Salvation in Colossians

This collection of previous Thought for the Week segments gives brief comments on sixteen significant salvation concepts from Paul's letter to the Colossian Christians.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004

#1: COLOSSIANS 1:12: GOD HAS QUALIFIED YOU

This collection of previous thoughts looks at the message of salvation in Paul's letter to the Colossian Christians. Because false teachers in Colosse were shrinking the meaning of salvation through the cross, and giving saving significance to human actions, Paul gives an extensive description of what God did in and through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.

The first aspect of salvation that Paul mentions is this: God 'has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.'

Here is an amazing, incredible thing: that qualification to live with God is a gift from God, something he has done to and for us.

In ourselves we are disqualified. Not one of us is able to qualify ourselves for entry into heaven, for acceptance in the presence of God. But here Paul gives thanks to God the Father because he has qualified us.

  • Do we have to qualify ourselves? No.
  • Do we have to keep ourselves qualified? No.
  • Can anything we do disqualify us? No.

Why then do so many Christians live each day as though it is our performance that day that qualifies or disqualifies us to live with God, to enjoy his favour and blessing?

When we do so, we are completely missing Paul's point in this aspect of the Good News: God has qualified us.

The massive significance of this, and how it is possible, will unfold as we look at other aspects of salvation in Colossians in the weeks ahead.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:12; Romans 3:19,20; Galatians 2:15,16; 3:10]

 

#2: COLOSSIANS 1:13: GOD HAS RESCUED US

' ... he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness ... '

Here salvation is expressed as God rescuing us. To be rescued presupposes an undesirable, threatening or dominating condition from which we need to be rescued.

The undesirable state from which God rescues us is here described as 'the dominion of darkness'.

'Dominion' refers to authority, power and control; it also means the place where that authority and control is exercised. When God rescues us from the 'dominion' of darkness, he rescues us from both the one in authority and the area of his jurisdiction.

The dominion - the power and control - from which God has rescued us, is the 'dominion of darkness'. What is this darkness - this dominating, controlling, enslaving power from whose authority and from whose kingdom God has rescued us?

  • It is the darkness of ignorance of God.
  • It is the darkness of separation from God.
  • It is the darkness of sin.
  • It is the darkness of guilt.
  • It is the darkness of condemnation and judgement.
  • It is the darkness of death.
  • It is the darkness of Satan.
  • It is the darkness of an eternity of separation from God.

So deep and all-embracing is this darkness in which mankind is trapped that most people do not realise they are in it; many do not realise that it actually is darkness and bondage, for they have never known spiritual light and spiritual freedom.

To be locked in darkness is a terrible thing. To be dominated by darkness and not realize that it is darkness and that it is bondage is a far more terrible thing.

From this dominion of darkness God has rescued us.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:13; Matthew 4:16; 6:23; Luke 1:69; John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12, 31-34; 12:46; Acts 26:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Ephesians 6:12; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5; Jude 6,13]

 

#3: COLOSSIANS 1:13: GOD HAS BROUGHT US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS SON

' ... he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves ... '

The Bible teaches that God has placed those who believe in Jesus Christ in 'the kingdom of the Son he loves'. This 'kingdom' stands in direct and total contrast to the 'dominion of darkness' from which God rescued us.

  • It has a different King: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, instead of Satan
  • It has a different foundation: knowledge of God, instead of ignorance of God.
  • It has a different operating principle: grace/faith, instead of law/performance.
  • It has a different verdict: acquittal, instead of guilt and condemnation.
  • It has a different relationship: reconciliation and union with God, instead of enmity with and separation from God.
  • It has a different status for its members: freedom, instead of bondage.
  • It has a different outcome: eternal life, instead of death.

All those who are in this Kingdom of Jesus Christ are there because of God's action: he transferred us, he changed our position, he brought us safely into the Kingdom of his Son.

Membership of this Kingdom is sheer gift, and, because this membership in Christ's Kingdom is the result of God's action, God's will, God's choice, not ours, it is secure. It bears no relationship to our initial or current ability to qualify or justify ourselves, but only to God's gracious saving action in and through Jesus Christ his Son.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:13; Revelation 17:14; 19:16; John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2; John 14:6-9; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Romans 11:16; Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:7-9; Romans 3:19-26; 8:1; 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Colossians 1:19-22; Galatians 5:1-13; John 3:16; John 1:12,13; 10:27-29]

 

#4: COLOSSIANS 1:14: IN CHRIST WE HAVE REDEMPTION

' ... he brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption ... '

Here salvation is depicted by the concept of 'redemption'. Redemption presupposes a state of slavery or bondage, from which a person or property is set free.

In the Old Testament the liberation of the Hebrews from their centuries of slavery in Egypt is recorded as 'redemption' and God from that point onwards is known as their 'Redeemer'.

Also in the Old Testament, provision was made for the 'redemption' of property or persons handed over to another because of debt. A 'redeemer' would purchase freedom for a relative so indebted. At the payment of a price property lost to a creditor could be recovered.

In the Year of Jubilee, scheduled for every fiftieth year, a massive redemption/liberation of people and property held by creditors automatically occurred: those enslaved because of debt were given their freedom, and forfeited property reverted to its original owners.

When Jesus came he announced that the ultimate expression of this Year of Jubilee, this year of God's favour, had arrived and was fulfilled in his person. In him the ultimate redemption, the ultimate liberation, is put into effect.

He, by his life-poured-out, pays the price for our sin-indebtedness to God. He, by his death, liberates us from our inescapable bondage to law, sin, condemnation and death.

Because of his death, by which our sin is forgiven, we are liberated forever from having to keep the Law in order to be safe in God's presence; we are liberated forever from the heavy condemnation and guilt which our sin incurred; we are liberated forever from that death which is the ultimate penalty of eternal separation from God.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:14; Exodus 12:31-15:21; Leviticus 25:8-54; Luke 4:19; Galatians 3:10-14; 5:1]

For further study: check out the Redemption study in Words of Salvation on this website.

 

# 5: COLOSSIANS 1:14: IN CHRIST WE HAVE THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

' ... in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.'

Forgiveness of sins.

When God looks at us as individuals he holds us accountable for our sins. They cut us off from him; they separate us from him; they fill us with damning guilt in his presence; they prevent him from hearing our prayers; they stand against us.

When God grants a person forgiveness of sins all of that is changed: the person whose sins are forgiven stands in the presence of God with the sin barrier taken out of the way, with the sin barrier no longer making a separation between the forgiven person and God.

How can this happen?

Jesus Christ took responsibility for our sins in such a complete way that, as far as the legal penalty and consequences are concerned, we are no longer held accountable for them in the presence of God, the Judge of all the earth.

On the cross God held Jesus Christ, his Son, accountable for our sins. Because of this substitutionary death - a death on our behalf - we are set free to stand in the presence of God, to live in the presence of God today and for eternity, with no barrier in between.

Our access to God is uninhibited and permanent. Those who have been forgiven actually have forgiveness. It is the perpetual possession of the genuine believer in Christ. It was not given in the first place on the basis of our merit, and it is not maintained now on the basis of our merit. It was given, and it is permanently maintained, by the merit of Jesus Christ.

It is not something that is on again/off again depending on whether we have recognized, remembered and individually itemized our sins in a prayer of 'confession': rather it is the perpetual possession of those who, acknowledging that they are indeed sinners, cast themselves on the immeasurable mercy of God offered to them in Jesus Christ.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:14; 2:13,14; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22; 1 John 1:8-10; Luke 18:9-14]

Further forgiveness facts: see 'Forgiveness' in 'Words of Salvation' on this website.

 

#6: COLOSSIANS 1:19-22: GOD RECONCILES US TO HIMSELF THROUGH CHRIST

'God was pleased ... through him (Christ) to reconcile to himself all things ... making peace through his blood shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds ... But now he has reconciled by Christ's physical body through death ... '

Here the message of salvation is stated in terms of reconciliation and making peace . These concepts presuppose the existing condition of alienation, separation, friction and enmity that the Bible teaches began with the original rebellion against God and rejection of him in Genesis 3,

We are God's enemies, and we are powerless to do anything about it. We do not have what it takes to heal the breach and restore a positive relationship with God. A great wall of sin, condemnation, guilt and judgement stands in between, and we cannot break through.

As we have seen in the thought on 'forgiveness', God sent his Son to pay the penalty for our sins. By his death the sin-barrier between us and God is lifted. That which cut us off from God and outlawed us from his presence has been dealt with once for all.

No more can sin, condemnation, guilt and judgement cut us off from God. No more can they interrupt our peace with God. God himself was in Christ reconciling us to himself. God himself was in Christ making peace through the death of his Son.

The person who believes in Jesus Christ has peace with God; the person who believes in Jesus Christ has received reconciliation with God. They are our possession right now. They were not given to us because of our merit; they are not taken from us because of our demerit. Because we are justified by faith in him we have peace with God.

Jesus said: 'Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you.' With this grand assurance we live reconciled and at peace in the presence of God, every moment. Christ himself - not our goodness, not our commitment, not our supposed freedom from sin, is our peace.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:19-22; Romans 5:6,10,12-21; Isaiah 59:2; Hebrews 9:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Romans 5:1, 9-11; John 14:27; Hebrews 10:19-23; Ephesians 2:14]

 

#7: ROMANS 5:1: WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH CHRIST

'Therefore since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ... '

Here we look further into this aspect of salvation that was introduced in the previous thought .

'Peace' is the result of God's act of reconciliation in Christ.

This peace is multi-dimensional:

  1. It is the removal of God's wrath against us and our enmity against God.
  2. It is the removal of the constant need to be justified by our performance.
  3. It is the removal of the fear and the presence of condemnation.
  4. It is the removal of the alienation between us and God.

This peace, in all of these dimensions, is the present possession of every person who truly believes in Jesus Christ. It is real and it is there, whether we feel it or not. It has already been achieved and established by God through the death of Jesus Christ. It is totally unrelated to our performance or obedience: it is grounded in the justification granted to us as sheer gift.

However, it is only when we grasp hold of this truth, or rather, when we let it grasp hold of us, that we will actually live at peace with God, and at peace within ourselves.

Our common human inclination is to look at ourselves and our performance, and to assess our standing in the presence of God on what we see in ourselves. As long as we do so we will never enjoy this peace with God. We need to remember that God no longer looks at us as we are in ourselves as isolated individuals: for those who are united by faith to Jesus Christ, he looks at us only, ever and always, in Christ.

In this truth there is perfect peace with God.

[Scriptures: Romans 5:1; 1:18; 5:9,10; 8:1; 1 John 4:17,18; Colossians 1:21; 3:3]

 

#8: COLOSSIANS 1:22: IN CHRIST GOD PRESENTS US HOLY IN HIS SIGHT ...

' ... he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation ... '

Here is a remarkable thing, a thing that seems impossible to believe: that God, through the reconciling death of Jesus Christ, presents us to himself 'holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.'

If this is true, if it is something God wants us to believe, then it is no wonder that the Bible says that the one who believes in Christ has peace with God, and it is no wonder that the Gospel is called a message of great joy.

These words tell us that when God looks at the person who believes in Jesus Christ he sees not the person, but Christ. Not only has God laid all of our sin and its punishment on his Son: he has also credited us with all of Christ's purity and righteousness.

This is totally awesome: God sees the believer 'holy ... , without blemish, free from accusation.'

  • We would accuse ourselves: God doesn't, for Christ has already taken all the accusation.
  • We would look at our spiritual spots and stains: God doesn't. He regards not us, but Christ - the pure, sinless one.
  • We would feel so unholy: but God counts us holy: his precious treasure purchased at great price.

Our common human practice is to see ourselves as isolated individuals who have to perform in order to maintain our acceptance with God and with others. According to the gospel of salvation God sees the genuine believer always, only and ever 'in Christ'. Holy in his sight. Without blemish. Free from accusation.

This is deep peace. This is deep joy.

This is indeed a powerful salvation.

[Scriptures: Colossians 1:22; Romans 5:1; Luke 2:10; Colossians 3:3; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 10:10,14; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:9; 1:8; Philippians 3:1; 4:4]

 

# 9: COLOSSIANS 2:10: IN CHRIST YOU ARE COMPLETE

' ... you have been given fullness in Christ ... '

' ... you are complete in him ... '

The Bible teaches that in ourselves we are destitute - that we have no goodness or righteousness with which to satisfy God's holy requirements, and that we have a great back-log of sin for which we must bear the guilt and the judgement.

The parable of the unforgiving servant highlights our utter destitution and our inability to ever repay the debt incurred by our sin.

Into this situation of absolute spiritual destitution the Gospel comes and tells those who truly believe in Jesus Christ: you have been given fullness, completion, in Christ. All that God ever has and ever will require of you is yours: you are, right now at this present moment, and for all moments, complete in him.

This truth of being complete in Christ outlaws all human perceptions in which we think that we must add some of our own good works to gain or maintain our salvation. To do so would automatically make our salvation incomplete, diluted, and uncertain, for our personal contributions are always imperfect and marred by sin. As the Bible states, if we add our efforts to the work of Jesus Christ 'Christ will be of no value to you at all ... you have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.' Such is the foolishness of thinking that salvation is the result of Jesus plus ourself.

This complete salvation is complete precisely because it is all of Christ and nothing of our own. Nothing that we have done achieved it; nothing that we do can reduce or cancel it. In this is yet another reason why the salvation that is granted in and through Jesus Christ is good news of great joy.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:10; 2:10 (KJV); Romans 3:9-20; 1:18; Matthew 18:23-35; Galatians 5:2-4; Luke 2:10]

 

#10: COLOSSIANS 2:13: GOD MADE YOU ALIVE WITH CHRIST

'When you were dead in your sins ... God made you alive with Christ.'

'He who has the Son has life ... '

The Bible teaches that the whole human race is born dead. Physically alive, but spiritually dead, severed by sin from God, the source of life.

For this reason, salvation is the restoration of life - the regeneration of that which was without life. It is a reconnection with God that constitutes a reconnection with life.

Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, repeatedly identified himself as the source of life, apart from whom spiritual life is not possible: he is the bread of life, he is the fount of living water, he is the light of life, he is the resurrection and the life, he is 'the life'. To know him is to have eternal life; he is, in fact, eternal life.

In addition, he went right through death as our substitute, taking the punishment for our sins, and rose to life beyond death. The Bible teaches that those who by faith in Jesus Christ are united with him in his death for sins, are also united with him in his resurrection to life beyond the reach of death.

To be made alive in Christ is to possess the gift of spiritual life that can never again be destroyed by sin; it is to possess permanent, present, uninterrupted and indestructible connection with God, the source of life. This gift of indissoluble life has no dependence on our own merits or ability, but depends totally on the perfection of Christ's life and power of his death for our sins.

The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ has already and permanently escaped from spiritual death, and has, by the action of God, been 'born again' - regenerated, resurrected, restored to life, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:13; 1 John 5:12; Genesis 2:17; Ephesians 2:1,5; John 6:35; 4:14; 8:12; 11:25,26; 14:6; 17:3; 1 John 5:20; Romans 6:4-11; Galatians 2:19-20; Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 3:1-4; John 5:24; 3:1-7]

 

#11: COLOSSIANS 2:13: GOD FORGAVE ALL OUR SINS

'He forgave us all our sins ... '

We have already looked at the thought of forgiveness in Colossians 1:14. There the word used referred to the lifting away of the sin barrier between man and God.

A different word used here in Colossians 2:13. It speaks of God 'gracing over' all our sins, of God granting a totally free and unconditional pardon.

Here something quite undeserved and unexpected is done to our sins. Here we are not treated as we deserve to be treated. Here, instead of the punishment we deserve and expect, is an entire absence of punishment.

This free forgiveness, this gracing over of our sins, is something that has been done once and for all at a particular point of time in the past. It was accomplished through the sin-bearing death of Christ on the cross, as the next verses in Colossians point out.

In addition, this gracing over of our sins, was done to all of our sins. When Jesus died on the cross not one of our sins had been committed by us. None of us were even alive. Yet all of our sins were even then a reality. God, even then, because of his eternal outside-of-time existence, knew all of our sins. Christ died for all of our sins. They are all graced over by his death.

Our pre-conversion sins; our present sins; our future sins. All graced over. All forgiven. Never to be punished as they deserve. Jesus Christ, who took our place, bore all the punishment that all of our sins deserve.

It is no wonder that the Bible says that God's grace has been 'lavished on us', that his grace is 'glorious', and speaks of 'his indescribable gift', and 'the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.'

This is indeed 'amazing grace'. Let us all who believe in Christ rejoice in it; and let us not receive this grace in vain.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:13; 1:14; Ephesians 1:8, 1:6; 2:7; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Philippians 3:1,3; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 2:21]

 

#12: COLOSSIANS 2:13,14: GOD WIPED OUR SLATE CLEAN

'He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away ... '

This text teaches us about:

[1] The reason we need forgiveness: there is a 'written code' that opposes us. The Bible calls this written code 'the law'. This refers to God's laws for human existence. Most religious people use law as a check list by which to gauge their level of righteousness or goodness in the hope of being good enough to get to 'heaven'.

However the Bible teaches that God's law was never meant to be the means of our salvation; rather, the law identifies us as sinners who persistently fail to reach God's standard. It is against us and stands opposed to us because we are sinners who sin. It condemns us and holds us under its penalty.

[2] What God did in this impossible situation: he 'cancelled' this written code. The word used here in the Greek text means to completely 'blot out' in the way that graffiti is covered completely by a coat of thick paint, or to 'wipe away' in the way that writing on a slate or whiteboard is completely erased so that it no longer exists.

This teaches us of the complete obliteration of the entire record of our sins, of our failure to obey all of God's commands.

It is this failure on our part to keep God's law that has stood between us and God, barring our access to him, denying us acceptance in his presence. But now, the Bible tells us, God 'took it away' - the Greek means that he has taken it 'out of the middle' - 'out from in between' - in such a way that it is no longer in between us and God.

This is indeed a message of good news. We will learn next week how through the death of Jesus Christ, God could blot out and take away his law, and at the same time still uphold that law.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:13,14; Romans 3:19,20; Galatians 2:15-21; 3:1-14; Isaiah 59:2; Hebrews 10:19-22]

 

#13: COLOSSIANS 2:14: GOD NAILED OUR SIN-LIST TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST

'He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.'

Here we are told howGod forgave all our sins, how he cancelled all of the law's accusations against us, how he took it away:

'he nailed it to the cross'.

When criminals were crucified it was the custom to nail to their crosses a written list of the crimes for which they were being crucified. When Jesus was crucified Pilate ordered that 'This is Jesus, the king of the Jews' be nailed above Jesus as the 'charge' against him.

God, however, in his mind, in his purpose, nailed above Jesus a different list: my list of sins, and your list of sins. Jesus died on the cross taking the full and final punishment in his own body, for my list of sins and for your list of sins.

Everything for which God's law can accuse us - every sin we have committed, are committing and will commit with our minds or our hearts or our bodies, and every good thing that we ought to do but fail to do - everything in which we fall short of God's perfect standard: all of this is on our list that God nailed to the cross of his Son.

Jesus Christ died taking the punishment for that list of mine, and for that list of yours.

In this cross of Christ God's justice and God's grace meet: our sins are justly punished; God's just law is upheld; yet we go free - no accusation or condemnation of God's law ever stands against us again. We are, in fact, as far as the legal penalty of the law is concerned, dead. It can never touch those who are united by faith to Christ.

This message of salvation puts a deep peace in the hearts of those who have received Jesus Christ: no more condemnation, no more fear of God's judgement, nor more anxiety or lack of certainty about one's final destiny.

Instead: peace, joy, assurance, confidence, thanksgiving - and an overwhelming sense of love and commitment to this God who has saved us in this amazing and incredible way.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:14; Matthew 27:37; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 3:26; 5:6,8,10; 6:2-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 2:19-21; Colossians 2:20; 3:3; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:1; 8:1; 1 John 4:17-18]

 

#14: COLOSSIANS 2:15: GOD HAS PUBLICLY DISEMPOWERED AND DISARMED THE ENEMY OF OUR SOULS

'And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.'

In Colossians 1:13 we read that God 'rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of the Son he loves'. Now we are told that God publicly disarmed and triumphed over 'the powers and authorities' by the cross.

Who or what are these 'powers and authorities'? How does the cross bring about their downfall? And what is the significance of this disempowerment to us?

From Genesis 3 onwards Satan has deceived the human race, enslaving us in his lies about God, and in an inescapable situation of sin, accusation, guilt, condemnation and death.

Jesus Christ, in his living, exposed Satan's lies about God: in Jesus Christ, we see God.

Jesus Christ, in his dying, disarmed Satan and his evil spirits. By taking upon himself the full burden of our sin, guilt and condemnation, Jesus Christ robbed Satan of his right to accuse and condemn, leaving him with no power or authority to ever again separate us from God.

The imagery used in this verse is that of a triumphant victory procession, in which the conquered leaders are marched through their city in utter subjection to the conquering general. The meaning is clear: the death of Christ has totally removed Satan and his regime from power and authority.

The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ has this grand assurance: no accusation, no guilt, no condemnation that Satan tries to impose on us can stand. All just accusations against us, all of our true guilt, all of the rightful condemnation/punishment due to us under the law of God - all of these have been fully met in and by our Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross. They are all defused by his death. They have no power, no authority, to ever again sever us from God and from eternal life.

Let us then live with joy and peace in the knowledge of this present and permanent liberation.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:15; 1:13; Genesis 3; Galatians 4:3,9; Hebrews 2:15; John 10:30; 12:21; 1 Corinthians 15:55,56; Romans 8:31-39]

 

#15: COLOSSIANS 2:20: IDENTIFIED WITH THE DEATH OF CHRIST OUR SUBSTITUTE

' ... you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world ... '

The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ is united by that faith to the death of Christ.

This identification with the death of Christ means that the person who believes in Christ has already paid the legal penalty for sin- which is death - in the death of Christ who put himself in our place. In this way the Bible teaches that the believer has died with Christ.

Our text this week teaches a further aspect of this dying with Christ: 'you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world.'

This refers to a fundamental paradigm shift of massive and far-reaching proportions . The paradigm of this world is a 'tit-for-tat', payback mentality. Belief systems created by man make our acceptance with 'god' or the attainment of our ultimate spiritual destiny, dependent on our own actions. I must do this in order to attain and maintain that.

The message of Christ stands in stark contrast: we are 'saved', we gain 'eternal life', we know God and are united to God, not by anything that we have done, but by sheer gift, absolute and amazing grace: undeserved, unmerited, unearned.

In receiving Christ and his gift of salvation we are liberated forever from this principle of performance . It cannot touch us. It cannot disqualify us. We are dead to it and it is dead to us.

The gospel of Jesus Christ commands and enables us to repent: to change our minds, to throw off the perception that we have to work to gain and maintain salvation, and to take on board the paradigm of grace.

In this paradigm we are liberated to love and serve God for his sake, to love and serve our neighbour freely, and to live at peace without fear of accusation in the innermost depths of our own souls.

[Scriptures: Colossians 2:20, 12; John 3:16; Romans 3:19-31; Ephesians 2:8,9; Galatians 4:3-5; Romans 7:6; 8:1,31-39; Galatians 5:1,13; 1 John 4:16-19]

 

#16: COLOSSIANS 3:3: HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD

'For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.'

These words are an anchor for the soul, a secure and certain shelter from all the accusations that could ever be made against us; they are God's guarantee against all the guilt and shame that would destroy us in our innermost being.

'You died'. This fact is repeated here in case we missed its significance before. You died. You who believe in Jesus Christ - you are incorporated into and identified with his death for sin on the cross.

His death is your death. God's law, guilt, condemnation, accusation, judgement - none of these has any right to touch you. You have paid the just penalty, you have borne the just condemnation: in Jesus Christ your substitute: you have died. You are no longer legally accountable. God's law has already been met by you in Christ who held himself accountable for your sin.

So Paul adds: 'your life is now hidden with Christ in God'.

This statement contains the absolute in assurance and confidence and security. Nothing, not even the judgement of God, can touch you here. Your life, with all its sin, its lack of love, its imperfection, its ups and downs - everything - is hidden with Christ in God.

The believer is as safe in the presence of God as Jesus Christ is safe; as safe on the Day of Judgement as Jesus Christ is safe. Christ will never again have to bear the punishment for our sin: we will never again have to bear the punishment for our sin. Christ will never again be forsaken and rejected by God the Father: we will never again be forsaken and rejected by God. Our sin will never again separate Christ from the Father: our sin can never again separate us from the Father. The believer is just as accepted by God as Jesus Christ is accepted by God.

In this is peace. In this is joy. In this is contentment. In this is absolute, guaranteed security:

'Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.'

[Scriptures: Colossians 3:1-4]