Colossians 1:1-3 ESV
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”
This letter is to the saints, to those who are called of God to be holy, set apart (unlike, different) from the world and set apart to God, to Jesus Christ, for him and for his service.
Thus, they are believers in Jesus Christ who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin that they might walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 1:6-7; Rom 6:1-23; Gal 2:20; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Thess 4:7; 2 Tim 1:9).
They are the faithful of God in Christ Jesus, who are believing in Jesus Christ, who have been persuaded (convinced) of God as to his will for their lives. Thus, they have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ, and they are following his will for their lives in obedience to his commands. They aren’t perfect, but they are committed to Christ and to obeying him.
Colossians 1:4-8 ESV
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”
Here we have a partial description (a partial model) of those who are the saints of God who are the faithful in Christ Jesus. They are:
• Those who are known for their faith in Jesus Christ
• Those who have a reputation for loving their fellow saints
• Those who are full of hope, who believe God’s promises
• Those who are bearing fruit for the gospel of Christ
• Those who understand the grace of God, in truth
If their faith is in Christ Jesus, their faith will agree with the teachings of Scripture regarding what it means to be a believer in Jesus Christ and with regard to what is required of us who believe in Jesus for salvation of sin and eternal life with God (Lu 9:23-26).
They will have forsaken their former lives of living in sin, they will have been transformed in mind of the Spirit of God, and they will be walking in obedience to the Lord and to his word as a matter of life course, by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
If they are bearing fruit for the gospel of Jesus Christ, they not only will not be living in habitual sin, but they will be doing whatever it is that God has called them to do. They will be loving others with Christ’s love, even loving their enemies, and they will be sharing the truth of the gospel with others so that others may come to know Christ, too.
And if they understand (not just intellectually, but in practical application) the grace of God, in truth, then they will know that the Scriptures teach that the grace of God instructs (or trains) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit 2:11-14).
They will also understand that God’s grace is not free license to continue living in sin without guilt, but that it provides the way for us to be delivered from our bondage to sin so that we can now become slaves (bondservants) of Christ and of his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23).
Colossians 1:9-14 ESV
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
The goal of our salvation is not just so we can escape hell and so we can go to heaven when we die. And it definitely is not so we can now continue living in sin guilt-free. The goal of our salvation is that we might walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, etc.
For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God so that we would now honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 5:15, 21; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
In Jesus’ death on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that when he died our sins died with him. And, in that way, he provided the way for us to die with him to sin and to live to him and to his righteousness, all because of God’s grace, and only by faith in him, and in his power.
So, coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not just a decision we make to believe in Jesus for salvation. It is a decision we make to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, to die with him to sin, and to live to him and to his righteousness. We choose to deny self, to daily die to sin, and to follow our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. This is what it means to have faith (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
For, God the Father delivered us from the domain of darkness, and he transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Amen!
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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