Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category

I couldn’t help but think about Pinocchio as I read this chapter, though the analogy doesn’t go very far. What I was thinking about were those exploratory steps that Pinocchio took when he realized that he was no longer merely a puppet- he was a real boy! He could walk like a real boy, talk like a real boy, move like a real boy. He didn’t have to behave like a puppet anymore.

Likewise, Paul sends a reminder to the church in Colossae that as believers in Christ, born again through the power of the Holy Spirit, that they could now live in freedom, that they didn’t have to stay trapped in the actions they revelled in prior to their conversion. In fact, he specifically says to put away from us any form of sexual immorality, anger, obscene talk, lying, and others. Put it away, Paul says. Instead, put on the new self, which is “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Want a fulfulling life? Pursue Christ. How do you do that? By pressing into Him through God’s Word, allowing it to change you, to shape you. Christianity never was, and never will be about the things we can do to earn God’s favor or approval. It was never about rules and things we could or couldn’t do. It’s more about God, and the ability He gives us to know Him, and it’s in this knowledge that He changes us…but it starts with the knowledge. Are you gaining it through diligent study of His Word?

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Colossians Two: Spotting Saturns

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Colossians

I have a car that looks fairly decent, given that it’s nine years old with over 180,000 miles on it. It’s a Saturn L200, and the reason you won’t see a lot of the ole L200s around is because ’03 was the last year that Saturn produced them. It was Feburary of ’04 and to me this like-new car was a deal I couldn’t pass up. I was able to pay cash for the car from my deployment savings, and it was a great upgrade from my ’91 Grand Prix.

When I first looked at the car, I couldn’t recall ever seeing one like it. I was excited that I was going to have something novel, a ride that would attract attention. Sure enough, the first few days with it there were a lot of people curious about just what it was I was driving. But wouldn’t you know it? It seemed like everywhere I looked, someone was in a silver ’03 Saturn L200 just like mine! It wasn’t until I was personally invested in this vehicle that I began to be more aware of its presence elsewhere, I think the cross of Jesus Christ is the same way to me.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Reformed theology, though I don’t necessary wear the banner or drop C-bombs everywhere, simply because there are too many misconceptions and errant preconceived notions about what I believe. The crux of the debate that’s raged for thousands of years is simply over what role God has in the salvation of sinners. At the far left is the heretical Pelagianism, and then you progress through positions such as semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism, Moderate Arminianism, Amyraldianism, Moderate Calvinism, Calvinism, and Hyper-Calvinism, with a few variations in between.

Some camps believe that God has nothing to do with the conversion of a sinner- everything the individual needs he already possesses. Now he simply needs to use his own will to accomplish his salvation. Then the Hyper-Calvinists believe it’s all God and as such we need not waste time proclaiming the Gospel or inviting sinners to Christ. After all, if they were of the Elect, their salvation will most certainly occur and you need not help at all. There is obviously a lot of room for discussion in this arena, and one of the reasons I hate the label “Calvinist” is because by a large, ideas are lumped together with Calvinism that simply aren’t true.

One of the key issues in this fight concerns the role of the cross of Christ and what it was intended to do. Those to the left side of the debate believe that the cross merely made salvation possible, contingent upon the will of the sinner- all for whom Jesus died. Those on the right believe that Jesus indeed secured the salvation for all of the sinners for whom He died, but did not die salvifically for the entire human race, else they’d all be saved. These two positions are a necessity, because unless you’re a Universalist, then you have got to place limitations on the atoning work of Christ. Either it was limited in it’s accomplishment, or it was limited in it’s extent. You may say that Jesus died for all and actually saved none by His death, or you can believe that Jesus died savingly for a particular group of individuals who would be linked to Christ and His atoning benefits through faith purchased in the cross and given to God’s elect as a gift.

I have to believe the latter. I’ve written extensively throughout this blog about my Biblical and logical reasons for believing that monergism is the most Biblical understanding of God’s salvation of sinners, but I’ll include here one simple reason why I believe that the cross of Jesus purchased my salvation. Simply put, if Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection on my behalf is not the basis for my salvation, then this means that my salvation is not by grace alone. In other words, what Jesus did wasn’t sufficient to guarentee my salvation. I had to bring something of my own to the table to actually expunge my sins before God.

The more I ponder what happened on the cross, the more like my Saturn I see pieces of the big picture all throughout Scripture. Colossians one had a big one- Colossians two does as well, because we see Paul telling the Christians in Colossae this: ” 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, by  canceling  the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

I mean, how beautiful is that? For those of us in Christ, we are reconciled to God and saved in the cross of Jesus because our sins were nailed to it. They are dealt with. They were paid for. And when we trust in Christ as our Savior, this becomes our reality. The best part is, this is available for everyone who will trust Christ as their Savior. This is the Good News. Do you believe it? Are you sharing it?

So this is one of those chapters in Scripture that make me go “Oh man, that’s good. That’s good. That’s wait- what?? I don’t get that. Oh, that’s good…” I mean, in case I wasn’t coming through clearly enough, there is some good stuff in Colossians one, like the part where Paul tells the church in Colossae that Jesus  created everything “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether  thrones or  dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created  through him and for him.”

Jesus owns it all by virtue of created it, and though we seperated ourselves from Him, Paul also tells us that the Cross reconciled us back to Him.

Now, your typical Universalist would latch onto verse twenty, where we see that Jesus went to the Cross to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,  making peace  by the blood of his cross.” I mean, all means all, right? Eh, maybe not so much.

Look carefully at what Paul says next: “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 creationunder heaven…”

I could spent hours and thousands of words diving into the implications of this passage, but I simply want to point out one thing: the reconciliation that occured on the Cross, this peace that is created between God and sinners is only true for you if you “continue in the faith.” Now this doesn’t mean that you can go from seperated from God, then reconciled to God by His Son on the Cross, then kinda drifting from the faith, and now all of a sudden you’re no longer reconciled. It doesn’t happen like that. Rather, the reality is that the evidece that you have been reconciled is that you will, for your entire life, continue in the faith in Christ that you once professed. This was why John said in 1 John 2:19 that those leaving the faith only do so to demonstrate that they were never saved in the first place.

Big picture is this: reconciliation only occured between God and all who trust Jesus as their Savior, having seen their own sinfulness and lostness before a holy and righteous Judge, and the evidence that this once occured is that it’s an on-going reality.

Does this describe you?