II Corinthians 5:11-21
The text before us does not mention the judgment seat of Christ. That said, it is all about the judgment seat of Christ.
“Knowing therefore . . .” (v. 11). Therefore refers to back to verse 10 and the fact that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Knowing the terror (fear) of the Lord that believers shall experience, Paul and all in his ministry persuade men.
In verse 18, Paul describes his ministry of persuasion as the ministry of reconciliation. In the close of verse 11 and following, Paul makes the reason for his ministry known. The reason is not because Paul fears to appear before Christ (Paul does not fear because he and those in his ministry are made manifest to God). Paul’s ministry is powered by his desire that believers at Corinth should have a partial answer to them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
At the judgment seat of Christ, believers which glory in appearance but not in heart shall be found naked. Paul trusts that his ministry of persuasion will be fruitful, that it will be manifested in the consciences of the Corinthians (v. 11). Paul ministers because he cares. He desires that all believers should care as he cares. The partial answer to them which glory not in heart is to become part of Paul’s ministry of caring and make one’s desires known to all. Paul’s ministry is that of them who glory in heart. It is a ministry of loving one another as Jesus loves us. Loving one another as Jesus loves us is contagious. The early church produced a pandemic which spread throughout the Roman Empire. The answer to them which glory only in appearance is to reveal the love of Jesus to others.
Paul reveals the method which he employs to persuade men in verse 13. He does so by expressing unthrottled emotion to God for that which God has done and by explaining God’s plan of salvation in a manner which is sober (cool, calm and collected).
In verse 14, Paul is cool, calm and collected as he explains the power that drives his ministry. It is the power of the love of Christ who submitted Himself to death that men might live, live not to themselves but to Him who died and rose again (v. 15).
“Wherefore . . .” (v. 16). Because Christ died and rose again, we know no man according to the flesh. The flesh died with Jesus. We know men, not by Him who died in the flesh but, by Him who rose again. We know the new man who rose with Christ.
We know our brothers and sisters as new creatures in Christ. We see that which is new. We see that which is of Christ. We see God because we are reconciled to the Father by the Son.
Paul states that God “hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). The ministry of reconciliation is a gift given by God to them who are reconciled by Him. It is a gift given to the new creature in whom all things are new.
In verse 19, Paul states that God through Christ reconciled the world to Himself. We are reconciled because our trespasses are not imputed to us. We are reconciled because our trespasses were imputed to Him who knew no sin. We are reconciled to Him because He who was without sin was raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father. We are reconciled to God because Christ did for us that which we could not do for ourselves. Christ fulfilled the law which condemned all men.
The church at Corinth was a result of Paul’s ministry but Paul did not reconcile a single person. The ministry of reconciliation is not to reconcile; it is to declare what God has done and to persuade men to call upon the only name by which men may be saved. Paul was not a reconciliator; Paul was an envoy of Him who reconciled the world. Paul delivered the word of reconciliation. What is the word of reconciliation? It is notice that God has given His only begotten Son such that whosoever believeth on Him shall enter into a new relationship with God which relationship shall endure forever.
In verses 20-21, Paul says, “. . . we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be the righteousness of God in him.” Salvation and reconciliation are not the same thing. Calling upon the name of the Lord believing is an acknowledgment that one is dependent upon the righteousness of Christ. Calling upon the name of the Lord believing guarantees that one shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ. All who come before Christ shall be clothed. Some shall be clothed in wood, hay and stubble. Some shall be clothed in gold, silver and precious stones. Paul, in calling out for the Corinthians to reconciled to God, is pleading that they should buy gold, silver and precious stones of Him who loves them beyond measure.
Paul was made an ambassador for Christ because he was reconciled to God. All who glory in the heart are made ambassadors. Paul would have all men transformed as he was transformed. Might all men glory in him who knew no sin.