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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 26 - Colossians 1:21, 22 - A Christian as He Was, Is, and Shall Be Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XXVI.

 

A Christian As He Was, Is, And Shall Be.

 

     "And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in His might."-Colossians 1:21, 22.

 

 

     What is a Christian? He is one to whom the gospel has come (verse 6); who has been delivered from the power of darkness (verse 13); translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son (verse 13); who has found redemption and forgiveness (verse 14); who has known the grace of God in truth (verse 6).

     These are the things that a Christian is and has. Nor are they doubtful to him; he knows what he is, and what he has. It is poor Christianity that brings with it no certainty; that can only say to him that receives it, Perhaps you are a Christian; perhaps you are forgiven; perhaps you are a child of God.

     Let us look at these two verses, and learn from them-(1.) What a Christian was. (2.) What he is. (3.) What he shall be.

     I. What he was.-Not one of the better class of sinners, or those who 'have some chance' of making themselves better; but one of 'the world,' one of 'the dead,' like every one else. The seeds are alike bad; the roots are all evil; and the difference between a believer and an unbeliever must be traced not to man's will, but God's.

     (1.) An alien.-One like what the Philistines or Moabites were to Israel; a man who had turned his back on God and heaven; self-banished, expatriated, homeless, like the prodigal.

     (2.) An enemy.-Inwardly and outwardly hostile to God. 'The carnal mind is enmity;' man is a hater of God; in heart as well as life opposed to Him; a rebel as well as a stranger.

     (3.) An evil-worker.-His alienation and enmity develop themselves in works of wickedness. 'He doeth evil with both hands earnestly.' Evildoer was his name in God's register, whatever it might have been in man's.

     II. What he is.-He is 'reconciled.' God and he have met together; the Father and the prodigal have embraced each other. Alienation and enmity are gone. Redemption has come; and, with redemption, forgiveness; and, with forgiveness, friendship and love. The banished one has returned from his exile; Absalom has found his way back to Jerusalem. Distance and suspicion and hatred have all been removed; the far off one has been made nigh! No longer a stranger and foreigner, but a fellow-citizen with the saints and of the household of God. Yes; he has been reconciled, and he knows it. Absalom knew when he had returned; the prodigal knew it; so does he. It is no uncertainty, nor expectation, nor hope; but a thing done. He has found mercy; he has been brought nigh; he has been reconciled. Be reconciled, was the message that came to him when an enemy; he received it and was reconciled: God and he are now at one; they are agreed, and walk together as such. Oh, what is the gospel, Christianity, religion, without this reconciliation, sure and conscious! Are they not sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal? How many come short here! Anxiety or earnestness is not religion. The love of the beautiful is not religion.

     III. What he shall be.-Perfect, absolutely perfect; holy, unblameable, unreproveable; without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; altogether glorious, in soul and in body; every sin, blemish, weakness, infirmity, passed away. His inheritance is glorious; so shall he be. His city is glorious, nothing that defileth entering in; so shall he be. His kingdom and crown are glorious; so shall he be. For this end was he redeemed and reconciled. He is to be presented holy and spotless, in the sight of the holy God. This is what the Christian is to be. This is our hope,-perfection, glory, incorruption, immortality. 'It doth not indeed appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him.' What manner of persons should we be now!

     And all this reconciliation, this blessed change, is through the cross of Christ, 'in the body of His flesh, through death.' It is death that has done it all,-the death of the Substitute-the blood of the Everlasting Covenant! 'He hath made peace by the blood of His cross;' 'without shedding of blood is no remission.' And this is the good news which we preach; and in believing which, men are saved; saved at once; saved, and made to know that they are saved; 'saved with an everlasting salvation.'

     Our knowledge of this death may at first be very imperfect; but it is the perfectness of that death, and not the perfectness of our knowledge, that saves. Our faith in the blood may be poor and feeble; but the preciousness of the blood prevents that poverty and feebleness from depriving us of the benefit of its sin-atoning virtue. The value of the blood is one thing, and our sense of the value of that blood is another. To deny its value, or to disbelieve God's testimony to that value, would certainly exclude us from its benefits; but our acceptance of the divine testimony to that value, though with a very feeble sense, a very defective feeling of its worth, saves. It is our simple belief of what God has written for us respecting the Sin-bearer and His work, that delivers us from condemnation. If we had to wait till we properly felt what we believe, we should have to wait forever. Our interest in, or connection with, the work of the Sin-bearer, comes not from what we feel, but from what we believe; not from the adequacy of our appreciation of the work, but from our reception of God's declaration as to His appreciation of it. He fully appreciates it, whatever we may do; and it is the knowledge of His appreciation that brings peace and liberty to the soul. A Christian is one who has accepted God's valuation or estimate of the cross of Christ, and in so doing has entered into reconciliation and favor. A believer is not one who believes in his own faith, or his own feelings; but one who believes in Jesus. The divine record concerning the Son of God is that on which he stands, even in the absence of feeling, and in the consciousness of evil and darkness, and a stony, insensible heart.

     The first cries of the sinner may be very weak; but the blood covers their weakness, and the incense which accompanies the blood sends them up as 'strong crying and tears,' divested of all imperfection, 'an odor of a sweet smell, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.' Thus their very feebleness is made to cry and plead; their very defects are the occasion of bringing honour to the great sacrificial work on the cross. It is the blood that pleads and prevails. Were the success of our application to the heavenly throne to depend on the internal goodness of that application, or the absence of flaws in it, and in him who applies, there would be no hope of prevailing, for any man on earth, sinner or saint. But the blood comes in and pleads for all who will but consent to be indebted to its pleading; the blood comes in, and with its entrance all deficiencies in us and in our prayers disappear. We prevail not; our cry prevails not; but the blood prevails, both for us and for our cry. The weight of the sin laid upon the altar, honours while it tests that altar's strength. And such is the strength of this altar of ours, that no amount of sin, of whatever kind, can prove too great for it to bear, and to bear away.