The Message of Reconciliation - Colossians 1:21-23
As Paul writes to this young church, this gathering of new believers in Colossae he wants them to understand the centrality of Christ and their need for Him. As we considered verses 15-20 we answered the question, “Who is Jesus?” We made the observation that one of the greatest errors of all time is denial and minimizing of who Jesus really is.
As we come to verses 21-23 it is important to acknowledge another point of error: many (if not most) people believe that we are born basically good and that our default position is right standing with God. This, however, is not the teaching of Scripture and as Paul writes to the Colossians he wants them to know their need for reconciliation as well as the significance of what Jesus has done to make reconciliation of sinful men to God available.
Our Need for Reconciliation (1:21)
Paul is writing this letter to people who are now in Christ, they have received the Gospel, but he wants them to have a very clear understanding of who they were before Jesus. He describes their pre-Christ condition in three ways:
- Alienated – Before we are reconciled to God we are separated or estranged from Him by our sin (Ephesians 2:12).
- Hostile in Mind - Before we are reconciled to God we have minds that are hateful toward Him. So, our “alienation” isn’t passive separation – we are active in our enmity toward Him.
- Doing Evil Deeds – Before we are reconciled to God our hostility of mind manifests itself in the way we live (Ephesians 4:17-19; Romans 3:10-12).
The Source of Reconciliation (1:22a)
While we were born as enemies and haters of God, separated from Him, God took the initiative to reconcile our relationship to Him. That reconciliation, however, came at a price. The mending of this broken relationship took a sacrifice, it was made possible only by the broken body of Jesus (Colossians 1:20; Romans 5:10-11; Ephesians 2:12-16).
The Goal of Reconciliation (1:22b)
In the first part of verse 22 Paul reminds the Colossians of their completed reconciliation. While reconciliation is complete in Jesus, there is also an on-going process – there is an ultimate goal of our reconciliation that is still being worked out.
The goal of our reconciliation is to move us from being people who are marked by evil deeds to being people who are holy and blameless and above reproach. This is something God does in us, but we are also called to strive for it in our daily lives (Ephesians 1:4; Philippians 2:12-13).
The Condition of Final Reconciliation (1:23)
Paul is writing to a people who he fears are being tempted to trust other things, besides Christ, for their salvation. And so he wants to make this clear: The only way that you can have the hope of reconciliation is if you have a faith that is certain to the end.
What we know from other parts of Scripture is that for those who have true saving faith, that kind of faith will never fail and it will never falter. True faith is God given and will never fail. But nevertheless, while those who are in Christ are secure in Him, our aim should always be to remain steadfast and stable in faith (Philippians 1:6; 2:1-13).
- Do you understand the position you were in without Christ? If we don’t understand who we were we will never understand the magnitude of our salvation.
- Do you understand the source of reconciliation? If we don’t understand the price that was paid in order to reconcile us to God, then we will never have the proper level of appreciation and gratitude for our salvation.
- Do you understand the goal of your reconciliation? If you don’t understand the aim or the goal of your salvation then you will never grow or mature in your faith the way God intends.
- Do you understand the ongoing nature of salvation? If you don’t understand that salvation is an ongoing process then it’s possible that you have not fully understood the work of God in your life.
- Do you understand your call to be an ambassador? If you don’t understand the call to share the message of salvation with others then you are forsaking one of the greatest gifts that God has given – thejoy of helping others experience reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:17-21).