Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Gift of Glory

Can you keep a secret?

My wife and I are just so bad at keeping secrets from each other that we have given up. By that, I don’t mean to imply that keeping secrets is a good idea in marriage. Important things need to be discussed and aired in love. But, sometimes little surprises are more wonderful if they are unveiled in the right setting and at the correct time. Surprise Christmas presents, for example, are usually much better if the recipient does not get them until, well, Christmas. Unfortunately, the excitement usually gets the better of us. That’s why my wife usually gets her Christmas presents from me about a day after they are purchased. That’s why I have received many of my best Christmas presents from her shortly after Thanksgiving. While our delight in giving to each other is probably a good thing, we usually don’t have much to unwrap when the big day comes.

Fortunately, God has the patience and ability to make His grand and gracious gifts all the more glorious. The greatest and most marvelous gift of all He kept as a “mystery” for centuries, so that the glory of it and the wonder of it could be fully appreciated. Colossians 1:26-27 speaks of

 …the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God’s plan was hidden for “ages and generations.” God is, and has been, in control of His revelation of Himself and His work. Even while He sent prophets to declare His works and His ultimate plan for salvation, He chose not to divulge every detail. As the Apostle Peter wrote,

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (see 1 Peter 1:10-12)

God revealed to His prophets that He was preparing something truly marvelous. This incredible truth was not even experienced by the prophets He chose and spoke through. They would speak of it, but it would be for those who were yet to come. It was a gift so remarkable that even the angels longed to understand it, but could not.

God’s plan was revealed to His saints. God held off fully revealing His glorious and astounding gift until the intended recipients were able to receive it. After sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for their sins and purchase them as His own people, He revealed the gift to His saints, the people God chose, made holy, and set apart for Himself by the finished work of Christ. It seems that the greatness and glory of the gift could only be comprehended by those who received it. Indeed the glorious gift had to be possessed in order to understand its value.

God revealed the greatness of the gift to those who received it. This gift is one of riches, of exceptional abundance.

God revealed that the gift would be received by the Gentiles. That is, it is a gift that would be given to people of all nations. It would not just go to those who were Jews by birth, but to people of all tribes, tongues and countries.

God revealed that the secret gift would be glorious. That is, its worth would be greater than human imagination could comprehend, unless that comprehension was expanded by the gift itself.

What is that marvelous gift?

The gift of God is “Christ in you. ” Imagine that–Christ, the Anointed One of God, dwells within human beings. The Spirit sent by the Father through the Son, the Holy Spirit of God, inhabits the flesh of all those who believe in Christ. This truth is astounding, and would be unbelievable unless the Holy Spirit so changed people’s hearts and minds that they could grasp it.

This inhabitation of God’s Spirit in human beings is “THE hope of glory.” That is, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in men and women, they would have no hope. He is our only hope to live purposeful lives. He is our only hope for growing in holiness. He is our only hope to ever see the things of God, the things that truly have worth and value.

God, at the proper time, revealed the astounding truth that He would take sinful people like us out of our sin. More than that, He has revealed to us the unfathomable truth that He would choose to implant His Holy Spirit in us and give us the promise, the hope, the assurance, the certain expectation that as He lives in us, so we will and can live for Him.

We must not forget this truth. We must not diminish its importance. By the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to grasp how great and marvelous that gift is. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are given the hope of being transformed by the working of God’s Spirit, into the image of Christ. By the Holy Spirit, we can delight in knowing that “He who began a good work in us will continue it.” (see Phil. 1:6).

Let us not lose our zeal to praise both the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Giver of the Gift, for God is worthy of our praise. Let us not forget to live by the power that He is gracious in giving us to live lives of glory.


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Entrusted for Service

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as servants. While it would be great to HAVE a servant, like a butler or maid, most of us probably wouldn’t want to BE a servant ourselves. Having a servant clean up our messes and do stuff for us sounds a lot more desirable than being a servant who cleans up other people’s messes and does stuff for them. To most of us, being a servant would be the sort of a job that we would only take if we couldn’t find anything better to do, like work at the counter at McDonald’s.

In contrast to that attitude, the Apostle Paul was delighted to think of himself as a servant.

In Colossians 1:24-25, he says,

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,

We have elsewhere examined Paul’s joy in suffering in verse 24, but let’s now look at his view of himself as a servant in Colossians 1:25.

Paul viewed himself as a servant of the body of Christ. In talking of the church, he describes himself by saying that he “became a minister” of the church. The word translated in many versions (ESV, for example) as “minister” is simply the word for “servant”.

Paul viewed being a servant as being like Christ. Christ, whom we are all to imitate as His disciples, became a servant as well. Jesus said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (See Mark 10:45) Elsewhere, Paul said that Christ, “…made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (See Philippians 2:7) That is why Paul could relate his suffering on behalf of the church to Christ’s work. Paul saw his role as a servant as a continuation of the servanthood of Christ.

Paul viewed his being a servant as an assignment from God. Paul says he became a servant “according to the stewardship of God that was given to me.” The word “stewardship” refers to a position of trust given to a person who is considered trustworthy enough to act on behalf of his employer or master. God entrusted Paul with the duty to act as a servant to the church, and Paul saw that as a desirable privilege, not a burden.

Paul viewed his role as servant as an assignment to carry out a particular job. Paul says that he became a servant (minister) “to make the word of God fully known.” Paul was entrusted by God (given the stewardship) for the purpose of proclaiming God’s truth, the gospel. Paul said of himself, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” (See I Corinthians 9:19) He also said, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (See I Corinthians 4:1)

While Paul is speaking of his own service, which he was assigned to carry out by God, he also reveals a principle that applies to all of us who are in Christ. We are all entrusted by God to serve the body of Christ, the church. We may each have been entrusted with different abilities and talents by God, but God gives us those abilities as gifts so that we will use them to serve others.

Peter reminds us, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (See I Peter 4:10)

So, what has God entrusted to us as our stewardship? How are we to serve? In what way are you being entrusted by God to be a servant? Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Peter 4: 11 give us some examples.

Are you entrusted with the gifts of proclaiming the word of God, or the oracles of God, to others in a way that they can apply them, as described in Romans 12: 6 and 1 Peter 4:11? Then serve the body of Christ in faith, as one who is speaking the truth of God.

Are you entrusted with the gifts to serve others in general ways, as described in Romans 12:7 and 1 Peter 4:11? Then serve the body of Christ by the strength that God supplies.

Are you entrusted with the gifts of exhorting others to greater faith and obedience? Then serve the body of Christ by diligently doing so.

Are you entrusted with the gifts to contribute to the needs of the poor and the church? Then serve the body of Christ by being generous.

Are you entrusted with the gifts to lead others? Then serve the body of Christ by leading with zeal.

Are you entrusted with the gifts to show mercy and compassion to others? Then serve the  body of Christ by doing acts of mercy with cheerfulness.

You see, all of us who are in Christ ARE servants. WE have each been given gifts as trusted servants of God to serve the body of Christ.

Unlike the world, we should view being servants as superior to being served. This is simply because our roles as servants are given to us by God for His glory, “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (See 1 Peter 4:11)

If we are faithful with what we have been entrusted, and if we are faithful as servants, we are promised this by Christ:  “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.” (See Luke 12:37)


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Rejoice in Suffering

Suffering is a part of every person’s life. Some of us complain about being mildly inconvenienced, but that is not really suffering. Others of us talk about physical pains ranging from hangnails to hernias, but even they may not be true suffering. True suffering has an element of anguish or frustration. There may also be an element of injustice. While much of life is spent striving, sometimes without result, a life of suffering involves toil or heartbreak on an extreme scale. The suffering may further involve a loss, without reward or hope, of loved ones, jobs, houses, and other things dear to us.

Some of us may be blessed to suffer for the sake of Christ’s gospel. We may experience the anguish of being persecuted or ridiculed because we proclaim that Jesus died on the cross for sinners in order to reconcile them to God. We may be chastised or hated for believing that Christ is the only way to God. We may be ostracized by friends or family because we stand with and for Christ.

When that occurs, we should rejoice, as Paul said he did in Colossians 1:24:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

Paul rejoiced in his suffering for the gospel because he understood it was for the sake of others. Believers must proclaim the truth of the gospel to the lost world. That is God’s means of bringing salvation to all those who are lost. Even when they reject it and persecute us for proclaiming it, God can use the message we declare to save them.

For example, in India today, there are Hindu families who are coming to Christ following the martyrdom of over 100 Christians at the hands of Hindus in 2008. The boldness that other Christians have shown in sharing the gospel after that tragedy has been used by God. Most of us will probably never have to give our life for our faith. But even if we should lose friends, jobs, or family ties because of the gospel, the sacrifice we make may be used by the Lord for the salvation of those very ones who persecute us.

Paul rejoiced in his suffering for the gospel because he saw it a continuation of Christ’s suffering. As Peter said, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (see I Peter 4:13) That attitude was in Paul, and it should be in each of us as well. Jesus promised that just as He was hated, so the world would hate us (see John 15:18-19). Jesus explained that believers in Him are not part of the world, but chosen out from the world. We are alien, foreigners, to the world, just as Christ was.

We take the message of a holy and merciful God into a sinful and vindictive world. As Christ brought salvation to the sinful world that rejected Him, so He calls us to bring the message of salvation to that same sinful world, though it rejects His truth. He suffered for their salvation, and we are called to suffer to bring them the message of salvation. Our calling is a continuation of His work.

Paul rejoiced in his suffering for the gospel because he knew it was for the benefit of the church, the body of Christ. When we suffer as Christians, we are not alone. We are united by our suffering. The entire Body of Christ is with us. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (see I Corinthians 12:26)

What is more, when the Body of Christ suffers, it is used by God to strengthen us as Paul said “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,” (see Romans 5:3) In suffering, Christians learn to rely on God for comfort and provision through our suffering “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (see II Corinthians 1:5).

Paul saw his own suffering as the means that God used to bring him into closer fellowship with Christ, saying “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (see Philippians 3:8-10).

We can rejoice in suffering, as Paul did. Our suffering may take the form of giving up an afternoon of leisure to speak about Christ to a stranger. It may take the form of being punished because we spoke about the gospel during our lunch hour. It may take the form of making a long unpleasant trip back home to share the gospel with a dying relative. It may take the form of death at the hand of some religious zealot. Whatever the form, let us remember “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (see Romans 8:18)

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Your Profile is Now Available Online

Did you know you can get a copy of all the information Google has on you? Login here to get it.

Google may have lots of dirt on you.  You may have a Google+ profile. You may have a Facebook profile. You may have a lengthy FBI dossier (left over from your wayward youth, no doubt). But, much more important (and “juicy”)  than any information contained in any of those places is the truth about you that is found in the Bible.

If you believe the gospel that Jesus Christ died on the cross to reconcile sinners, here are just 32 pieces of information about you from just one chapter in Romans (see Romans 8).

1. There now is no condemnation for you if you are in Christ. (see Romans 8:1)

2. You have been set free of the law of sin and death. (see Romans 8:2)

3. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in you, if you walk according to the Spirit of God. (see Romans 8:4)

4. You do walk in the Spirit, since the  Spirit of God dwells in you. (see Romans 8:9)

5. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will also make you alive even in your mortal body. (see Romans 8:11)

6. By the Spirit, you will kill the deeds of the flesh and so you shall live. (see Romans 8:13)

7. Since you are led by the Spirit you are a son (daughter) of God. (see Romans 8:14)

8. You have received the Spirit of adoption, not fear. (see Romans 8:15)

9. That Spirit of adoption enables you to call upon God as Father. (see Romans 8:15)

10.  The Holy Spirit  confirms that you are a child of God. (see Romans 8:16)

11. You are an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ (see Romans 8:17)

12. You suffer with Christ. (see Romans 8:17)

13. You will be glorified together with Christ. (see Romans 8:17)

14. You possess  the first fruits (the beginning manifestation) of the Spirit. (see Romans 8:23)

15. You are saved by hope (or since you are saved, you hope). (see Romans 8:24)

16. You wait for it with patience. (see Romans 8:25)

17. The Holy Spirit helps your weaknesses. (see Romans 8:26)

18. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for you (from within you). (see Romans 8:26-27)

19. All things are for working (combined together) for the ultimate good in you. (see Romans 8:28)

20. Since you love God, you are called for or because of His purpose. (see Romans 8:28)

21. God  foreknew you; that is, He knew you before you existed. (see Romans 8:29)

22. God predestined you; that is, He planned all of your life. (see Romans 8:29)

23. God is making you into the image of His Son. (see Romans 8:29)

24. God called you; that is, He drew you to Himself by His power. (see Romans 8:30)

25. God justified you; that is, He declared you guiltless. (see Romans 8:30)

26. God glorified you.  (see Romans 8:30)

27. God is for you. (see Romans 8:31)

28. God gave up His Son deliberately for you. (see Romans 8:32)

29. God will freely give you all things. (see Romans 8:32)

30. Christ makes intercession for you at the right hand of God. (see Romans 8:34)

31. You are more than a conqueror; to say you are victorious is an understatement. (see Romans 8:35)

32. Nothing shall be able to separate you from the love of God. (see Romans 8:38)

Whatever you put in your Facebook profile, it looks pretty lame now, right?

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The Right Tool

Have you ever used a wrench as a hammer?  You might get away with it. If a hammer isn’t available and you want to put a nail in the wall to hang up a picture it might seem to work (that is, until you make a dent in the wall because the nail isn’t quite lined up right). The truth is, however, that a wrench is not designed to hammer nails, and using it in that way is usually not a good idea. Using a hammer as a wrench is really a poor idea, by the way. Your pipes get all dented and bendy.

Using the right tool for the task is usually necessary to produce the desired results.

God has tools that He uses to do things in us. For example, He has a tool that He uses to make us holy. Imagine. He takes that tool and, by applying it to us, He changes us so that we become set-apart and suitable for His purposes. God also has a tool that He uses to make us blameless. When He applies that tool to us, every disobedient thing we have ever done, or will ever do, is erased from any record and no longer matters. God even has a tool that silences every accusation that might be made against us. Using that tool, He can make us so pure that, for the rest of eternity, no crime, act, or thought will ever be brought up as evidence against us.

It turns out that God uses only a single tool when He desires to make people holy, blameless, and accusation-free. This tool is so perfect for doing what God wants to do that it never fails in His hands.

That tool is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:22-23 tells us about that tool, and how God uses it.

…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 1:22-23, ESV

What does this tell us about the tool of the gospel?

First, we learn what it is. The gospel is that “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.” Christ has now, already, brought us to God in reconciliation. He has repaired the broken relationship between us and God. He did this in a physical body, a body of flesh much like our own. By His death, He brought those who were dead to God back to life. The news that He has done that is the gospel tool that God wields as He chooses to perform His work.

Second, we learn what it does. That truth, and the work of Christ, was designed “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.” By the gospel and the work of Christ, we are brought before God. If that was all the gospel did, the prospect would be frightening; being ushered into the presence of God in all His holiness and perfection would be deadly for disobedient and sinful people. However, the gospel brings us to God not as sinners, but as those who have been made holy, blameless, and pure beyond any accusation. Our transportation to His presence is accompanied by our transformation to those who are worthy of entering into His presence. It is as if we were whisked into a limousine to be reunited with God, and during the journey we were bathed, dressed in new clothes, and cleaned up in every way that would make us presentable to Him.

Third, we learn how it works. The gospel will transport us to God and transform us in holiness “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” The gospel does what God wishes it to do to us if we continue to believe it and put our hope in it alone. It continues to work in us as we continue to put all of our faith in it. As the gospel is constant and true, our faith is to be stable and steadfast. If we feel the desire to add embellishments to it, or depart from its simple power, then that should be a sign to us that we are no longer trusting in it, and thus are no longer being changed by it. If we place the weight of our trust on anything else, such as our own effort, the praiseworthy acts we might do, the knowledge we might accumulate, the goodness of other people we know, or anything else, we shift our faith away from the gospel, which is and must remain our only hope.

Fourth, we learn how God uses it. He uses the gospel as it is “proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” As the good news of reconciliation in Christ is proclaimed, far and wide without any exceptions or excuses, God is using it. As the word of the Lord is heard, God uses it to produce the results that God desires, as it is His tool in His hand. God uses faithful men to declare the message “of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Just as God wielded the tool of the gospel through the service of the Apostle Paul, so even now He applies the tool of the gospel everywhere. He does so through the words of all those who spread the gospel in their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces, and anywhere else in all creation where any of His saved creatures may be faithful to declare it.

God uses no other tool but the gospel of the work of Christ to present men and women to Himself as reconciled to Him. No plea, exhortation, or guilt-trip will truly bring people to God.

God uses no other tool but the gospel of the work of Christ to make men and women holy, blameless, and above reproach before Him. No rules, laws or bullying will make people truly holy.

The tool God uses is simple: it is the news that Christ has now reconciled sinners to God in his body of flesh by his death. We need no other doctrine, no other message. We need not be ashamed of the simplicity of it, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (see Romans 1:16-17).

We who know the truth are allowed by God to carry it to all places in creation. We are entrusted with God’s tool, the gospel. Let us pray to God that we may be faithful to proclaim it without shame.

Any other tool that we might seek to use is not the tool of God. It is not the right tool.





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The End of Conflict

Usually, when we think about conflict we can only imagine one end to the struggle: there will be a winner and there will be a loser. Every war, every battle, every argument, every fight is not really over until one side is victorious and the other is defeated. If a clash results in a draw, then it is not truly over, and we tend to expect that the fight will be carried on, perhaps in some other form.

That is what makes the conflict between man and God so amazing.

The human race became a hoard of enemies to God when Adam ignored God’s decree and deliberately challenged His authority. Ever since, we have either ignored God by denying His existence or fought against Him by making our own rules. Our thinking and attitudes have been set against God throughout human history. We have not wanted Him and we certainly have not wanted His leadership. We have been at conflict with Him.

God’s way of resolving that conflict was beyond the imagination of Humanity.

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… -Colossians 1:21-22, (ESV)

We were all God’s enemies.
We “once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” Our alienation, separation, and estrangement from Him were complete.

Like Adam, we pretended we did not know Him. We ignored Him or we denied His existence.

We devised clever fables about how we, and all we see around us, came into being by chance and time. We told ourselves and taught each other that God was unnecessary to explain our existence. In effect, we treated God as an idea rather than a Person, and an irrelevant one at that.

Some of us might have seen the glaring stupidity of those fables and so we did not continue to deny the existence of “a god.” But, even then, the true God was so disdainful to us that we rejected Him and instead invented our own versions of Him.

Some of us made up multiple, puny “gods.” Others made up a “God” who merely created everything, but had no authority or interest in overseeing “His” creation. Some of us made up a “God” who was an impersonal “Force.” Others of us made up a “God” who made no demands of us but who only wanted to please us, much like a cosmic butler. Still others made up a “God” who really wanted us to love him, and who thought so much of us that He would do anything to earn our love, much like a heavenly boyfriend. We showed our hatred for the true God by creating our own counterfeits.

Whether we ignored the true God altogether or preferred our own imaginary god to Him, our hostility to Him affected our lives.

Our actions became evil. We chose to do what we wanted rather than what He wanted. Rather than honoring our parents, as God commanded, we treated our them like inconvenient and embarrassing benefactors in our youth, and like inconvenient burdens upon our time and money later in life. Rather than highly esteeming marriage, as God commanded, we ridiculed it by engaging in all kinds of activities to satisfy our own desires before marriage, during marriage, and without marriage. Rather than prizing the truth, as God commanded, we littered our speech with lies and half-truths whenever it served our own ends. Rather than loving our neighbor, as God commanded, we looked upon the people around us with contempt, using them and exploiting them as we saw fit. Rather than being content with the things we had been given, as God commanded, we coveted more and turned our lives into a race to collect, amass and accumulate all the things that we wanted but did not have.

God ended our conflict with Him with reconciliation.
God chose not to destroy us as His enemies, but chose to bring us to Himself. We, the enemies, “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.”

Our conflict with God was ended by a death. As God’s enemies, we would have expected that God would demand the death  and utter defeat of all of us who were in conflict with Him. Since He is God, He could have easily used His power to destroy and punish us. But instead, God did something amazing. He turned all that power to destroy against His own mortal body on the cross. He could have concluded the conflict with us in the only way that we could imagine, with our own deaths at His hand. Instead, He chose to end the conflict with us by causing His own death at the hands of His enemies. He made peace and brought His conflict with us to a final end in reconciliation rather than destruction.

God has changed us from hostile to holy
Not only did God choose to spare us as His enemies, but He also acted to change us so we would no longer be His enemies. He did this “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”

God made us holy. By His grace and the work of Christ, we are no longer set against God, as our alienated and hostile minds had made us. Instead, He has made us into people set apart for God, for that is what being holy means.
God made us blameless. By His grace, through the death of Christ, we are no longer seen by God as guilty, although that is what our evil actions had made us. Instead, He has made us into people who are guiltless and without blame before Him, since all our guilt was taken by Christ and died with Him.
God made us above reproach. By His grace, through the resurrection of Christ, there is no longer any charge that can be made against us. Instead, He has given us Christ as our advocate, pleading that every accusation that might be made against us, even from future sin, has already been pardoned.

Our conflict with God can not be ended by our victory over Him. Each of us must either be defeated enemies or reconciled to Him. He has done all that is required for reconciliation. Because of what Christ did on a little hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, you may be reconciled to God. Every person who changes his attitude towards God (repents) and believes that Christ has taken all the punishment for sin and disobedience upon Himself  is now reconciled to God. If you have done that, you are now holy, blameless, and above reproach before God.

If we are reconciled to God through Christ, we must regard ourselves as God regards us. We are no longer in conflict with Him. We are holy, blameless, and above reproach in His eyes. His enemy, the sin that still seeks to hold us, is now our enemy. Let us regard ourselves as He does, and glorify Him in the way we live.

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For all but the hardest hearts among us, a story of a close relationship that has gone wrong stirs up sadness. True accounts of such stories sell magazines and tabloids. Fictional accounts of such stories sell books and movie tickets. We mourn when we hear such stories. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of the human heart is a tiny hope, a yearning for a restoration. We hope that, somehow, there might be a restoration of relationship. We yearn to hear of reconciliation.

When a close bond is broken, whether it is between husband and wife or between parent and child, it can be especially heart-wrenching. Love, which once connected two people together, can turn into a perverted and twisted kind of intimate disgust. The closeness once shared between the two people can morph into a partnership of mutual hostility. Respect and concern warp into distain and indifference. When that occurs, the seeds of forgiveness can take no root in hearts hardened by long-sustained bitterness. The hope that there one day may be harmony or restoration seems to be banished forever to the realm of the impossible.

Sometimes, the only hope for reconciliation is that one person may choose to radically alter the pattern. One person must decide to give up his rights to retaliation or vengeance. One person must take all the blame and guilt of the failed relationship, even if it means accepting the blame due to the other. One must choose to make the peace.

When Adam sinned, the once-intimate relationship he had to God was perverted into a twisted kind of intimate disgust. The closeness he had with God was converted to hostility. The respect he had for his Creator warped into distain and indifference. Because of Adam’s sin, the whole human race– and the creation over which we were given authority (see Gen. 1:26, 1:28)– turned away from obeying and seeking God into a pattern of rebellion. Over time, humanity increasingly cultivated a bitterness and hardness of heart towards God, and all of the creation which was mankind’s dominion became cursed (see Gen. 3:17).

Into this true story, Christ came, as the only hope for reconciliation…

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. -Colossians 1:19-20

God saw that the only hope for reconciliation was for Him to choose to radically alter the pattern. Thus, God came, in the Person of Jesus Christ, into His Creation, to become the hope for reconciliation.

God took on the form of one of His creatures. It was His choice, His desire, His pleasure to do so. He chose to lower Himself and become flesh and blood, and live among His creatures (see John 1:14). Yet, in that flesh and blood, in that Jesus Christ, all the complete goodness, purity, holiness, justness, love, and mercy of the living God lived.

Through Christ and His work, God gave up His rights to retaliation and vengeance against His rebellious creatures. He knew that His creatures, the men and women who rebelled against Him, would be unable to return or match His earnest yearning to restore His relationship to them. He would have to give to them the reconciliation that they were unwilling and powerless to seek or gain from Him.

It pleased God to make peace with His creation. It pleased Him to do this through the physical things in His creation. It pleased Him to use the blood of a Man, the blood of Christ. He chose to use the blood that coursed through the body that He inhabited when He came into His creation. It pleased Him to use the death of a Man, the death of Christ on the cross. He chose to use that instrument of torture and death to take upon Himself the retaliation and vengeance due His rebellious creatures.

In Christ, God chose to take upon Himself the guilt and blame of His creatures, even though the estrangement between God and His creatures was due to their guilt.

The hope of reconciliation with God, purchased by God through the blood and cross of Christ, is the hope of all who see the work of God in Christ and turn to Him in faith. Look now at what God has done in Christ, and be reconciled to Him.

Because of what He has done, let us strive to live as those who have been reconciled to God. Let us live as those who have a restored and renewed relationship with Him. As Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (ESV)


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Filed under Christ's work, Colossians, Sin, Sovereignty