Thursday, June 30, 2022

Redeemed and Reconciled

 Read Colossians 1

I am going to tell you a whole bunch of things that you already know.  Don’t check out mentally or just go home.  Instead, remember that God takes all things and works them for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Yes, that’s from Paul’s letter to the Romans, but keep it bouncing around in your mind while we begin this new study of the Colossians.

Paul again was writing from Rome in some sort of imprisonment.  He likely wrote this letter before he wrote to the churches in Ephesus and Philippi.  His letter to the Galatians was penned more than a decade earlier.

Why are Paul’s letters in this order?  They are organized by length in most of your Bibles.  You can get Bibles that put the books Chronologically if you want them that way, but for the purposes of our study of these four books, the letter to the Colossians was probably written a little before the one to Philippi and about the same time as the one to Ephesus.

Do you remember on which missionary journey it was that Paul went to establish the church in Colossae?  Yes, it’s a trick question.  Paul did not establish this church.  It was a missionary effort of the church in Ephesus.

Epaphras was likely the main church planter.  Understand that this was a church that Paul did not start, that he had not visited, and that was something of a second-generation body of believers.  Those who believed the gospel that Paul had shared with them shared with others in another town and they came to believe.

The church was growing beyond the impact of these first apostles, in this case Paul. The church in Rome was also such a church but we look to Paul’s counsel to these believers in Asia Minor—hard core pagan country—at this time.

Paul acknowledged early in this letter that the gospel was moving well beyond the places that Paul had touched.

Paul addresses these Colossian believers as holy and faithful brothers in Christ.  He greeted them with grace and peace. This is a warm letter to beloved followers of Christ Jesus, most of whom Paul has never met.

Paul tells these believers that he continues to pray for them.  Those in ministry continued to pray for them.  They prayed that this body of believers receive knowledge, wisdom, and understanding so that they may live a life worth of the calling that they have received. OK, that’s the way Paul put it to the Ephesians.

Here Paul says so that they (also we) might live a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work.

Paul doesn’t stop there.  He adds that they (we) might grow in the knowledge of God, be strengthened in his power, so that you will have great endurance and patience and joyfully give thanks to the Father in heaven who qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints.

Consider that qualified means that God did it all.  Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe.  We are saved by grace through faith so that none of us can boast that we did anything to earn our salvation.  God himself qualified us for salvation.

We are not only saved from sin and death; we are part of the Kingdom of God.  That’s our home. By now, you should see some strong connections among the letters to Ephesus, Philippi, and now Colossae.

We know Christ is the one and only Son of the one true God.  He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  He is the first born of all creation.  He is the head of the church.

At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and this will be to the glory of God.

But Jesus is also the image of the invisible God. He makes visible to us that which is not visible to us—holy God.

Jesus told his disciples that because they had seen him, they had seen the Father

Where is all of this leading?  It’s bringing us to an understanding that Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to save humankind.  His sacrifice was to reconcile all things to himself—to the image of the invisible God.

He reconciled all things to himself—the head of the church, the one who is at the right hand of the Father, and the only one who ever fulfilled the law and was qualified to take away our sin and make us right with God once and for all.

But not just us.  Not just on earth.  Not just Hebrews who had professed Jesus as Lord. The blood of Jesus reconciled every vile and rebellious thing to himself. 

Think to our human nature—our sinful human nature if you will.  When we are at odds with someone, our first nature is to be right.  Being right is more desirable than being reconciled.  That’s why we don’t see much reconciliation in this world. It is not our nature.

But it is God’s nature.  We were at odds with God, enemies if you will.  God was right and there was no argument.  We deserved wrath.  We deserved condemnation.  God chose to redeem us and he desired that the entire creation be reconciled to him.

We deserved wrath.  We received redemption and reconciliation.  OBTW—we didn’t earn any of it.

We may not see this reconciliation yet, but the work is done.

It’s hard to understand everything reconciled to him when we have tornadoes and earthquakes and drought. That doesn’t seem like reconciliation.

It’s hard to visualize all things reconciled to him when people do not value life from inception to old age. You would think that all would value life.

It’s hard to conceptualize that all things are reconciled to him while this sinful human nature wants to regain a place of prominence in our lives. Will the good work that he began in us not be complete?

But we must realize and embrace that the work on the cross was a work for redemption and reconciliation.  It is finished!

One day, all will see it.  Today, we must embrace it and live according to the law of love.

We must know that at one time we too were enemies of God.  Until we professed Jesus as Lord, we were God’s enemies.

We were sinners and we were saved by grace but we are redeemed and reconciled to God in the blood of Jesus.

We were:

·       Sinners

·       Saved by grace

We are:

·       Redeemed

·       Reconciled to God

·       A new creature

Do you remember Paul’s paradox—already done but not yet?  We are made perfect by God but we are still living as a work in progress.  God’s work to make us right is done.  We are still working on living up to that right standing.

It is the same thing with his reconciliation.  We—the whole creation—is reconciled through the work on the cross.  We are living out our lives in anticipation of its full manifestation but make no mistake, the work is done.

You might be thinking, Tom just preached a whole bunch of stuff that I already knew. You will get no argument from me on that point. In fact, I told you in advance that I was going to do that and I’m glad this was not the first time that you heard most of this.

For the moment, while all of these things are being refreshed in your mind, consider that God was pleased to have his fulness dwell in his Son.  The fulness of God the Father was manifested in Jesus the Son. 

In Christ we have all that we need. He and the Spirit act in total accord with the Father but we seek to live a Christ centered life. The term Christology is frequently used with this letter.

A basic definition would be the study of Christ, but it’s more of the centrality of Christ in everything.  The fullness of God was within him.

John’s gospel tells us that it was this way at the creation.  Now understand it was and is this way for redemption and reconciliation.

We understand that we are saved from sin and from death but do we understand that we are no longer enemies of God, not by what we have done but that through Christ we are reconciled to God.

It’s not like, you are saved but you are still scum.  We are redeemed.  We are reconciled.  Through Christ and in Christ we are made to live in right relationship with God.

The will of God has been accomplished on the cross.  The creation has been redeemed and reconciled.  Our response is to live as redeemed men and women in a new creation.

We have not yet seen the new heaven and new earth  but we are a new creation qualified to live in God’s Kingdom.

Eye has not seen and ear has not heard what the Lord God has in store for us, but it is in store for us as God planned all along. The work is done.  Our inheritance is set. We are a new creature and a new heaven and new earth await us.

The world looks like a complete mess but God has reconciled everything to him.  Live out your salvation knowing that there is harmony and accord in store for you.

We have a glimpse, a taste, a deposit of what is in store for us.  Let that be enough for us to live a life of love in response to the grace and peace that has been bestowed upon us by almighty God through the person of Christ Jesus.

Consider all of the turmoil and hurt and pain and hatred and contempt and rebellion and apathy that you have known in this world, not to mention the bad hair days. Consider the wars and carnage and devastation that you have seen wrought upon this world.

Consider the proliferation of lying and deceit and falsehood seeking to overcome the truth.

The world deserves the wrath of God but God desires redemption and reconciliation. The work required for these things has all been done by God himself.  He has made you a new creature.  Will you trust him that he has made a new creation for you to dwell in?

Trust him in the turmoil.

Trust him with rebellion all around you.

Trust him even when the world hates you for it.

Trust him.  Through Christ Jesus all things have been reconciled to God. Show God that you trust him.

Live as the new creature he made you to be.

Live a life of love in response to salvation and redemption that you know in the blood of Jesus.

Live with joy in your heart.

Live with peace that only God can give.

Live knowing that God has reconciled all things to himself.  The day will come when we will see this for ourselves.

Today, we see as through a glass darkly, but one day we shall see fully. Yes, I took that phrase from Paul writing about love to a church in the middle of turmoil in desperate need of reconciliation. It fits here as well.

Today, we are called to live as a new creature in a new creation  trusting God through Christ that we will see everything reconciled to him one day.

We will see what Christ has already accomplished.


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