2018-7-22 The Effect in the Elect

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          July 22, 2018

“The Effect in the Elect”
Colossians 1:21-23

Today we complete the three-part miniseries on The Great Christology (Colossians 1:15-23) within our punctuated sermon series through Colossians.  Two weeks ago we looked closely at the Person of Christ (1:15-17), and last week we examined the work of Christ (1:18-20).  This week we consider the effect—or effects—in the elect of Christ’s Person and work.  Let us hear in this place once again the Word of God written—which testifies throughout to the Word living, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

We see the effect—or the several effects, if you will—in the elect of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  One effect of Christ’s Person and work in those who believe is reconciliation with God.  True, we needed, or still need, reconciliation—for, due to original and actual sin, we stand estranged and alienated from God.  The remedy lies in the Spirit-led words from Paul to the church at Corinth: “God made Him Who knew no sin to become sin for us, in order that in Him we may become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  In this double switch, God removes the estrangement and alienation between Himself and us, and we stand reconciled to God.

Scripture elsewhere testifies to this.  God says, through His inspired penman, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).  This happens through Him Who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), Jesus Christ.  Being reconciled with God banishes a though not uncommon to many a Christian, namely, “God is angry with me.”  Dear believer in Christ Jesus, since you are in Him through faith, God hath poured out all His righteous wrath due you upon His Son.  Jesus, the Son of God, bore our wrath in our places with great joy at glorifying His Father and reconciling us to Him.  Therefore, no more condemnation—and no more consequent anger—remains for us (Romans 8:1).  God is not angry with you, fellow believer, no matter how many other voices clamor to the contrary.

Another effect of Christ’s person and work in us is sanctification by and before God.  We may think of our sanctification—our holiness—in two senses.  First, we stand positionally holy, blameless, and above reproach before our triune God by virtue of our union with Christ—for Jesus hath borne our profanity, our blame, and our reproach to Calvary and hath atoned for these, and more, there.  Second, we stand practically (increasingly) holy, blameless, and above reproach before God and men via the secret work of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit mortifies our flesh—that is, our sinful nature—by putting to death the misdeeds of the body, the thinking behind them, and the disordered desire fueling them.  The Holy Spirit also vivifies our spirit.  That is, He makes Jesus’ risen life in us to flourish.  Therefore, by the Spirit’s power, we have right desiring in place of wrong, right thinking in place of wrong, and right doing in place of wrong.  Thus, already positionally holy, we become increasingly practically holy.

A third effect of Christ’s Person and work in us is our perseverance in relationship with God.  We are called to persevere in relationship with God—working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) and taking heed lest we fall away from him.  Yet Jesus preserves His own.  He Himself said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).  God, Who keeps us safe from ever being separated from Him (cf. Romans 8:37-39), yet calls us to persevere in His love and grace.

Now note the nature of God’s preservation and our perseverance.  The Lord makes us stable, or established upon a foundation—grounded on and supported by Jesus Christ, the solid Rock.[1]  He also makes us steadfast.  We, then, are firm and immovable in Jesus—and, by His grace, ever abounding in His work (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58).[2]  Moreover, the Lord ensures that we are not shifting from the hope of the Gospel—and that we are not being caused to cease from said hope.[3]  God preserves us into a hope—an humble, confident expectation of temporal and eternal good from our good God.  We learn of this great hope in the Gospel, which the Good News about Jesus and which also is our sole—yet unshakably sure—hope.

Often we learn much about the right application of a Scripture text by asking a very short question: “Why?”  Why did the Lord want His saints in Colosse to hear this message ca. A. D. 60-62?  Two good reasons come to mind—and these reasons form our application of Scripture today.  First, they needed to prize their God.  By either learning the Person, work, and effects of Christ—or by recalling the same at Paul’s Spirit-led mention of them—they likely would rejoice in the greatness of their God and extol Him in every possible manner.  Second, the Colossians needed right doctrine against error.  We’ll note in chapter two, God willing, an error, known as the Colossian heresy, which threatened the church at their time.  Orthodox teaching, such as we have in Scripture, enabled the church to see false teaching for what it is—and it enabled them both to reject such false teaching and to refute it.

We do not live in the first Christian century; we live in the twenty-first.  The question still descends through the ages, “Why this message for us?”  The answers are the same today as two millennia ago.  We need to prize our God.  We need to do this for what He does, to be sure—but too many a Christian stops here.  We need to prize our God, far above what He does for us, because of Who He is.  Worship—that is, prizing our God and declaring His excellence—sets everything else in proper perspective.  Our text today helps us worship God rightly and well.  We also need right doctrine today.  Relatively few want to do the hard, often unpopular, work of naming false teaching and contrasting it with true teaching, but such must be done—for the glory of God and the good of the Church.  Right doctrine bolsters us against a host of errors, which, if unchecked, tend to wrong thinking, wrong desiring, and wrong doing—things to be avoided, to be sure, and things avoidable by the right use of right doctrine.

We have noted today certain effects produced in God’s elect in Christ Jesus via His Person and work.  May God, by His Spirit, indeed produce these blessed effects in every soul believing in God incarnate, Jesus Christ, both as Lord and as Savior.

AMEN.

[1] The Greek word translated stable in the ESV (themelioo [qemeliow]) connotes the idea of a foundation.  See Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, 2 vols. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

 

[2] The Greek word edraios (edraioV) is translated steadfast here in the ESV.  See Louw and Nida, ibid.

 

[3] The Greek word metakineo (metakinew) is translated caused to cease in the ESV.  See Louw and Nida, ibid.

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