The Grace of God in Truth

Colossians 1:3-6 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.”

These thoughts are expressed here to the saints and to the faithful brethren (the body of Christ, true followers of Jesus Christ) (vv. 1-2). And the word “saint” means to be holy, and to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness (character, heart, mind) of Jesus Christ (God the Son). And the faithful are those who are committed to walks of faith and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.

So these are not people who have merely made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, though certainly I am not suggesting that all who professed faith in Jesus were either absolutely genuine or disingenuous, but that the letter itself is addressed to those who are the true saints of God and who are faithful in their walks of faith and in their obedience to the Lord and in their service to him. But that is no guarantee that they will continue in him.

For our salvation from sin is not a one-time deal that takes place in our lives and then we are good to go for eternity. Our salvation is a continual process of sanctification in our lives whereby we are growing and maturing in our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord, where daily we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit, and we are doing what our Lord has called us to do in his grace, strength, and power, and for his glory.

And this is why Paul often encouraged and exhorted the saints (and those professing to be Christians) with regard to their walks of faith so that they did not “jump ship” when things got hard, but so they would persevere in their commitments to the Lord Jesus until the very end. For he did not teach once saved always saved. He taught that we must, in practice, be walking in obedience to our Lord and not in sin, and that we must continue in these walks of faith until the very end or we don’t have eternal life with God.

[Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 2 Tim 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Tit 2:11-14]

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.”

In Hebrews 3:12-14,18-19 we read:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” And “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”

And this is why Paul was always praying for the Christians and for their spiritual growth and walks of faith and obedience to the Lord. Even Paul said about himself, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV). For the context of this was that we need to run the race God has marked out for us in order that we may obtain the prize. Yet, this is not teaching works-based salvation.

Now this is not saying that we can’t have the hope or the assurance of eternal salvation. We can indeed! But that hope and that assurance is based on biblical and doctrinal truth and on particular stipulations and conditions our Lord has laid out for us to have salvation in him and eternal life in him. And we don’t have that assurance based on a one-time belief that is not followed through with walks of obedience and the putting to death of sin in our lives. The Scriptures are clear that if we walk according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, that we will not have eternal life with God.

So we need to pay attention to the wording in the Scriptures, and if we have access to bible study tools, it is good sometimes to look up the words and their meanings in the interlinear or in a Bible dictionary or Encyclopedia, for our Bible translations don’t always capture the true or the full meaning of what is being taught in some Scriptures. Commentaries are sometimes useful tools, too, but we should never rely on them for correct biblical interpretation. Always depend on the Holy Spirit to lead you to all truth.

So, we need to be people of God who are growing and maturing in our walks of faith, who are moving in a forward direction spiritually, and who are not just holding on to a status of “saved” and then not living like Jesus did indeed save us from our slavery to sin. So we need to be students of the Scriptures who study the Scriptures in their context so that we get the correct meaning of what is being taught. For Scriptures taught out of context can be misleading. And then test everything you read and hear from others.

And all of this is with a goal that we would walk (in conduct, in practice) in a manner worthy (suitable, fitting) of the Lord, FULLY pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. For to this we were saved, and to this we were called of God. And yes, we are not saved by our own good works, of our own flesh, but we are saved to do the works of God which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10; Tit 2:11-14; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8).

For the whole point of our salvation is not just to be forgiven our sins so that we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. Jesus Christ died on that cross to deliver us from the domain (rule, control) of darkness (sin) and to transfer us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. But redemption means that Jesus bought us back for God so we would now be his possession and so we will honor him with our lives (1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Pet 2:24).

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

The Longer I Serve Him

William J. Gaither

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows;
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.

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