Persuade Men

by David and Stephen Olford

Text: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11).

Thought: The Apostle Paul stressed the costliness of the ministry in terms of trials and travail, but here he proceeds to remind the readers of the mission of the church in the world, namely, to "persuade men" of the validity of the gospel.  He points out that there must be:

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1. The Revealing Power of Divine Light: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (v. 11). The word, "therefore" reminds us that the apostle was still defending against his critics, who charged him with lack of integrity. But he reminds them that he needed no outward evidence to prove his honesty of character; his occasion of glorying was based upon what God had done in his heart.  His enemies labeled him as "mad, " but the sheer sanity of his conduct effected a revealing light—exposing sin, on one hand, and exalting righteousness on the other. 

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2.  The Redeeming Power of Divine Love: "For the love of Christ constraineth us" (v. 14). The apostle is speaking here not of his love for Christ, but rather of Christ's love for him. He discovered that the redeeming love of Christ not only compelled the surrender of the Christian but also impelled him into service. The substitutionary character of Christ's death is the fact that He "died for all," and when we have identified ourselves with His death we shall find that self no longer dominates our lives, for the Spirit of God has filled us with a love that must flow out in service to others.

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3. The Renewing Power of Divine Life: "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the fleshTherefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (vv. 16-17).  In these two verses Paul illustrated how this determination to live no longer for self but rather for Christ finds practical expression. When a person is identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, there is a new conception of man. He will no longer judge an individual by external appearances—"after the flesh"—nor indeed will he think of Christ in that manner, as he once did. 

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Thrust: "The most unanswerable argument for Christianity is a transparent Christian."

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