Lesson 1 Part 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The saints are “in Christ Jesus.” When you put your trust in the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God comes to dwell in you. The Holy Spirit baptizes you into the body of Christ. You are put in Christ by the Spirit of God. That’s what makes you holy; being in Christ makes a man internally and spiritually holy; it is necessary that he be in Christ by faith, so to make him externally holy requires a visible and external union with Christ in professing truths relating to Him.

Now, these saints were “IN CHRIST,” but they were at Colossae. You see, it doesn’t make any difference where you are at—that may not be grammatically correct, but it is a true statement. You may be at Los Angeles or Duluth or Moscow or Colossae. It won’t make any difference where you are at; the important matter is being “in Christ Jesus.” Saints are such by divine calling, and they are also ones who on their part have called upon the Lord Jesus Christ―“To the church of God in Colossae, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Divine initiative in calling and human response in faith, both belong to one’s becoming a saint. Saints in the New Testament are the eschatological{A2.1] people or “the saints of the Most High” of Daniel 7:18, 27.

I believe the little phrase “in Christ” comprises the most important words that we have in the New Testament. What does it mean to be saved? The Spirit of God chose just one little word, the preposition “in,” to explain what salvation is. It is to be “in Christ.” How do you get in Christ? You get in Christ when you accept Him as your Savior. When Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes the Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ; and whatever he does, he does it as if he were doing it for Christ. But the Christian has a double commitment—he is committed to Jesus Christ and he is committed to his fellow-men. Faith in Christ and love for Christian men are the twin pillars of the Christian life. To be “in Christ” is not only to be bound to Him individually by faith, trust, and commitment; but it is to be bound together with His people. To be “in Christ” is the opposite of being “in sin” or “in Adam”―“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

It is not “grace” from the Father and “peace” from the Lord Jesus Christ as the usual benediction shows; but “Grace and peace to you from God our Father” to which we can add, “and our Lord Jesus Christ,” for “Whatsoever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son” (John 5:19). “Grace,” is that favorite word Paul uses to describe the wonderful kindness of God to sinners in Christ.

You will find this form of address in all of Paul’s epistles, and “grace and peace” will always be in that sequence. “Grace and peace” were both commonplace words in Paul’s day. When Paul put together these two great words, he was doing something very wonderful. He was taking the normal greeting phrases of two great nations and molding them into one.

“GRACE” was the word of greeting in the Greek world. In the Greek language, it is charis. They say it as we would say, “Have a good day.” And God is saying to you, “Have a good eternity.” When folks say to me, “Have a good day,” they don’t contribute anything to make it a good day other than just saying that. But God has made the arrangements whereby you can have a good eternity, and it is by the grace of God.

“PEACE” always follows grace; it never precedes it. While charis comes out of the Greek world, “peace” (shalom) comes out of the religious world; it is the Hebrew form of greeting. Actually, the name Jerusalem means “the city of peace”; Jeru-shalom—city of peace. It has never been that; it has been a city of war. Right now it is a thorn in the flesh of the world. No one knows what to do with it. There will never be peace in Jerusalem or in the world until the Prince of Peace comes to rule.

There is, however, the “PEACE” that comes to the believer through the “GRACE” of God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This is the peace that a sinner can have with a holy God because Christ died for us, paid our penalty, and now God in His grace can save us. However, the “PEACE” Paul commends the Colossians for is a blessing of reconciliation that has resulted from God’s gracious work on their behalf―“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1). So, when Paul prays for grace and peace on his people he is praying that they should have the joy of knowing God as Father and the peace of being reconciled to God, to men, and to themselves—and that grace and peace can come only through Jesus Christ.

“GOD OUR FATHER and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Father’s love and the Son’s work are the sole sources and cause of every blessing to humanity, while the Holy Spirit is the agent of their communications. The Trinity is forever harmonious in acts of kindness; the divine fountains are inexhaustible.

[A2.1} “Eschatological.” A belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind; specifically: any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment.
[A2.2} By the “Will of God,” Paul is alluding no doubt to the day when he met the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and He changed the whole course of his life.

There is a good lesson for us here: God does not always need an apostle, or a “full-time Christian worker” to get a ministry established. Nor does He need elaborate buildings and large organizations. Here were two laymen who were used by God to start ministries in at least three cities. It is God’s plan that the Christians in the large urban areas like Ephesus reach out into the smaller towns and share the Gospel. Is your church helping to energize “small-town” mission fields?

The Colossian assembly was predominantly Gentile in its membership. The sins that Paul named (Colossians 3:5-9) were commonly associated with the Gentiles, and his statement about the mystery applied more to the Gentiles than to the Jews (Colossians 1:25-29). The church was probably about five years old when Paul wrote this letter.

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