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Relationship Restored

Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  30:14
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Introduction

We have been walking through the book of Colossians together. I hope you have been enjoying it because I know that I have. It has been wonderful to see the example thus far that the Colossians have provided for us. They were a truly loving group of individuals that shared the love of Christ with one another and with those around them. This love had even caught Paul’s attention which is why he wrote of it.
They came to an understanding of the gospel. The good news. The fact that Jesus had died for their sin that they might have a relationship with God.
This was more than an intellectual understanding for the Colossian Christians. The Colossian Christians had evidence in their lives of good fruit coming through them. This fruit was increasing and growing.
The Colossian Christians displayed action within their Christian walk.
Paul prayed for this to continue in them, that they would not stop sharing the love of Jesus with everyone around them.
That they would grow in their knowledge of God and give thanks for their new inheritance in God’s kingdom.
We saw in the hymn of praise that was written the cosmic realities of Jesus.
Jesus is the physical representation of God to be seen, to be touched.
Jesus has power over all things, seen and unseen.
Christ is the head of the church. He is our head. He must be the one to direct our paths.
Jesus through his death and resurrection. Made a way for a change of relationship. Through him our relationship with God has been changed.
We have been brought from enemies of God, into a relationship of love and friendship with our just and loving creator.
All of this brings us to our passage for today.
The ideas presented in Paul’s hymn of praise, he now applies specifically to the Colossian christian’s and in turn to you and me.
In our passage today, we see the restoration of relationship through past, present, and future realities.
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Pray

Past Relationship V.21

Paul begins in verse 21 speaking of the Colossians past relationship with God.

Alienated.

Paul writes that the Colossians were once alienated.
This word is a verb.
There is a physical action involved.
What does it mean to be alienated?
When we look into the Greek word here a little bit it has to meaning of being estranged. Also a bigger somewhat confusing word.

to arouse especially mutual enmity or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection, or friendliness

to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent especially where attachment formerly existed

a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person’s affections from an object or position of former attachment

This language implies a relationship that has really gone awry.
Sin takes God’s created harmony and breaks it all apart, it takes our relationship with God and lays it in wasted behind us.
Who has had a relationship of some sort that has gone sour?
It began and grew and there was connection, there was trust, there was love, there was affection.
Then something happened and you were alienated or estranged from one another.
The relationship was broken.
This is the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.
They walked and talked with God.
They had a loving relationship with God where there was friendship, affection, trust, and love.
But Satan brought doubt into that relationship.
Through that doubt they made a decision that broke the relationship with God.
They were alienated. God’s justice had to come in to play because they broke the rule that they had been given.
This is the story of all humankind.
This is the story of you and me.
We were, each and everyone of us alienated to God.
This verb here is in what is known as the perfect tense. These words are important.
Perfects are very hard to translate into English because in the Greek they show us three ideas.
They show an action which has happened in the past.
The action has come to a point of culmination.
The idea also stands as a completed and ongoing result.
If we say - he caught the ball - this covers all three of those but doesn’t fully describe the perfect tense.
It is as if we were to say - He is continuing to catch the same ball for all time.
Applying this here to our text, Paul is saying you, who once were alienated.
He is speaking to the Colossians of their former relationship with God.
Without some sort of intervention, they would have continued in this hostile relationship with God.
There would have been withdrawn and separated from God, who wanted to have a loving relationship with them forever without a change.
This is the same for us today.
Without a change, without the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, bringing us to Jesus, we would continue with the ongoing result of unfriendliness and hostility to God.

Hostile in mind.

This is further described by Paul in the verse as being hostile in mind.
The word hostile here carries the meaning of God have literally been humankind’s enemy.
The human mind is so set against God that without intervention from God, it seethes with hatred.
Think of people that you know of or have heard of that seem to have a true hatred of God.
It doesn’t just stop there though either.

Evil deeds.

The hostility goes further than only the mind. It goes to evil deeds.
The hostility of the mind is shown because of the evil deeds.
These deeds are such that are morally or socially worthless.
The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians and Philemon Remaining Firm and Established in the Faith (1:21–23)

Chronic sinful behavior twists the mind so that it becomes even more at enmity with God, and the twisted mind hurtles us into ever greater depravity. The depraved mind then commends evil behavior as good or natural or as an alternative lifestyle. It produces and condones fear and suspicion of others and an urge to hurt and destroy them

The human disposition is anti-God and disposed to evil.
Romans 1:28 ESV
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
Paul is creating for us a contrast for the reconciliation, the change in relationship that took place in the believers lives.
It is not natural for us to choose a different action.
God is the one that takes the initiative to change our relationship with Him.
The need for the restoration of relationship is shown through the Colossians past realities.
We are no different from the Colossians. Those who did not grow up in the church, how was your life before Christ?
Those who have grown up and been influenced by Jesus from an early age, think about small children.
When do they begin to sin? It doesn’t take long.
The need for reconciliation is great!
The need for restoration of our relationships is shown from our past realities just as much as it was for the Colossasians.

Present Relationship V.22

Colossians 1:22 ESV
he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
There is a direct interjection here that begins verse 22 that isn’t translated in the ESV which I read.
Colossians 1:22 HCSB
But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him —
The Greek text literally reads - But now -
Verses 21-23 are one of Paul’s big run on sentences. It is almost as if he gets so excited writing that he just can’t stop.
This interjection is in direct contrast to the past life that Paul just described.
The present reality for the Colossian Christians and for us Christians today is not one of alienation or estrangement.
But rather one of reconciliation.
Our relationship with God has been changed!
But how you ask?
How could someone, who hated God, who was intent on doing evil deeds possibly change their relationship?
The answer is quite simple really, they can’t.
But God can.
But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death.
This is the main verb, the focal point of these verses.
He has reconciled.
The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians and Philemon Remaining Firm and Established in the Faith (1:21–23)

Reconciliation in Christ breaks the cycle of sin, heals the ruptured relationship with God, and brings us into accord with God’s holy character and purpose

God’s justice for what was described in verse 21, the hostility and evil actions. Could only be carried out on one who was part of the problem.
Hence Jesus coming. He was fully human, influenced by all of the things Paul described, but he did not fall to them.
The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians and Philemon Remaining Firm and Established in the Faith (1:21–23)

He shared our life, experienced our suffering, bore our sin, and endured the full brunt of the consequences of our sin, namely, death

George Whitefield wrote
300 Quotations for Preachers God and Man Happy Together Again

He was truly God, and therefore could satisfy; he was truly man, and therefore could obey and suffer in our stead. He was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.

Hebrews 4:15 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Because of Jesus death, as Christians, as believers, we now find our sin canceled by His death.
Whiteboard analogy?
The dominion of darkness, with all of its powers and authorities as we saw in the hymn, have all been defeated.
Because of Jesus death, we have already been presented as holy and blameless and above reproach.
In God’s eyes we are now seen without fault, without the possibility of being accused.
The word before in the text carries a bit more meaning with it that comes across in our English translations as well.
The word is a marker of position. The position is in relation to someone who is viewed as having jurisdiction or authority.
It is meant to bring to mind for us the idea Paul presents in
Romans 14:10 ESV
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Rom. 14:1
When we stand before the judgement seat of God, no accusation will be raised against us because in Jesus, we will be irreproachable, morally blameless.
The emphasis in the verse is on Jesus.
Jesus is the one who has accomplished this perfection for us, it does not come from our own striving.
Jesus purpose was to present us as holy and blameless, above reproach.
This brings up the idea for us of OT animal sacrifice.
All animals sacrificed to God had to be without blemish.
These animals were brought before God, free of defect, just as we now live our lives before God in that manner.
Eduard Lohse writes

If we understand that through Christ we gain a new relationship with God, we also recognize that relationships can never remain static. They either grow or die. We enter a new relationship when we marry. Most who have experienced marriage understand that a successful marriage takes work. We may remain in the state of marriage, but the relationship can die if we do not work at it. The same is true of our relationship with God. If we neglect it or flirt with other attractions, we endanger it.

The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Colossians’ Present Condition (1:22–23)

Christians’ present lives are lived in God’s presence.… God’s act of reconciliation has already accomplished everything; perfection is thus not to be gained by one’s striving. Rather, perfection is there to be received as God’s gift and to be verified in the life of the Christians.

The restoration of our present relationship with God is only through Jesus physical death and resurrection.

Future Relationship V.23

Paul though continues in his long sentence to issue a warning.
Colossians 1:23 ESV
if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The warning comes in Paul’s statement - If indeed you continue in the faith.
This is part of Paul’s main point of the letter. He is encouraging the Colossian Christians to resist the philosophy that was coming up amongst them.
This verse gives directions not only for the Colossian believers but for the rest of Paul’s letter and for us.
This warning does not have relationship to salvation.
Scripture does not teach that a person can lose their salvation.
We know this from other places of scripture such as
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Nothing can separate us form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.
This exhortation from Paul is meant as encouragement.
The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Colossians’ Present Condition (1:22–23)

They were encouraged to continue in the faith. There was no doubt that the genuine believers would continue. Even more, the fact that they did continue evidenced the reality of their commitments.

There is some more beauty though in this verse in the very next word.
The ESV translates the word stable, NASB and NIV - established, HCSB and NKJV - Grounded
This word though is another one of those perfect verbs like I described in verse 21.
The word has past completed action with an ongoing result.
From the text - if you remain in the faith, having been established
This stating a secure basis for inner life.
The faith has been established, Paul is encouraging believers to remain in it because it will continue and will not end.
It is firm, and solidly in place.
Paul warns again though, even though this has been and continues on to remain so that they do not shift from the hope of the gospel that they heard.
This shift is not something drastic.
It is not a 180 degree turn.
It is more like setting a wrong bearing for yourself when you are out hiking, even the smallest difference can make a huge change over a long distance.
Or it is like allowing yourself to wander a little in the lane until you hit the rumble strip.
This text is that rumble strip to bring you back onto the path.
While as believers, our future relationship with God is secure, how we live that out and how we get there is what Paul is encouraging us with here.

Conclusion

The final part of the verse Paul brings the Colossians and us as readers back to the global and cosmic scope of the gospel.
The gospel, the good news of Jesus forgiveness of sin is proclaimed in all creation.
The text states that this good news is literally proclaimed in every creature.
Paul’s warning is important for us to think about and more than that to act upon.

If we understand that through Christ we gain a new relationship with God, we also recognize that relationships can never remain static. They either grow or die. We enter a new relationship when we marry. Most who have experienced marriage understand that a successful marriage takes work. We may remain in the state of marriage, but the relationship can die if we do not work at it. The same is true of our relationship with God. If we neglect it or flirt with other attractions, we endanger it.

When we remember the past, present, and future realities of our relationship with God that has been restored, we are able to remain firmly established in the faith and not shift from the hope that we have in the good news that Jesus provides.
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