The Ground of Confidence
Tim Temple

Introduction

Have you ever known an inventor, someone who had thought up and developed a device of his own invention? If you have, you probably remember that such a person showed you his invention very proudly and told you about the various problems that he had in developing it, and you were probably quite interested even if you didn't understand it fully. I have had that experience, and probably many of us have. Or if you haven't had the experience, you can imagine what it would be like to see something someone had thought up from the beginning stages and had carried it through all of the stages of the paper work and development and finally had it there in finished form in his hands. You can imagine the interest that the inventor would have in a creation such as that.

But think how much better it would be if you owned one of those inventions and something went wrong with it, and the inventor was right there with you. Of course, that would be a wonderful situation to be in. If you had to be in a situation where the thing broke down, it would be so good to have the inventor right there with you. In such a case, of course, you would have very little trouble getting the problem solved, in getting the invention, whatever it was, fixed up.

That is more or less the lesson of the book of Colossians, the fact that Christ is the Creator of all things, as we saw in our last study. Unequivocally, unashamedly God says Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things. Not only, as we are going to see in the study of the closing verses of chapter 1, is He our Creator, but He is also present with us at all times. So realistically what we have is the presence of the inventor with us at all times personally.

We are going to think about verses 20-29 of Colossians, chapter 1, which established reconciliation as the ground of our confidence. We are looking at the last two sections of this chapter, which we have divided into four parts. So if you have your Bibles opened to Colossians 1, we will read together, beginning with verse 20:

Colossians 1

20And, 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.
21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
24Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
26Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

These verses speak to us of Christ as conciliator in verses 20-23. We want to think about those verses specifically, as Christ is the one who reconciles us to God; and then they speak to us of Christ as confidence-giver, in verses 24-29. If we have been reconciled to God, then certainly we can have confidence in any situation that we face. This is the message Paul wants to get across to us.

The Essence of Reconciliation

As we think about Christ as the One who reconciles us to God in verses 20-23, we want to think first about the essence of reconciliation, as it is found in verse 20. What does the term reconciliation mean? It is not a term that we use every day, so let's think for a minute about the essence of reconciliation. Notice in verse 20, we have a description of the essence of reconciliation:

Colossians 1

20And, 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.

Notice the first part of that verse, “by him to reconcile all things unto himself.” According to this verse, reconciliation is the matter of making peace between God and man. Do you see that? “Having made peace through the blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto himself.” So reconciliation is a theological term that we hear from time to time, but it simply means that Jesus Christ made peace between God and man.

There are many Scriptures which tell us about the gap that exists between God and man. Probably the most well known and the clearest is Romans, chapter 3, verse 23:

Romans 3

23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

There is a separation between God and man. There is a gap between the perfect righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man. We talked about this in some detail while observing the Lord's Supper. This is why men feel awkward about God. Have you ever noticed that people who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, who only know of God in a general sense, really would just rather not talk about that subject? Oh, they will talk about it to some extent, but they don't want to get into any kind of a detailed discussion. They would just really rather not think about it. That's because of a lack of peace between God and man. There is kind of an underlying sense of guilt that people who do not have Jesus Christ as Savior feel. They know there is something wrong between themselves and God, but Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be at peace with God and comfortable with God. It is those who know that Jesus Christ died for their sins who love to talk about God, or at least they don't mind talking about it, depending on their development of maturity as to how much they like to talk about it. But there is no awkwardness anymore. There is no underlying sense of guilt any more, because Jesus Christ made peace between God and man.

The Entrance to Reconciliation

We need to also be very careful to notice specifically how that is done. Notice in verse 20, we also have the entrance to reconciliation. We read there specifically: “By the blood of the cross.” How was this peace between God and man developed? Very specifically by the blood of His Cross. We need to understand clearly—and I am sure that most of us do, and to most of us this is review—that it was not just the perfect life of Christ. It was not just His teaching. It was not the miracles that He performed. It was not the good example that He set. All of those things were true, and all of those things are valuable in their place and in their own purposes, but those are not the things that make peace between God and man. The Scripture is clear again and again and again that it was the blood of Christ that made the difference. It was the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf that made possible peace with God.

Notice the term that Paul is using as he talks about the death of Christ. He refers to it as “the blood of His cross.” Now the term blood is a term that is used in Scripture as a symbol of death, and we need to be sure that we understand that the blood of Jesus Christ, because He was a human being, was physical blood just as is yours and mine. There was nothing special or sacrificial in the blood itself. And yet, the blood of Christ is extremely important as a symbol of what it means. The Scripture speaks again and again of the importance of the blood of Christ.

Physical Proof of Death

In the Old Testament sacrifices, the blood and the presence of the blood provided visible proof that the animal sacrifice was dead. Did you ever stop to think about it? They could have killed the animals in some way that did not involve much bloodshed, but the instructions in the books of Exodus and Leviticus were that they were to cut the throat of the animal; and as they cut that jugular vein and as the heart continued to pump until it had pumped all of the blood out of that animal through the jugular vein and out onto the ground, onto the priest and onto anybody standing around, there was visible proof that that animal was dead. If they had simply knocked the animal in the head, and perhaps gotten a little blood around from whatever blood was present in his cranium, there would have perhaps been some blood, but there would not have been that physical proof of the death of the animal like there was when the jugular vein was cut and all of the blood from the animal spurted out all over everything. The blood was very clear and very important physical proof of death. Nobody could question that the animal was dead because all of the blood was gone out of it, and it was very clear that he was dead. So the blood became, in the thinking of God's people, a symbol, a physical proof of death.

This is why in the New Testament we have so many references to the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not bleed to death on the Cross. Jesus Christ, as you know, did not die in the way that the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament died, by having the jugular vein cut. He did not hang there on the Cross with blood spurting out of Him. The important thing is not the shedding of His physical blood except that it was a symbol of His death. On the other hand, we need to be very careful that we do not in any way downplay the blood of Christ, because that was the symbol that God showed as the visible symbol of His death. When you read of the blood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, it is a clear statement of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. When you read of the blood of Jesus Christ, it is as important as any reference to His death.

This is why the Scripture speaks, in I Peter, chapter 1, verse 19, of the precious blood of Christ. When you have the time notice there that Peter refers to it as “the precious blood of Christ.” In Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 22, we have the statement, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” The death of Jesus Christ is what reconciled us to God, and that death is symbolized, it is summarized, it is wrapped up in the shedding of His blood on our behalf. So it is very important that we put the blood of Christ in its proper place of preciousness, its proper place of importance, but it is also important that we understand the background of this terminology, as we understand what Paul is saying when he says, “He reconciled all things by the blood of His cross.”

The Potential of Reconciliation

In verse 20, we have another important thing, and that is the potential of reconciliation. While we are in verse 20 of Colossians, chapter 1, we need to notice this also. Do you see what he says there in verse 20?

Colossians 1

20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…

The potential for reconciliation is that all things were reconciled unto Himself. You probably are aware of the fact that there is a large theological debate today, and it has been going on for centuries, as to the potential salvation that was provided by the blood of Christ, the extent of the atonement. For whom did Christ die? Here is one of many verses of Scripture that tells us that potentially Jesus Christ died for all men. All things were made reconcilable by His death on the Cross “to reconcile all things to Himself.”

When we get into the theological ramifications of a debate like that, we can sometimes lose the perspective of what it means practically; and I am not going to begin to take the time to get into the theological ramifications of the extent of the atonement and for whom did Christ die, except to say that this is one of many verses that clearly says that He died for all men.

I want us to think about this theological statement from a practical standpoint. Do you know what this means when it says, “by Him to reconcile all things to Himself”? It means quite simply from a practical standpoint that there is no one so wicked that he could not be saved. Have you ever talked to someone who said, “Well, that is all well and good for you to believe that Christ died for your sins, but I've just been so wicked, and I have failed so many times, and I have started over so many times, surely God could not save me. Surely the death of Jesus Christ would not be enough to satisfy God for the sins that I have committed.” Perhaps, in fact, there is even someone who will listen to the tape of this message who will feel that way personally—not just someone you have talked to, but someone here who feels that way yourself. Do you see what Colossians, chapter 1, verse 20, is saying? Jesus Christ reconciled all things to Himself, even you who are so wicked that you might think that you could not be saved. Do you realize that it is God's desire that all men be saved?

God is Longsuffering

Turn with me to II Peter, chapter 3. Peter is talking about the false teaching that will come into the world during the last days, and I think that we are seeing that all around us. He says in this chapter that God will be faithful to judge false teaching and false teachers and that we should not be thrown off by the fact that God has not yet judged them. Peter is saying that we should be careful that we don't think that God approves of the wickedness and the immorality and the false teachings just because He hasn't done something about it. And as we come to verse 9, Peter gives us the reason that God is holding off on His judgment:

II Peter 3

9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish..

God is not willing that any should perish to the extent that He is holding off the certain judgment that He promised, waiting for those who will come to Jesus Christ. Now it is true that God the Holy Spirit draws men to Himself. It is true that God's master plan includes all of this, but it is also true that God is waiting until every one has had that opportunity to be drawn to Himself. God is so willing that all men have that opportunity that He is actually withholding His judgment, as it says in II Peter, chapter 3, verse 9. Go back to I Timothy, chapter 2, speaking of God the Father:

I Timothy 2

4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

We know from prophetic passages of Scripture that not everyone will be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. We know from practical experience that some who are saved will not come to a full knowledge of the Word of God; because that is what is really meant in the last part of I Timothy, chapter 2, verse 4. God not only wants us to be saved, but He wants us to come to a full knowledge of His truth. He wants us to grow to maturity. There are many who are saved who probably will not grow to full maturity before the Lord returns or before their death comes. Because God's desire is for certain things does not mean that He is going to make robots out of men and force them to be saved whether they want to or not. But God's desire is that all men be saved, and the potential for reconciliation, as we go back to Colossians chapter 1, is “to reconcile all things unto Himself.”

Christ made that possible by the blood of His Cross. Whether we accept that offer, whether we yield to the drawing of the Holy Spirit in our lives and all of those sorts of things that are beyond the scope of our discussion today, Christ made it possible. There is no one so wicked that he cannot be saved.

The Extent of Reconciliation

As we continue in Colossians, chapter 1, a very similar statement is made in verse 21. Notice he says in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 21:

Colossians 1

21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.

“And you, that were sometime alienated.” Here we have the extent of reconciliation. If you want real proof of salvation, just think about yourself. Have you ever thought about it that way? One of the best proofs of the grace of God is the fact that God saw fit to save you. Even you could be saved. And that is the sense in which Paul is writing to the Colossians. He says, in a great theological statement in verse 20, “He has reconciled all things unto Himself.” Then he comes down to the practical statement in verse 21: “Even you hath he reconciled.” That is the grace of God. We can talk about God's desiring all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. We can talk about Christ's reconciling all things to Himself by the blood of His Cross, but here is where the rubber hits the road. “And you hath he reconciled.” All of those other things may be lofty technical discussions; all of those other things may be things that apply to other people, but God wants you to understand this applies to you. “And you hath He reconciled.”

True, He hath reconciled all things, but He has reconciled you. Do you recognize that today? Is there someone here today who has heard the message of Jesus Christ's atonement for sins, who has heard that Jesus Christ died for the sins that you have committed, and you're thinking, “Surely that cannot apply to me.”? Or you are thinking perhaps not so much that you're not qualified, but it is simply something for other people to consider. Have you personally considered the claims of Christ? That is the emphasis of this verse. This is not some theory that applies to a lot of other people that you don't need to give thought to. This is not just something that is for those who qualify. “And you hath He reconciled.” I urge each one of you individually, personally, no matter what kind of family background you come from, no matter how long you have been attending services at the Abilene Bible Church, or some other Bible-teaching church, no matter what kind of background we might name, you personally need to consider the fact that Jesus Christ died in your place, and you hath He reconciled. Have you personally accepted that truth? Has the Spirit of God brought that home to you? Can you say, “Jesus Christ is my Savior?” And you hath He reconciled? That's the importance of the atonement. That's the importance of reconciliation.

My invitation to you is not to walk an aisle. My invitation to you is not to come and take my hand or sign a card or join a church. My invitation to you is to accept the fact that Jesus Christ died in your place, for the sins that you have committed. And you can do that right now, even while I am talking. Just tell God, “Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins that I have committed.” That is the personal essence of it and you hath He reconciled. God help you to do that if you haven't done it already.

Probably each one of us knows of some secret sin that we hope nobody else will ever find out about. It is probably something that even our husband or wife or parents don't know about. But that secret sin that you know about in your life and I know about in my life would disqualify us for salvation if salvation were on the basis of goodness or badness. And that is the essence of this verse. If you want to know how great reconciliation is, if you want to know about the extent of God's grace, just think about the fact that you hath He reconciled, even you with that sin that the rest of us would be shocked to hear about, with that sin that the rest of us probably, hopefully will never know about. But you with your sin God hath reconciled to Himself by the death of Jesus Christ.

The last phrase of verse 21 describes for us what it really means to be unsaved, the real essence of being unsaved. “You were alienated in your mind by wicked works.” You see, sin doesn't have to be outward and physical to be sin. There are many references in the Scripture to mental sins or sins of the thought life. But notice that even these kinds of sins have been reconciled by Christ. In the last line of verse 21, “yet now hath He reconciled. You who were enemies in your mind and alienated by the wicked works that you do, even you hath He reconciled.”

The End Result of Reconciliation

Verse 22 tells us of the end achieved in reconciliation. Notice there in verse 21, speaking of even you, yet now hath He reconciled, then in verse 22:

Colossians 1

22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

That's the end result of reconciliation–that we may stand holy and unreproveable and unblameable in His sight. Then, of course, this is already true in God's sight. As God looks at you and me, He sees the sinless righteousness of Jesus Christ, but it will be physically true of each one of us when we stand in His presence in Heaven. And God is working that process in our lives even now, as we wait for His Son from Heaven. During these days, however many days you have between the time that you accept Christ as Savior and the time you exit this life, God wants to be working to make you more and more acceptable in His sight. When we stand in his presence, whatever remains to be cleaned up will be taken care of at the time of our glorified bodies. So it is true from God's perspective now, but the wonderful realization is that it will be true when we stand in His presence in Heaven. That's the end achieved in reconciliation.

Then in verse 23, Paul writes about our existence within reconciliation. Notice he says, “This being presented perfect in His sight:”

Colossians 1

23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Here we are told how God goes about making us blameless and unreproveable in His sight. As he mentioned in this previous verse, how does He go about doing that? By causing us to continue in the Word of God, grounded and settled in the faith. This is why we need to study the Word of God. Notice carefully that this verse isn't telling us how to be saved, but it is telling us how to grow spiritually. This is how God makes us more and more blameless and unreproveable in His sight as we continue grounded and settled in the faith. And because we have been reconciled to God, we can continue in the faith. We now have an interest in the Word of God and an ability to study the Word of God. It is possible for us to continue, becoming more and more grounded and more and more settled.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Not swept about, carried about by every wind of doctrine that comes along.” In this life a freedom from sin is so important that God made Paul a minister, a messenger of the good news about it.

In the remainder of this chapter Paul tells about his ministry of telling people about that reconciliation and the confidence that comes from that reconciliation. We are going to stop our study at this point. In our next lesson, the Lord willing, we are going to study about the confidence that comes for every situation of life as we understand the fact that we are reconciled to God. We will think together about Christ in you, the hope of glory , that message which Paul said he had committed his life to the preaching of, that message for which he was willing to suffer to get it across, a wonderful, key concept of the Word of God.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org