The Mouths of God

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Personally, I really enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and if I’m going to watch the films I have to watch the extended editions. One reason for this, is the scene I am about to describe.

At the Black Gate, toward the end of the third film, Aragorn calls out, “Let the lord of the Black Land come forth. Let justice be done upon him.”

Instead of Sauron himself emerging from the gate, an emissary comes forth, “robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.”[1]

There follows a conversation (much longer in the book than in the movie), in which they argue back and forth about terms of a surrender. The conversation ends with these words from Sauron’s ambassador: “Do not bandy words in your insolence with the Mouth of Sauron! . . . Surety you crave! Sauron gives none. If you sue for his clemency you must first do his bidding. These are his terms. Take them or leave them!”[2]

The heroes refuse the terms, and the final battle breaks out at the border of Mordor.

Today’s Text

In today’s text, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’”

Bridging Contexts…

Perhaps you are wondering why I would compare a villain’s spokesman to a Christian? There are several reasons, though the primary one is this: when I thought about an example of an ambassador, this was the first thing that came to mind.

A better reason is because he displays many of the traits that an ambassador is to display. As Sauron’s mouthpiece, he spoke for Sauron. He gave Sauron’s message—as evil or twisted as it may be—and did not seek to elevate himself or promote himself in the giving of his message. Even the fact that Tolkien explains that the guy didn’t even remember his name is proof of how devoted he was to his master. In addition, in the movie Aragorn cuts off his head. To attack an ambassador is to attack the one they are sent by. All of these points are important in today’s text.

As Christians we are not out to promote ourselves, but rather Jesus. As Christians, our names mean nothing. Only Jesus’ name matters. We must be bold to preach Christ knowing that ultimately if someone attacks us for promoting Christ’s message they are attacking Christ, not us. This should make us bold to evangelize. In our passage today, Paul seeks to spur us on—as Christ’s ambassadors—to preach the gospel everywhere we go.

Who we minister for

Paul starts off by writing two words: “for Christ.” He repeats the same two words again toward the end of the passage: “for Christ.”

For this reason, it becomes necessary to recognize that we are not our own. As Paul writes several times in 1 Corinthians, believers are not their own. We’ve been bought at a price. Christ redeemed us and we belong to Him. We do not have an excuse to not do what God commanded us to do. The only reason why we are not in heaven immediately after we are saved is because we have a mission to do. It’s what Paul speaks of when he tells us what we are doing “for Christ.” We are ambassadors for Him.

This is just another way of stating what Jesus Himself commanded His followers—all 512 of them—in Matthew 28:18-20. “Then Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

We are to go throughout our lives as residents of a different kingdom than whatever nation we were born into on this earth. We are left on earth to point people to God, to point people to Christ. We do this for Christ. We don’t do this to puff up our own egos. We don’t do this to keep track of how many conversions we achieve. We don’t even do this to earn rewards in heaven. We do this to help people see their need for Jesus.

A few weeks ago I posted a post on this very topic. The point of said post is that if we fail to act as the ambassadors that we are called to be for anything less than the fact that Jesus called us to this task, we are worshipping something else instead of Him, which is idolatry. What would you tell someone about Jesus for? A million dollars? You worship money. A new car? You worship comfort. A potential husband or wife? You worship relationships. We must spread the gospel only for Christ. We are His ambassadors.

The importance of our ministry

The phrase hidden in the middle of this passage says that we carry on our ambassadorship because we are “certain that God is appealing through us.”

This is huge. It takes the importance of our ministry—of our calling, the only reason we are still on earth—to a whole new level. When we preach the gospel to the lost, God Himself is calling out to people through our voices.

There are several implications from this truth.

First, it shows that God Himself is active in saving lost souls. He wants people to turn to Him. This is why He commissioned His followers to go forth and preach the gospel, making disciples and training them according to the Word of God. He isn’t content just reaching twelve souls in the first century. He isn’t content just winning people from one ethnic group. He isn’t content just reaching you. He wants the world to know His name. He wants the world to hold Him in honor. He wants you to act like an ambassador in a foreign land. Both James and Peter begin their letters by referring to their readers as exiles in foreign lands. If you’re a believer, you are an alien. You do not belong to this world. As such, you are on a mission from God.

Are you carrying it out faithfully?

Second, it shows that God greatly values His people. He trusts us with His gospel. He doesn’t reserve it for a special class of believer. He doesn’t only give it to pastors. The Gospel is not the sole possession of the Pope (if the Pope even understands it at all). Everyone who can say, “I once was blind but now I see,” possesses the gospel message. I hope this means you. God has entrusted the message of the gospel with you. This is the message that is the power of God. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. God loves you enough to give you the message that is His power. This should be an honor for you when you recognize this truth.

Are you faithful with the powerful message that God has entrusted you with?

Finally, it is a shame if we keep our mouths shut and do not proclaim the gospel. The passage says that “God is appealing (literally: calling) through us.” When we proclaim the Gospel, God Himself is speaking through us. This is what gives the gospel its power. It is not us and our wits that make it powerful. It is not the volume of our plea that makes it powerful. It is not the message itself that is powerful. God speaking through us gives the gospel its power. Therefore, when we fail to preach the gospel we are ultimately putting a muzzle on God and telling Him, “Stay quiet.” This goes along with the command to not “quench the Spirit” in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. If we fail to preach the gospel we are quenching the Spirit. If we fail to preach the gospel we are telling God we want Him to stay silent. If we fail to preach the gospel we are pridefully attempting to control the power of God. In addition, it is the epitome of hatred to not share the gospel with the lost. It’s the attitude, “Ehhh, you’re already on your way to hell for all I know, and I am okay with that.” That should never be our attitude.

Do you silence God? Or do you allow Him to speak through your mouth?

God trusts us to proclaim His gospel. Are we faithfully preaching it and causing His Kingdom to grow by His power that goes forth through our preaching? Or are we burying our talent in the sand, pridefully saying, “This is mine and I want it for myself?” According to Matthew 25, the person who buries their talent in the ground isn’t even saved. Let’s be faithful to proclaim the gospel to the lost, lest we prove on the last day that the gospel’s power never penetrated our hearts.

The message of our ministry

Finally, we come to the message we carry: “Be reconciled to God.”

This is what we must proclaim to the lost. Ultimately it all boils down to this. If our preaching boils down to anything less than this basic message, we are failing in our call as preachers. Not that all preaching must be specifically evangelistic, but everyone needs reconciliation with God. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I must do is seek Jesus in the Scriptures to be reminded of the fact that I have been reconciled with God.

You see, we are all born into sin. You don’t have to teach a baby to scream and act selfish. You don’t have to teach a child to lie. You don’t have to teach a kid to say, “Mine,” and punch another kid in the mouth. But we do have to teach kids to look out for others, to tell the truth, to ask politely for stuff. And when this stuff isn’t corrected by good parenting, what happens is theft, murder, rape. These are all the signs of sin in us. We cannot escape it.

We might not all be technically as evil as the rapists or murderers, but Jesus said that if you look at someone imagining yourself sleeping with them, then you are guilty of adultery (rape). Jesus also said that if you hate someone in your heart, then you are guilty of murder. In Romans 1, Paul gives a laundry list of sins that put us into a state of not being reconciled with God. Included on that list is a sin that everyone is guilty of at some point: disobeying parents.

So, we are all guilty of sin. We can’t escape it. I’m just as guilty as you are. However, God loved the world enough to do something about it. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the earth. He lived a perfect life—never even disobeyed His parents—died on the cross—the death we deserved—and rose from the grave—so we don’t have to fear death either.

Paul sums up Jesus’ life and death in the verse immediately following ours today. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christ became sin on the cross so that we could become righteous. Christ became cut off from God on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God. If you die apart from belief in Him, you will remain cut off from God for eternity. This is not a good thing! It’s quite literally Hell. Please believe in Him if you never have before.

This is the gospel. This is the message we are called to proclaim.

If you’ve read this far, have you actually paid attention? Do you recognize that you are sinful? Do you want to escape the consequence of your sin? Place your faith in Christ! See Him as your treasure. Embrace Him as your righteousness. Commit to telling others about His amazing grace. Let God’s powerful gospel flow through your lips.

If you’ve believed in the past, please preach Christ! Even if you’re not a pastor and have never had a minute of biblical education, preach Christ. The message is simple: “Be reconciled to God!”

In conclusion, we serve a much greater master than the Mouth of Sauron served. As such, how much more faithful should we be to faithfully pass on the message God has entrusted to us? We cannot let a fictional character be a better ambassador for his wicked, sorcerer king than we are for our great, reconciling God.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

[1] J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (New York, NY: Del Rey, 2012), 171.

[2] Ibid., 174.

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