Bible Lesson 51

Practical Christian Living part III
THE FRAGRANCE OF THE NEW CREATURE
2ND CORINTHIANS 2:15-16

There are many ways that we can identify a true Christian, first, there is the absolute newness of life in the one saved. There has been a wonderful and beautiful thing that has happened and the person saved and the one who observes his life can?t help but know that this person has been with God. Second, there is a life marked by obedience to the word and will of God, and then there is that fragrance that is spoken of in our scripture text for this lesson (2nd Corinthians 2:15-16).

That scripture tells us that all Christians are, to God, the fragrance of Christ, among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. Imagine that, if we are truly saved we are pleasing to God, we smell like His Son Jesus Christ because we are in Christ and Christ is in us! (See Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17) .

Verse 16 of Chapter 2 of 2nd Corinthians, tells us “To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and the other the aroma of life leading to life.” That means that as we live and move in our families and communities, people get an aroma from us. To those who have been called of God, we smell like life that leads to life; and to those who are reprobate, we smell like death leading to death.

To those who read these lessons from this humble preacher who tells you exactly what God has said, some will hear it as it is, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but to others, it will be repulsive. It is an uplifting knowledge when we know that we know God through His Son Jesus Christ and that even though we will one day die a physical death, it is only a door that leads to eternal life in paradise with Christ. (See 2nd Corinthians 5:1-9).

One day we who have obeyed Christ will spend forever and ever and ever, worshiping the one who loved us enough to die for us. That worship will not be things like we are bound to here on the earth. We will never again lose a loved one, never again have to suffer the torment of some disease that steals our personality and our potential, never again be alone or lonely, never again have any pain from arthritis or bones grinding against bone.

One day we will live in a perfect place that Jesus Christ is preparing for us (See John 14:1-3). Jesus began that preparation the day that He was nailed to that Roman cross to bleed and die and be buried in a borrowed tomb, and be resurrected on the third day and then forty days later to ascend back into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.

I am always reminded of that great old song about heaven that goes, “We read of a place that?s called heaven, It’s made for the pure and the free; These truths in God’s word He hath given. How beautiful heaven must be. Pure waters of life there are flowing, and all who will drink may be free; Rare jewels of splendor are glowing, How beautiful heaven must be.

The angels so sweetly are singing, up there by the beautiful sea; Sweet chords from their gold harps are ringing, How beautiful heaven must be”. Just think there will be no tears there, no deformed bodies, no blind eye, or anything other than perfection.

You may ask what this could have to do with you. And I answer it has everything to do with you because, if you are saved, God has given you a job, your Christian life is not meant to be a hobby, it is a full-time job! The Apostle Paul tells us this in Ephesians 4:1, when he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and says?..”I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherein you are called”. We, who are saved, have been “called by God” to walk the way God intended for His children to walk. That way will be in obedience to all of His commands which include our denying ungodliness and worldly lust, and walking soberly, righteously and godly as we live here on the earth (See Titus 2:11-12).

We must never forget that one of the commands of the Lord is for us to ” Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe (obey) all things that I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (See Matthew 28:19-20). That does not mean speaking to people we meet on the street and telling them that Jesus loves them; because that may be a lie (John 14:21-24). The great commission gives us the job of teaching, and teaching takes time and effort. We take it upon ourselves to instruct with patience, any who will accept our teaching. This is not the casual pat on the back and reassuring some sinner that he is alright and moving on. The Great Commission requires us to preach and witness to the lost, beginning with the same message that Jesus and the Apostles did, and that was “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.

Have you ever really thought about the great job that Jesus left for those who have been under His blood, born again, and called to be saints? If we were asked to think about our Christianity and to understand what God has given us to do, it should excite us to praise and glorify Him, as we obey all that He has given us to do. Have any who read this lesson today, ever been appointed as an America?s Ambassador to any foreign country? I dare say that none of us has, but we have been called to a much more demanding job, a much more crucial job, a much more fulfilling job, for we are God’s Ambassadors to the world. Not just some who are specially qualified, but every single person who is saved is an Ambassador for Christ. That brings up the question of who is saved. That’s a good question and it should be asked of every church member in the world. Most people who call themselves Christians, have no idea of what being a true Christian means.

Let’s ask God to review for us what happens in true salvation! At our birth we exist as people who are dead in trespass and sin (dead spiritually, with no means to commune with God and not wanting to serve God), we are under the wrath of God, the moment of our birth. As babies, we who have committed no sin, are sinners under the wrath of God because of our nature. If you will, please turn now to the book of Ephesians chapter 2 and read verses 1-10. If you have done that you will be able to follow as God reviews for our salvation according to the inerrant Word of God, the Bible.

As I said, at the moment of our salvation and God’s gift of the newness of life, we are assigned an ambassage, we become ambassadors of Christ. Now, if you will look with me at 2nd Corinthians 5:17-21. Those verses speak to us about the person who is saved as we saw in Ephesians 2:10: and verse seventeen begins, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, and behold all things have become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation: To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word 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. God has made Him be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”.

Now, I ask you, how important is the true Christian?s vocation of being an Ambassador for Christ? Notice, the question is not to everyone because everyone, as we know, is not saved, the question is directed to those who have been truly saved, born again, walking in newness of life and obedient to the commands of Christ. Your church membership will not qualify you unless you have truly been saved and show evidence of the newness of life. The job of an ambassador is very crucial because it involves the good relations between our nation and the nation to which that ambassador is assigned. The ambassador for Christ is much more critical because it involves the soul of all the people that we may contact and attempt to teach the truths of Christ.
Our knowledge of the Word of God is crucial if we would be an ambassador.

We must not take the easy road, that lies behind that wide gate and that broadway; because that way leads to hell. Unfortunately, that is the way that so many in the organized church of our day prefer to teach. Jesus Christ specifically warns us against that way in Matthew 7:13, when He preached in His Sermon on the Mount and said, “Enter you in at the strait (very narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”. Jesus warns us by first giving us a command to enter in at the strait or narrow gate. The Greek that translates, enter, there is in the imperative tense and it is a definite command. Christ commands all men to enter that gate, not that all will; and He tells us that in verse 17 when He says that many will go into that wide gate. Christ?s command makes every man responsible to God and when those who go in that wide gate and tread that broadway reach the judgment seat of God, they will have no excuse.

There are so many today who are on that broad way that leads to hell, and God has given those of us who are truly saved, the ministry of reconciliation. We are to be ambassadors of Christ to warn them of their error and tell them to repent and turn to God. We don’t know if all or any of those we minister to, will ever come to know the Grace of God; but be that as it may, our job is to go and teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded us to do. Examine yourself to see if you are doing what Christ has told you to do! That is not a command from me but a command from God (See 2nd Corinthians 13:5).

Not many of the thousands of church members in any state in the United States have ever focused their attention on an individual and set out to teach him to obey Christ. We instead, normally go to church on Sunday and maybe on Wednesday, but after the preaching and eating and back slapping is over we go home and never open our mouths to even attempt to minister to those around us who are hurting, and dying and going to hell. Most church members today would not know what to say or how to approach someone who is lost and without hope. We have left all of that kind of stuff for those that we have hired to lead us and teach us. If we ever read our Bible it is to simply fill out a block so we can check to say that we have read the Bible. Bible reading, per se, does nothing for the one who simply reads with his mind on something else or who has no intention of obeying what he finds in the Bible.

The real problem is that we have given up on Bible study for ourselves. We all want someone else to do the hard lifting of studying and comparing scripture with scripture, that is required in coming to a knowledge of God. That would be a little better if our religious system had not confused our pastors and preachers in many cases to the point that they don’t know the truth and cannot preach what they do not know and believe. It hurts me to have to say things like this but the Lord called me to preach and teach the truth and the truth is that the institutional church is an unholy mess. Now, that is not to say that all preachers have set God aside and gone into business for themselves; but there are more than enough that have.

It seems that what the visible church of our day has done is to take the gospels and pick and choose the most confusing of the verses, when they are taken out of the context of the Bible, have lifted the promise verses that God gives to those who are truly saved, and have cut everything that calls for action on the part of the Christian, cut everything that is anywhere near a hard-saying and have put all of those half-truths and lies together and invented another gospel. Don’t laugh because many have fallen for that siren song that is sung most Sundays in our pulpits. So what is Christ’s ambassadors to do? Exactly what God gave us to do and that is to take the Word of God and the love of God to those who are perishing.

How do we go about that? First, we must learn the Word of God, so that we will be able to speak the truth to those we minister to. Then the initial steps are designed to let the one we want to win for Christ, know that one is lost. Now, we don’t simply walk up and tell them that they are going to hell. Instead, we try to let them see that they are lost. We can try to ask them if they died tonight, where would they go? If they say that they are pretty sure that they wouldn?t go to heaven, then we have a beginning point. Don’t think that making a person deal with their eternal souls and where they will spend eternity is not a good thing to do; because that’s the way that our Lord and Savior did ministry when He was on the earth.

Jesus Christ began His ministry on the earth by preaching “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand”. When He told people back then to repent they knew that He was telling them that they were in trouble, they were headed the wrong way and they were going to hell. Repent means turn from sin to God, and they all knew that. We want to be as loving as we can but you will never make an omelet without breaking an egg. I would say that most people that you attempt to minister the love of Christ to, will at least be civil; that doesn’t mean that everyone will be, but they are not angry at you they are angry at God.

There is not an easy way to deal with a lost, blind, unheeding, sinner who is going to hell, so don?t dare attempt to save him by telling him a lie. Most who attempt to witness today will tell the person that they are speaking to that God loves them just the way they are. If you use that which according to scripture is a lie, you will not get very far. (See John 14:21-24). Those who are moved by the love of God in your witness will normally be ready to learn more. They don’t need you to attempt to get them to make a “profession of faith”. Instead, they need you to as Jesus Commanded, in the great commission, teach them to obey all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20).

Will the truth of God as it is written in the Bible always work to save everybody that we witness to? No! But it will do all that God intends for it to do and that is either draw a person to the cross or drive them to hell. God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write for us in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth out of My mouth: It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”.

If we stick to the truth that God gave us, His Revelation to mankind, the Bible, then we will be doing the work of God because He says anytime that His truth is given, it always does one of two things, it will either drive or draw, convict or condemn, make alive or make dead. All you are, is the one who obeys what God has said, so don?t ever think that you are going to save anyone. God is the only one who can save anyone, but He uses those who have prepared themselves and who obey Him to speak “Thus saith the Lord”. If you obey the Lord and serve as His ambassador, you will be a sweet savor unto God.

Thinking about it and talking about it and planning to do it does not count, all that counts is that you begin to prepare yourself first and then go out and tell others what Christ did for you.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob