So Great a Salvation!
Bible Reading: Colossians 1:19-23
Colossians 1:21-22, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”
Be shocked by this recent headline in The Christian Post: “Over a third of senior pastors believe ‘good people’ can earn their way to heaven.” The article explains how a recent survey by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University uncovered some other disturbing trends: “Researchers found in addition to believing people can merit salvation based solely on their good works, one-third or more of senior pastors surveyed also believe the Holy Spirit is not a person, but rather ‘a symbol of God’s power.’ Others said moral truth is subjective; sexual relations between two unmarried people who love each other are ‘morally acceptable’ and biblical teaching on abortion is ‘ambiguous.’” Holy hogwash!
These modern deniers of salvation-by-grace-alone would have found themselves in good company with the false teachers in Colossae, who were likewise diminishing the person and work of Christ, in espousing a salvation based on one’s own merit. But Paul knew and taught otherwise and confronted the false teachers in the strongest possible terms.
Theologically, the extent of man’s lostness is spoken of in terms of his “total depravity.” One might also use the phrase “radical depravity.” Total depravity simply means every part of our being is corrupted by sin, so much so, we lack the capacity to seek after God, or to do His will. Apart from divine intervention, we are helpless to do anything to rectify our lost condition.
Colossians 1:21 succinctly declares this truth. Man’s by-birth position, perspective, and practice are contrary to God. Note Paul spoke thus regarding all the believers in Colossae. That had been the prior estate of every single one of them. He would have said the same regarding himself before he was saved. What was true of all of them and Paul, is true of every person. The lost sinner is alienated in his position, antagonistic in his perspective, and adverse in his practice. His entire being is corrupted by sin. As a leopard cannot change its spots, or a dead man raise himself up, so the lost sinner is powerless to do anything to change himself, or amend his lostness (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:10-18, 5:12). The hymn “A Child of the King” has it right: “I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice, and an alien by birth.”
Charles Hodge summarized the matter this way: “Our guilt is great because our sins are exceedingly numerous. It is not merely outward acts of unkindness and dishonesty with which we are chargeable; our habitual and characteristic state of mind is evil in the sight of God. Our pride, vanity, and indifference to His will and to the welfare of others, our selfishness, our loving the creature more than the Creator, our continuous violations of His holy law.”
How amazing then is the grace of God in the salvation of a soul! We “were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God… (Ephesians 2:3-4).” Those last two words make all the difference! God’s intervention is because he is “rich in mercy” and “because of (his) great love” (Ephesians 2:4). Because salvation is entirely by God’s grace, it is God Who deserves and receives all the credit. All glory goes to Him! Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Praise God for it!
AND CAN IT BE?
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me. [Refrain]
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee. [Refrain]
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own. [Refrain]