Ministry of Reconciliation
What exactly is this "ministry of reconciliation" that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 5:18 where he writes, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation?" There seems to be a different opinion about what he meant by this in some circles. Just how we are suppose to "Be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20)?
There are many that look upon the word "reconciliation" and automatically seem to think that it refers to the sacrament of confession as the means to get reconciled with God. This is reflected in the following quote - Archbishop Fulton Sheen expressed this sentiment when he said, "Whenever you see the hand of absolution of the priest, the priest raises his hand for absolution, picture Christ. He is the priest behind the priest, and his hand is dripping with the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, and it washes us pure and clean." This denomination teaches that the power to forgive sins was given to the apostles by Christ Jesus himself: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:23).
However, the Bible clearly tells us of a different meaning to the word "reconciliation." First, we see that Nelson's Bible dictionary is in agreement with the need for reconciliation, as expressed above when it says that reconciliation is "The process by which God and man are brought together again." The need is there, no doubt about that. The problem is about how someone gets reconciled to God. Here lies the deception from that particular denomination as they view works as an essential part of the salvation process, as if one can merit their salvation. The Bible tells us that works is a big part, but not about our works. It is the finished work of Jesus Christ crucified that reconciles people. And we are to believe in that alone for our sins to be forgiven. For our salvation is dependent upon God's grace, not our deeds. And when a person depends upon a priest, they are not depending upon Christ, but upon a sacrament (a work) that they can do. The Bible clearly denies this in Romans 11:6, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Furthermore, the Bible is clear about not meriting grace by what we do when it says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9) In other words, it says, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28)
How does the Bible tell us to be reconciled and what is the ministry? It's the Gospel!!! God so loved the world that He did it all at Calvary, no need for a priest. The verse taken to be evidence above (John 20:23) isn't giving the apostles any power to forgive sins, but rather they can share the gospel of grace. If you believe in the Blood shed at Calvary for your sins to be wiped clean, the apostles would inform you that you're saved. It's that simple!!! "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself." (Colossians 1:20) Praise God.