Summary: Sermon 14 in a study in Colossians
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
God’s words through His servant Moses to the nation of Israel help us understand that our salvation is by His grace alone.
“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Deut 7:7-8
This was a generation of people who had never known anything but slavery. Their decisions were made for them, they had what they had in the material sense only by the favor of the Pharaoh, and the only thing they knew of the God of their fathers was what had been handed down to them orally by their parents and grandparents.
The condition of the children of Israel in Egypt serves as a perfect type or example of mankind, enslaved to the power of sin and the fear of death.
Exodus 1:13-14 tells us:
“The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.”
And we are thus reminded of the bitterness of a life of sin, the soul’s hard taskmaster that demands and drives and breaks down and destroys, and holds its victims in fear of death and whatever might come after death.
A few chapters later in Exodus, when God gives Moses the ordinances for the first Passover meal, He will instruct the inclusion of a sop of bitter herbs into which to dip their unleavened bread. Bitter herbs to remind them and their future generations as they taste it, of the bitterness of slavery under the Pharaoh’s cruel hand.
It was this bitter sop into which Jesus dipped His bread the same moment as His betrayer. I wonder… did their hands touch as they did so? At that moment did the thought pass through the mind of Jesus that as they dipped, Judas was steeped in the bitterness of sin, while He, the Christ, was about to take all that bitterness in His own body for the deliverance of all who would believe…?
Anyway, His people were enslaved in bitter and laborious circumstances and as He had promised to Abraham (Gen 15:13-14), He brought them out with many possessions. Why? Because they were His chosen and God remembers His promises.
God chose them. They did not choose Him, but He chose them simply because He loved them, and according to His grace alone He redeemed them, as Moses said, “…by a mighty hand…” out of slavery and into freedom and a new life in a new land.
Paul says here to the Colossians, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God…”
Some translations use the word ‘elect’. There’s nothing mysterious about the word; it means what it appears to mean. Picked out. Strong’s lexicon makes a very clear statement in defining the word and I pass it on to you here.
“God choosing whom he judged fit to receive his favors and separated from the rest of mankind to be peculiarly his own and to be attended continually by his gracious oversight.”
Christians, it is only the prideful audacity of our sinful nature that holds us back from fully accepting and believing the doctrine of God’s divine election. We want to think that at least to some small degree we had a part in our salvation, even if only by our assent to the truth and deciding to believe what was being presented to us – as though God was in part helpless to save until we consented.
We want to think that a just God would never pass anyone over and choose certain ones for salvation.
Fundamentally, the reason for our difficulty is that our sin nature wants to make God less than He is – wants to make Him in our image. He is not like us, He is infinitely above and greater than we, and He has made very clear in His Word that He in His sovereignty will choose upon whom He will have compassion and upon whom He will not; upon whom He will show mercy and upon whom He will not.