The hope of the Gospel
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21–23 ESV)
The Church has lost, and it is losing its grip on society and this island; we know why! The Church and the faith have been associated with political parties. God and Ulster’s famous phrase shows how much biblical misunderstanding there is regarding God’s nature and work. God loves the world and judges’ nations, and he will never be associated with a country, only with one of his choosing.
But what has remained and will continue to stay in the Message of the Gospel. So even though I struggle existentially with phrases like “we are defenders of the faith”, I think God has been defending the Gospel better than us. He is capable of defending, protecting the Gospel. I know this because I have had the privilege of living and visiting different cultures and have seen and experienced the Gospel being proclaimed and lived in different ways.
These verses from Colossians 1:21-32 speak of a Gospel that transcends cultures, traditions, and ways of doing Church.
From Colossians, we have learnt that Christ Lordship is above creation, and He is the Lord of the Church. Christ is also Lord of the Gospel. It is his message. The Gospel is Jesus and Jesus is the Gospel.
If you say I believe in Jesus but reject the Gospel, then you don’t believe him at all.
There is a great book that I like a lot, from John Piper title: God is the Gospel where he ways that we have got it wrong, “the search for joy is not self-centred. The remedy of our soul health and great happiness comes not from beholding a great self, but a great splendour, which is the Glory of God in the face of Jesus”.
Let me ask you: Where is the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus? The answer is the Gospel.
“He, (Jesus) light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV).
Piper says that when we hold that splendour, there is nothing that can be compared to it. That is the ultimate sight, the best description of the Splendour of God upon us and it is found in the Gospel. There is no other sight that can transform us the way this glorious view, this Glorious Splendour of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In it, we find the face and the Glory of God.
I have wondered so many times why is Jesus so attractive? Why do a bunch of people decide to leave everything behind following him?
Why did the Church grow so much? From a handful of believers to 110 people and then to 3000 and a worldwide movement.
I believe Jesus was joyful, and Jesus only could meet the deep void in our hearts. The splendour that we long for to be ours, only Jesus can bring to us.
This is beautifully put together in the letter of the Hebrews.
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)
- Jesus’ is the only when you can restore and heal our brokenness. Jesus is the only one who can bring healing to our spirits. We were dead in our transgressions, separated from the Glory of God. Jesus came to give us life. Remember what he said to Nicodemus, we are born again not of the flesh but the Spirit of God.
There are at least three reasons as to why the Supremacy of Christ over salvation is so important here in Colossians 1:21-23
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds”. (Colossians 1:21 ESV)
This is the mindset of the natural man; it is the state of those who do have the Gospel.
Alienation is a strong word; it speaks of separation from God. The Bible has a lot to say about this. One of the great themes of the Scriptures points out how humanity became separated from God.
Paul said in Romans
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23 ESV)
“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
Every action of man was polluted, contaminated with sin, and sin is an active, powerful killer of the soul of man.
Paul says to the Colossians that you once were separated and hostile, that is, enemies of God. Their minds’ thoughts were by nature negative to God.
I want you to be aware of this:
Sin does not just kill the soul of man, but also your mindset is deprived, hostile to God. Therefore it is natural for men to commit evil deeds!
This was not the plan and will of God.
“he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:22 ESV)
Therefore, we celebrate communion, which is a celebration to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. His death and resurrection!
Paul says to the Colossians that you no longer are and live like you used to, but now Jesus has reconciled you and me through his body of flesh, by his sacrificial death, so that you can access the presence of God.
There are three things that Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished:
• New Identity – You are Holy
• You are no longer guilty – You are blameless
• You are no longer rebuked – You are above reproach before God
This is Good News! This is the freedom that Christ died for.
John Piper says that the gift of the Gospel was purchased by the blood of Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, our sins must be covered, and the wrath of God against us must be removed, and Christ righteousness must be imputed to us!
Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians regarding reconciliation:
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:16–19 ESV)
“if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:23 ESV)
We will look at Paul, the minister, and his message in the coming weeks.
But listen to what Paul is saying to these brothers and sisters in the faith.
He says that the journey of faith is full-on, with challenges along the way. A journey where you will be tempted to give up, lose sight of Christ and therefore lose hope.
In other words, Paul is saying: Don’t give up! Instead, continue in the path, be persistent and committed.
• Continue in the faith
• Not shifting from the hope
Paul’s encouragement does not come from his own experience or the experience of others but the Gospel.
It is a Gospel that shows the Supremacy of Christ over salvation.
The message of the Gospel shows us that Christ is the only one who can save us from the wrath of God.
As we have seen, Christ is supreme over creation and the Church, Christ is supreme over salvation. There is no other way.
Why? Because, as John Piper says, the Gospel is the gift of God himself, this gift if above all other gifts! It is the glory of Jesus revealed for our everlasting enjoyment!