A Personal Promise

Some days the gospel can feel very distant. Our failures loom large, and the forgiveness and rescue that we are given in Christ seem somehow obscured in the daily grind.

However, the Bible is a treasure trove of passages that describe the incredible rescue Jesus has worked for us, for days when we need reminding!

This week I’ve been reading and re-reading a short passage in Colossians 2. The Apostle Paul is encouraging the Colossian church, reminding them of who Jesus is, and all that they receive in following him, so that they will not grow discouraged or move away from what they believe.

In verse 6 Paul urges them:

 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Yet he doesn’t just expect the Colossian Christians to conjure up perseverance, faith, and thankfulness from nowhere. In verse 13 Paul gives them (and us!) a spectacular reminder of the gospel, the good news that saves us and joyfully sustains us:

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

  • “When you were dead” God saved us and gave us new life when we were spiritually dead – unable to save ourselves, or earn his favour in any way – The God who was willing to save us at our worst will not leave us now!
  • “He forgave us all our sins” All our sins – forgiven, once and for all!
  • “having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness..” Our huge debt of sin, the one that we daily add to, is cancelled having been paid in full at the cross of Christ. It no longer has the power to condemn us! Jesus has borne our just condemnation and punishment himself.

What powerful, life-saving truths! And yet I can find them hard to really accept personally, when I look at the multitude of ways I have failed God even today.

Maybe you absorbed it all on first reading, but in order to help myself to really trust and rejoice in these words I’ve made a few changes, personalising the pronouns!

13 When I was dead in my sins and in the uncircumcision of my flesh, God made me alive with Christ. He forgave me all my sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of my legal indebtedness, which stood against me and condemned me; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

When it sinks in that these things are true about me, today, forever, because of Christ, I can’t help but be humbled, encouraged and truly joyful- I’m grinning as I write this!

What a wonderful saviour Jesus Christ is!

Enjoy your day!

Nim


The School You’ll Never Graduate From

This week in my bible study with the International Group, we did a one-off study in Colossians 2. A little bit random, but intentional. I felt that in the midst of all the good things we’d been looking at we needed some time to simply be refreshed in the gospel of Christ.

It was chapter 2:6 that brought me up short: So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Notice Paul’s instructions here – “just as you received”, “continue”. As we go on in the faith we continue to live as we first began – rooted in Christ and continuing to receive the free gift of his grace!

It’s the school of the gospel of grace that we can never graduate from. We must constantly be reminded of it.

We know this, it is often said, but why is it so vital that we return to it daily and preach it to ourselves?


Here are some of the reasons we came up with on Wednesday:

So that we come to Christ confidently.

We begin to act as though grace saved us initially, but now we must earn the right to stay! I know personally, that the more God’s spirit reveals sin in me and seeks to make me Christlike, the more I feel I do not belong in his glorious presence. I feel like a tramp in the throne room of the king!

But the gloriously extravagant gospel says that I can come confidently to the throne of grace to find mercy, (Hebrews 4:16) That I have a great High Priest who ever lives to intercede for me!
If I don’t remind myself constantly of the gospel then I will be tempted to lose heart when I repeatedly fail to keep God’s law. I will feel that I cannot have a close relationship with him, or draw near to him in prayer and praise.
So that we remain convinced of his love for us and our identity as children of God.

Verse 13 reminds us – When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you
alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

It is finished and done! We were made alive, when we were dead in sin, when we were hopelessly exiled, we were forgiven and brought home, the charge of sin paid on our behalf by Christ! So there is no sin so great that it will disqualify the Christian from being God’s child. We were saved while still dead in sin, not because we showed some potential at cleaning ourselves up enough for his presence. But we have been made alive in Christ. Our sins have been dealt with by him– all of them!

As John wonderfully exclaims in 1 John 3 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

So that Jesus receives his rightful praise and glory.

Verse 6 of the Colossians passage reminds us that our reaction to Christ and all that he has done, should be to overflow with thankfulness. I find that this happens more naturally when I spend time thinking about the gospel, singing about it, reminding myself of it – It seems too good to be true, and I feel thankful, full of praise and wonder at the generous and loving character of my God.

So that we remember that in Christ we have everything we need.

Colossians 2 contains a wonderful section that lists what we have in Christ (so that the Colossians Christians will realise why they need not add anything else!) If I give up constant meditation on my salvation by grace, then I may begin to resent taking up my cross and following Christ, I may begin to think of God as a stern headmaster in the sky, or serve him out of duty and not love.

Or like the Colossians, I am in danger of being persuaded that I need to add to Christ’s work on the cross, and that true godliness can somehow be achieved through something other than Christ.

Paul is really clear! There is to be no graduating from the gospel! Christ is our head, the fullness of God, the source of our fullness, Lord over every power and authority in heaven and on earth – see Colossians 2:9-15!

I know that while we live on this earth we will always fight to let the gospel continue to triumph in our hearts and minds, but praise God that Christ has already achieved all that is needed on our behalf!

I’m sure there are many other reasons, from Colossians, and elsewhere in scripture, can you think of anything I missed?

If you’re like me, and songs help you to take in gospel truths, check out the lyrics below by Sovereign Grace, taken from their new album From Age to Age , it wonderfully speaks of the gospel of Christ– I recommend listening to the whole album, it’s really blessed me.

Nothing That My Hands Can Do

There’s nothing that my hands can do
To save my guilty soul
I cannot cleanse my filthy stains
Or make my spirit whole
For nothing but the blood of Christ
Can all my sins erase
I dare not claim my righteousness
But hide within His grace
‘Tis Christ who saved me from the depths
God’s pardon I’ve received
I’m washed within His precious blood
My heart is sprinkled clean

From Age to Age, Sovereign Grace Music.