The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
We’ve come to the close of the book of Colossians. The sentence that stood out to me was “Grace be with you.” Those words have echoed throughout the book. That is what God’s word is to us, Grace. Not grace far away and unknown but grace written to us, written to make us more like Jesus. This epistle started with Grace, continued with grace and now ends with grace. I think a proper way to end our studies in this epistle is to look at all the Grace that has been extended to us in it.
Something I notice about the graces mentioned in this book is that there seems to be a pattern of the Christian life that starts with grace and ends with grace. Our whole life is wrapped up in the grace of God. It starts with saving Grace in the opening lines of this book, In chapter 1:4-6 Paul thanks God for their salvation and describes it in these words; Col1:6 “since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” This is saving grace, Hearing and believing in your heart, and being born again. I remember the day that I heard and believed and for the first time in my life “I knew the grace of God in truth.” This was the beginning of the grace of God in my life and all his people.
Then chapter 1:9-23 speaks of seeing grace, notice Paul's prayer request for them in Col 1:9-10 “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Salvation is not the end of the preacher's job, it is only the beginning. Paul did not only have a burden to see sinners saved but for saints to see and know and understand who saved them. For the better part of Chapter One, Paul introduces these new converts to the Lord who saved them. He is the King, the Creator, the sustainer of all things, the fulness of all things! Paul not only prays that they may see Jesus but puts some legs on that prayer and helps them see him and “Increase in the knowledge of God.” Sadly many Christians don’t know the savior half as well as we ought. O that we might see him! The more you see of him the more lovely he will become. I didn’t know him well when I first believed on him, but all these years I've been seeing him little by little and by his grace increasing in the knowledge of God and spiritual understanding, this has been grace unto us, to see and know the Jesus that saved us!
Chapter 1:23-2:3 shows us that it is by grace we serve. Paul used these words “I am made a minister.” As we get to know our Savior we find out he was a servant and he has called us to be servants, “The greatest among you shall be a servant.” I remember reading about Christ kneeling in the dust to wash the Apostle's feet, even Judas. I was convicted at all the times I had refused to serve those who I felt didn’t deserve or appreciate it. I read how Jesus preached in fields and ministered to the common, the downcast, the sick, and even harlots and I was convicted of all the times I shunned similar opportunities to serve. As I saw more of Christ I knew that he was a minister and if I was going to be formed into his image I too would have to be “Made a minister.” We must be made ministers, we haven’t got what it takes to turn the other cheek, to wash feet, and to be ridiculed as a fool all the while, but his grace makes us ministers. If you will be like the Christ that saved you, you will have to also be “Made a minister" and his grace will do the making.
Chapters 2:3-23 shows us that by grace we are secured. Of all those verses in chapter 2 that warn and guard us against the attacks that will surely assail us as ministers, there is one that sums up all of them nicely; Col 2:4 “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” This one verse shows us the grace of God that keeps us from all the lies of the enemy. “This I say” is the Word of God and its grace in our lives is “Lest any man beguile you.” God’s word has come to my rescue so many times. When fears have assailed me, his word has assured me. When false doctrines have enticed and “Beguiled me” his word has corrected me. When I've needed direction it has been a light and a lamp, when I have needed understanding it has opened my eyes, it has secured me. What a grace! To have the Father's everlasting promises given to us!
Chapter 3:1-12 show us that by grace we struggle, that is we seek to put off the old man and put on the new. To live up to the reality of our new position in Christ. The Christian life is a walk, we put one foot in front of the other. One step is putting off the old man and the next is putting on the new man. Thankfully we are assured that we are already that new man, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Walking with Christ requires walking like Christ and in Him, we have a perfect example of living like a new man lives. As we put on the new man and seek things above God’s graces become manifest in our life and we begin to resemble our Lord more and more; Col 3:12-14 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Lastly, our closing verse shows us that it is by his grace that we suffer, “Remember my bonds.” This is a grace for the mature and a grace that matures. We are reminded once again in the closing of this letter that Paul is imprisoned for his service to our Lord. This isn’t surprising but what is, is what Paul says of this current suffering in Col 1:24, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church.” Truly this is grace in full blossom. When we can rejoice in our suffering for others. Earlier in Paul’s life, he had written 2 Corinthians, he listed out so many trials and tribulations he was passing through, and in chapter 12 he penned down those famous verses about God’s power resting upon him and learning to glory in his oft infirmities. This was this same grace, but he saw that it was good for him to suffer. It seems now that this grace has been further matured, he is now rejoicing not because his suffering benefits him but because it benefits others! What a grace! Suffering makes us like Christ and we benefit from this but so do others! If all of God's People were like Christ how wonderful a world we would live in! Oh that God would mature us by this grace of suffering and mature this grace in us!
This epistle is a wonderful picture of grace unto us, from beginning to end God’s grace is given unto us. In our lives from beginning to end God’s grace is unto us. From eternity past to eternity future God’s Grace is given unto us! Amen.