Lesson 23: "We Have Redemption Through His Blood, Even the Forgiveness of Sins." (Colossians 1:14)
This is lesson #23. Welcome again! As we closed out our last lesson, I asked you to notice how Paul, through his prayer statements (v.3-13), set the stage for a discussion of Jesus the Christ and the gospel, i.e. Christ's death, burial and resurrection to put it in a nutshell. Did you notice in v.12; Paul repeated the first part of v.3 by saying "we...give thanks" [now the word "we" is actually up in v.9, the subject of this big long sentence that makes up v.9-13; however, this is all part of the same sentence and thus it carries through and connects to v.12 and this "giving of thanks"]. Now, who did they give thanks to? "unto the Father" (v.12). O.K. notice the rest of v.12, "the Father...hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Now, put your finger on that phrase: "the saints in light" (end of v.12). Have you got it? We talked about this word "saints" before. What does it mean? Who are the saints? The word simply means the sanctified, i.e. those set apart. In this context, it simply means the children of God or we might supply the word "Christians." Alright, what about Christians or the saints "in light?" What is "in light" or why did Paul use that phrase? It's just a figure of speech describing the saints...all saints really. It calls attention to the fact that God's children, better known to us as Christians, are in covenant relationship with God. In other words, the enlightened ones. "Light" here carries with it the idea of being informed in contrast to some Christians at Colossae, who may not have been so well informed as Paul had prayed they would be in the forgoing verses. We've already talked about the Colossian atmosphere and surroundings. OK, keep you finger on v.12! Back it up three words to: "of the inheritance of the saints in light..." Now, what do we have? What is the inheritance of the saints in light? Could we simply say: heaven, to keep it brief? Paul used another phrase "all spiritual blessings" back in Eph. 1:3, do you remember that? O.K. back your finger up a little more and we have: "hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Now, to partake of course is to share in or to participate. The old English word: "meet" means appropriate or suitable. So, re-read the sentence: "the Father, which HATH HADE us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." The saints, i.e. Christians, are made suitable to partake, i.e. receive or participate in the inheritance that is to (or for) the informed saints (or separated ones, i.e. separated to God for his use and his honor and his glory). Who made these separated ones suitable? God, the Father. Please notice now, WE must obey the gospel (II Thess. 1:8), and then per God's covenant (or promise), when we believe, repent and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19), then God forgives our alien sins or past sins (according to that promise, Heb. 8:12) and then at the same time: God adds us (Acts 2:47) to his church or kingdom. We do not deserve this, we do not join of our own volition, it is by God's grace, it is a gift (Eph. 2:8, do you remember?). We simply obey, God does the forgiving and God does the adding, and don't ever forget it. Now, this has to do with the good news for us. What is the good news? The gospel, it's two ways of saying the same thing. We said before, Paul, in the book of Colossians, restated the gospel in very simple terms. He restates it and then he repeats it again. That's Paul's style, as we have observed before.
Alright, now, I would like for you to concentrate on v.13, just a moment. (V.13 is really just a re-statement of v.12.) Please try to see it in that light. Before God, the Father, made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance; we might say we were in one state, the lost state. We were lost and undone with no hope, that was our state of affairs. Back in Eph. 2:12, the apostle Paul said it like this: "at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." However, after, through obedience to the gospel, i.e. a re-enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus which is called baptism (Rom. 6:4) and the Father thus made us meet to be partakers of this inheritance through His forgiveness according to His promise...Then, we might say we entered another state, the saved state, if you will. The lost state according to our figure of speech is many times in the N.T. simply termed "the world." For example, in Gal. 6:14, the apostle Paul said: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the WORLD is crucified unto me, and I unto the WORLD." You see, the WORLD is the lost state. On the other hand, that society, or spiritual federation of believers, the community of the saints, if you will; is called other places very simply "the body" or what we know more commonly as the church, the church that Christ built (Matt. 16:18) and purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28). In other words, the WORLD is another term for the lost state as we have used that phrase and the word CHURCH is simply another term for the saved state. God adds the saved as they obey (day by day) to his church (take a close look at Acts 2:47). We do the obeying, the Lord does the adding. Thus, the church is made up of Christians. The "world" as that term is commonly used in the N.T. is made up of non-Christians. Then, look at v.13 (here), Paul said, God, the Father, "hath delivered us FROM the power of darkness [i.e. to say from or out of the lost state], and hath TRANSLATED us into the kingdom of his dear Son." The word "kingdom" or "kingdom of his dear Son" (here) is another word or phrase for the "church," or the saved state to put it another way. We must obey the gospel, yes; but, it is God that does the translating. Do you get that figure of translating? This moving of a person from the lost state (called the world) when they obey the gospel and are baptized into Christ is somewhat like or similar to taking a word out of one language and translating it into another language. For example, taking a Greek work and rendering it (that same Greek word) into English is called translating. It's a change of state, if you will; but, it is still the same work just as a lost person is still the same person when they are added to the saved state, the church. Their relationship to God changed (yes!); but, they are still the same person, a saved person, we say. This letter was written to the saints, or the saved at Colossae. Those who had been baptized into Christ and thus translated by God from the world into the church. In that word "us" (v.13), Paul included himself and Timothy with the saints in light at Colossae. The kingdom here (in v.13) is simply another word for the church, Christ's church. There's just one church discussed in the N.T., so it was not necessary for Paul to discuss which church, or which kingdom, or which sanctified and separated group of believers that he was talking about. Denominational thinking is absolutely foreign to this passage. Denominationalism simply did not exist! It's a non-Bible concept. It is not only non-scriptural, it's wrong, anti-scriptural and sinful, to put it very plain (although, a little blunt, I must admit).
Jesus died on the cross to save you and me. He did not have to die! He gave his body and his blood as a sacrifice for us; because, he wanted to. Jesus had the power to resist and NOT go to the cross (Matt. 26:53-54). However, it WAS necessary for Jesus to die in order to purchase us or redeem us; if he wanted us redeemed. And, praise God, He wanted to do it for us! Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). No sin will enter heaven (Rev. 21:27). "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). Don't ask me why! I don't know why! God's ways are as far above man's ways, as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isa. 55:9). I don't understand how God made the earth out of things that do not appear (Heb. 11:3); but, I believe he did. I don't have to understand that. I'm probably not capable of understanding that. But, the Bible makes it very plain: Sin separates us from God and no sin will be in heaven. The Bible makes it very plain "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, unless there is a remedy for sin, i.e. unless sins can be removed, none of us can go to heaven. It is just that simple. However, the good news is, the gospel is, that Jesus gave his blood to purchase us. If we will accept it, Jesus will redeem us and forgive our sins. In other words, our sins CAN BE removed. For example, Peter told a crowd of people in the temple, one time, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, [Why Peter?] that your sins may be blotted out..." (Acts 3:19). To blot something out, means to get rid of it...erase it...dissolve it...cause it to vanish. God promised "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb. 8:12). How are sins, i.e. alien sins; how can our sins be blotted out? Paul, here in v.14 (Col. 1:14), our next verse, explains how we can have forgiveness of sins and how forgiveness of sins is possible. It's part of the gospel, the gospel that Paul restated for the Colossians and for our benefit as well, incidentally. In v.13, when Paul discussed how the saints in light are translated "into the kingdom of his dear Son;" he immediately followed by stating how this is possible. How forgiveness of sins is possible. Please read with me! (Col. 1:14), "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" In whom? In Jesus, God's dear Son. Now, who is this Jesus? In the rest of this sentence and on down through v.20, the apostle explains who Jesus is. Who is Jesus? Do you really know who Jesus was/is? Jesus was more than just a man. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus can forgive sins. He died for us that we might have opportunity to life eternal. Please read with me. We will re-read v.14, just for emphasis, and then we'll continue reading on down through v.20. Paul wanted the Colossians and Paul wanted us to know who Jesus, the Christ really is. Beginning in v.14, let's read:
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist: and he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
Now, please read it again. Paul covers much, much in these verses. The important thing to us is (of course, v.14) that it is possible through the blood and death of Jesus for us to obtain the forgiveness of sins, by that I mean: to have our sins blotted out in the sight of God. If our sins can be removed...those sins that separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2), and even a single sin that can keep us out of heaven (Rev. 21:27)...then, you see, we have a chance of being saved, going to heaven, spending an eternity with God and Christ in heaven. Isn't that exciting news...good news? That's the gospel, to say it another way. Now, how is it possible for Jesus' blood and death to take away sins? Paul goes ahead to explain, JESUS WAS GOD, "the image of the invisible God" (v.14). In John's prologue, John 1:1, the apostle John said, "In the beginning was the Word [that's a capital letter, the "Word" there means Jesus, so to say it more plainly, in the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God]. Then John added, "the Word WAS God" i.e. to say, Jesus was God. Down in John 1:14, the apostle continued: "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." In other words Jesus was God in the flesh. Or we might say, using the terminology (here, up in Col. 1:13), Jesus was translated from God into a man...that man born of a. virgin and that walked and traveled the dusty paths of Galilee preaching: "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). When Jesus died on the cross, he was buried, put into Joseph's tomb that was sealed by the Romans, from which he arose on Sunday morning. Forty days after His resurrection, he ascended back to heaven. The angels at the time of his ascension, told the apostles in Acts 1:11, "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Now, that is equivalent to Paul's next phrase here in Col. 1:15, "the firstborn of every creature." Do you see what Paul is saying? Jesus was God. Jesus is God. Jesus overcame death. Jesus was the first. Jesus was the firstborn, i.e. to say, Jesus was the eldest of this family of them that will overcame death. No other creature has ever at anytime overcome death. However, please note, in Paul's "firstborn" statement (v.15, look at it close), Paul implies that others of that family, in due season, will do the same thing (please take the time to re-read I Cor. 15:23). What is the family? Do you remember Eph. 3:15? In Heb. 1:8 is a quote from Psalm 45:6, in which Jesus is called God by God the Father. The Bible teaches that Jesus was/is God. How can Jesus be God and how can Jesus forgive sins? This is mysterious to us, Paul said that "without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (That's I Tim. 3:16). It was not intended for you and me to understand this to the n-th degree. I believe it; but, I don't understand it as I would like. Yet, the forgiveness of our sins is contingent upon, i.e. conditional upon our obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is to be obeyed, II Thes. 1:8. A group of Pharisees came to Jesus on one occasion (this is recorded in John 6:28), they asked Jesus: "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them. This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent..." (i.e. believe in Jesus). Faith in Jesus is a work, a work that God expects of us. Then James said: "as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (Jas. 2:26). In other words, believing on Jesus includes repentance, confession, baptism and living the Christian life, i.e. believing requires that our actions conform to and are consistent with what we believe. Otherwise, according to James, faith without living conscientious obedience is dead faith and dead faith will not save. It's just that simple. Can you see that Paul in these passages is re-stating the gospel just as plain and clear as it could be said? Please re-study this section on your own. Our time is up. We'll get back to this in our next lesson. Until then, this is the old tape grinder saying: have a good day.