The Hope of the Gospel
By Tom Walker
Col 1:20-23 says- “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. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If 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.”
The Gospel of Christ gives hope to all that know the Lord Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. It gives us many things but one thing we must have is hope. It is sad to see a hopeless person who cannot see the daylight for the dark. The Bible describes the plight of the lost sinner as “having no hope and with God in the world.”
Although that is true of the sinner, the lost person does not have to remain in that losing situation. Sin brings us to a hopeless situation. In contrast, the Gospel of God gives us hope for the future.
Before we get into the heart of the passage we have read, it would do us well to consider the word “hope” in the New Testament. The Greek New Testament word is Elpis (Elpis). It basically means “to anticipate the future with pleasure.” This word has the idea of an expectation of something good to come.
The future of the lost sinner is very dark and hopeless, but what a different situation when one has believed the Gospel and given his or her heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. Hope is something that has to do with how we look at the future while living in the present.
Our Past Plight
Our text tells us we were, “Sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works” (Col.2:21). There are two words that describe the person who is without Christ. If a person is not righteous, he or she is wicked. The Scriptures tells us that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom.3:10). It goes on to say in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The Apostle Paul associates being alienated and enemies in the mind. It is in the mind that battles are fought and won or lost. No one ever sins and lives wickedly unless they consent to it in the mind. We can stop evil actions by dealing with what we allow or do not consent to in our minds.
The first word Paul uses to describe the unsaved in verse 21 is “alienated.” It gives the idea that we were estranged, withdrawn, or indifferent. When two people find themselves in a heated argument, often they find themselves withdrawing and being indifferent toward that other person. The lost sinner is living his own life, controlling his own life rather than submitting it to God’s control. What a miserable life it would be to be alienated from Almighty God!
The second word is “enemies.” An enemy is a foe or adversary. Involved in being an enemy is hatred and or dislike. Philippians 3:18 speaks of people who were “enemies of the cross of Christ.” People who profess to know the Lord and walk contrary to the conduct God desires for his people are enemies to the cross of Christ. Instead of promoting the cross by the way they live, they dishonor the cross through careless living. They turn others away from the cross instead of attracting people to it.
We, believers, are not all that we ought to be, and not all we are going to be, but we are certainly not who we were before we met the Lord Jesus in salvation. We are different now through the new birth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Our Present Privilege
Verse 21 describes a wicked life, in the first part of the verse, but now the Apostle Paul moves on and introduces us to the “reconciled” life. Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”
Reconciliation is made possible through Christ’s work on Calvary’s cross and His shed blood. It has the concept of settling differences. It is the process by which God and man are brought together again. The Bible teaches that God and man are alienated from one another because of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness. Although God loves the sinner (Rom 5:8), it is impossible for Him not to judge sin (Heb 10:27). In Biblical reconciliation, both parties are affected. Through the sacrifice of Christ, man’s sin is atoned, and God’s wrath is appeased. Thus, a relationship of hostility and alienation is changed into one of peace and fellowship.
The initiative in reconciliation was taken by God-while we were still sinners and “enemies,” Christ died for us (Rom 5:8,10; Col 1:21). God Himself “has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 5:18).
Paul regarded the gospel as “the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). And knowing “the terror of the Lord,” Paul pleaded, implored, and persuaded men: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).
The sinner needs to be reconciled because his sin stands between him and a holy, righteous God. Have you been made right with God through the new birth (Jn.3:3)?
Our Future Expectation
When God’s word says something is going to happen, we simply wait for its future fulfillment. Remember, hope helps us in the present, but it also has the futuristic element where we are directed into a future, anticipated day. What do we expect because of the promises of God through the hope we have deep within our hearts? The Bible says we will be presented in three special ways before the Father in Heaven:
He will present us holy (Col.1:22a). Holiness is not something we can produce but, God does it within us. The only way anyone can live a holy life is to have the Spirit of God within us producing holiness for us to express. Also, when we stand before God in eternity, because we have the righteousness of Christ put on our accounts when we believe, we will be presented holy and faultless (Jude 24).
He will present us as unblameable. That means that our Lord will present us in the glory world as those who have no blame or guilt. Since our sins are gone when we are saved, our record is clear in heaven. As far as salvation and reconciliation goes, we will stand before God without blame. Thank God, the blood of Jesus washes our sins away! A good preacher friend of mine said on one occasion, “When you are saved, you don’t have a past. All things become new.”
He will present us as unreproveable. That means there will be nothing to charge us with because of the power and competence of the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse from all sin.
Since all of this is true, we are to be grounded and settled, never allowing Satan to move us from the hope of the Gospel. Because of it, we look forward to our future because of the hope we have through God’s good news.