”°BE RECONCILED TO GOD”± By Pastor YAU
Text: Colossians 1:20-23 March 30, 2014.
1) The five words of salvation: There are five words in the New Testament used to describe salvation of mankind: In Justification, the sinner stands before God guilty and condemned, but is declared righteous (Rom. 8:33). In redemption, the sinner stands before God as a slave, but is granted freedom (Rom. 6:18-22). In forgiveness, the sinner stands before God as a debtor, but the debt is paid and debt forgotten (Eph. 1:7). In adoption, the sinner stands before God as a stranger, but is made a son (Eph. 1:5). In reconciliation, the sinner stands before God as an enemy, but becomes His friend (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Paul gives a concise explanation o reconciliation here in Colossians.
2) Reconciliation in Colossians: The verb katallasso (to reconcile) means ”°to change.”± Its New Testament usage conveys a change of relationship, mainly, but not exclusively, speaks of the change of relationship between God and man. (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20) This word is also used to describe change of relationship between people.
There is stronger term for reconcile that is used here in Colossians 1:20, 22, apokatallasso. This is a compound word, the basic katallasso, with a pre-position, apo, to intensify the meaning that the reconciliation between God and man is thorough, complete and in perfect condition.
THE NATURE OF RECONCILIATION:
1) The price of reconciliation: ”°Through him (Christ) to reconcile to himself (God) by making peace through his (Christ's) blood, shed on the cross.”± (1:20) The price of reconciliation is not free. It is paid in full by the blood, or the life, of Jesus Christ. Since ”°the wages of sin is death,”± and ”°without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (of sin).”± (Hebrews 9:23) Sin deserves punishment and Christ paid that punishment for all the sins of human race. Hundreds of years ago, it was prophesied in Isaiah 53:5, ”°He was pierced for our transgressions, and was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”± ”°Through him”± was a designation by God, and only through his sacrificial death, the wages of all the sins of men could be paid in full. There is no other way to pay for the wages of sin of men. The price has been paid, sins have been forgiven, the remaining question is: would man believe in the sacrificial death of Christ so he can be reconciled to God.
2) The extend of reconciliation:”°Through him to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”± (1:20) This is about the extend of forgiveness and reconciliation that is all inclusive. ”°All things on earth”± includes all men in this world, the past, the present and the future. The death of Christ is effective to cover all the sins of men in history regardless of time and location, no respect of class or race or ethnic origin. Since we all were created by God, so his forgiveness of sin through Christ covers all men.
All things in heaven include the universe, the natural world. When man sinned against God, the natural world was also condemned and cursed. (Gen. 3:17-19) The forgiveness of sin extends from man to the universe. In all this, the grace of God covers all things on earth and in heaven.
BEFORE RECONCILIATION: (1:21)
1) We were alienated from God: ”°Formerly you were alienated from God.”± Alienated, apoallotrioo, means ”°estranged”± or ”°cut off, separated,”± like the prodigal son in a distant land or branches cut off from the vine. Paul painted the picture on the destitute condition of man to God. It was that at the time of Paul, and it is still the same today. The alienation between God and man is the result of the sin of man and his rebellion of God. God created man with a perfect purpose of relationship, but man chose to sin against God, ran away from God like the prodigal son. The separation is more than just in physical distance, how much man wants to stay away from God, but also in spiritual reality. Man doesn't and won't have the spiritual capacity to know God by his own efforts. Without the spirit of God, no one may call the name of God.
2) We were enemies of God: ”°Enemies”±, echthros, means hateful in the mind. Look at the atheists and their attitude toward God in general, and Christianity in particular, you can see how hostile these people are toward God. Atheists won't even allow kids to sing Christmas carols, decorate cookies, Christmas trees, dress in Christmas color, not to mention taking away the Bible and anything that has any hint of God and Christianity. People without God are naturally enemies of God not just in their mind, but now in their actions. See the persecution of Christians in the Muslim countries and former Communist countries. Some may feel that labeling people without God as enemies is way too much, but if you look around the world, what else can you call them? Islam doctrines encourages the Muslims to kill all the infidels, all those who are not Muslims, to earn rewards in heaven, they are truly enemies of God.
3) We engaged in evil deeds: In John 3:19-20, ”°Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Every-one who does evil hates light and will not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”± Just look around our country and the legislation in many states and the government to legalize acts of sin and harm in the name of freedom of choice. This is true not just among evil people, but also in evil government officials who advocated and passed laws to protect evil acts. Also look at the injustice in the business world, the legal system, the political arena, we see acts of evil everywhere in every parts of the society from top to bottom. No wonder when ”°God saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”± (Gen. 6:5)
AFTER RECONCILIATION: (1:22)
1) We live through his death: ”°But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death.”± (1:22) There are two important elements here in our reconciliation with God: a) The initiator of reconciliation is God, not man. While many religions emphasize the efforts of man to do more or better hoping to be saved, the Bible clearly states that is is he, God, who reconciled man to himself. No man can do a thing to bring himself acceptable to God.
b) The cost of reconciliation is the death of the Son of God, the life of Christ, in exchange of all the lives of men. This is the extreme demonstration of the love of God. Paul says in Romans 5:8, ”°God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”±
2) We receive a superior status: ”°To present you holy and blameless in his sight.”± (1:22b) Holy, hagios, means to be separated from sin and set apart for the use of God. Blameless, amomos, means without any blemish or defect. When we were washed clean of all sins in our life by the blood of Jesus Christ, God sees us as clean and spotless new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17) We were given a status as holy and clean as God's Son, Jesus. This status is worthy of our treasure and safe keeping with utmost efforts not to cause any damages so it can please God. If God has treasured us so much, how could we live our life to degrade God's purpose in us.
Think of this: If you were adopted by the king of a super famous country, and the king has so much pride and expectation on you, how would you live your life to measure up to your new status? When God adopted us to be his children through the blood of Jesus, how much more should we treasure the new identity by living our lives measured up to that new status.
3) We have a superior goal: ”°And free from accusation.”± (1:22c) Without accusation, anegkletos, means no one may bring any charges against us in our life. God has a very high standard and goal in our life as his representatives in this world. This is about the need of spiritual growth that involves becoming in practice what we are in reality before God. Paul encourages us, ”°To put on the new self, and the new self, is being renewed to a true knowledge accord-ing to the image of the One who created us.”± (Col. 3:10)
We are not just saved to avoid eternal loss, but also to be witnesses of the power of God in our lives. Through our daily life as witnesses of our new life God wants us to bring the world to him. The people of Israel had betrayed the goal God had on them, let us take hold of this honor God places on us.
CONTINUITY OF RECONCILIATION: (1:23) Three steps layout:
1) Be firmly established in faith: ”°If in deed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast.”± (1:23) To be saved by faith in Jesus is not easy for some people, but to be firmly established and be steadfast in faith is more than a challenge to all of us. Most of us are able to hold on to our faith in the Lord Jesus in our initial salvation, but we have problems and challenges in establishing our faith in our daily life. How often we really have faith that God is love and able to provide our needs? How often we are willing to relinquish our right to allow God to steer our future or make our choices? How much we really believe that God will answer our prayers particularly not in our time frame? Our faith in God is the most important energy of our Christian life and testimony to bring other to know him and be saved.
2) Held out the hope of gospel: ”°Not moved from the hope held out in the gospel, the gospel you have heard.”± (1:23b) The gospel, the good news, is the center of this passage because it proclaims the victory of Christ over sin and death on behalf of man. There are five kinds of hope the gospel might bring to those who believed, as stated in 2 Cor. 5:17-21.
a) Reconciliation transforms men: ”°If any man who is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, new things have come.”± (v. 17)
b) Reconciliation brings righteousness: ”°He made him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Christ).”± (v. 21)
c) Reconciliation comes through Christ: ”°All these things are from God who reconciles us to himself through Christ.”± (v. 18) There is no other way.
d) Reconciliation is for all who believe: ”°God in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”± (v. 19)
e) Reconciliation is a mission: ”°God gave us a ministry of reconciliation.”± (v. 18)
3) Continue the unfinished mission: ”°That (the gospel) has been proclaimed to all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a minister.”± (1:23c) The ministry of reconciliation is never complete until the last person in this world has heard the gospel, the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Both God's purpose and Christ's command demand that we, as his faithful believers, follow the example or the champion of gospel ministry, the apostle Paul, to continue carrying the message of reconciliation to every corner of the world to reach every soul on earth. The primary reason God let us stay in this planet earth after we have accepted the gospel and were saved is to witness for him and to bring people to his kingdom.
1) Reconciliation for you: The gospel message of reconciliation is always for the individual person who learns, understands, believes and is saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Any and all the studies on this topic has one purpose and that purpose is to lead that person to be reconciled to God. So if you have never been reconciled to God, will you take that advantage today after you have learned about it. Why would you waste these 90 minutes in worship and didn't get anything good for yourself? It is not like buying good stuff at a low price in a department store. This is a free offer because Jesus has already paid for you. Don't leave this place with empty hands.
2) Reconciliation for others: Do you know someone whom you love so much and want him/her to go to heaven someday? If you do, bring this message to that person, your outline or the whole sermon I will send out later today so he will learn how to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Helping your loved ones to reconcile to God is the best thing you can do for him and his life. Nothing you may give him may last to eternity for his soul. Don't just keep the good thing for yourself, but share it with your best friend. If you need help, call me and we can discuss a plan to help your friend learn more and make the most important decision of his life.