By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
THE GOSPEL’S POWER
Set Free (9–14)
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he shows his concern for these fellow Christians by praying for them. His prayer demonstrates to us how we should pray for our fellow Christians by emphasizing a desire for spiritual growth.
We often pray for our immediate needs, and Jesus Himself models this to a degree in the Lord’s prayer, but we need to remember that our spiritual needs outweigh our physical ones.
Paul also wants them to know God’s will is not something hidden from us.
Many people believe God’s will is hidden from them. This explains why so many people are enticed by superstitions and spiritual mediums like tarot cards and fortune tellers.
Not only is this anti-biblical but it is also dangerous. Christians should never go anywhere to find God’s will but the Bible itself, which is filled with statements about how God wants us to live, act and believe (for examples, see 1 Thess. 5:16–18; 1 Pet. 2:15; Eph. 5:15–20). God’s will is no secret. It is found by reading His word.
By Christ (15–20)
Paul now turns to a clear declaration of who Christ is, showing He is able to reconcile us to God because Christ Himself is God. This passage is one of the clearest expressions of the divinity of Christ as it says Christ created all things.
This means Christ Himself has no beginning because He is not created.
This may seem standard to most Christians, but many cults deny the divinity of Christ, and Christians need to be on their guard against them as they try to lead us astray and blaspheme Christ, believing Him to be a creature and not truly God.
The only way for us to be reconciled to God is if God Himself does the reconciling.
In verse 20, Paul writes it is through Christ we are reconciled to God. If Christ is not God, how then can we be reconciled? We would still be lost in our sins.
Through His Death (21–23)
However, no matter what our past is, Christ’s atoning death washes away our sins. When we accept Christ, our sins are forgiven.
One of the hallmarks of Christianity that separates it from other religions is the idea of grace. God saves us not for who we are, but because of who He is.
If our salvation were dependent upon us, we could never be good enough to earn it. But since Christ, who is God, died on our behalf, taking our guilt and shame, the payment is perfect and we are reconciled — made right with God.
This transaction does not cost us anything — we accept it, and we are saved.
Other religions have ideas of earning or deserving salvation. In those religions, people are supposedly made right with God by doing something — going door to door to tell people about Jehovah, being baptized, paying the right amount of money. All these ways are from Satan who seeks to lead us astray.
Grace is a difficult idea for humans to grasp since we live in a world where we are used to earning our wages.
Paul encourages the Colossians to remain steadfast in the faith. Just because we are saved by grace does not mean Christians are now free to do whatever they want (see Gal. 5:13). We have been freed from sin; we are free to serve God and seek to please Him out of love for what God has done for us.
Instead of serving God out of obligation, which would be a works salvation, we serve God because we love Him.
Christians should be known by their love for God demonstrated through love of their neighbor, honoring God before a lost and dying world that badly needs to experience the grace that only comes through Christ.