Our cancelled IOUs

Today, Selwyn looks at Collossians 2:13-14 (NIV): “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

I liked the points raised by Selwyn in today’s study. First off; ‘ … it is possible not to sin. God has made us alive with Christ , and when His life pulses through our soul then freedom from sin is possible.”

The second point I liked is: “In ancient times the record of a debt, after it had been paid, would sometimes be nailed to a public notice board so that everyone could see the matter was settled. Our Lord has taken the debt we owed and nailed it to the most public place in the universe – the cross.”

I think there are a number of layers of meaning in these two verses. The written law demanded punishment for sins – while animal sacrifices were part of a process to seek God’s forgiveness – it never fully dealt with punishment. The Jewish written law did two things: showed us that no one could keep the written law and everyone sins. We can never be free from sin based on our best efforts.  Consequently, there was/is no pathway for us to follow which would restore the broken relationship with God. Therefore, as God loves us, He took it upon Himself to pay the debt we owed, as defined by the written code and regulations.

In a very real sense – Jesus cancelled the consequences of the written code by allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross and paying the death penalty on our behalf, as demanded by the spirit of the written code. Perhaps an example would be helpful, to illustrate the last point: Jesus said that being angry with a person was the same as murder, and looking lustfully at a person was the same as adultery (if you are married); under the written code – both these sins demand the death penalty.  He is making the point that it’s impossible not to sin  by using our own resources; and the very nature of sin highlights are broken relationship with God. Those who don’t have a relationship with God, cannot live with God; and, must depart from His presence when they die. The only sure way of escaping from the consequences of the written code is to believe in Jesus and His power to cancel our IOUs!

This study on Colossians has been really helpful, do you agree?

Complete in Him

Today’s verses for reading and meditation, are Colossians 2:11-12 (NIV), as follows: “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

As you can see, these verses found in Colossians are a great concise, summary of the Christian gospel.

Selwyn states that: “The point being made is that we need not add to what Christ has already done. God can do nothing greater for us (in terms of saving us) than (what) He has done in Christ.”

Circumcision, as a sign of the old covenant, was/is no longer relevant – Jesus has saved us – our sins have been forgiven – we have been cleansed from unrighteousness.  Paul is saying that since Jesus has done everything required there is nothing for us to doour covenant is now ‘belief in Jesus’. Circumcision, and other Jewish religious traditions are no longer relevant, in regard to our salvation. Those who like to play a part in scripted, religious traditions because they don’t want to submit to God’s authority in Jesus – really, have no where to go, when the curtain comes down!

‘Fulness of life in Christ’

Colossians 2:10 (NIV): “… and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

Selwyn makes the point that we cannot find our God, Jesus, in other religions and philosophies – it is untrue to say that there are many paths to God – as Jesus is in control there is only one path and that’s His. We cannot accept both Jesus and Mohammad, or Jesus and Buddha, or Jesus and Plato/Socrates/Nietzsche/Jung/etc.  What Selwyn writes today, if fully taken on-board, will change a person’s life. He says: “Jesus is Head over every power and authority. We need fear no longer the prince of darkness or any other power or authority. Christ (Jesus) is the One who is in control of everything and everyone.”

We share with Jesus, all that He has – so, as we hold our loving God’s hand – who can defeat us? This is the foundation we can stand upon to live a victorious life. What do you think?

‘Music vaster than before’

We are now up to verse 9 of Chapter 2, of Paul’s letter to the Colossians (NIV): “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,”

What an amazing verse – here, in a very clear and concise way, Paul is saying that: ‘there is nothing in God that isn’t in Jesus. Jesus is God accommodated to human form … ‘.

That’s why, it’s very important to read Scripture, over and over again – especially the words of Jesus – because they are the very words of God!

Does anyone disagree?

Godless philosophies

Selwyn now looks at Colossians 2:8 (NIV): “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

It’s fairly obvious to real Christians that most philosophies (that which attempts to explain ultimate reality and the meaning of life) can never deliver the wisdom they promise.

As Selwyn says: ” … any philosophy that is not built on God’s revelation in Scripture leads nowhere. Philosophical reasoning may sound fascinating but it contains no useful answers, The truth is found only in Christ (Jesus).”

A key point which Selwyn does not expand on  – is that human tradition is a flawed process – the rational behind any human tradition is always eroded over time; this can be easily demonstrated by any reasonable student of history.

This point is important when the truth as revealed by God becomes incorporated into human traditions; and then moulded by worldly rationality. As, Paul said in his letter to the Colossians: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” His statement can be modified as follows: see to it that no one takes you captive by deception or flawed traditions. We have the Holy Spirit to assist us, in discerning what is right and wrong; don’t ignore God’s teaching while accepting flawed human traditions. Always test what you are being taught by your ministers/pastors/priests – always ask, does it match the truth found in Christ? 

Do you agree?

Give, take, build

The next two verses in Colossians, which Selwyn looks at today, are (2:6-7, NIV): “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

My first comment is based on Selwyn’s conclusion: “If you do not give thanks regularly for all that God has done for you then you ought to question whether you are indeed a Christian.” I would go even further and say – if you are not ‘overflowing with thankfulness’ then you do not have a relationship with God. Does anyone disagree?

The other area which is well worth thinking about is that our life is summed up by ‘living in Him’. Selwyn writes: “These two requirements – receiving and continuing – should be made clear to every new Christian. And those who have been on the Way some time need to be reminded of them also. … How do we receive Christ? By surrender and receptivity. We give to Him and take from Him. … Our giving involves giving the one and only thing we own – ourselves. When He has that, He has all. … God asks that we give our all, in order that He may give His all.” This last sentence is packed full of the meaning of life! It is an incredible statement – we give very little – He gives us eternal life – how fantastic is that?

Dwell for awhile on these words: ‘continue to live in Him’; ‘the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you’ (we looked at these words, Colossians 1:27, on Monday 17 March); and also from John 17:20-23; ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.”

If you take on-board a millionth of the meaning of these words, you will never be afraid of the unknown – but always be overflowing with thankfulness, that God is with you – who then, can stand against you?

Do you agree that this is one, great study?

‘In good order’

We now move on to the next two verses in Colossians (Chapter 2:4-5, NIV): “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.”

Today, we constantly hear new theories about Jesus or religion in general. The recent translations of some of the gnostic (‘gnostic’, from a Greek word that has a meaning similar to;  ‘esoteric knowledge’) gospels (Thomas, Judas, Philip, Mary, etc) has also spawned a swarm of documentaries, presenting the ‘untold’ (false) facts about Jesus. They often fail to say that these particular gnostic documents were written long after the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; as well as Paul’s letters. These documents are good examples of how easy it was for people to be deceived by fine-sounding arguments; and they reflect the need for all other belief systems (including sects and cults) to have their own books, to justify their own unique way of re-inventing God.

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion, concerning verse 5, above: “Firmness of faith in Christ and good order are root and fruit. Loss of faith in Christ and disorder are also root and fruit. In Him we are in good order; out of Him we are in disorder.”

As the world, in general, moves further away from Jesus; so too we move into an era of chaos and disorder – it’s as natural as night following day. What do you think?