Relationships Restored: 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

God’s desire is for our relationship with Him to be restored through Jesus Christ. Our relationship with God is restored once we place our faith in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 – “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 18 God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. 19 In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.”

Our Relationship with God Restored Through the New Birth

I read the text from God’s Word Translation, and I loved the phrase, “He has restored our relationship with Him through Christ.” I love that. God’s desire was for our relationships with Him to be restored and He did it through Jesus Christ.

Paul let’s in on how we know our relationship with God has been restored. He tells us when it happens, you are a new creation, old things or old way of living has passed away and now all things are new. He is describing a born-again experience. When you become born-again your relationship with God is restored.

So my big question today is this, have you been born again? And before you think you can tune me out because you go to church every week, or you went to an altar when you were eight, or you raised your hand and repeated a prayer, or you were baptized. Paul told the same people a few chapters later,

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Paul wrote this to church going, raised the hand, repeated the prayer, baptized people. Saying examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. Have you truly been born again?

“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.”

Jesus said, “You must be born again.” Not you should be but you must be. If you want to go to Heaven, you must be born again. You must be born again.

About the Pharisees – The Religious

Before you right off the Pharisees, I want you to realize not all were bad. They were very much defenders of the faith in that day. They were passionate in their faith. In order to be a Pharisee you had pray, read the bible, in fact they memorized the first five books of the Bible.

They tithed. They fasted two days every week. they believed in and worshiped the one true God, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Nicodemus even believed in Jesus. He started off by saying I know you are from God, by the signs that you do. In other words, I believe you are who you say you are.

But Jesus says to this church going, praying, tithing, fasting, Bible memorizing, believe in God, and Jesus, man, If you want to go to heaven, you must be born again. There are a lot of people who believe in Jesus who are not born again. There are a lot of people who go to church, read their Bible and pray. They even give their tithes, yet they have not been born again. They have not yet submitted their will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They believe in Jesus, but they have not surrendered their will to Him.

Let me explain it this way, I believe that a healthy lifestyle, requires a healthy diet and exercise. I believe that if I eat healthy and exercise, I will be in shape. I believe that. I will tell people that. I have told others they need to do that. I have even used the phrase, “It’s all about diet and exercise.” I believe that, but I have yet to surrender my will to that lifestyle.

I might try it for a little bit, I might go in spurts of exercise or healthy eating, but I have not surrendered my will to it. I believe it, but I don’t live it. Many people believe in Jesus, but they haven’t surrendered their will to Him. They don’t live it.

Jesus is the Only Means of Salvation

We must “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).

Jesus is the narrow gate through which we must enter. All other ways lead to destruction. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

More Going to Hell than Heaven

That is a scary thing to think about. Jesus said many are on the broad road to destruction and few are on the narrow road to life. Many are going to Hell and few are going to Heaven. That’s what Jesus is saying. More people are going to Hell than to Heaven.

We don’t think about that because when we go to funerals the preacher always says we know he is in a better place. He might have lived like the devil and the preacher will say no more pain. Are you kidding me? I get it, I have preached those funerals where I know they didn’t live for God.

I didn’t say they were in a better place. I did say if they were here now they would tell you to turn your life to Jesus. Maybe I should next time just say, he was a rotten scoundrel and we all know he’s in hell.

But instead, you know how the guy lived, and the preacher at the funeral will say we serve a God of love and of grace, and he’s in a better place. The devil says to you, if he made it, then you’re okay. God help us!

Have You Been Born Again

I’m asking you, Have you been born again? There is not a more important question for you to answer and come to grip with. Matthew 7:21-23 says,
“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Misconception of the New Birth

Jesus refers to the salvation experience as a new birth, a spiritual birth like the natural birth. Paul put it this way, we are a new creation, born again. The old things or the old way of living has disappeared, and now all things are new.

I have heard stories all my life where people will say I got saved when I was young, but I ran from God, did my own thing and was miserable, then I came back and totally surrendered to Him. I got saved every week. I asked Jesus to forgive me and nothing changed, but Paul said new creation, new way of living.

I believe there is a misconception of born again. When they say I was saved when I was 15 at youth service, but I partied and drank and was miserable, then years later I came back to church and surrendered my life and every changed.

We mistake what happened at 15 as born again, when really at 15 the seed was planted and you were open to it. Then you were miserable because you knew what was right and you didn’t do it. Finally you submitted your will to God, because Jesus said not everybody that says Lord, Lord will enter in, but those who do the will of my Father, so you submitted your will then you were born again.

How Can I know I’ve Been Born Again

The Bible says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).

A lot of people aren’t sure . I used to not be sure if was born again. I would ask God after a message like this, “If I am not saved, save me.” That prayer just doesn’t work, because we are saying, God if I need You, save me, but if not, if I sinned. We don’t know because no change happened. Remember Paul said new creation, new way of living.

We were born with a sinful nature. We are born heading to hell. I knew I was going that way, so I would try and do what was right. But when I eased up, I would go back. I wanted to do the wrong thing. I knew I shouldn’t, but wanted to any way.

When I surrendered my will to God. When I said I can’t do this, I surrender to You. God did a change in my heart. Now I want to do what is right. Now, I find I will try and do the wrong thing, but I my nature flipped and I instead go the right way. I’ve been given a new nature, with new desires.

Have you been born again? Are you a new creation with a new way of living? If not or if you aren’t sure, today you can leave this place with your relationship with God restored through Jesus Christ. You just have to give Him control, and then He makes the change in you.

Greg Harvey is the pastor of CornerStone Worship Center, a dynamic, spirit-filled church in Bedford, Indiana. Pastor Greg is an anointed preacher and powerful Bible expositor with a vision for missions, leadership development, and church planting.