Summary: The Power of Christ's Reconciliation Big Idea – The gospel turns enemies into friends and promises that we will one day stand before God sinless and pure. Our Present Status: Reconciled through Christ (vs. 22)
The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 6
The Power of Christ's Reconciliation
March 1, 2015
We are in a series on Paul's letter to the Colossian church, called “The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ.” Two weeks ago we saw Paul describing the universal scope of Christ's reconciliation, Christ will reconcile all things to God in two ways. He will reconcile humanity to God through faith in Christ. The rest of humanity and the hostile angelic creatures will be defeated and pacified similar to a military defeat. Now Paul describes this reconciliation to the Colossians, as an example those who have been reconciled through faith in Christ.
Big Idea – The gospel turns enemies into friends and promises that we will one day stand before God sinless and pure.
Our Past Condition: Alienated and Enemies (vs. 21)
Paul describes our condition outside of Christ as alienated and hostile in our minds. Many of us may have experienced the hurt and bitterness and barriers that arise from being alienated from others. With God this alienation is exponentially worse, it has left us separated from God, our sin and his wrath being insurmountable obstacles. In our natural sinful condition we are in a spiritually hopeless and helpless condition. Contrary to what many think, we are not indifferent nor neutral toward God. Scripture paints a much more antagonistic picture. We may acknowledge God generally and even seek after God in some sense but when it comes to Christ there is only rebellion and hostility. This hostility finds expression in our minds as our ideas are perverted, distorted, prejudiced against God and this evil thinking leads to evil behavior. Every thought, every desire, and every action before Christ intervenes is sinful and evil. Even the most altruistic or heroic acts are sinful because they come from a sinful heart. Do you feel the depth of our helplessness and hopelessness outside of Christ? Why does Paul tell us this and why am I expounding upon it ad nauseam? It is always good to remember where we come from, the depth of our sinfulness and hopeless and helpless condition because it magnifies the work of Christ. Then Paul interjects some of the most powerful and beautiful words in Scripture, 'but now he has reconciled us.' Your past does not have the last word on you because Christ intervenes and changes our present status to reconciled through Christ.
Our Present Status: Reconciled through Christ (vs. 22)
Reconciliation in an interpersonal and relational term. It is the act in which God makes those who are his enemies his friends, even better his children. Reconciliation happens on both sides of the relationship, us toward him and him toward us. We need to be reconciled to God but our sin is an insurmountable obstacle; God needs to be reconciled to us but his wrath toward us is an insurmountable obstacle. God in Christ did what we could not do in removing those two obstacles, our sin and his wrath. We were his enemies; we were not worthy of it and were not deserving of it, yet he chose to do it. He did this in his body of flesh by his death, meaning his death on the cross. Christ fully identified with his people becoming sin for us on the cross and thereby condemning sin for us. Yet this is just the beginning and not the end. Our reconciliation has the glorious promise of a future destiny, sinlessness before Christ.
Our Future Destiny: Perfect before Christ (vs. 22-23)
The gospel turns enemies into friends and promises that we will one day stand before God sinless. This reconciliation has the goal of presenting us before God, morally perfect, holy and blameless and above reproach. Reconciliation does not leave us hanging but initiates in us moral change that leads to our ultimate moral perfection. We, who are now sinful are promised to be holy and blameless and above reproach, presentable to God without the fear of standing in the presence of a holy God. All of us are strugglers on a journey toward perfection, found in his presence. On that day we will cease from striving, we will cease from being disgusted with our sin, and we will cease from sinning. What a glorious promise that is. But there is a hitch. That promise is conditional, “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” This causes some of us trouble but it should not. Remember that Paul is writing a letter to address a church troubled by false teachers threatening to lead the church astray from the truth of the gospel and faithfulness to Christ. This letter addresses this issue and in it Paul appeals to them to remain faithful to the true gospel. The promise of future glory is conditional upon remaining faithful to the gospel, described as 'stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.' This passage and passages like this all over the New Testament tells us that a one time act of faith in Jesus Christ that makes us eternally secure in final salvation irrespective how we life is unbiblical. What it does tell us is that perseverance, remaining faithful to Christ, is an affirmation of the reality of that initial act of faith. So while I think Paul is confident that they will persevere yet he is also confident that they must persevere. He wants them to live with the confidence that they have final salvation but he is also warning them not to take their salvation for granted. The New Testament writers are always promising and prodding. Promising them that their salvation is secure in Christ and prodding them to continue in Christ. Here he is prodding us forward, to keep moving along in our faith. When churches become imbalanced in either promising or prodding, people either fret over their salvation which leads to despair, wondering if they will ever make it or they become so lax over their lives that they have a false sense of security. Those who truly come to faith in Christ become God's children and will always remain God's children but not outside of persevering in the faith, remaining faithful to Christ and growing in Christ. Paul is warning us to move along in our faith but not to question our faith.