Knowing our King | Colossians 1:23 "If"
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 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;
Verse 23 starts with an if. If this verse is isolated, it could cause hurtful doubts and our reliance on reconciliation might shift from the work of Jesus Christ to our works. Let me state plainly that reconciliation, or any of the other blessings of salvation, is totally dependent upon Christ.
As a side note, I will say that any time we come to a verse of scripture that seems to be contradictory to other plainly stated truths in the scripture we should rest assured that the contradiction is not with the scripture but with our understanding of it. If verse 23 is saying our reconciliation is dependent upon our faithfulness it would be in direct contradiction to verse 23, which plainly states that he presents us holy through the sacrifice he made on calvary, not to mention the countless other verses that plainly state that salvation is not of works.
Let’s start with the If that is stated here. It is translated from the Greek word “eige” this word does not translate into “if” in the sense of “if you do this, I will do that.” Rather, in the sense of “If this is the case, this is what will happen.” The if is rightly placed but we need to know the sense of it. The If is not “If we continue, if we get grounded and settled, then we will be saved.” The if is this “If we are saved we will be grounded and settled and continue in the faith.” One man said this portion was probably aimed at the professing Christians who may not have been possessing Christians in the church. Of that I am not sure, what is sure is this, saved people are kept by the power of God [1 Peter 1:4-5], not by works. Perseverance does not produce salvation, salvation produces perseverance. I have a personal testimony concerning this very matter.
The Lord dealt with my heart for the first time on a Wednesday night revival meeting in August of 1998, I remember the reality of Hell and me being lost and on my way to that awful place vividly. The preacher preached and the Holy Ghost dealt with my heart, I sat unmoved and left church totally convinced that I was lost. Reaching home that evening I was afraid I would die, I was afraid of my display of disobedience to the Lord that evening, I asked God to have mercy on me that night and let me live. The next night my parents loaded me up in the car and we went back to church, again the Holy Ghost dealt with me, I’m not even sure what the preacher was preaching on, the Gospel had been presented to me from the time I had been born, but now it was more than memorization of facts and stories and scriptures, it was opening my eyes, like Paul on the road to Damascus. That night I turned to Jesus in repentance and faith, in one swift motion of the heart as I turned from sin to Jesus, he saved me. What joy! What peace! The weight of sin was lifted, and the heaviness of heart was replaced with joy unspeakable and full of glory! I am at this moment rejoicing over that memory! I went to school the next day excited to tell my schoolmates what had happened, I mostly received strange looks and a few of my Christian friends seemed mildly excited. I wish I could tell you I was faithful from that point forward, that I was grounded and settled, and that I continued in the faith. I never doubted who he was or what he had done or even the doctrines in the Bible but in my teenage years I wrestled with lust, pride, and many hurtful temptations to which I fell repeatedly. At 17 years old I decided I had been such a failure at being a Christian that I was not going to try anymore. For a year and a half, I let temptations have free course, only withholding myself from the sins I thought to be very dangerous. I only attended church a handful of times in those months. All the while I was being chastened, but I chalked it up to coincidence and went on in my apathy. A good friend of mine came by and invited me to church and I went, I’m not sure what was preached but the same power that worked in me all those years was still at work. I couldn’t go another step in my rebellion, I surrendered to Him. I repented, I confessed, and he spoke to my heart in those days with a verse of scripture that I hold close to my heart, especially when the memory of my unfaithfulness arises.
Php 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
He began a good work in me at the age of 9 years old, and he has been performing it all these years. I am kept by his power not my own. This is the “if” spoken of here in 1 Colossians 1:22. If you are his then you will continue, by chastening, by sleepless nights, by His heavy hand upon you, by the power that now worketh within us!
The question we should ask ourselves is this, “Am I truly born again?” Don’t concern yourself about continuing so you can be saved, rather, being saved so you can continue. Of course, this can be taken to extremes and lead to many hurtful doubts, but a close examination of yourself is encouraged by the scripture [2 Cor 13:15]. I would be without hope if his reconciliation was dependent upon my faithfulness, but it isn’t. I am his workmanship [Eph 2:10] I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be, there has been a continuance that I can not lay claim to, it has been by his faithfulness to me that I have continued, that I am being grounded, not by my faithfulness to him.
His people will be tempted to be “moved away from the hope of the gospel” but the anchor holds! There have been many winds of doubt have risen and blasted my ship till I thought surely, I would be lost at last but the anchor holds! The anchor holds!
Hebrews 6:18-20 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
If I am in Christ, and I am, then my hope is anchored within the veil, never to be moved for all eternity.