Sticking to the Gospel
We looked yesterday at who and what we were prior to Christ and having our eyes opened to the truth of the Gospel. That was Col. 1:21-22. Today we begin to see the overflow of this and how this plays out in our every day lives.
We said it in our study of Lamentations, that grace is only amazing because judgment due our sin is real. Paul is saying essentially the same thing here. It is against the backdrop of the gravity of our sinful condition that the majesty and wonder and mercy of God are most clearly seen and presented. This is our state when God stepped in thru Christ. The goal of the atoning death of Jesus Christ is that hostile and alienated sinners could be made acceptable in God’s sight, they would be re-created, brought back, reconciled to God’s presence. Presented holy and blameless.
And what Paul begins to put forth here is that our present behavior is to match our status before God granted thru the gospel. Our position in Christ guides our living. We see this all throughout Paul’s writings and other books as well. Look at Eph. 5:2; Hebrews 10:10, 14. Jesus’ atoning and sufficient work fuels our present lives. Again, it all goes back to fully understanding the gospel, who you were apart from Christ, and who you are and are to be in Christ. 1 Peter 1:15-19. Do you see how one empowers the other? Our declared status flows into our practical daily living. Be who you have been declared to be in Christ believer.
This fuels Col. 1:23. Only the gospel provides this. Cling to the gospel. Keep trusting in the gospel. And the sense here is not a question of if they will, but rather since they are. Doubt of who they are and what they are trusting in is not the issue here.
Paul is simply calling on them to be faithful to the gospel. The word here that Paul uses for “if” can be translated “since”. Paul has confidence in them. WHY? Because perseverance is normal for believers.
Go over to 2:6 – as they have received Christ, so walk in Him. Stick to the gospel for your reconciliation to God. For there is no other means for reconciliation and the forgiveness of their sin.
Paul is confident in their position. LISTEN – but the confidence is not in them – Paul’s confidence is not because their faith is so strong, but because the Savior is so strong. Paul’s confidence is not because they are so steadfast, but because the Savior is steadfast. As they cling to Christ, they constantly keep coming back to the reality of their utter dependency on Jesus. They were separated from Him, and they've been reconciled to Him thru faith in Christ. Stand firm in this gospel. Hope in this gospel alone.
And yet from a human perspective we see the need to keep trusting, to keep relying and believing the gospel because the gospel alone saves. Being steadfast and immovable comes from grasping and understanding the gospel fully. Having preached the gospel, that God takes those who are spiritual orphans and makes them sons and daughters, that he has reconciled us, that he has brought us home as children, Paul now commends them to live continuing in the faith, clinging to Christ, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.
The truth is that you never outgrow the gospel. God's grace is the foundation of your salvation and the motivation of your obedience. It's the motivation of you coming again and again to Christ who is your reconciler and just laying your hands on him and seizing him by faith, trusting in him.
Paul understands that the gospel that saves you is the same gospel that sustains and sanctifies you. We don't get in by way of the gospel and then stay in by way of our works. We continually are nourished by the gospel. Paul says, "Look to Christ and continue in the faith. Set your eyes on Christ and continue in the faith." There's going to be this presentation of you as holy and blameless, and as we continue in the faith, we are going to be sanctified, made to look like children of God in the image of Christ.
Do you see how everything is fueled by an understanding of the gospel? Following Christ and clinging to Christ is more than simply a different lifestyle, attitude, or understanding. To follow Christ is to enter into a totally different realm and kingdom and a different mentality and mindset that comes from that kingdom and what its king, Christ, has done for us and then commands of us.
Christ is Lord over all, and God’s redemptive plan for the world is our reason for all we do. Paul is not content to provide some three step formula for this or that, or some other quick solution to the problems of the Colossians nor to you and me. Instead, Paul traces everything back to the gospel and a right understanding of the gospel. He traces everything back to the reality of who you were apart from Christ and who you are in Christ. Growing in an understanding of these realities.
That is discipleship as a believer. Grasping the gospel deeper and deeper. Discipleship is the transformation of the mind to understand the gospel more fully and then live it out by the power of Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Keep this in mind as we continue to look at Colossians, because our flesh and natural self will not like some of what we see in verses 24-29 and what the gospel demands of us in our response to it. We think this means one thing, and the gospel demands another. But only thru a renewing of our mind to fully grasp the gospel will we be able to embrace what we see in vv. 24-29. But remembering it will all be worth it one day. Christ is enough. Christ is pre-eminent.