand the deceptions and false teachings of the evil one. Those who have chosen to fall under the power of lust and pride; are under the control of the enemy. This includes both the caregivers and the recipients of care. They could be sincerely helping people day after day in a clinic but it will be for the wrong reasons … if not for Christ.

They will be giving the sick water but not the "living water" provided by Christ at Calvary.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This verse needs no explanation. Like I said; the gospel is easy to understand when the Spirit of Truth is guiding you.

A special thanks to Ana C. for inspiring this post.
God Bless you my friends, Bob


  1. Dear Bob,

    As always I sincerely appreciate the knowledge, research, and sincerity that go into your articles. It is evident that you care deeply for the human race.

    When I read from the four gospels, the words penned by those who walked and talked with Christ, and their testimony of his words, deeds, and mission, I find that Jesus called us to a ministry of love. He called us to become one nature, as the father is one nature, through repentance of our sins and ceasing to do evil works. When we cease to do evil works, and do the good works taught by Christ, turning the other cheek, refusing to kill sinners, giving alms to the poor, loving our neighbor, and exercising mercy without judgment, then we become one nature, as god is one nature, according to the testimony of Christ. We abandon dualism, which is hypocrisy. We quit hating our enemies and loving our friends, which is dualistic in nature, and we love everyone as if they were our friend. We have one nature, which is love, and not two natures, which include hate.

    Islam and Buddhism are polar opposites, and you have lumped them together as if they are one. Islam is a patriarchal order which kills it's own children, kills sacrifices, kills sinners, wages pre-emptive Jihad, and represses and oppresses women and children, and any freedom of expression. These are the sons of sacrifice and bloodshed who keep the law of Moses. Their works are evil, and their god is Allah, who is evil, and dualistic. They are made in his image. Jesus called them wolves, for that is their nature.

    Buddhist's are vegetarians who believe in killing nothing. They practice compassion for all beings and follow the teachings of Christ. Jesus called them sheep, because they are harmless, and their deeds are good. They have one nature. Their "god" is not Allah, but that which is good, and is one nature. They not only believe in Jesus, they do his deeds. This is how you shall know them, by their fruits.

    Paul has blinded the eyes of many with his doctrine which opposes the teachings of Christ. The church which calls itself by Jesus' name cannot tell the difference between good and evil, or clean and unclean. They have put bitter for sweet, and darkness for light. They are blinded by the doctrines of Paul, and cannot tell good from evil. How then, can they do good?

  2. Hello Tonjia:

    I appreciate your comments also. I agree that there are many differences between Islam and Buddhism. I meant no slight to either religion ... I could have easily named two others from a list of dozens of non-Christian religions. Buddhists are polythiests who believe in many gods ... a direct contradiction of the Bible, which is not acceptable to Jesus Christ. But as you describe Buddhists as loving and peaceful, I think of my favorite Aunt Peg, one of the most loving people that I ever met. I can also say the same for some Muslims and my many athieist friends as well. Your contention that Buddhists are followers of Christ would be no different than me saying my atheist friends who follow the teachings of Christ are Christians. In fact a close friend of mine who openly denies Christ, once said to me: "I'm more of a Christian than you think." That was shortly after he divorced his wife because she became a Christian.

    Your bad feelings towards Paul and his teachings may as well have been directed towards Jesus Christ since He chose Paul and continues to speak to us daily through Paul's teachings. Paul was specially chosen to bring the gospel to the gentiles. Are you saying God made a mistake when he chose Paul, and that much of the New Testament is false?
    Sorry, but we have irreconcilable differences here.

    God Bless you Friend, Bob

  3. Irreconsible differences are what keep people who call themselves Christian apart. To accept only the four gospels as the basis of Christianity is to deny doctrine that Christ taught. Within those authors of "Good News" comes:
    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34 KJV)

    For all the good non-believers do, it falls short of Christ's words:
    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)

    Those differences appear offensive, but they truly are irreconcilable.

    Being offended by what Christ said is not new.
    Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? (John 6:60-61 KJV)

    To make it personal for me, I am not the least bit concerned with reconciling with any one except with God. I require His forgiveness and mercy, as defined in His word. And, I am eternally grateful for His unspeakable gift.

  4. Thanks Grammy! So True!

    God Bless you friend,

    Merry Christmas! Bob

  5. Merry Christmas Bob, May the good Lord continue to bless you and your family and your wonderful blog. Dee

  6. Merry Christmas! May God Bless you.