If indeed you continue...
Colossians 1:18-2:7 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
2 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. 5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Today’s text says: And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach As believers we are reconciled through the cross. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. It is not what we do that saves us or reconciles us to God. It is through Christ’s finished work on the cross, through what He did for us. In Him we are not simply reconciled to God as just barely acceptable, we are holy and blameless in God’s sight and His presence. There is nothing else we need to do, Christ Jesus did it all for us. The thief on the cross never lived for Christ, yet recognizing Jesus as Lord, accepting His sacrifice, Jesus said to him: "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." This is the great promise we have in Christ. This is the hope that I share with those who have lost loved ones, who they fear did not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. While the day of Jesus return has not yet come, because the Lord wills that none should perish, He can come and reveal Himself, even in their final moments, to those we love. They too, at the revelation of the finished work of the cross of Christ, may be with Him in paradise.
We though who are living should not presume on that type of grace. In today’s text Paul says the reconciliation, the holiness and blamelessness before God is ours: if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, If we have received the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, if we have been saved and reconciled through Him and His cross, we need to remain in that faith. We need to be established and steadfast in Christ. We need to not move away from the hope of the gospel. There are two ways in which we can move away, stray or deviate from the hope of the gospel. One is something that Paul writes about continually in his letters to the churches. If we turn or return to religion, rather than the hope of the gospel, if we begin to justify our faith by our own works and our own righteousness, rather than on Christ, we are moving away from the hope of the gospel. Again there is nothing we can do to add to the finished work of the cross regarding our salvation and reconciliation. Yet we also move away from the hope of the gospel, if we do not walk in all that Jesus has given us. In Ephesians 2:8-9, it says we are saved by grace, not by our own works. Verse 10 says: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We are not saved by our works, but we are reconciled to God, restored to how God created us, in His image and likeness, for good works, to walk in the things He has called us to. Failing to walk in the works He has for us is also moving away from the hope of the gospel.
What are the good works we are called to? What does a life of faith, firmly established and steadfast in the hope, the promise of the gospel look like? Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35) We are to love other believers. Jesus says: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) We should love God, ourselves and others. Jesus says: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:12-13) Jesus preached the gospel. He came to seek and save the lost. Jesus healed the sick, opened blind eyes, caused the lame to walk, He raised the dead to life. If we will walk in faith, steadfast in the hope of the gospel, should we too do these things? If we do truly walk steadfast in the hope of the gospel these things will be done, these things will happen. It is not we ourselves though who will or can do any of these things. Jesus says: “that will I do”. It is still Jesus, working in and through us who, preaches the gospel, seeks and saves the lost, heals the sick, opens blind eyes, causes the lame to walk and raises the dead. It is even only in Christ that we can love others.
Paul says: Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. If we will walk in Him, rooted and built up in faith, we will walk in the fullness of the hope and the power of the gospel, overflowing with gratitude.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You for the revelation of the hope and promise of the gospel. I am not saved by my own works, but rather by faith in the finished work of the cross. May I, as I live in that faith and walk in that faith be steadfast to walk in the fullness of all that You have called and created me to do. I do overflow with gratitude for all You have done for me and for all that You desire to do through me. Amen