Today we’re continuing to make our way through the book of Colossians, and we’re looking at a text that focuses in on the topic of reconciliation. When I think of reconciliation, lots of things come to mind, but one thing in particular is the movie “End of the Spear.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s an incredible movie about 5 missionaries who are trying to reach a remote people group in the jungles of Ecuador called the Waodani. The Waodani were constantly killing each other, because of tribal conflicts and because they believed that killing others made them stronger.
So the Ecuadorian government decided they were going to send in troops to stop the killings and reclaim the land, which would pretty much wipe out the Waodani people. So these five missionaries make contact with the tribe and even build a bit of a relationship with them, but five days after first making contact with them, all five of their bodies were found in a river.
Several of the wives of these five missionaries, unbelievably, continued trying to reach the Waodani people with the Gospel, eventually earning their trust. The movie actually follows, mainly, one of the missionary’s sons, whose name was Steve. He was only a young boy when his father was killed, so he spent the rest of his life without a father.
Now because of Waodani tradition, Steve is expected to exact vengeance upon his father’s murderer. As the movie goes on, and Steve becomes an adult, there is this climactic part of the movie where his father’s murderer, Mincayani, gives Steve a spear so that Steve can kill him. That’s how it worked with Waodani people. Steve shows a lot of emotion and even steps forward and lifts the spear to kill him, but ends up instead stopping, sitting down, and forgiving Mincayani for killing his father. They were reconciled; they were brought back together even after Mincayani had done such a terrible thing. Apparently, to this day, they remain close friends.
Real reconciliation can be an incredibly beautiful thing. When we think about God, the Creator of the Universe, and His creation, this whole reconciliation thing sees its biggest manifestation, or biggest showing. In fact, there is no greater truth in the universe than the truth that God will reconcile all things to Himself through the blood of Christ. Read with me in Colossians 1. Starting in vs. 19:
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 23 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.
To make it easy for us to organize this passage in our minds, we’re going to look at the problem, the solution, the result, and the proof. You can see this written out on the back of your bulletin, if that will help you see where we’re going. First, the problem. What’s the problem?
The Problem: All of Creation is Fallen
We see this implied in verse 20. Through Christ, God will reconcile all things to himself! So what does that tell us? All things, right now, are broken! They’re NOT reconciled to God. There’s something separating all things from God.
This might be one of the most important, and yet unknown truths in the Bible. Have you noticed that it’s not just human beings that are messed up? When Adam and Eve sinned, it did not just cause the fall of all mankind, but of all creation! We look around, and we see that the world is not as it should be. We have tsunamis, earthquakes, asteroids, cancer, disease, freak accidents. There is much suffering in the world! A lot of it is caused by our own sin. Like the reason there is no perfect government is because human beings run every government! Right? Much suffering and pain directly result from the actions of individuals in the world. But things that just happen, how do we explain that?!
Let me read Romans 8:20-22. This is a great passage you might want to take note of:
- For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
So what happened? God created everything and it was very good. Adam and Eve chose the fruit of a tree over fellowship with God. God sentenced them to death, AND he subjected all of creation to futility and corruption. Why, though? The creation didn’t do anything, like Mr. Preston said last week, animals don’t sin! So why did God subject creation to corruption, and not just man, since it was mankind that sinned. ? I like the way John Piper explains this. He says, “God put the natural world under a curse so that the horrors we see around us would become a vivid picture of how terrible sin is. Natural evil is a signpost to the unspeakable wickedness of moral evil.” In other words, it shows us, without a doubt, that something is wrong! Everywhere we look we see the effects of sin.
So we understand that the world is off. BUT, we must also understand that this evil is not just out there, away from us, or only political in nature, or economic or social in nature. In fact, it weaves its way through every single heart and mind in this room.
Verse 21 of Colossians 1: we were once “alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.” Our minds were alienated from God. It’s not that we weren’t quite reaching our potential. That’s not it! You may read that, even in Christian literature, but that’s not the biblical truth. It’s not just that we don’t quite get it. Instead, our entire thinking is obscured, marred, incorrect. I mentioned this a few weeks ago; it’s called the noetic effects of the fall. The way we think is corrupt. Our minds play tricks on us. We find ourselves thinking incorrectly, ESPECIALLY in what we think of ourselves.
When I was in junior high, I remember the first time I received a compliment about my trumpet playing. Someone told me, “You’re a good trumpet player.” So what did I think of myself in the days following this? I thought I was the best junior high trumpet player in the world! Why? That’s sometimes how children take compliments! Of course, a week later, when I got 2nd chair instead of 1st in an All-District competition (which is a very good chair), what did I think? I suddenly thought I was the worst junior high trumpet player in the world. My thinking was obscured; I didn’t see myself as I truly was. We can laugh at this, but as adults it’s really not all that different. If you think you know exactly who you are, maybe you should ask your spouse whether or not you have an accurate view of yourself. They might laugh at you! This is part of the human condition: not always accurately perceiving ourselves.
Even right now, you may think, I’ve never been hostile toward God! I may not have really cared about God, but I’ve never been hostile. Think about this for a moment. Do you like the idea that God created all things, therefore owns all things, and has the right to tell you what to do and what not to do, what to think and what not to think? Do you respond to that truth with glad submission, or hostility? I’m sure, most of us here, at some point in our lives have been hostile in our minds to God and his authority. Before you knew Jesus, maybe you were hostile to the idea that you’re accountable to God for your actions and even for your thoughts and desires! So, in our hostility and in our alienation, what did we do?
We did evil deeds, vs. 21. The word for evil here is the word from which we get “pornographic.” In the same way that pornography is just fake, a caricature, an imitation of the real thing, evil is a fake, or warped, reality. Pornography is a complete twist of what sex is, it completely falsifies its meaning and significance and even its real pleasure! Pornography objectifies sex and makes it about the individual, when in fact sexual intimacy is about two people becoming one, a beautiful thing. Similarly, evil objectifies our lives and makes it all about me. We think that we are not subject to anything. We own our lives; we do what we want. Because of this, we become hostile and alienated from God, or any sort of claim to authority over us, which of course leads to doing evil things.
As you can see, this is no small problem that all of creation has fallen, and that we as individuals have fallen and are corrupt and sinful. There is no doubt a need for a Savior, which brings us to the solution to the problem:
The Solution: God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
Verse 20 says that through Christ, God has made peace by the blood of his cross. By the blood of Christ there is peace between us and God. But even beyond you and me, verses 19 and 20 say that God will reconcile all things to himself by the blood of Jesus. The effects of sin, our condemnation, as well as the corruption of all of creation, will be reversed! That’s the beauty of the Bible. It’s one story, from the very beginning, the OT pointing forward to Christ, and the New Testament pointing back to Christ. It truly is one story of God reconciling all things to Himself through Jesus. That’s why, it really is all about Jesus.
The Colossians didn’t have this right at all. Paul, if you remember two weeks ago, is attacking the dualism that had creeped its way into the Colossian church. The Colossians had adopted this idea that matter was bad and spirit was good. So God could have nothing to do with the world, because God is spirit and the earth is matter. Paul completely rebukes this idea. Not only is it NOT true that matter is evil and spirit is good, but God’s ultimate goal is to reconcile the physical world with Himself! That’s why Jesus came.
But what does this look like, for God and all things to be reconciled? Well, it looks like a lot of things. This earth, this universe will be done away with, and he will bring about a new heavens and a new earth. In this new universe, there will be no earthquakes, disease, aging, pain, sin; we cannot fathom just how beautiful this new universe will be. If you remember back to December when we spent a few weeks in Isaiah, leading up to Christmas Eve. In Isaiah 11- we saw that the wolf will dwell with the Lamb, the leopard with the young goat, and you might remember the newborn baby playing with snakes! Yeah, seriously! Read Isaiah 11 later.
Some of you who are terrified of watching these documentaries of cheetahs chasing down a sweet, cute gazelle and just chomping down on it. You’ll be glad to know, there will be no more of that; there will be no more death! It’s very difficult for us to really understand exactly what this new universe will be like, but we know that all of the effects of the fall will be completely gone. God will reconcile to Himself all things.
“All things” does not mean that all people will be reconciled to God in the sense that they will spend eternity with him. That’s called universalism. That is taking this verse completely out of context with the rest of the Bible. What we know from Scripture, clearly, is that there is a literal hell where fallen angels and unsaved men and women will spend eternity. So in one sense, what is meant here, is that all things that are able to be reconciled to God, will be reconciled to God.
Now in another sense, just to add a little different angle of understanding, even people still in rebellion toward God will be reconciled to God in the sense that they will no longer be able to rebel. They won’t spend eternity with God, but the also will no longer be able to openly rebel against God. Instead, they will still face eternal punishment.
But, for those in Christ, this word reconciled, it speaks to a relationship being brought back together, like a husband and a wife who are at odds with each other, separated, even hating each other. Reconciliation is this husband and wife being brought back together. That’s the idea here, except way bigger: Mankind has been reconciled to God. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, is in a unique position to be able to fully reconcile man to God. How did He do it? How did Jesus reconcile us to God? If you were asleep or distracted just come back to me and hear this, especially if you don’t really know where you’re at with this whole Christianity thing.
God became a man, Jesus Christ, lived the life we could not live, had no sin, and yet died on the cross bearing our punishment for sin, rose again defeating death, so that if you or I repent and believe, we turn from our sin to Christ and trust in Christ as our substitute, we are reconciled to God. There is NO GREATER TRUTH in the world.
He did the work! Not me! God reconciled me to Him through Christ. I could do nothing on my own to fix my sin problem, my problem with rebellion and hostility toward God. I was stuck. I was estranged from God, alienated. But HE brought us back together. I love Ephesians 2:13- “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
I just want to encourage you, maybe you are here and you are far from God, in the sense that you don’t know where you’re at with Him. I implore you: turn from yourself and turn to Him. Be reconciled to God.
So we’ve seen the problem, and the solution, and now we turn to the Result…
The Result: Christ has made us holy.
Verse 22- “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.” The result of reconciliation, even The GOAL of reconciliation, is ultimately, for God to present His children as holy and pure.
Holy means to be set apart to God, separated from sin, corruption. God sees us as perfectly holy, as righteous, not because of our own holiness or righteousness, but because of Christ’s holiness and righteousness. Again, he takes our place on the cross, therefore deals with our unholiness and unrighteousness. “Blameless,” also in verse 22, means without blemish. With the spotless Lamb of God in our stead, we reflect being blameless. Reconciliation gives us a completely blameless character. “Above reproach” means even beyond blameless; it means that no one can bring a charge against us! Our enemy, in particular, cannot stick our sin in our face and say, you really think God loves YOU!? God has reconciled us to Himself and Christ is in heaven speaking on our behalf!
“When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless the Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me!” Do you hear it?
I love the confidence of Martin Luther; listen to this: “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also.”
Satan can’t throw my sin in my face, because Christ has dealt with it!!! The enemy says to you, “Look at you! I see filth.” God says, “Look at you! I see CHRIST. I see holiness. I see righteousness. I see my Son.” That’s the result of God reconciling us to Himself through Christ! I don’t know about you, but I just kind-of wanna start dancing!
The problem, the solution, the result, and now, briefly, the proof. How do we know we have been reconciled to God.
The Proof: Truly reconciled people continue in the faith.
Verse 23: “… 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.”
Now I don’t want you to misunderstand the “if” in this verse. Reconciliation is not dependent upon me continuing in the faith, even though the “if” here seems to imply this. In the Greek language, it is clear that Paul didn’t doubt whether or not the Colossians would continue in the faith. He thought they would. He’s not saying reconciliation comes because of Jesus and because you follow Him and earn your way, or your part of the way. There is no synergism here. We don’t work together with God to save ourselves. No, he does all the work. Paul, instead, is saying that truly reconciled people continue in the faith.
One of the most serious truths we see in Scripture is that not everyone who claims Christ is in fact reconciled to God through Christ. I can say I’m really good at cooking all I want. It doesn’t make it true, right, just because I say it? How do we know someone is good at cooking? We taste their cooking! Their food proves or shows evidence that they are in fact good at making food.
In the same way, if I’ve truly been reconciled to Christ, my life will show evidence of that. I will continue in the faith. Not that I’m perfect, but I am pursuing Godliness and obedience to God and fellowship with a local church. There’s evidence! Jesus in John 8:31, says, “If you continue in my teaching, you are truly my disciples.”
This is a hard truth. If you are not, as this verse says, “continuing in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel,” then it is likely you are not in the faith. You may not know Christ.
I don’t want to unnecessarily scare you into thinking that you’re not saved when you are saved, but I’d rather you look at your heart and life honestly than flatter yourself straight into hell. Look at your life. Look at your heart, what you desire. Does it reflect the desires of a man or woman who has been truly reconciled to God?
I want to close on a suggestion: I know it’s easy to think when we hear a message on the Jesus and the whole Cross/Gospel thing, even if it’s different from other messages on the Gospel, we think that this is good, but I want something NEW. Now, we’re making our way through books of the Bible, not skipping a verse, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll learn new things often. But sometimes, in our culture, we can be slave to the new (cult of the next big thing), when God wants us to be grounded in historic, orthodox, belief and practice. If there’s one area of the preaching and teaching at Raintree that I want to be repetitive, it’s the Gospel. Why? First, if we’re working through the Bible, the Gospel is going to come up a LOT. Plain and simple. Secondly, it’s the reason millions of churches exist. It’s the reason we meet ever week, to worship and grow and learn and be challenged to live like Christ more. There is no greater truth in the WORLD. We deserved nothing but death and hell forever. And yet God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
If you’re here today, and you haven’t been reconciled to God- Do so today. Repent from yourself and your sin, believe and trust in Christ alone for salvation. And come talk to me after the service. Right here, right after. I will be waiting to talk to you. There is nothing you can do that’s more important, weighty, and urgent than be reconciled to God. If you are reconciled, be enamored yet again by the Gospel.