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“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).


An ambassador is an authoritative spokesman for a government. When he speaks for the government that is behind him, his words carry the full weight of the government itself. In this way, the apostles were Christ’s ambassadors, commissioned to speak with His full authority as the foundation of the church was being laid (Ephesians 2:20). If you had heard an apostle present the gospel, there would have been no need to worry whether he got it exactly right. When the apostles spoke, it was as if Christ Himself were speaking, and they had the credentials to prove their ambassadorship: the “signs of a true apostle” (2 Corinthians 12:12).

So where does that leave us today? The apostles are dead, and Christ never said anything about a chain of apostolic succession. In the most important sense, however, we still have the apostles — we have their teaching in the New Testament. And that teaching is what everything must be measured against (Galatians 1:8,9).

But, someone says, aren’t all Christians ambassadors for Christ? Perhaps we could say so in a very general sense (just as we could say that every American is an “ambassador” of the United States when he travels, expected to represent his country well). But in an age when people tend to think there is nothing to the gospel except each person’s individual opinion, we need to keep the emphasis on the authoritative statement of the gospel by those who were, in the truest sense, the ambassadors of Christ.

Today, we would not be able to know anything definitive about salvation from sin if Christ had not made arrangements for there to be an authoritative deposit of the gospel in the writings of the apostles. So if someone tries to teach you and he says he’s an “ambassador” of Christ, be sure to test the conclusions his study has led him to against the teaching of Christ’s emissaries, the apostles. But if you are satisfied that what you have heard is, in fact, the gospel, then by all means obey it. Accept God’s offer. Do not turn it down!

“The gospel is not so much a demand as it is an offer, an offer of new life to man by the grace of God” (E. Stanley Jones).

Gary Henry — +

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