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Posts Tagged ‘Redemption’

Christianity ought to radically change the way that we see people and relate to them. As I am currently working through the parables of Jesus, I have been struck by how many of them address our relationships with people. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus intimates that all people are our neighbors–even the person we are most frustrated with (for the Jew that was the Samaritan). Further, Jesus is more concerned with us living like neighbors than determining who fits that bill. In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus indicates that we should be reaching out in love to all people. Living in a kingdom that is upon us and yet awaits fulfillment (already/not yet) should open our eyes to see the poor, the downtrodden, and the needy in our midst.

The gospelradically changes the way we see ourselves and other people and how we relate to them.  Using the four gospel truths of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation, here is a basic guide to poeple:

  1. Creation:  God created the world and he made it good–everything in it, including you and me, belongs to him. Every breath is a gift.
  2. Fall:  God’s good creation has subjected itself to corruption. We have sinned and what God made good has been broken.
  3. Redemption: God promises to fix his broken creation through the death and resurrection of His Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.  People who trust Christ are healed of their corrupt nature.
  4. Consummation: God will send Jesus back to finally redeem those who trusted him and he will finally and decisively make all that is wrong in the world right.

Seeing ourselves in the right light:

  1. 1. We are created beings. We have value.
  2. We are broken. There is much about us that isn’t good–we need to be familiar with this aspect about ourselves. Our nature has been corrupted in a way that we cannot fix by ourselves.
  3. We can be redeemed through Christ. Our corrupt nature can be done away with and replaced with a new one. We don’t deserve this–its the most marvelous gift.
  4. We are not yet what we will be.

Seeing other people in the right light:

  1. They are created beings. They have value. Not one is worth more than another.
  2. They are broken. We should expect them to fail and even hurt us at times.
  3. They can be redeemed by grace. No one deserves this–that is why everyone should hear about it.
  4. Those God saves he will perfect.

Seeing ourselves in relation to other people:

  1. You are created and therefore have value to offer other people.
  2. You are broken and thus have the potential to do great harm to people made in God’s image.
  3. You are saved by God’s grace. You don’t deserve this–its a gift so you are no better than anyone else.  This salvation does grant you a unique potential to bless others.
  4. You are saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved. God isn’t done with you yet.

This paradigm has the power to radically change the way we see people and relate to them. As C.S. Lewis said–humans are immortal beings–that changes everything. Christians ought to be the humblest of all people.

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Mark 1:24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God.”

Matthew 8:29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

The two above verses are responses of demons to Jesus during his public ministry–in which he often cast out demons.  In Mark 1, there is just one demon possessed man and one demon making this interesting statement.  In Matthew, there were 2 demon possessed men possessed by many demons that apparently made these men strong and violent.  In both of these instances–the demons seem to know something about who Jesus is and where He has come from.

In my previous post, Jesus . . . what are you doing here? I discussed the fact that the only precident in the Old Testament that we have of someone saying “I have come” + a statement of purpose comes from angels (Daniel 9:22-23, 10:11-14; Numbers 22:32).  So when Jesus uses this formula a number of times in the gospels–he is communicating that he has come from the heavenly sphere to earth for particular purposes–all of which have far reaching eternal implications (i.e. “to cast fire on the earth” or “to seek and save the lost”).

In these two verses–the demons use a very similar formula to Jesus’ “I have come” statements.  They ask Jesus, “have you come . . . to destroy us/torment us before the appointed time?”  Thus it appears that these demons know that Jesus has come to earth from heaven.  They also seem to know something of who He is–“the Holy One of God” and “the Son of God” respectively.  “Holy One of God” is a title never used to describe prophetic figures or angels, rather it is used of the LORD (Jeremiah 50:29; Isaiah 30:11).  Thus “Holy One of God” highlights Jesus’ God-nature–for who is holy but God alone (1 Sam. 2:2).

In both instances, the demons fear Jesus.  In Mark 1:24, there is one demon asking Jesus, “have you come to destroy us?”  Why does this demon switch to the plural if he is only one demon?  This demon knows enough of who Jesus is as “the Holy One of God” to know that He has the power to destroy the entire demonic order–he seems to know that Jesus could destroy all demons (Gen. 3:15)!  In Mark 8:29, these demons know of a future appointed time when the demons would face torment (Jude 1:6; Rev. 20:6-10; 1 John 3:8)–they also understand Jesus to be the source of that torment–the understand Him to be the great eschatological judge (Rev. 19:15)!

Jesus cast out demons becuase he came “to seek and save the lost” and to reclaim the world from its false ruler!  In casting out demons he shows that He is the messiah promised in Gen. 3:15 come to crush the head of serpent.  Furthermore in going to the cross He would “disarm” the entire demonic order (Col. 2:15) making them powerless over the children of His kingdom. Though this world has fallen, Jesus came to redeem it and defeat its false rulers!  Indeed Jesus came to show His love for sinners by dieing on the cross for them but more than that, He established His kingdom in the hearts of believers by paying the penalty for all who would believe.  In trusting in Him, we become a part of this new kingdom and will reign with Him for ever!

What the demons say about Jesus ought to cause us to check our own hearts because apparently you can know a great deal about Jesus and still hate Him.  To know who Jesus is and hate Him is demonic.  If you know who Jesus is and have put your trust in Him, you will love Him and work to spread His kingdom!

Interestingly enough, Jesus lets the demons in Matthew 8:28 go into a herd of pigs–this results in a mass suicide of pigs as they run off a cliff.  The pig herders then go and gather a mob together to run Jesus out of town!  Why did Jesus allow these demons to go into the herd of pigs?  We could make a number of logical guesses–Jesus is Lord of creation and can do whatever He wants with the pigs and with the demons.  But perhaps, Jesus, as He so often does, wanted to reveal the true hearts of these pig herders and towns people.  The pig herders apparently loved financial gain/worldly possessions more than the work of God–they witnessed a profound miracle in which Jesus shows his power over evil and yet they want Him gone.  Jesus freed these men from demonic oppression and in so doing opens the doors wide for entrance into the Kingdom of God, and the pig herders want nothing to do with Him because they lost their pigs.  Following Jesus is costly, and if you love money or anything else more than Him, you have no place in His Kingdom.

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?  If you do, you will love His work?  Is the advance of His Kingdom your fervent desire?  Its not enough to know who Jesus is–even the demons know that and shudder (James 2:19)–you must love and promote His Kingdom and His kingdom works.

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Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “I did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill.” The “law and the prophets” is common NT parlance for “the whole Old Testament.” Jesus is saying that he is the appointed end of the OT. He himself is the fulfillment of every OT promise. Some of those promises have been fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection whereas some of them are awaiting final fulfillment at his promised return.

What does that tell us about the Old Testament? It tells us that the Old Testament is not a separate narrative. The OT is not the story about God and the Law whereas the New Testament is the story about Jesus. A direct implication of Matthew 5:17 is that the OT and NT are one narrative–one story of redemption in Christ. The OT is a book of promise and the NT is a book of promise and fulfillment–but the focus of both is one and the same . Both tell of the same promise and one in the same God who accomplishes redemption for all who would believe in Christ!

Genesis 1-2 are the account of life in perfect fellowship with God. Genesis 3 is the account of man’s rejection of God’s rightful rule and then all of Scripture from Genesis 3 on is the narrative of God promising to reverse the fall and restore his fallen creation–He promises to do this through his only Son, Jesus Christ. Let me give you an example:

Genesis 3:15 tells us of God’s curse upon the serpent after the fall, God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

While Satan continually will impede us through temptation and the free reign of sin in the human heart, Christ will deal the final blow to Satan’s head ending his feigned rule. This is clearly Paul’s understanding of Genesis 3:

(13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. -Colossians 2

(22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (24) Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (25) For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (27) For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” – 1 Corinthians 15

Christ in his death and resurrection “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame.” Rulers and authorities are short hand for demons–the evil angelic powers in this world. Jesus in his death and resurrection has disarmed them and in the cross he has overcome Satan’s greatest desire–to see the world forever enslaved to sin! In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has sealed Satan’s fate and promised to return to finally crush him.

The curse of sin in Genesis 3 is death–death entered the world because of sin. Jesus became the curse of sin for us:

(13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us- for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” -Gal. 3

(14) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Cor. 5

Jesus bears the wrath of God for sin on our behalf reversing the curse of the fall for all who would believe. We see this throughout His life too. He stands up to Satan by the Word of God when tempted in the dessert. He comes preaching for men to repent and believe because the “kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:15). He heals sicknesses and birth defects–results of living in fallen world. He casts out demons–a picture of Christ’s overcoming Satan and freeing men from slavery to sin! He raises the dead, proof that in the end he will conquer our two great enemies sin and death!

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets–he is the one who has disarmed Satan and sealed his fate–He will crush Satan’s head and He will usher in His perfect kingdom where we will reign with Him!

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Before reading this post, click here to read Galatians 3. In this post, I intend to show the heart of the gospel and the place of faith in connection with my previous post on Galatians 3. Here, Paul says in verse 6, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” This verse, and others like it, is central to the gospel because the ultimate promise of God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Christ by faith (see v. 8), and Paul uses the progression here to reiterate his statement in verses 1-5.

The word translated ‘counted to’ in verse 6 comes from the Greek word logizomai (here, in v. 6, elogisthe). It deals with reality, not suppositions. In other words, Abraham believed God’s promises and God declared him righteous according to his faith. His declaration of Abraham according to faith is definite, guaranteed and promised. Philip Graham Ryken adds in his commentary on Galatians, “To put it in financial terms, [God] accounted [Abraham] as righteous. Trusting God was like opening a bank account. Immediately, God transferred righteousness into Abraham’s account” (Galatians, Reformed Expository Commentary, 97).

But, Abraham’s righteousness according to faith begs the question: how is it that he is righteous according to faith? Ryken continues, “This does not mean that Abraham was actually righteous, only that he was declared righteous” (97). However, Scripture tells us that those who sin have reaped wages according to their works, namely death (Rom. 6:23, cf. 3:9-23). This shows the magnitude of v. 8. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.'” God would justify the ‘children of Abraham’ according to the righteousness of his Son by faith.

So, Paul spells out the gospel in vv. 10-14. The progression goes like this:

  • All who rely on the works of the law are cursed by the law (v. 10).
  • No one is justified before God by the law (v. 11a).
  • The righteous shall live by faith (v. 11b).
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (v. 13).

Christ’s substitutionary atonement fulfills the promise to Abraham, through faith: “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (v. 14, also cf. v. 16). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (v. 29). So when you read verses like Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” read verses 21-22, 24-26 also. Paul is saying that the gospel is Good News for salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Sinners who believe “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith,” not by works whatsoever (vv. 24-25). This gift of justification is one that upholds the righteousness of God, clothes us in Christ (see Gal. 3:27), and magnifies the glory of God.

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I read J. I. Packer’s introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ this week and came across Packer’s argument on what is at the heart of the Doctrines of Grace. Many probably have not thought of the debate in this light. I am not advocating anything here, but just want to present Packer’s thoughts for your consideration:

The very act of setting out Calvinistic soteriology in the form of five distinct points . . . tends to obscure the organic character of Calvinistic thought on this subject. For the five points, though separately stated, are really inseparable. They hang together; you cannot reject one without rejecting them all, at least in the sense in which the Synod meant them. For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God—the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and Son by renewing. Saves–does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners–men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners–and the force of this confession may not be weakened by disrupting the unity of the work of the Trinity, or by dividing the achievement of salvation between God and man and making the decisive part man’s own, or by soft-pedalling the sinner’s inability so as to allow him to share the praise of his salvation with his Saviour. This is the one point of Calvinistic soteriology which the “five points” are concerned to establish and Arminianism in all its forms to deny: namely, that sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but that salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory for ever; amen.

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Christ’s passion for the glory of the Father and the salvation of his beloved is what Easter is about. In Mark 10:45, Jesus explains why he was born:

“For even the Son of Man came not to serve, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The gospel is proclaimed in this verse . . . how? How is this good news? In this post, I aim to answer that question. The following are expanded notes with commentaries from a sermon I heard Steve Lawson preach at the Cross of Christ regional Ligonier Conference in Ft. Worth last November, titled ‘Christ, Our Ransom.’ Though I remember Lawson’s brilliant exposition of the text fairly well, my notes were brief, so most of the following is my commentary on Lawson’s exposition.

What is a ransom (Gk. lupron)? In pop culture today, a ransom nearly exclusively refers to a payment rendered to a kidnapper in order to secure the redemption of the person kidnapped. However, the Bible’s reference to a ransom typically refers either to payment under the Law made for sin or a price paid to redeem a slave (e.g. Ex. 21:30, 30:12; Lev. 19:20). In fact, the connection of a ransom paid for redemption with slavery is an important parallel to make for every Christian who has been bought and redeemed from their slavery to sin into adoption as slaves of Christ, who is an infinitely glorious and benevolent Master.

Why was a ransom necessary? After Peter and John healed a lame begger and preached the gospel at Solomon’s Portico, they were arrested for preaching the resurrection. The next day, Peter preached to the Council of Sadducees and elders, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is not other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The very fact that salvation in Christ is needed should make the idea of redemption in order to be saved necessary. So why? Peter proclaims Christ alone has given his life as a ransom for those chosen by God’s sovereign grace in Christ before the foundation of the world, and the ransom required was necessary because we were 1) slaves to our sin (Rom. 6:20), and 2) to Satan (John 8:44, 2 Tim. 2:26) and 3) we were held captive to the world that is hostile toward God, while in bondage to the curse of the law. In order to fully comprehend Mk. 10:45, it is absolutely necessary to place the third reason at the top of the list. Ultimately, a ransom was necessary for our salvation because we are cursed for not keeping the Law. This curse is rendered by God who declares “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, Gal. 3:10b says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

Who paid the ransom? Paul unlocks the answer to this question in one beautiful sentence about the great exchange of Christ’s righteousness for our sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Who paid the ransom? Jesus did. The Judge of heaven and earth paid the price for our ransom. Our precious resurrected Savior paid the punitive substitutionary atonement for all who are legally declared righteous by faith before the Father. I have said this in several posts now: that is why imputation is so important to justification. Christ lived the perfect live that we should have lived and are condemned for not doing, and he died the sinless sacrifice on our behalf, our ransom, imputing his righteousness to us and taking our sins from us and taking them on himself on the cross. Therefore, Christ has paid the ransom price by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).

How was the ransom paid? “. . . to give his life” (Mk. 10:45). Jesus Christ paid the ransom price necessary for our redemption by offering his life on our behalf. The high price to pay for our redemption was not easy, either. Jesus had to die. Rom. 3:24-26 teaches, “We are justified by his grace as a gift, through redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God put forward as a propitiation . . .” Propitiation is a heavily loaded word in the New Testament, but it is a beautiful word in light of the gospel. It, first, carries the meaning of the kind of atonement necessary to pay our ransom. In fact, we can be sure by this verse that the cross satisfied the necessary atonement for our sin by exhausting the cup of God’s wrath forever by his blood. If that were not enough, the Greek word for propitiation also carries with it the idea of expiation. In the Old Testament, the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated). Why does the gospel hinge on this? When the hope of the gospel is proclaimed, it also celebrates the righteousness of God in all his glory. Therefore, Paul adds to Rom. 3:25a, “This was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (vv. 25b-26).

Was the ransom voluntarily paid? I feel this point should be added because a few misguided folks have vocally denied the beauty of the vicarious suffering of Jesus Christ as our penal substitution and ransom for our redemption, occasionally drifting to calling Christ’s death on the cross cosmic child abuse. They claim a neutered Christus Victor theory of atonement in an effort to preserve God’s righteousness and the unity of the Trinity. But stooping to these counter-gospel conclusions is an affront to the gospel. Why? Jesus willingly laid down his life for the sheep. Jesus knew the will of the Father spoken in the Scriptures by Isaiah, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief” (53:10, cf. Matt. 27:46), and his reply was, “I am the good shepherd . . . and I down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). Therefore, the ransom was paid by our Savior’s blood, not spilled, but poured out voluntarily. Jesus was not the victim of the cross. He was the victor, and he is alive today!

To whom was the ransom paid? Too many believers have assumed the ransom was paid to Satan since we were slaves to sin and death as children of wrath and sons of disobedience (see Eph. 2:2, 3). But the ransom was not paid to Satan. It was not offered to the devil. He did not hold the price of redemption over the heads of sinners. No, the ransom was paid to the Father who was pleased to save many by offering his Son on the cross for our redemption.

For whom was the ransom paid? “. . . for many” (Mk. 10:45). The blood of Christ was shed on the cross for many. We can be sure Jesus was not crucified for his sin, but according to the foreknowledge of the Father, he was appointed to die for our sin. He took our place. This is the vicarious nature of the atonement for the payment of our sins, and Jesus says it is ‘for many,’ not all. There is a specific focus of the specific atonement of those redeemed by God’s grace for us in Christ, and there is also a glorious triumph in ‘for many,’ not all. We can be sure not a drop of Christ’s blood was poured out in vain–not a cent of the ransom was overpaid. Jesus is receiving his very bride, and by the proclamation of the gospel, God according to his sovereign grace is calling all of his sheep to the sheepfold.

Are you in Christ today? Are you among those for whom the ransom was paid? If you are hearing the gospel proclaimed to you as you are reading this loud and clear like a ringing bell, answer the call. Believe and be saved. Be reconciled to God through faith in all the promises God is for us in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the glory of Easter.

PS :: Read Drew’s post below about the Said at Southern blog madness. We made it to the second round, which is actually a surprise for us. There are a lot of excellent blogs in the S@S network, including several who have been blogging faithfully longer. But, if you feel like it, vote for us. If not, that is fine. We are just glad you are reading.

PS2 :: Also read Drew’s post Preaching the Wrath of God on Easter, where he asks, “What did you hear preached on Sunday morning?” “If we sacrifice the whole truth for a half truth, we might win more hearers, but in doing so we have ceased to preach the gospel and we have begun to deceive our hearers.”

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“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col. 1:21-23).

The Purpose and Scope of Christ’s ReconciliationIf I could sum up the Colossians 1:15-20, the verses immediately preceding the above text, in one sentence, it would be this: Jesus is really really big. In my last post, I looked at the big picture of reconciliation. I wrote about how Christ is the center of the universe. I looked at how Paul sees Jesus as creator and the firstborn of all creation meaning that he sovereignly rules over absolutely everything. That means that Christ sovereignly reigns over you and me, over Louisville, over Kentucky, over the United States, the planet earth and the entire universe. Everything has been created through him and for Him and He holds it all together. Were it not for his sustaining the universe, everything would disintegrate. So as we come to the second part of this series on Colossians 1 we must remind ourselves that we are not self-sufficient creatures. We are created beings. We exist by the will of God, he created us and therefore has rights over us to do with us what he will. Further, we ought to remember that we were created for God—to fulfill his purposes, to live the way that he calls us to and to do the things he commands us to do! Isa. 43:7 tells us that God has created us for His glory. Thus I don’t exist for me. You don’t exist for you. I exist for God. You exist for God. Everyone exists for God.

In my last post, I wrote about how God has reconciled all things to himself by the blood of the cross. The need for reconciliation implies that there is a problem in the world. That problem stems from the time of Adam and Eve when they took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to become like God. And of course we know what happened don’t we. The image of God in which they were created from then on was marred, it was corrupted. Their sin was not just that they ate of a tree that they shouldn’t have eaten from, it wasn’t just that they broke some strange rule, their sin was that they rejected God and attempted to dethrone Him. Its not just that they disobeyed but that they thought that by doing the very thing that God told them not to do, they could become like Him. But we know what happened, in their attempt to dethrone God, they were cast out of the garden and faced the stark reality of living life in separation from God. From then on death entered the world and sin began to reign on earth, because as Romans 5 tells us, from then on everyone after Adam lived in sin.

Sin is a big deal because God is a big deal. Sin has disastrous results because the one we are sinning against is massively big and massively holy and infinitely deserving of all praise (c.f. 1 Sam. 2:2). Sin is a massive problem—it is our biggest problem. And because it is such a big problem it requires a big solution—and Jesus has provided that solution on the cross for all who would believe. So this post marks the second of a series in which I am going to write about our greatest problem and its solution. Col. 1:21-23 will be my guide as Paul sets forth therein, the specific reconciliation of sinners to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Col. 1:21 marks a shift from the general to the specifics of Christ’s reconciliation. Verse 20 simply sets forth the truth that Christ has reconciled all things to himself on the cross. Verse 21 shifts to tell us how the believers at the church at Colossae individually were saving-ly reconciled to God through Christ.

If you just glanced over Col. 1:20, you might come away thinking that everyone is going to be saved since Christ has reconciled all things to himself. If you were to just glance at this verse without carefully reading the book of Colossians you might think that Col. 1:20 indicates that all people will go to heaven. That simply cannot be the case because of what Paul says in verses 21-23. Thus vv. 21-23 is a perfect example of how we must always read and study passages of Scripture in context. Paul is writing to believers in Colossae and in verse 21, he reminds the Colossian believers where they have come from. He says they were “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.”

This sets forth an all encompassing picture of our sinful estate. Sin has affected our mind, our actions, and most importantly has left us in a state of being alienated from God. And this state of alienation or separation from God will remain forever unless you put your hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ as Paul tells us in v. 23. So Paul makes clear that only those who have placed their hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ can have hope of being savingly reconciled to God. Everyone in the end will be reconciled, but Paul gives no hope of heaven for those who refuse to put their hope in Jesus Christ—those who remain alienated from God will be painfully reconciled to Him in the end because they refused to submit God and His way of salvation (c.f. Matt. 25:41).

It is important that we not forget the great Christ-exalting verses immediately preceeding Col. 1:21. Paul has just set forth in the previous verses how all things were created by Christ and for Christ and how He is before all things. The backdrop for Colossians 1:21-23 is the preeminent glory of Jesus Christ who is before all things!

Thus again we must remind ourselves of the purpose for which we were created. We were created by God and for his glory.

Because we were created by God and for His glory, our sin has cause us to be alienated and hostile in mind toward God and that is a big, big problem. But maybe you don’t think you are all that much of a sinner, so in case you don’t think you are all that bad-off, in my next post I will give you two tests to see whether you are a sinner and just how much of a sinner you are! I will also address more fully what Paul means by our state of alienation apart from Christ.

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