- The Text
- The Chapter
- The Confession
- To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them
- uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them, in and by His Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey
- governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit
- and overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom
- in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it
Colossians 2:13-15 (CSB) And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them
John 6:37 (CSB) Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out.
John 10:15–16 (CSB) just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.
John 17:9 (CSB) “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they are yours.
Romans 5:10 (CSB) For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
When I was a young Christian, faithfully attending a rather large evangelical non-denominational church. Your assumptions that they were not Calvinistic would be true but they love the Lord their God and that huge church was so crucial to my upbringing as a new born-again Christian life. God did start the process of helping me understand theology and I had embraced much of the Calvinistic soteriology. The one I couldn't quite articulate nor teach well (without sounding like a pompous jerk) was, as you might guess, the doctrine of Limited Atonement--that the Bible does not teach that the cross of Christ made salvation possible but he actually saves. I got that but I didn't "get it", if that makes any sense.
It didn't make sense until I was attending a young adult Tuesday evening service and we had guest speaker. In the middle of his intro, he had a one-off, a side comment, if you will. He stated this, "I don't know how Christ went to cross to die hoping that we would turn to him. If I did something like that, I would need absolute certainty!" That was it. He went back to his topic and moved on. Didn't elaborate. Didn't expound it. It was his opinion.
But his opinion was the battering ram that knocked down the final wall in my heart and in my mind. My heart instantly responded, "No, Christ knew! Christ had absolutely certainty because he completely saved his people!"
When that wall got knocked down and I went back to the Scriptures to see whether or not the death of Christ made salvation possible.
The Bible never says the birth, the work, the cross, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ made salvation possible. Let us walk through a couple verses and tell me what you see.
Romans 1:16 (CSB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
Does Romans 1:16 states that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes and does not believe?
Then take this one step further: does the gospel of God save unbelivers? Noticed I asked "does" and not "can". Can the gospel save sinners? He saved a wretch like me so yes. But does it save unbelievers? No. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
The most famous, oft quoted, and oft used defense for the possibility of salvation is the most famous passage of all time ever: John 3:16. Since many of us have it memorize, you already know where I am going with this:
John 3:16 (CSB) For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Again, read a little closer. Does the passage state that everyone who believes and does not believe will have eternal life?
You might reply with, "But it states everyone! That means there is a possibility of them believing!" I would agree with you. But that is not what the passage states.
Go to the end of the chapter and in case we wanted to make John 3:16 mean something wanted and not what the passage is stating:
John 3:36 (CSB) The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.
Not twenty verses later, the Apostle John clearly lays it out: eternal life only belongs to those who believe.
Why I am belaboring the point? When it comes to eternity, salvation, life and death, and the goodness of God and the riches of his mercy and the glory of his grace, why do we Christians, especially here in America, want the possibility of being saved like we are playing the lottery hoping to win a billion dollars?
God, in his precious word to us, him speaking to us, the One whose promises are yes and amen when it comes for his saving love for us, never speaks in ambiguity and possibilities and open-endedness like a romantic comedy of sorts? When it comes to our souls either perishing or pleasures forevermore and to chalk up to possibility, that is insanity.
When God speaks about his steadfast love for us never ceasing, when the grip of the Triune God on us will never be broken, when there is no condemnation for those who are in his Son and there is no separation from the love of God in Christ Jesus, it is not a possibility. It is a certainty. It is definite. It is perfect. It is absolute.
Matthew 1:21 (CSB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them, in and by His Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey
John 17:6 (CSB) “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Ephesians 1:9 (CSB) He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ
1 John 5:20 (CSB) And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true one. We are in the true one—that is, in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Or to take it all the way forward:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB) For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.
What is God's gift? Is it:
The answer is of course D. all of the above. If we agree that all three are gifts of God, then consider this:
1 Corinthians 2:12 (CSB) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.
My friend, be born in a Christian home. Be baptized early in the church. Faithfully attend church all of your life. Never miss a Sunday school, go to Christian private school, Bible college, seminary, become a missionary, evangelist, monk, preacher, pastor, elder, teacher--do all the things for God!
But if you do not have the Spirit of God, you cannot understand any of this nor believe any of this. All the seemingly Christian education in the world will not save you.
Christ calls us to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And yet:
John 3:3 (CSB) Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The gospel, the Bible, the understanding, the wisdom, the obedience, your spirit, your faith, your heart all of it comes not from you but completely, definitely perfectly from God. This faith is not simply rational, intellectual, or emotional--although it definitely contains all of those things. It is spiritual. It is supernatural. It is a miracle.
Romans 8:9–14 (CSB) You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.
In other words, for you to read the Bible and understand his word and believe that Christ has saved you from your sins by what he has done in you, that is nothing to do with with your IQ or schooling or upbringing or anything else. It is all God.
Does that mean you and I are utterly dependent on him to see his glory? Yep. Does that mean you and I are utterly dependent on him to believe in him? Yep. Does that mean you and I are utterly dependent on him to obey him? Yep.
Does that mean if I sit on my butt, twiddle my thumbs, and do nothing I will be able to know and love God more? That is what James was arguing against, "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:17) Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) And yet, Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac. (Genesis 22:1-19) If Abraham "believed" and did nothing, he would have not believed.
When humans believe, they act upon that believe. The Christian faith is no different.
And make no mistake: God does not need you to do anything for him. He needs nothing. He, in himself, has everything. But why are we compelled to obedience? For the sake of others:
Matthew 5:16 (CSB) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
To love others because of God in you.
Psalm 110:1 (CSB) This is the declaration of the LORD to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
1 Corinthians 15:25–26 (CSB) For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.
Colossians 2:15 (CSB) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
We are in this life and because we live in a fallen world, we will not only sin against others but rather, and this hurts the most, others will sin against us. It hurts a lot. And I wish I could go back in time and take that sin away from me and from you. But that wasn't how God works. His plan of redemption is the perfect plan for you and me.
Make no mistake: those who have hurt you is not your enemy. I don't care what they do. And when I preach this to you, I preach this to me. My dad who abused me, my mom who abandoned me, my stepmom who neglected me, my grandmother who put me in harms way--all of that pain and suffering and then I carried that into my adult life. People have hurt me, used me for their own gain, and then threw me away like trash. But nobody on that list is my enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-12 (CSB) Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.
There's a war goin on outside, no man is safe from
You could run but you can't hide forever
Prodigy. Mobb Deep. Survival of the Fittest.
If we were able to see the spiritual warfare that is always going on, that would immediately put everything in to perspective and in the order most important. And the thing about it is, God sees and knows the war going on and he is telling you about it.
Don't get geared up against your fellow man. Get geared up to go against Satan and demons.
We know of the story of David and Goliath. But do you know of the other giants in the land? Read 2 Samuel 21. When David was older and could not fight the giants, the mighty men of David stepped in and slew the other giants.
We are to fight against our enemies in the spiritual war.
We are more than conquerors through his grace who loved us in the very circumstances that threaten to overwhelm. Fear not, then, the darkest cloud, nor the proudest waves, nor the deepest needs- in these very things you shall, through Christ, prove triumphant. Nor shrink from the battle with the "last enemy." Death received a death-wound when Christ died. You face a conquered foe. He stands at your side a crownless king, and waving a broken scepter. Your death shall be another victory over the believer's last foe. Planting your foot of faith upon his prostrate neck, you shall spring into glory, more than a conqueror, through him that loved you. Thus passing to glory in triumph, you shall go to swell the ranks of the "noble army of martyrs"- those Christian heroes of whom it is recorded, "THEY OVERCAME HIM BY THE BLOOD Of THE LAMB."
Octavius Winslow. No Condemnation in Christ Jesus. 229.
Even if we die, we win for to live is Christ but to die is behold the risen Christ!
We cannot lose! We are more than conquerors!
Christ has put Satan and demons to open shame. The war is won. The satanic forces are in retreat. Christ who has conquered has made us more than conquerers. So stop fighting against people who are not your enemy but love them. And wage war against the enemy of your soul.
in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it
John 3:8 (CSB) The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Ephesians 1:8 (CSB) that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding.
In short, none of us can earn the grace of God.
Consider the story of Noah:
Genesis 6:1–7 (CSB)
1 When mankind began to multiply on the earth and daughters were born to them,
2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful, and they took any they chose as wives for themselves.
3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt. Their days will be 120 years.”
4 The Nephilim were on the earth both in those days and afterward, when the sons of God came to the daughters of mankind, who bore children to them. They were the powerful men of old, the famous men.
5 When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time,
6 the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved.
7 Then the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.”
Before we can even mention Noah, answer some basic, non-trick questions:
- Was Noah a man?
- Was Noah a sinner?
- Was Noah wicked?
- Did every inclination of Noah's mind was nothing but evil all the time
- Did the Lord regretted that had made Noah?
There is one right answer: Yes. You might be tempted to give me a, "Yes, but..." because we have gotten to the next verse. Fair enough.
Genesis 6:8 (CSB) Noah, however, found favor with the LORD.
Oh, you might say, "The Lord gave Noah favor because Noah was good and righteous! Read the next verse, Joseph!" Okay.
Genesis 6:9 (CSB) These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
I see what it says. But put it altogether and read it:
Genesis 6:5–9 (CSB) When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” Noah, however, found favor with the LORD. These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
Noah was given grace. He found favor with the Lord. Then was righteous.
The order of events is important. Read in the right order is the gospel of Christ.
Romans 1:17 (CSB) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
Get the order mixed up and you have the classic heresy of mankind: works based on self-righteousness.
We cannot earn the grace of God. We cannot earn the favor of God. We cannot earn the righteousness of God. We cannot earn the salvation of God.
God gives grace.
In other words, God saves sinners.