Sermon Transcript


William Barclay said it is not until the church is confronted with some dangerous heresy that she begins to realize the riches of orthodoxy.  And I want us to think about that a moment, because that is on point.  I was thinking about this recently as I picked up a copy of Dr. Albert Mohler’s brand new book on the apostle’s creed.  Dr. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  It’s one of my alma maters, and I voraciously read anything that Dr. Mohler has written.  And in that book, which is a very theological book, but written to everyday people like you and me, he relates a story and an experience that he had in Washington, D.C., not long ago when he was invited to be a part of a theological debate.  The organizers of the debate were having a difficult time finding that person on the panel who would defend orthodox Christianity because, as Dr. Mohler learned, everybody else on the panel would not defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints.  They were rather hostile to it, as was the audience.  And so Dr. Mohler accepted the invitation.  He says, “How could I not be there, especially in the nation’s capital.”  And he went to the debate.  And they debated vigorously the orthodoxy of the faith and those who were hostile against it and all of that.  And then they opened it up to audience questions.



And Dr. Mohler says there was a man in the audience who stood to ask a question.  He identified himself as a scientist from NASA.  He had earned two prestigious Ph.Ds. related to astrophysics, so he knew the guy was a smart guy.  And he just said to Dr. Mohler, “I’m tired of all this theology and doctrine.”  He says, “Every time somebody asks you a question, you give them a theological answer.”  And Dr. Mohler kindly reminded this scientist that the title of the event was “A Theological Debate” and anybody with two Ph.Ds. should probably understand what that word meant.  But that didn’t dissuade the scientist.  He came back at Dr. Mohler saying, “I’m so tired of all this doctrine and theology.  I am a Christian, and I want nothing to do with doctrine and theology.  All I want is Jesus Christ.”  And that’s all Dr. Mohler needed.  He had his opening.  And as he recalls in his book, “It was as if the runway was cleared.  All the traffic went away, and the clouds parted.  I was cleared for takeoff.  I said, ‘Sir, do you think there was a mailbox in Judea that said “Christ, Jesus”?  Do you think that’s His last name?  You just made a theological statement.  You, who want nothing to do with theology, by naming the name of Jesus Christ, have made a profoundly theological statement.  You say that all you want is Jesus Christ, but do you know what you're saying?  You’re declaring Jesus to be the anointed One of God, the Messiah.  Christ is not a surname.  It’s a title.  Jesus Christ is not merely a name.  It is a theological proposition.  It is the claim that all the promises given to Israel are fulfilled in this one incarnate man.  His name “Jesus” actually means “the Lord saves.”’”



Well, I have to agree with Dr. Mohler.  How we form our thoughts and our theology about Jesus matters immensely.  Theology by nature is a precise discipline.  And words matter.  It’s not enough to just simply say, “All I want is Jesus.”  If we stop there, we may end up with a “less than” Jesus.  A Jesus who was a good teacher.  A Jesus who was a buddy and a pal and a friend.  A Jesus who was a good moral man.  But that falls short of how the Bible proclaims Him and how Jesus Himself proclaimed Himself.



Well, we are in this study of Colossians, which is introducing to us a “greater than” Jesus.  A Jesus that is greater than what the false teachers, who crept into the church at Colossae 2000 years ago, presented.  Greater than the Gnosticism that arose to threaten the church in the 2nd century and that might’ve found it’s seedbed in the 1st century, even in the church in Colossae.  And just like Dr. Mohler came to that moment in the debate that changed everything, Paul comes to a turning point in his letter to the Colossians.  A moment, we might say.  He gets there as early as chapter 1 in verse 15 and goes all the way through verse 23.  I encourage you to strap on your seatbelts.  I encourage you to put on your theological thinking cap.  I encourage you to go beyond just the hours and hours of scrolling through social media data that you did this week, encouraging as a society our intellectual laziness.  I’m sorry.  I’m as guilty as you are, but that is true.  And I encourage us all to take a few minutes this morning to think profoundly, to think deeply, to think biblically, to think theologically about who Jesus Christ is.



To the Colossians Paul says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  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.  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.”



Can somebody say, “Wow, I just pulled a muscle in my mind, in my brain”?  That is the deep, deep end of theology and of presentation.  There are no more lofty words, no more lofty expressions found anywhere in the New Testament than these thoughts about Jesus Christ.  And it was an appropriate response by the apostle Paul to the “less than” Jesus that these false teachers were presenting to the church in Colossae.  Again, it’s not an option to just say, “All I want is Jesus.  Let’s do away with all this theology stuff.”  No, all I want is Jesus who is the Christ.  And Paul backs up a truckload of theology here and understanding that we must address.  Think of it this way.  In fewer words than Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Paul puts to rest the “less than” Jesus that the false teachers were addressing in Colossae.



Now, let’s break this down a little bit.  If you're into outlines and ways to kind of find some hooks for your thoughts, you're gonna like this message.  I gleaned some help from Dr. Richard Melick, who wrote a wonderful commentary on the book of Colossians.  And I like the way he thinks about at least verses 15-20.  I see Paul addressing two questions here.  One, who is Jesus?  That’s verses 15-20.  And then in verses 21-23, who am I in Jesus?  The passage pivots in verse 21 on the words “and you.”  Now, don’t worry.  We’re going to dive into the deep end of theology.  We’re going to come up for air in verse 21, and we’re going to talk about how all this applies to you and me.  It’s not enough to know how Jesus is.  We’ve got to know who am I in relation to Jesus.  But if we don’t get Jesus right, we’re not going to get us right.  And that’s where Paul goes.  And in the first section here Dr. Melick divides in a couple of ways.  He says Jesus is the Lord of creation—that’s verses 15-17—and then He’s the Lord of the new creation in verses 18-21.  I like that breakdown.  And then I went on to build on top of Dr. Melick’s breakdown there.



Let’s talk about Jesus, who is the Lord of creation.  First, He is the visible manifestation of God.  Paul says it this way.  “He is the image of the invisible God.”  I love that phrase.  I borrowed it for the title of this message.  The image of the invisible God.  No more lofty language than that when we start off talking about Jesus.  The word translated “image” there, the Greek word icon, can have one of two meanings in the Greek language.  It can mean that something is a representation of something, like a symbol, an image, an icon, a logo kind of thing.  Or it can point to something that is more than a symbol, it’s actually the perfect manifestation of something.  And the secondary language is what Paul has in mind here.



Parents often refer to their children as “my mini me.”  You ever heard that?  “Here is my mini me.”  Well, that’s not what Paul is saying about Jesus.  He’s not saying Jesus is a mini God.  On the contrary, He is equal to God in the sense that He brought God, who is invisible, into the visible sphere of humankind.  In Jesus Christ the invisible God became visible. The writer of Hebrews say of Jesus He is the exact imprint of His nature.  John 1:18 says, “He has made him known.”



The word “image” also awakens memories of Genesis and the creation story.  You may remember that man was created in the icon of God, Genesis 1:26.  Jesus is not only the visible manifestation of God, but He is also the perfect manifestation of man.  If you want to know what kind of human being God intended us to be when He created us in His image, look to Jesus.  The perfect manifestation of God and the visible manifestation of God, and the perfect manifestation of a human being who was created in the image of God.



Sin, however, corrupted to human gene pool.  Each of us inherited a sin nature of Adam, our spiritual and physical forefather.  Thus, the image of God was defaced.  No, not erased.  It’s as though the devil came and sprayed graffiti on the icon of God with words like broken, addicted, defeated, depressed, divided, hate, racism, evil, sexual dysfunction.  And you could add to the list there.  The image of God defaced, though not erased.  That describes mankind.  But Jesus Christ, the visible manifestation of God and the perfect manifestation of a human being, both 100% God and man at the same time.  He is Lord of creation because He is the visible manifestation of God.



Secondly, He is Lord of creation because He is also the creator of all things.  From Paul’s point of view, the starting point in this understanding of Jesus is to say—look at the text there—“He is the firstborn of all creation.”  Now, what does this mean?  Some mistakenly say that Jesus is a created being.  You’ll find that in cults like the Jehovah’s Witness.  You’ll find it in Mormonism.  The Mormons believe that Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer.  Lucifer was a created angelic being.  And Jesus, who is the spirit brother of Lucifer in Mormonism, can be nothing more than a created being as well.  That’s not what “the firstborn of creation” is talking about.  In fact, that false teaching the church condemned in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea, a place where people were stretching their theological minds and their thoughts to get a grasp of who Jesus really is as He is revealed in the scriptures.



The word translated “firstborn” can mean “to bring forth or beget.”  It can also express a special relationship or privilege.  King David, for example, in the Old Testament is called “the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.”  But nobody would say that he was the first of any king that ever walked this earth.  No, it’s a title of privilege and special recognition.  Thus, “firstborn” in Colossians 1 refers to the unique and lofty place of Jesus in relation to and over all of creation.  However, just keep in mind that this false teaching about Jesus being a created being has lingered stubbornly for nearly two millennia and is still among us today.



Let’s speak a little bit further about that.  To say that Jesus is a created being would make Him the created creator.  Because Paul goes on to clarify what he means by “the firstborn of creation” by saying in verse 16, “For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authority—all things were created through him and for him.”  All things were created by Jesus Christ.  Say “all things” with me.  All things. All things means all things, doesn’t it?  And did you notice the prepositions that Paul uses here?  He says all things were created by, through and for Jesus.  He is the Lord of creation because He is the creator of all things.



But Paul goes on to say He is the Lord of creation because He’s the sustainer of all things.  He says, “In him,” in Christ, “all things hold together.”  There’s that phrase again.  “All things were created by, through and for Him, and He didn’t just create this world and just let it kind of wind down out there, like the deists used to say.  No, all things hold together through Him and in Him.



Have you ever wondered what holds the universe together?  Most scientists believe the universe is expanding as a result of a big bang that took place eons ago.  My 5th grade science teacher taught that the earth’s rotation and its exact tilt and even the way and the time it takes to revolve around the sun, all of that combines to impact seasons and temperatures, daytime and nighttime and the length of each and a whole lot more.  The created world and even our little corner of our Milky Way is in perfect synchronization.  The spinning, the tilting, the revolving of the earth, all of that combines to make this planet we call home livable for humans.  You adjust that in any way…if the earth spins out of control or tilts just a little bit different, this place become uninhabitable.  My teacher pointed to gravity and other aspects of physics that make it all hold together, but he never mentioned Jesus.  He never mentioned Colossians 1:17.  Do you have enough room in your theology to believe that this Jesus is not only the creator of all things, He’s the sustainer?  He’s the one who’s got the whole world in His hands, as the song says.



And I think there’s an opportunity for us to pause and have a moment of application here.  Because theology is not just something that’s up here in the ivory tower somewhere that doesn’t relate to our everyday life.  No, if in Him all things hold together, it’s true that He’s got the whole world in His hands.  All things—yes, the sun, the moon and the stars—all things hold together in Him. It also means He’s got the itty, bitty baby in His hands.  He’s got you and me, brother, in His hands.  He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands.  He’s got what worries your heart right now in His hands.  This is practical theology.  When orthodoxy becomes orthopraxy, you’re going to love theology.  You’re going to love thinking right thoughts about who Jesus is.  Because when you get this part of it right and you understand the application of it, it truly will change your life.  If He can hold together the entire universe and keep the earth from spinning out of control and spinning into some black hole out there in deep outer space, don’t you think He can hold together what concerns your heart today? (0:19:00.0) Of course He can.



Finally, as Lord of creation, Jesus is also eternal.  Paul is just getting started here.  He says, “And he is before all things.”  This means there was never time that He did not exist.  Now, eternity is one of those mind-blowing concepts.  But the Bible assumes that at the beginning of what we know was the beginning of time, Jesus was already there.  And if Jesus was already there before time began, that means He exists outside the limits of time and duration.  It also suggests that Jesus had no beginning.  He always existed in the realm known as eternity.



The psalmist wrapped his thoughts around this by saying, “From everlasting (0:20:00.1) to everlasting you are God.”  From a point in time and beyond in the past that I cannot comprehend, and from a point in time in the future and beyond that I cannot comprehend, you are God.  And that’s the best the psalmist could do.  John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word.”  Who is the Word?  Verse 14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  That’s Jesus Christ.  That’s Christmas.  But in the beginning, a flashback to creation, He was there.  And if He was there even a moment before the beginning of time that means there’s never been a time that He did not exist.  Buzz Lightyear helps me with this- to infinity and beyond.  That’s as good as I can get.  And, by the way, Toy Story 4 is wonderful.  Go see it.  It’s where I get my theology.  Not exactly, but…



Jesus is the Lord of creation in these four ways.  But He is also the Lord of the new creation.  Did you know that in Christ you are a new creation?  You’re not an improved you.  I get this idea…people talk about, “Oh, I just want to be the best me I can be.”  No, you want to be a new creation.  Because I’ve learned the best me I can be is not that good.  But God is always up to something new.  And the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things are passed away; all things are become new.”  So in Christ you’re a brand new you.  The old you that’s been dragging you down?  That’s not who you are anymore.  And God is not trying to spit shine the old you.  He’s made a new you and a new creation out of you.



And one evidence of that is the church.  Jesus Christ is Lord of the new creation in at least three ways that Paul mentions here.  First as what I would call the point leader of the church.  Paul says He is the head of the church.  That word “head” speaks of His authority.  Make no mistake about it.  In this place or any other place worthy of the name church, the ecclesia of God, Jesus Christ is the head of that church.  And He has full authority.  The Pope, nor a pastor, nor a monarch, nor an archbishop, nor a committee, nor a council, nor a congregation is the head of the church.  Jesus Christ is the head.  Now, He has under-shepherds, of course.  But he is the chief shepherd, and we should never forget this.



Paul drills down on this a little bit further by saying He is the beginning, not really necessarily a flashback to creation, but a word which speaks not only of His authority, but His primacy.  It was Jesus who said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  He didn’t say, “You will build my church.”  He didn’t say, “I will build your church.”  He said, “I will build my church.”  It’s His church.  He is the head of the church.  He calls the shots.  He gave us the playbook here.  So if you’ve come here to play church in any kind of way or to use the platform of the church to build your church, you’re going to have to take that up with Jesus.  He’s the head of the church.  He has full authority.  He is the first one who said, “I will build my church.”  By the way, the first time the ecclesia of God is ever mentioned in the Bible is Matthew 16.  There is no hint of it in the Old Testament because before that it was a mystery.  A mystery is something that was once concealed that is now revealed.



And Jesus revealed the mystery of the church at a place called Caesarea Philippi.  We go there when we visit Israel.  And it was there that Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  It was also there where He asked the disciples, “Who do men say that I am,” and “Who do you say that I am?”  And what’s where Peter said, “Thou art Jesus.”  No, he didn’t say that.  He said, “Thou art the Christ.”  Peter made a theological proposition.  “You are the sum total of all the promises given to Israel fulfilled in our presence.  You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Dr. Mohler would have applauded Peter and given him three cheers there.



Jesus is not only the Lord of the new creation as the point leader of the church.  He is Lord of the new creation as the power of the church.  Paul goes on to say, “He is the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might have preeminence.”  Now, Paul is never far away from the event that really defines Christianity, and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  If all we had to talk about was the death of a good man on a cross, Christianity would never have gotten off the ground.  It would have stalled in the 1st century somewhere.  But three days later He rose from the dead.  Paul says it this way- “The firstborn from the dead.”



Now, if you know your Bible, you know that there were other people in the Bible in the Old Testament who were raised from the dead.  They were not technically resurrections.  Resurrection in the Bible is a resurrection to a resurrection body.  We know from Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances that He had a different capacity.  He could appear here and disappear and appear over here.  He was in His glorified body, the first ever to be raised from the dead and to be standing before the disciples in His glorified body.  The others were technically resuscitations- raised from the dead, but they died again.  Sorry, Lazarus.  That’d be a bummer to be Lazarus, you know.  You die twice.  But that’s technically how we understand that.  Jesus is the firstborn from the dead and the first of many resurrections to come if you understand the New Testament and the seven resurrections from the dead that are talked about in the New Testament.  There is a resurrection awaiting every person who goes into the grave.  Do you know that?  Some will rise to eternal life, some to eternal death, the Bible tells us.  But through His resurrection and because of His resurrection, there is life and there is power in the church.  The resurrection also makes Jesus superior to anyone we can imagine.  He is the preeminent one.



And finally, as Lord of the new creation, Jesus is the peacemaker of the church.  Paul goes on to say, “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.”  He really backs up the theological truck here, and he lays it on thick.  He says Jesus is not a partial revelation of God.  This is what the Gnostics taught.  Now, granted, Gnosticism didn’t come into full bloom until 2nd century, but we see the seeds of it in the middle of the 1st century, perhaps even here at the church at Colossae.  And the Gnostics believed that Jesus was kind of like a ray of the sun.  You have the sun rays emanating from the sun.  But the ray of the sun is not the sun itself.  And that’s what they said about Jesus.  He is like a sunray.  He’s like a God-ray, but He’s not God Himself.  Wrong.  Wrong answer there.  Paul says, “For in him all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form.”  You want to know what an invisible God looks like in the flesh in the fullness of himself?  Look at Jesus Christ.  Look at Jesus Christ.



Furthermore, He reconciled all that sin disrupted of the relationship between God and man. The phrase “whether on earth or in heaven” speaks of the far-reaching impact of sin and our need for reconciliation.  I don’t think we really understand just how much sin has impacted us.  We live in a fallen world.  And we can turn on the news every night or look at our social media news feeds, and we see the effect of living in a fallen world.  All of the graffiti that the devil has sprayed upon the icon of God.  We have just a partial understanding of just how sin has affected us.  But Paul says He has reconciled all that was broken, all that was disrupted by sin, whether on earth or in heaven.  I don’t completely understand how sin even affected and threw heaven off tilt a little bit.  But all throughout the universe, starting in our own soul, something is not right.  Romans tells us…Paul tells us there that all of creation groans.  At my age, I get out of bed in the morning, and I groan a little bit because, you know, this needs to be stretched and that needs to be stretched.  But there is something about all of creation that groans, Paul says.  And that groan is heard as an echo throughout the universe that something is not the way it was intended to be.  And that God in Christ through His death upon the cross was reconciling us and all of that to Himself.



It’s important to note that the Bible never speaks of God being reconciled to man, but man being reconciled to God.  We’re the ones that are off tilt.  We’re the ones that are corrupted by sin.  And it’s God…it’s always God who takes the initiative to bridge the chasm in the relationship.



Finally, Jesus, who is the Prince of peace and who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Paul says this same Jesus, this Christ, made “peace by the blood of his cross.”  That’s a lot.  Some of you may be saying, “Oh, Pastor, you’re killing me with all of this theology today.  Didn’t know I was coming to a theological class.”  But I’m convicted by the fact that, you know, if we feel a little bit overwhelmed by 10 or 15 minutes of stretching our thoughts to infinity and beyond, about the image of the invisible God…if we struggle with that and yet we can go back to our phones and they tell us that we’ve spent hours this week scrolling through social media feeds…are you kidding me?  We’ve become a theologically lazy society.  And intellectually lazy society.  And Paul brings us back.



You’ve got to know who Jesus is.  But more importantly…or equally importantly, who am I in relation to Jesus.  Because in verse 21 he pivots.  After telling us who Jesus is with some of the loftiest language we can find in the New Testament, he pivots.  And he says, “And you…”  If you were ever wondering whether this orthodoxy ever gets to orthopraxy and has an impact on your life and on my life in a real and practical way, here it is.  And he says, “And you who are in Christ, you who once were alienated and hostile in mind,”—verse 21—“and 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.”



What’s he saying here?  Well, to help me with these thoughts, I created two columns.  And I put them in your notes there.  First, he is writing to Christians, and he is describing their former condition.  And he uses words like alienated, hostile in mind, doing evil deeds.  Did you ever describe your life before Christ that way?  No, the blindness of sin keeps us from seeing ourselves as alienated from God or as hostile in our minds toward Him, or as the things that we are doing defined as evil deeds.”  Let me just say this.  If you’ve never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, this diagnosis applies to you right now.  I don’t mean that to be harsh to you in any kind of way.  But I’m just pointing out the biblical diagnosis here.  But Paul is writing to Christians in Colossae.  And he says, “This is your former condition.  Who you are in Christ, though, is not defined by this anymore.”  And he goes on to describe their present condition.  And he uses words like reconciled, holy and blameless, above reproach.  Did you think about yourself that way this week?



Here is the difficulty.  First of all, we don’t know who Jesus really is.  We’ve taken care of that.  Now the question is, who are we in relation to Jesus?  And even a lot of Christians I know…and I struggle with this from time to time, too.  I’m still thinking of myself as alienated from God, hostile in my mind towards Him, doing evil deeds.  But, no, you’re a new creation.  You’re not the old you.  You’re not who you once were.  So stop thinking of yourself in that old way.  You are now in Christ.  You’re not alienated; you’re reconciled.  You’re not hostile in your mind toward God; you're holy and blameless.  Holy means to be separated unto God for a sanctified purpose.  You have a new purpose in life, and God set you apart for that.  You’re blameless.  It doesn’t mean you’re sinless.  Blameless just means you honestly deal with your sin through confession and repentance.



King David was not a perfect man.  We all know that.  His foibles are all over the pages of scripture.  He committed murder, adultery.  He lied about it.  But the Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart.  Why?  Because there came a point of honest confession and repentance.  That’s a blameless person.  And in Jesus Christ all of the blame has been taken away.  What was unholy has been made holy.  What was alienated from God has been reconciled to Him. What was once the object of accusation is now above reproach.  The devil is the accuser of the brethren.  And he’ll remind you all day long.  He’ll accuse you all day long of who you once were.  And here is what we have to do as believers in Christ.  We have to make a choice to either live out of our understanding of who Jesus is and who I am in relation to Him…in other words, to live out of our new identity in Christ…or, even as somebody who is reconciled, holy and blameless, and above reproach, we keep living like we’re of the former condition.  And that is the struggle.  That is the struggle for many, many believers in Jesus.



Paul says all of this is true of you in your present condition, verse 23, “if indeed you continue in the faith.”  And he goes on from there.  Circle that word “if.”  A lot of people stumble over that.  They see doubt cast into the conversation here.  “Well, this is true of you only if you continue.”  Here is where a little bit of depth of knowledge into the Greek language…there is something called a first class conditional clause in the English language.  And this is the case here where the word translated “if” can also be translated “since” or “because.”  The first class conditional clause introduces something that is already true of you.



Paul is not saying you might be able to continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, or you might lose your salvation; and if that is true, the present condition no longer identifies you but now you're back in the former condition.  No, don’t go there.  The first class conditional clause says, “He has reconciled you in his body of flesh…in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, because indeed you are continuing in the faith.  You are 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.”  It’s speaking of something that is absolutely true of every believer in Jesus Christ.  Because it is Jesus who not only reconciled us and redeemed us, but He holds all things together, including your salvation.  He’s got you in His grip, the grip of His grace.  And He’ll never let go of you.  Not one that the Father has given to Him will the devil or anybody else snatch out of His hand.  And we can never, ever be separated from the love of God, the scripture tells us.



In order to live out my identity in Christ, here is the bottom line.  I must put aside false beliefs about God and about myself.  It’s the “about myself” part where I find a lot of people in church today struggling.  And you may be able to check the box and say, “Oh yeah, I believe all this about Jesus.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I don’t have a problem with the ‘who is Jesus’ part.  It’s the ‘who am I in relation to Jesus.’  I’m still struggling with that.”  Hear the testimony of scripture.  In Christ you are reconciled, not alienated.  I don’t care if you’ve walked into some church—maybe even this one—and somebody in the church made you feel far from or not a part of or alienated.  No, you’re reconciled.  You’re a part of the body of Christ.  You may not feel very holy and blameless because of something you’ve done in the past.  Maybe something you did this week.  Well, begin to close the gap between your positional sanctification—holy and blameless—and your practical sanctification.  Begin living as you really are, in Christ.  And make that a reflection of who you are.



You may be listening this week to the accusations of the devil who says, “You’re not above reproach.  Let me remind you of this.  Let me remind of you that.”  Just remember, you have an advocate, a defense attorney called Jesus who is standing in that courtroom with you and says, “No, I died on the cross for this man, for this woman.  And My blood covers and forgives his or her sin.  And I rose from the dead to give that person power to live a victorious Christian life.”  All of that in a theological debate.  Theology matters.  It matters hugely.  It’s not enough to say, “All I want is Jesus.”  We have to get to that point where we say, “All I want is Jesus who is Christ, who is the image of the invisible God and a whole lot more the Bible reveals about Him.”



“Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:28 MSG