Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984
International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations
from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes
the teacher uses a blackboard. This lesson can be found at:
<URL:http://www.cameronlaw.com>

INTRODUCTION: Has there been a time when someone close to you was
mad at you?  Your spouse, your children, your friend, your boss?
It feels bad doesn't it?  When you work out your differences and
once again are on good terms it feels very good, right?  Overcoming
differences and being close again is called reconciliation.  That
is our subject of study this morning.

I. OUR JOB: THE MESSAGE

     A. We stopped our discussion last week at the point where we
     decided we had a "new view."  We now would fix our eyes on the
     eternal instead of the temporary.  This new view changes how
     we look at Jesus, life's problems and others.  We become a new
     creation with a new view.

     B. Let's charge on with Paul's argument. Turn with me to 2
     Corinthians 5:18-19. Read. Who makes us a new creation with a
     new view? (Paul says (v.18) "all this" is from God.)

          1. How did God do it? (He did it through Jesus.)

          2. Paul tells us that as new creatures we are
          "reconciled" to God.  Was God mad at us before?

               a. Someone read Ephesians 2:3-5. This says we were
               "objects of wrath" who were for all purposes dead.
               This sounds like God was so angry with us that He
               was going to kill us.  Is that how you understand
               this?

               b. Someone else read Matthew 18:12-14. This says
               that God does not want to lose a single sheep, that
               He searches for all those who are lost and is happy
               when he finds the lost sheep. Is that how you
               understand this?

               c. Tell me how you "reconcile" Ephesians 2 with
               Matthew 18? How can you understand both of these
               texts? (God hates sin. He is going to destroy it.
               However, He loves us.  He loves us even when we are
               sinners. Like the shepherd looking for the single
               lost sheep, He went to great lengths to save us.
               The height of that pursuit of us occurred when
               Christ came to earth and died in our place. It
               continues today through the work of the Holy
               Spirit.)

     C. Let's look again at 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. What job do
     these verses say that we have? (The ministry of
     reconciliation.)

          1. How do we do "our job?" (Verse 19 says that we have a
          "message of reconciliation" that God does not count our
          sins against us.  This means our job is to tell people
          that, because of our sins, we were "dead meat."  But God
          has taken heroic steps to save us -- each one of us.  Our
          job is to talk about Ephesians 2 and Matthew 18!)

     D. Read 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. What is your job title?
     (Ambassador.)

          1. How is your job like the job of a United States
          Ambassador? Or the ambassador of any country? (An
          ambassador lives in a culture that is not his, it is not
          his home.  He is there to represent his country even when
          he may get an unfriendly reception.)

          2. Our lesson has a "teacher's comments" (p.69) which
          says, "Sin reigns. Sin hurts. Sin isolates and places us
          in a state of rebellion, depression, and despair." Do you
          agree?  Is that the "culture" in which we work as
          ambassadors?

               a. Do you find that you have to be an "ambassador"
               to yourself sometimes?

                    (1) If you say, "yes," how can you be an
                    ambassador if you have a rebellious heart?

               b. Are you an ambassador to your family?

     E. You have a message of reconciliation.  Can you put your
     message into words for me? (Paul puts it into words in 5:20b-
     21: "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
     God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him
     we might become the righteousness of God.")

II. OUR JOB: THE ACCEPTANCE

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-2. If we have this mental picture of
     God looking for us as a shepherd would look for a lost sheep,
     how can we "receive God's grace in vain?" Is this even
     possible? (Paul clearly indicates here that we can receive
     God's grace, yet be lost.)

          1. How does this work as a practical matter? How can we
          receive God's grace, yet be lost? (Someone read Matthew
          7:21. Do you see that receiving God's grace, being an
          ambassador is not mere words.  Receiving God's grace
          means that our lives become changed.  We do the will of
          our Father in heaven. Note that we need to be careful in
          our understanding of this.  One extreme is to think that
          by mere words we receive God's grace.  The other extreme
          is to believe that by keeping the law we will be saved.
          See Galatians 5:4. The correct path is this: God's grace
          converts our hearts.)

     B. Friends, God our Shepherd is looking for you right now. He
     is diligently searching and He wants to find you to save you.
     When does Paul say that we should "get found?" (2 Corinthians
     6:2: Now!)

III. OUR JOB: THE WORKING CONDITIONS

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10.  How is this for working
     conditions as an ambassador?

     B. What contrasts do you see in these verses (vv.3-10)?

          1. Notice v.3.  Does Paul have "stumbling blocks" in his
          way?  Does he put them in the way of others?

               a. If you were to formulate a "policy" about
               stumbling blocks in your life based on these
               verses, what would it be? (Expect obstacles in your
               Christian walk, but do not be an obstacle to the
               walk of someone else.)

          2. Notice v. 8: "genuine, yet regarded as impostors."
          What kind of problem does this indicate that Paul faced
          in his ministry of reconciliation? (People are lying
          about what kind of person Paul is.  They are calling him
          a fake.)

               a. Can you expect similar problems?

          3. Notice v. 9: "known, yet regarded as unknown." I often
          read that people want "respect." It is natural to want
          others to think well of you. What kind of "respect" is
          Paul getting if he says that people know him, but act as
          if they do not?

          4. Notice v. 10: "poor, yet making many rich." How is
          Paul making others rich if he is poor? (Through his self-
          sacrifice he is revealing the gift of eternal life to
          others.  This is the ministry of reconciliation.)

          5. Notice in v. 10 Paul also says: "having nothing, yet
          possessing everything." How can that be? (His view of
          "things" is obviously different than the world's view of
          "things.")

IV. THE APPEAL

     A. Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. Have you ever loved someone
     when they did not love you back? Have you ever been kind to
     someone and they were not kind to you in return?

          1. How did you feel about that?
 
          2. Was the other person being fair to you?

          3. What kind of attitude do the Corinthians have towards
          Paul? (He is saying that he has opened his heart to them,
          but they have not opened their heart to him.)

          4. Can the same be said of you?  Jesus has opened His
          heart to you.  The message of reconciliation is (2 Cor.
          5:21) that Jesus became sin "for us."  He was taunted,
          humiliated and tortured for us.  He died a cruel death
          for us.  He opened his heart to us.  Are we, as a "fair
          exchange" (6:13), opening our heart to Him?

               a. Are we doing our job as ambassadors with this
               message of reconciliation?

V. NEXT WEEK: "COMMITMENT FOR MINISTRY." Study 2 Corinthians 6:14-
7:16! bsp; He died a cruel death
          for us.  He opened his heart to us.  Are we, as a "fair
          exchange" (6:13), opening our heart to Him?

               a. Are we doing our job as ambassadors with this
               message of reconciliation?

V. NEXT WEEK: "COMMITMENT FOR MINISTRY." Study 2 Corinthians 6:14-
7:16!