Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Circumcision - Colossians 2:11-12

"and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11-12)
As part of the process of making us complete in Christ, we need to be recreated in Christ; we need to be changed from our former nature into a nature that is made after the image of Christ. Paul refers to this process as circumcision; not physical circumcision but spiritual circumcision.

The practice of circumcision is very ancient and served as a mark of the covenant made between God and Abraham and the children of Israel. "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised." (Genesis 17:10) Circumcision was a physical mark in the flesh in the removal of a piece of flesh often associated with our lusts and passions. However, while it stood as a sign of God's covenant with Israel, God always desired more. God desired a circumcision that was internal not external. Even before the children of Israel ever entered the Promise Land, God commanded them, "So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer." (Deuteronomy 10:16) And God promised that if they would obey Him then He would "circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6)

God desires not the circumcision of our flesh but the circumcision of our heart; an inward circumcision that only He can perform within us. Paul writes clearly on this matter when he said, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God." (Romans 2:28-29) This is a circumcision made without hands and in a place that no one can see. However, it's mark is evident to God and to all who truly examine our lives. It is an indelible mark that we are His and that our life has been changed by His hands.

This circumcision, this putting off of the flesh, happens when we are baptized. In baptism we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection; not figuratively but actually. Baptism is not an outward sign of an inward grace, it is an inward grace. In baptism our old man, our body of sin, is put to death and buried in a watery grave so that, as we rise from baptism, we also rise to newness of life. Paul teaches us concerning baptism, "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:4-7)

What makes baptism effective, what allows the performance of the circumcision of our heart, is not our obedience but our faith; faith in the working of God. Obedience appeals to the praise of men while faith appeals to the praise of God. Our faith rests not in ourselves but in the power of God that was sufficient to raise Jesus from the dead. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, surely He can also raise us to newness of life. Jesus came to make us complete and completion lays just ahead of us, but we must first pass through the waters of baptism, being circumcised in our heart, that we might receive and walk in newness of life.

David Robison

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Made complete - Colossians 2:9-10

"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." (Colossians 2:9-10)
Paul tells us something very important about the person of Jesus Christ. All of God was in Jesus as He lived and walked among us. In some undefined way and mode, there was a commingling of the human and the divine in Jesus. Jesus certainly had a human body. Even after His resurrection He demonstrated to His disciples that He was very much still human. "While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them." (Luke 24:41-43) Yet, while His body was human, what filled Him was divine. All of God abided within the confines of His human flesh. Jesus was not simply a man with a divine message like one of the prophets. Jesus was not a man merely possessed of influenced by the divine such as one of His disciples in  whom abides the Holy Spirit. Jesus was both fully human and fully divine making Him unique among all mankind, As such, being unique, He has now come to have first place in everything; being the head of all rulers and authorities; over all who are first and who have power to exercise over others.

In Jesus, the deity dwells complete and in Him we too are complete. The idea of the Greek word for "complete" means to be crammed full with nothing lacking and no room for any more. In Christ there is no lack, He already possess all we could ever need and want. When we are in Jesus, all our needs are provided by Him; by Him in whom the fullness dwells.

The path to being in Christ, as Paul will explain in the next few verses, is a path for which Jesus has already paid the price for us. It is a path that is initiated by Christ, sustained by Christ, and perfected by Christ. It is a path where Jesus is "the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:2) However, it is also a path that we must choose. We may choose to live in want or we may choose to live in abundance. We may choose to live in the world with its wanting philosophies and elementary principals of morality or we may choose to live in the divine with its truth and light. However, to choose to live in Christ will necessitate change in our lives; changes we must be willing to embrace. We cannot continue to live in the world and expect to receive the fullness of Christ and His Kingdom. We are all called to choose and the choice we are asked to make centers around Jesus. Will we choose for Him or choose for ourselves and the world. That is the choice we must make. Once choice leads to life abundant and the other to eternal death. What choice will you choose today?

David Robison

Monday, August 24, 2015

Taken captive - Colossians 2:8

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8)
Just as in Paul's day, today there are many who start out well only to end up as the prisoner of someone else's thoughts, teachings, and ideas. For the first century church, the leading competitors for the hearts and minds of men were the Jews, who sought to restore the believers back to obedience to their traditions and the Law of Moses,. There was also the various Gnostic heresies, who proclaimed a higher knowledge than the Apostles and deeper revelation into the number and realms of the Gods. In my youth, one of the main challenges of new believers was a liberal education that sought to elevate philosophy about religions faith and knowledge. Today, we face new challenges stemming from other forms of spiritualism and new interest in old religions like Mohammedanism (the Muslim religion). All these forces are seeking to take us captive unto themselves and to lead us away from Christ and His teaching. The Greek word used here for "captive" means to be taken as one's spoil or prize. We are the prize that people people and religions are fighting over. However, in this fight, we get to choose who's captive we will be.

It is important to note that what is of concern here are not ideas and teachings, but those peddling those ideas and teachings. Paul warns us not of ideas that might take us captive but of those who would use ideas to take us captive unto themselves. Ideas don't ensnare people, people ensnare people! In this contest, those who seek to lead us astray will use two appeals against us. First is philosophy. The Greek word for "philosophy" is a concatenation of two Greek words. The first is philos which means brotherly love, from which we get Philadelphia being the city of brotherly love. The second word is sophos which means wise or wisdom. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and certainly there is nothing wrong with that. However, Philosophy can only assent to the extent of our mind while the Gospel descends from God's mind. Philosophy is good but never perfect. We must love wisdom but, better still, we should always defer to the mind of Christ over the mind of philosophy. God's word is true and it teaches what wisdom cannot attain. This is evident in that, "the world through its wisdom did not come to know God." (1 Corinthians 1:21) We need God's wisdom for life, not just our own.

The second appeal that men will make in an attempt to dissuade us from Christ is out right error. There are those who will teach what is false in an attempt to cheat us out of the blessing of a life lived for Christ. How can we defend ourselves against them unless we know and believe the message of Christ. Many believers are deluded because of their lack of knowledge of both the history of God among men and the message He is seeking to communicate to them. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He fought back with knowledge, "It is written..." (Matthew 4:4) We must know God and His word if we are to remain steadfast in our faith.

In making their appeal, they will draw evidence from two sources: tradition and creation. Tradition and creation are valuable teachers and give us many similes and lessons we can learn. However, we are called to be people born from above and we must learn those lessons above all others. Why learn how to live below while our home awaits us in heaven? Why learn how to be carnal people of the Earth when we have been made new as spiritual people of Heaven? This Earth serves our natural life but our eternal life is in Heaven with God. One day, this Earth and its traditions will pass away and there will be a new Heavens and a new Earth which will be our new home. Then, what good will those things be to us in which we once depended? Life is too short to be trapped in empty and worthless traditions and life is too valuable to leave it to the beggarly teachings of this world and this creation. Let us learn to live by higher truth, a greater teaching, and a more perfect example. Let us not be cheated!

David Robison

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Now walk - Colossians 2:6-7

"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." (Colossians 2:6-7)
Christianity is more than a decision. It is more than a conversion that takes place at a single point and time in your life. Being born again is more than something you do and then move on. If all that has happened to you is that you have been saved, then you have yet to even begin your new life in Christ. Christianity is a process that begins at our conversion and continues throughout our entire life (an possibly even into the life to come).

Paul uses both the metaphor of a plant and a building to describe our Christian experience. As plants we are as seeds planted in Christ. He is our beginning and the soil from which we draw our nourishment. As we grow up, our roots extend down and entangle the soil we are planted in. Our lives extend further and further into Christ and He becomes more essential to everything we do, In the end, though we flower for all to see, He has become our all-in-all; the one who sustains us, nourishes us, stabilizes us, and keeps us from being washed away by the rain.

As a building, Christ is both our foundation and our corner stone. He is the foundation upon which we build. Our lives will only be as fruitful as the quality of the foundation we maintain. A tall building cannot be built upon a weak foundation and, if we hope to build a great life, we too need a strong and secure foundation. This foundation is no other than the person of Jesus Christ. However, He is also our corner stone; the stone from which all other stones are judged. The trueness of our life is measured by our relationship to the corner stone. One's life may look straight and true, but when compared with the sure corner stone of Jesus, our departures and deviations become clear. We must not judge ourselves by the world around us but only by the sure life of Christ.

The primary instrument for growing us from seed to plant and from foundation to a high-rise building is instruction. Paul places a high priority on teaching for it is what instructs us how to live and guides us as we grow. However, instruction must be more than mere information, it requires our devotion and obedience to reap its benefits in our lives. If we head Christ's instruction we will grow in assurance of our faith and always abound in thankfulness to God and gratitude towards one another.

So here is Paul's point; seeing you have received Christ, keep walking in Him! Some people wait for life to come to them, others engage it. I have known some who have grown weary in their walk with the Lord and have sat down, waiting for the blessings of the Kingdom to come to them. However, often the blessings are found as we walk along the way. It is written that, "And the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." (Isaiah 35:10) The Hebrew word for "find" can also be translated as "over-take." Most often the gladness and joy we seek must be overtaken as we walk along the path. God has joy and other blessings for us if we will just continue to walk until we overtake them along the way. What do you seek in life? Keep walking with Jesus and you will find all the good you seek.

David Robison

Monday, August 17, 2015

Full assurance - Colossians 2:1-4

"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, 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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument." (Colossians 2:1-4)
Paul speaks of the struggle he has on behalf of those believers that lived beyond his reach. The Greek word for "struggle" means to be lead forth to an assembly, such as a contest or competition. Paul's struggle was not something that came to him but something that the Spirit of God within him drew him to. Paul was drawn into the battle for the lives of believers everywhere. Paul freely entered into the contest for souls; that they would come to know Jesus and remain faithful to Him throughout their lives. This was the daily battle that Paul waged in the Spirit.

Paul's battle on their behalf was for four specific things. First that they would be encouraged. The Greek word for "encouragement" comes from two root words that literally mean to "call near." Paul's heart was that the people would find encouragement as they were drawn near to each other and to the Lord. Just as we cannot survive without the Lord, neither can we survive without the brethren. When we live alone we are left to our own devices and the constant barrage of the enemy. However, when we live together in community we have brotherhood and the encouragement of the saints.

Secondly, Paul seeks that they would find unity in love. Later, Paul will command them, "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Colossians 3:14) Unity is not found in doctrine or tradition but is the byproduct of love. There are many who have tried to achieve unity by proposing compromise on doctrinal issues. However, without love, no real unity will ever be achieved through these means. We must return to loving each other as Christ has loved us. Only then will we find true unity. Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

Thirdly, Paul seeks the fullness of life that comes from full assurance of faith. This does not mean that we no longer have doubts, but it does mean that we are fully assured as to who has all the answers. I may doubt my present circumstances and whether or not I am walking in the will of God, but I have full assurance as to the one knows all things and cares for me even when I don't care for myself. This full assurance give me confidence, peace, and boldness as I go throughout my life. A person who lacks such assurance is constantly looking for answers; constantly seeking for what is right in front of them. Much of Paul's teaching ministry was directed at educating mankind's understanding that they too might have full assurance.

Lastly, Paul's desire was that all would grow into a full knowledge of God. The knowledge of God is something we grow in as we walk with God. It is also in the knowledge of God that all knowledge, wisdom, and understanding is opened up to us, for in Him are the answers to all of life's mysteries. Having come to God, there is no one else we must go to to find answers. In Paul's day there were many who were going around saying they knew the way and they alone had special knowledge and understanding. They insisted that you come to them to gain wisdom and knowledge. However, all we need is God. Paul's struggle for encouragement, unity, assurance, and growth was so that we may not be deluded by those seeking to draw us away after themselves. There is no need to be deluded any further. Therefore let us continue to grow closer to God and to live in love with one another.

David Robison.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I labor - Colossians 1:28-29

"We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me." (Colossians 1:28-29)
Paul had a three part ministry and each part was executed in step-wise order. First he proclaimed Christ. He preached about who Jesus was, what He came to do, and what His message was towards us. Paul's goal was to reveal the mystery that was Christ so that we could all come to know and all could understand what God had accomplished in and through Jesus Christ. The knowledge and understanding of Jesus is the first step in believing and receiving Jesus; the first step in beginning our new life in Him.

Secondly, Paul admonished all mankind. Admonishment is a warning. Paul was warning his hearers about what awaits them if they should fail to recognize, believe, and receive Jesus. Paul warned them about the rewards and punishments of a life lived for self verses a life lived for God. Paul warned them of the eternal consequences their decision regarding Jesus would bring. After hearing the proclamation of Jesus, we are brought to a point of decision. Will we believe or will we reject Him. One decision leading to life and the other decision to physical and spiritual death.

Thirdly, Paul taught those who had received Christ how to live a life that was holy and worthy of God. The Greek word for "teach" is a prolonged form of a word that means "to learn;" the key here is the idea of "prolonged." This kind of teaching is more than the transfer of knowledge, it is the training of one in the way they should live. It is a learning that requires our obedience and practice in the things it teaches. It is not enough to hear the message of Christ, we must also put it into practice. It is a teaching that can take a lifetime to master.

This was the purpose for which Paul labored; to proclaim, admonish, and teach everyone so that he might be able to present them to Christ having been made perfect and complete. Paul labored for the lives of others. His ministry was not for his own aggrandizement, but for the betterment of others. Paul did not worry about how his work might reflect upon himself but how that work would be reflected in others. His goal was to make others complete and to make them ready for whatever God might desire of them in their lives. Paul also labored for God. Paul understood that his work in others was so that he might present them to God. Paul was not trying to build his own ministry or church (of which he did not have one) but rather to increase the family of  God; to see more sons and daughters brought into God's family. Paul understood that, in the end, all things belong to God, even himself.

Paul worked in partnership with God. God provided the strength and Paul provided the labor. It is foolhardy to labor where God's grace has not provided the strength to sustain us. It is also irresponsible to not labor where God has called us and provided strength and grace for us. However, when we find the intersection of these two: God's strength and our labor, then much will be accomplished for the Kingdom of God. For each of us that might be a different place, bur for all of us there still remains something for us to labor for in the Kingdom of God.

David Robison

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A secret - Colossians 1:26-27

"the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 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." (Colossians 1:26-27)
Though, for millennia, the will and purpose of God has been simply declared through the recorded scriptures, parts of His plan have been hidden from our minds and understanding until the time of their fulfillment has arrived. While revealing the future to Daniel God says, "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end." (Daniel 12:4 NKJV) The words of Daniel were written down, but their meaning was veiled, hidden until the time of the end, hidden until the time of their revealing. We also see in the revelation to John that there was a book sealed with seven seals; hiding the truth within. "I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?'" (Revelation 5:1-2) John weeps because there is no one found in heaven or on worth who was worthy to open the book and reveal its secrets. Finally, however, someone steps forward, "behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." (Revelation 5:5) With the breaking of the seals, new meaning springs forth from what was written inside. Jesus has become the one who is worthy to reveal what had previously been hidden.

For thousands of years, the Gospel hid in plain sight; a secret that would one day be made plain and apparent with His birth, death, and resurrection. Now this secret has been revealed to all His saints and, through them, His secret is now being proclaimed to the world for all to receive and understand. To those who receive and understand this secret, this secret comes to them as great riches.

The Greek word used here for "riches" can also be translated as "wealth." We can view riches from the standpoint of either value or wealth. If I place one million dollars worth of gold on the table then we can say that its value is one million dollars. However, if I take the gold and make it my own then my wealth has increased by one million dollars. The Gospel has great value, but it is only when we receive it and make it ours that it brings wealth to our souls and our lives. Many have heard the Gospel and understood its value but, in their rejection of it, they have remained just as poor as they were before. It's only when we respond to its message and make it our own that we become rich and our lives more abundant.

So what is this great mystery? What is this secret that has been hidden for thousands of years? It builds upon an old message that man can become righteous. However, the unexpected truth, the truth that has now been revealed to us, is that it is not by keeping the law that man can become righteous but rather by receiving Christ into their lives. The hope of righteousness that used to be found in the law is now found when we experience "Christ within us." Furthermore, this great hope is not for only a select few but for all mankind. Regardless of race or nationality, righteousness is now within reach through the person of Jesus Christ.

God's greatest secret, a secret of indescribable wealth, has now been revealed. Its truth and wealth in our lives is found when we receive Christ and believe His truth. Christ in us, the hope of righteousness.

David Robison

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The unfinished work of Christ - Colossians 1:24-25

"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. 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," (Colossians 1:24-25)
Most of us are comfortable speaking about the finished work of Christ. When Jesus hung on the cross, He Himself said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) However, Paul intimates that there was a part of His work that was not finished on the cross; a part of His work that still remained to be completed; a part of His work that Paul, and others, were called to finish. Though Jesus' life on this earth was short, He accomplished so much in the few brief years of His ministry. He preached the Gospel throughout Judea, He healed the sick and raised the dead, He took twelve men and taught them His message that they might preach it also, and He surrendered His life a ransom for our own. Of all that Jesus did, what more could He have left behind as unfinished work?

Jesus came bringing salvation to all, but there was more the Father wanted to do. He wanted to establish a body of believers, joined together by their common life and love for His Son, a community of those who loved God and loved one another. This church required the leadership of the invisible Holy Spirit rather than a visible Son of God. To this end, Jesus departed that the Spirit might come upon all who believed. However, just as the work of salvation required the suffering of one in the flesh, so the work of the Spirit requires those who are willing to suffer in their flesh to accomplish His work.

The Greek term for "afflictions" come from the root word that means to "crowd." It speaks of the pressing nature of the work to be done and its abundance for those who will accept its call. Jesus' work was done on the cross, but the work of God continues till today. There is work that still needs to be done and God is still looking for those who are willing to do it; those who are willing to give up their own work to accomplish the work of Christ.

Paul understood several things regarding his call that are important for us to learn and understand. First was that he was called by God, not by man. Those who are called by man find it easy to bolt when times get difficult, but those who are called by God find in Him the grace and strength to accomplish their task. Speaking of those who went forth on their own calling, Jesus said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted." (Matthew 15:13) It is important to understand our calling and who it is who is calling us. Secondly, Paul understands that he had been called to a specific work. The word "minister" means a table waiter, steward, or errand boy. It speaks of many servants in a large house, each with their own specifically assigned task. Paul understood the importance of doing what he was called to do and not what others were called to do. Thirdly, he understood that he was called to work for others rather than himself. His suffering was not for his own benefit but for the benefit of those whom he served. Sometimes we suffer because of ourselves, sometimes we suffer for the cause of Christ, but sometimes we suffer for others; to benefit them rather than ourselves through our suffering. There are some who view the work of God as to how it will benefit them more so than how it will benefit others. Paul was not such a man.

Today it's our turn; to hear the call of God, to understand what He is calling us to do, and to do it for the benefit of others. In this was, we too, will be filling up what remains of the sufferings of Christ.

David Robison

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reconciliation - Colossians 1:21-23

"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 —  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." (Colossians 1:21-23)
Paul has been given a commission by God and he understands the work of that commission. Paul is called to preach the Gospel that it might be "proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister." The Greek word for Minister is the same word we get our English word for Deacon and it means a minister, servant, waiter, or errand boy. Paul's job was to facilitate the Gospel by doing whatever the Gospel required for its expansion and growth throughout the world. He was a servant of the Gospel not the Gospel a servant of him. The Gospel, without Paul, was strong, energetic, expanding, and bearing fruit for eternal life. Paul's job was to serve it and to do its errands so that it might continue to bear fruit in all places.

Paul also understands that the Gospel is not just a Gospel of salvation, healing, or even forgiveness. It is also a Gospel of reconciliation back to God. It is not enough to forgive mankind, heal mankind, and provide salvation to mankind, mankind must also be reconciled back to their heavenly Father in love and adoption as sons and daughters of the Kingdom.

Our plight before the Gospel was not just that we had lived the life of a sinner and that we bore the judgment and condemnation of our sins. Rather, our entire being, our soul and our flesh, was hostile towards God and we had fully walked away from our creator and our Father in heaven. Notice that it's not just our evil deeds that separate us from God but also the condition of our inner man. Paul will later say, "you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh." (Colossians 2:13) Here he is not speaking of physical circumcision but the circumcision of our heart. We need more then the forgiveness of our sins, we need to be fundamentally changed on the inside; we need to have our heart circumcised and our thoughts and attitudes changed that our mind may find its way to agree with the will of God rather then persisting in its obstinacy and anger towards Him.

Notice that the goal of Christ is that He might present us before the Father being spotless, without blemish, and having no occasion to be accused by the advisory. Salvation is just the beginning; the journey is sanctification. This sanctification is a process that will take the rest of our lives to accomplish, and maybe even longer. A life that is not changing is a life that is not being sanctified. God is fully committed to our sanctification, but it's up to us to yield to His work in our lives.

This is why Paul warns us that our salvation and sanctification requires our endurance to the end. Jesus said, "the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Matthew 24:13) The choice is ours. If we choose, we can opt-out at any time, thus forfeiting the work of salvation in our lives. We can choose to return to our former manner of life, to live once again like the world. However, in doing so, we forfeit the grace and the work of the cross in our lives. Paul encourages us to hold fast, to remain immovable in our trials and afflictions, to not give up the Gospel for the promise of an easy life. The Gospel has come to us with great hope. Not a hope necessarily for tomorrow, but a hope for eternity. Let us not surrender eternity for any false assurances for tomorrow.

David Robison

Friday, August 07, 2015

The fullness - Colossians 1:19-20

"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 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." (Colossians 1:19-20)
There is some confusion among the translators as to how to translate this verse. Some, as here, translate it as being the Father's good pleasure that allowed the fullness to dwell in Jesus while other translators, such as Darby, translated this verse this way, "for in him all the fulness [of the Godhead] was pleased to dwell," (Colossians 1:19 Darby) This interpretation acknowledging that it was the "fullness" that both pleasured and dwelt in Jesus Christ. Either way, we are brought to the interesting term of the "fullness" and its indwelling in Jesus Christ.

This Greek word, transliterated as the Pleroma, was not of uncommon use by Paul and other apostolic writers. However, in the first few centuries of the church, there were several heresies that were swirling around during that time that all went under the head of Gnosticism. To those of these heresies, the scriptures were a veritable code book full of the identities of many "gods" and many levels of "gods." To them, the "fullness" was yet another God, separate from the Father and the Son. Similarly, when they read in Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) The find the name of another god, "beginning" in whom the creator god (also different from the Father and the Son) performed all his creating. However, while Paul may have used some interesting words, he never wrote in code."For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand." (2 Corinthians 1:13) Fortunately for us, their error was resolutely refuted and, by the fourth century, this heresy was all but extinct.

What Paul is trying to tell us is that, while Jesus was fully human, he was also fully God. God fully dwelt within Him just as His humanity fully filled Him. This means that, as He suffered as a man he also suffered as God and, as His suffering reconciled us to Him and His humanity, it also reconciled us back to God. Many have tried to explain how this could be and even battles have been waged by those defending their belief against another. However, Paul here presents it simply as a truth with no explanation or defense. We may not be able to understand it but it is nevertheless still true.

Because of sin, mankind and God has been at odds and separated from one another. God is holy and man a sinner and it was his sin that separated him from God. How could mankind be reconciled to God while he stood under the condemnation of the law and under the judgement of death? How could God forgive sin until the righteous requirements of the law had been fulfilled? Sin occurred and the law demanded that its just sentence be executed.

The only solution was for God to come Himself, take our sentence of death upon Himself, and then defeat the law through His resurrection from the dead. Paul put it this was, "because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:25-26) Jesus was just and, as such, was able to become the justifier of those who believe in Him through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. It took God to reconcile us back to God and that is just what He did,

David Robison