Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Colossians 1:21-23 – Local reconciliation

Paul moves from describing universal reconciliation to explaining how it affected the Christians in Colosse. He does so by referring to their past state of enmity to God, then their state of reconciliation with God by Jesus, and then their future presentation by Jesus to God.

Their state of enmity is expressed in verse 21: ‘And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.’ Their rebellion was intentional (deliberate) and rational (it was not accidental, but thought through with intense opposition to God).

Their state of reconciliation is described in the first clause of verse 22: ‘he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.’ Paul reminds them that Jesus had come to them and brought them into this wonderful situation in which they and God were in a relationship of peace.

The future presentation by Jesus is detailed in the second clause of verse 22: ‘in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.’ This is not a reference to progressive sanctification because no matter how sanctified a person can become in this life, he still falls far short of perfection. Instead this refers to the great change that comes upon all Christians when Jesus returns and they are transformed into his likeness inwardly and physically. It is true that the souls of believers who have died are perfect in holiness and glorified, yet the New Testament does not say that such a wonderful experience is the ultimate one. In addition, their bodies must be involved in this presentation.

These verses are not teaching that believers earn glory. Nevertheless they indicate that there is a link between how they use the grace they have been given in this life and the amount of glory they will experience.

So we should remember that this wonderful future presentation by Jesus will involve forgiven saints (all their wrong thoughts, words and actions will be pardoned), perfected saints (they will be holy in each area of life), glorified saints (which includes capacity for greater service because limitations of our current physicality, such as tiredness, will no longer prevent our service), satisfied saints (each will be full of God), and rewarded saints (their level of service there will be linked to their gracious service here).

Having highlighted such matters, Paul addresses the Colossians about the required response which they must make (v. 23). He makes it clear that they must persevere. He uses the illustration of a building that is stable because it has a good foundation; however if the foundation is weakened, the building will shift and collapse. The spiritual foundation is the gospel of Jesus and here Paul stresses its future benefits (hope usually refers to what one anticipates). The Colossians were in danger of losing that future perspective because they were taking their eyes of Christ and not maintaining dedication to him. The biggest danger to Christian progress is not from the opposition; instead it is from moving away from Jesus, his saving work, and his promises.


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