“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled, in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight.”
The apostle is writing to the Colossians regarding the glorification of Jesus Christ as the exalted head of the church.
Therefore he reveals to the church that this Jesus is according to God’s election the head of the body, the church. He became their head through God’s election. And by the same token he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that in all things He might have the preeminence. For so it pleased God that in him all the fullness should dwell. And in Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven.
Now that reconciliation shall be fully revealed in the day of Jesus Christ. At that time it shall be manifested that all things which lay torn apart in the whole universe, are harmoniously united again in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But its first fruits are now and here. Because the apostle says in my text: And you! The Church of our Lord Jesus Christ reveals that they are reconciled now already. God hath reconciled them through the death in the body of Christ. And that for the purpose that Jesus might present the whole Church to God as a holy commonwealth, unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight. This refers to the time when the Church as the bride of Christ shall be manifested without spot and without wrinkle to the praises of the triune God.
You are fully, completely reconciled.
Who are you, apart from this word of reconciliation?
Well, the text gives us the answer, which is twofold. It says that we were at one time alienated and also enemies in our mind by wicked works.
What do these terms mean?
To be alienated from God means that we cannot possibly dwell in His presence.
It means that there is a great obstacle between us and God, and that obstacle is our sin and guilt.
Wherever God dwells there is light, the light of His own being. And this light is the sum total of all that is good and virtuous. That light includes His justice and His holiness, His righteousness and His truth.
But we, the Church, have outraged these virtues of God through our sin and guilt. God’s wondrous virtues forbid us to dwell in His presence.
And so we are aliens.
Moreover, we are enemies in our mind by wicked works.
It is not so that we stand far away from God in tears and sorrow because we would so gladly dwell in His presence.
Oh no, but we are entirely satisfied to have it remain so. We hate God. When He comes to us with His revelation we shout in wicked anger: Depart from me, O God! For in Thy ways I have no pleasure.
We are enemies of God in our mind by wicked works.
Behold the description of all the elect as we are by nature.
And here is the gospel of my text: Christ reconciled us from that state and condition, and He reconciled us completely. That’s the gospel that is eternal.
That is, He took the obstacle out of the way which forbad us to commune with God the Father; and He entered our hearts in order to take away our enmity and hatred against God, making us His friends through regeneration and conversion, through sanctification and glorification.
That’s the gospel.
The next question to be answered by the text is: How did Jesus do that?
In order to find the answer to that question it is perhaps best to ask: what is that obstacle which keeps us from God’s presence? What is required in order to be reconciled to God?
And here is the answer: the guilt of sin must be removed.
You see, God cannot and will not deny Himself. Reconciliation can only take place through satisfaction of the outraged virtues of God. Reconciliation must be wrought along the paths of justice and righteousness.
And the righteousness and the justice of God demand that the sinner pay for his sins and guilt. He must atone, or another must atone for him.
And atonement is first of all paying the price. And the price is death, eternal death.
But even then we have not said enough.
The devils and the reprobates pay too, but they never atone.
And here is the second element of atonement: you must pay because you love God so much. You must love to pay. It must be your rejoicing to pay the price of eternal death. It must be your meat and your drink to do the will of God even though this will would demand that you die the eternal death.
And if you can do that, then you can be reconciled to God.
But we cannot, and we will not do that!
But there is the Christ of God who not only was willing to do that, but who actually has done that.
He, that is, the Son of God in the body of His flesh went to hell for His sheep, and paid the price out of the pure motive of the love of God.
That is exactly the way you must say it.
The Son of God!
But in the body of His flesh.
The Son of God could not do it as the eternal Son of the living God, for God’s nature cannot die the death. Neither did the divine nature sin. That would not answer to the rigorous demands of divine justice.
And so we read that He, that is God’s Son, did it, but in the body of His flesh, the flesh of the children whom He came to redeem and save.
And so everything is divinely correct.
And so He could die the death like no other. For no one could do this terrible deed but of such a pure motive of love. He loosed God as the Son of God.
And therefore He merited much more than a mere return to the first paradise. His wondrous act of divine love in redemption and salvation merits that we now are in the bosom of the Father with Him.
The everlasting covenant of grace is realized through His wondrous dying.
Are you ready to begin your eternal song of thanksgiving?
You ask me: Whom must I thank?
Must I thank Jesus, that wonderful Jesus who died for me?
That is the way some say it. But it is not true.
You must thank the triune God for so great salvation.
Because the dying of the Son of God is the gift of God’s’ heart. All these things of salvation are of God—of God triune. The death of Jesus on Golgotha is the gift of His heart to you and to me.
You see, God needed not to be reconciled. We had to be reconciled. And Jesus did just that. He removed the obstacle that barred the way to God, an obstacle which we placed there in Adam. But the second Adam took it out of the way. And so we may boldly go to the throne of grace. The door of heaven is opened—opened by God Himself.
Now we have the right again to live in His presence.
And this justification is also the ground for the removal of our enmity. He seeks out all those for whom He died two thousand years ago, and finding them, He enters their heart and removes the enmity and hatred against God. He reconciles us to God.
Oh no! You are the foreknown, the foreordained from before the foundation of the world. You are the chosen, the elect ones from all eternity. Your names are written in the book of life, and their number cannot be increased, nor decreased, no, not even by one man or woman.
And that becomes evident in time.
Some people go to church, and some do not.
Some people sorrow with a godly sorrow to God, and some say: what of it?
Some people love God and some hate Him.
What of these differences?
You see, Christ is very busy day and night. He is making saints of sinners. He is very busy making you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight.
The first two estates are spiritual and the third is a legal estate.
He made you unreprovable through His death and resurrection. There is now no more charge against you. Paul asks this question and there is triumph in his voice: who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? And the answer is: no one! All the guilt of sin is removed.
And He is very busy in making the church holy.
Holiness is that virtue where we are removed, cut away from sin and corruption, and dedicated, consecrated to that which is good, and that is God.
He did that principally when He came into your heart and renewed that heart. From then on you loved God, even though this love must for a time dwell in the midst of the movements of sin that still war in your regenerated soul.
And through sanctification? He also makes you unblameable. And that is an ethical concept. It means that when He is through with that labor you will have no stain or spot on your whole being. It follows a process which shall not be completely finished until the day of Jesus Christ when in body and soul you shall be entirely beautiful and kind and good. Sons and daughters of God.
I know, I know that there are very many spots that still plague you and me. And God knows that too. But we hate our spots.
And when we in sorrow go and tell the Lord how sorry we are for the spots which still are found on our soul and heart against our will, then He tells us in deepest night: As a father pitieth his children so I, the Lord, pity them that fear me! My child, I forgive all thy transgressions and I will continue to heal your soul from all spiritual diseases!
Jesus told many poor sinners while He sojourned among us: Be of good cheer, my son; be of good cheer, my daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee!
How great is that good which God has laid away for His children!