The Christian's Mandate
by Robert Driskell
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The Bible tells us that the central duty of the believer, outside of his or her personal relationship with Jesus, is to take the message of the Gospel to others.
As believers in Christ, we must first seek to live a holy life (1 Pet. 1:13-16). This is the internal duty of the Christian. This concerns one’s vertical relationship with God. If the power of the Holy Spirit does not have in us a clean vessel to use, we will be striving in our own power and we will be unable to be who we were created to be.
In addition to the vertical aspect of our relationship with God, there is also a horizontal aspect. This concerns the relationship we have to others. This is the external duty of the Christian and it is recorded, among other places, in Second Corinthians chapter five. It is a clear mandate to the Christian.
In the first part of Second Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul establishes some foundational facts. He tells his readers, who are assumed to be believers (2 Cor. 1:1), that if they die, they will go from the earthly body they presently inhabit into a new dwelling place in 'the heavens' (2 Cor. 5:1).
In verse 10, Paul adds that:
...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Cor 5:10 (NKJV)
In verse 11, Paul tells us that, when we die, we must stand before Christ to give an account of our lives:
Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. (2 Cor 5:11 NKJV)
Paul’s mission, and ours, is to ‘persuade men’ of the truth of the Gospel and to help them commit their lives to Christ.
Paul then contrasts the motivation of his opponents in the Corinthian church with the motives of himself and his companions. Paul says that his opponents care more about their outward appearance than the condition of their hearts (2 Cor. 5:12-13).
In verses 14 thru 17 Paul says that Christ died for us and therefore we should live, not for ourselves, but for Christ. It should no longer be what I want, but what He wants. He died not so that we could be free to continue to indulge in our selfishness, but in order that we might serve Him. Paul actually considered himself a ‘bond slave’ of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1; Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10). He obviously believed that it is better to be a slave in God’s kingdom than a ruler in any other kingdom.
Beginning in the first book of the Bible, mankind is shown to have been created by God as ‘very good’. However, God also created mankind with the ability to make choices. Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and in doing so mankind lost its intimate relationship to Him.
The overall message of the Bible is then that God initiated and completed the way for us to be restored to a right relationship to Him.
Second Corinthians 5:18 says that it is God who is behind this process of redemption. God made it possible, through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, for us to be forgiven of our sins and to have fellowship with Him.
Now God charges believers with the work of spreading the good news (Gospel) of what God has done for us. We have been given the 'ministry of reconciliation' (v.18) to reach out to the people of the world and let them know what God has done and how they can be a part of it. We are to be the conduit by which the saving message of Jesus Christ is passed on. We are charged with spreading the message of the truth that reconciles, or mends, the separation between man and God.
Christ has committed the ‘word of reconciliation’ (v. 19) to us so that we are now ‘ambassadors’ for Him. We are Christ’s representatives in the world, 'as though God were pleading through us' (v. 20). Christians are Jesus’ hands, feet, and mouth. We are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). We must tell others about Him and His message. If we do not carry the news that God has made a way for us to be forgiven and brought back into a saving relationship with Jesus, then we are concealing the one thing that can keep people from spending an eternity in Hell, separated from the love of God. The message is that,
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 (NKJV)
God put the sins of humankind onto Jesus and dealt with them through His death and resurrection. Now we are to spread that message to the rest of the world that they might believe and be saved. Moreover, with that salvation comes this promise:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB)
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