In this sermon, Pastor Neil looks at the impact Jesus Christ has had on history and on you and me. He reminds us that through Christ we have been reconciled with God.
This contrast between then and now, between what we once were and what God does in a person’s life, is evident throughout the Bible as well. Moses, a murderer, was chosen by God to lead the people of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. David, a shepherd boy, the youngest son of his father Jesse, became Israel’s greatest king, with a legacy, as an ancestor of Jesus, that will last forever. Paul, an avowed enemy of Jesus and His followers, a merciless persecutor of the church, became, by the grace of God the greatest missionary and theologian in the entire history of the Christian faith. The difference between before and after, between then and now, is dramatic.
The difference in your life may not seem so dramatic. But if you have been apprehended by God’s grace, it is every bit as real. What Paul says of the Colossians is true of every person who has embraced the gospel message in faith. Including you and me. Once, we were alienated from God. We were estranged from Him; cut off from relationship with God because of our sin. We were hostile to God, determined to live life our way instead of His way. We were part of the resistance. Not a political resistance movement but a spiritual resistance, a resistance to God and His sovereign authority over all of life. We had turned our backs on God.
This was the “then” for every one of us. It is the same diagnosis Paul gives in Ephesians 2:1- 3, where he says: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest” – like everyone else – “we were by nature objects of wrath.”
“But now …” says Paul in Colossians 1:22, God has changed everything. He has changed us. He has reconciled us to Himself through the suffering and death of Jesus our Savior. So we are no longer what we once were. We are no longer “objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Now we are trophies of grace. We are no longer outcasts, estranged from God and hostile to Him. Now we are children of God, forgiven, accepted, and loved by our Heavenly Father. It is the difference between night and day, the difference between darkness and light, the difference between death and life, the difference between being at war with God and being at peace with Him.
And God is the One who has done it. He is the One who has done it all. Remember what Paul says in Romans 8? “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through [Him] the law of the Spirit of life has set (us) free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature” – in other words, none of us could ever keep the law or obey it perfectly – “God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering (for us).”
What we could not do to make ourselves right with God, God did for us. “God made Him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21) – clothed in His righteousness, restored to a right relationship to Him.
Once we were separated from God because of our sin. Now, in Christ and only through Christ, we have been reconciled to God. Now we are the beloved children of God and members of His family forever. Adopted. Accepted. Secure in our Father’s love.