21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)
In our last time together, we looked at the supremacy of Christ:
- as God (v. 15)
- over creation (vv. 15-17)
- over the church (v. 18)
- as God’s first and only plan for redemption and reconciliation of humans (vv. 19-20)
Today, Paul starts out by reminding the Colossian church (and us) of their need (and ours) for reconciliation.
Let’s stop and remember the core truth about what Paul is saying:
- Before mankind’s fall into sin, there was no need for reconciliation. Mankind (Adam and Eve) lived in perfect relationship with God.
- Before mankind’s fall, there was no death (separation of relationship). There was only life.
- Before mankind’s fall, there was no grace (unmerited favor due to a separation of relationship). There was only love.
Looking back at verse 18, Paul reminds us that Christ is supreme over the church (the composite whole of fallen mankind who have accepted Christ’s offer of redemption). Paul also reminds us that Christ is not only supreme over the church but also over death itself, leading the way for the redeemed to spend eternity in restored perfect relationship with God.
Paul finished yesterday’s text by reminding us that we cannot reconcile ourselves to God. Only God can reconcile us to Himself, through Christ, and specifically, through Christ’s death on the cross.
All this was to say that only Christ can bridge the vast chasm between God and mankind. There are no other intermediaries, as some in the Colossian church tried to teach. Remember Peter’s words before the Sanhedrin, when Peter and John were brought in and told not to preach the gospel of Christ: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)
All that leads us back to today’s text, where Paul reminds us that we were once separated from God and in need of reconciliation.
As followers of Christ, we are now reconciled to God and are holy and blameless in His sight, without accusation because of Christ’s death on the cross (v. 22).
In verse 23, Paul lays out the condition for our redemption – “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”
Is Paul implying that we can lose our salvation, our redemption, our reconciliation to God? No, not at all. If that were the case, then some part of our reconciliation would be dependent on our good deeds or works to get us into heaven.
Paul is saying that our salvation, our reconciliation is demonstrated, is evidenced when we continue (grow) in our faith.
Jesus shared this same thought in the parable of the seed and the sower (Matthew 13:1-9). It’s the seed that finds the good soil and grows and produces fruit that evidences life. All the other seeds that sprout up and die do not evidence life. There is no continuation of life to the point of producing fruit. And it’s the same for our spiritual life – the evidence of our salvation, our redemption and reconciliation is life, growth, and fruit in Christ.
Paul says our faith is in the gospel of Christ, and that gospel is the same throughout history and time (v. 23). This was not Paul’s word against those teaching other things in the Colossian church. Paul was not making this up as his “version of the truth”, to gather followers. In fact, Paul says the opposite – Paul made himself a servant of the gospel of Christ. Paul said he had to transform (change) to receive life in Christ.
May we examine our lives and see whether we are planted in good soil, the gospel of Christ, and are growing and producing spiritual fruit, not to earn our salvation, but to show evidence of it. And may we remember that there is only one gospel – that of Christ.