ONCE . . . BUT NOW

ONCE . . . BUT NOW

Once you were alienated from God and enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 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 – 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.

Even if Paul had not brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Colossians, he certainly intended that they get it loud and clear through this letter! He wanted to be sure that they had it straight, that there would be no doubt in their minds about who Jesus is and on what grounds they could be assured of their salvation.

The Gnostics had tried to lure them away with their airy-fairy ideas about emanations, demiurges and special knowledge only accessible to a select few. Paul’s message was good news for everyone without exception, even the inanimate world and the world of creatures, because Jesus came to set everything right by sacrificing Himself for all of creation.

Like the entire universe which was thrown off course by Adam’s disobedience, the Colossians were at enmity with God until they heard and believed the good news. Jesus’s message, which became Paul’s message when it was entrusted to him, was a message of reconciliation and hope; not hope as in ‘I hope it will happen,’ but hope as in ‘I know it will happen because God has said so, but not yet.’

What is the hope of the gospel? Holy, without blemish and free from accusation! But how can it possibly be that we, fallen and mortal beings, can ever hope to be perfect, like Jesus? Everything that Jesus is has been given to us as a free gift – His nature, His sinless perfection, His righteousness and His holiness are all ours now, and that’s how the Father sees us. Paul used a little two-word phrase to describe our standing before God – ‘in Christ’. Until we understand the significance of these two words, we will always be insecure, based on our unstable behaviour.

God does not judge us by our behaviour but by our standing – which Paul described as a ‘standing in grace’ (Romans 5: 2). We would never dream of rejecting our two-year-old child because of his immature behaviour. He is our son; he has a standing in the family which he can never lose. It is our responsibility as parents to bring him up to be a mature adult. With love and patience, we teach him, correct him and discipline him towards the goal of who he is – our son.

So it is with God and us. We are His sons and daughters. We have a standing in His family which has been secured by the death of His Son. Since He is God, He already sees the end result, perfect and complete in Christ, and He guides us towards the goal to become what we already are, replicas of Jesus, through discipline and training (Romans 8: 28-29).

There is a question which believers often ask and to which Paul gives a clue here, something to consider seriously. ‘Can I lose my salvation?’ He does not give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The issues go much deeper than that. However, he does use the little conditional word ‘if’. He does not envisage believers skating as close to the edge as they can. Why would we want to do that?

We cannot be in Christ and in the world at the same time. If we are ‘in Christ’, it means that we have chosen to enter through the narrow gate and to make the day-by-day, moment-by-moment choices which keep us going in the right direction (Matthew 7:13-14). Wrong choices will take us off course and lead us to the wrong destination.

The solution to going the wrong way is to ‘continue in the faith, established and firm, and not move away from the hope held out in the gospel. (Col. 1:23)’ Jesus called us to follow Him. As long as we keep following, we will not be in danger of getting lost, but if we lag behind or wander off course, who knows where we will land?

Apostle John puts it even more clearly.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2: 15-17).

SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Luella Campbell


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