IN IT TO WIN IT
In the book of Colossians, Paul writes to “the saints in Christ at Colossae.” The letter is, perhaps, the most Gospel-saturated book of the Bible. In it, Paul powerfully defends the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
I recently began preaching through Colossians, and I still find myself captivated by some of its opening words: “the saints in Christ at Colossae.” Skipping over the greetings that begin Paul’s epistles is too easy. Yet, they overflow with just as much Gospel as the letters they introduce.
He describes those saints as faithful brothers and sisters.
Paul describes his readers, “who are faithful brothers and sisters.” He is not referring to people who have attained a Ph.D. in holiness. Rather, he writes as if his attention is turned toward every believer reading this article, to every person that has been justified by faith alone!
My friends, this is nothing short of our adoption “in Christ"! When my wife and I adopted our four princesses, we brought them into the Henslee family forever. When they were under foster care, they were still considered orphans. At that time, they had a temporary home with us. But, when the judge’s gavel hit his bench, they became part of our family forever.
That is the Gospel! When the Lord saved us by His grace, He brought us into His family forever. That means we have been justified, are being sanctified, and one day we will be glorified—one glorious day! That is our forever family, where we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
In Colossians 3:3, Paul says, “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul is speaking about the intimate, personal relationship Christians have entered by following Jesus. Only when a person is “in Christ” can her or she be called a holy one, or a saint. Without Christ, believers are utterly dead in their sins and totally unholy before the holy and righteous God of the universe!
Further, a person’s faith can only rest, or find its footing, “in Christ.” Nothing else suffices. If Scripture says all of a person’s supposed good deeds are filthy rags before God, then can that person’s faith rest in his or her abilities? What about a person’s righteousness? Is that sufficient? Can one’s faith rest in his or her church attendance? Can it rest in whether or not one has read the Bible or given tithes to the church? None of those things are sufficient foundations for faith.
True saving faith is and will always be solely found “in Christ." And, only “in Christ" are believers made to be brothers and sisters. Everyone is different; all people have different backgrounds. One believer may have only a handful of things in common with another believer. But, “in Christ" we have unity and are adopted into God’s family. Therefore, none of those things: holiness, faith, relationships or anything matter without Christ! Everything finds its “Yes” and “Amen” “in Christ."
The saints to whom Paul wrote had an earthly address, perhaps something like “291 Mayberry Lane, Colossae,” but that was not their home. Instead, they were saints. They were faithful brothers and sisters called by God unto salvation and adopted into His family forever. As Christians, their home was not Colossae, but heaven. They were merely passing through.
Believers know how we are called to be “in the world, not of the world.” Yet, that is only part of the story. Think about how Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17:14-19.
“Not of the world” is a Christian’s starting point, not his or her destination. Jesus was not bringing them into another “holy huddle.” He was sending them out into the world to win it to Himself.
Brothers and sisters, yes, heaven is your ultimate home and mine. Yes, we are merely passing through, wherever it is we are living. Yes, we are aliens or foreigners in a strange land. But, we are not called to be monks or hide away from the world into our Christian bubbles. We are sent into the world to make disciples. We are sent into the world to win it. We are in the world with a primary job description, to advance the Kingdom of God wherever we find ourselves.
My friends, we are sent “into” the world to declare the Good News of Jesus Christ! I pray for that purpose to become come as natural for us as blinking our eyes or breathing. My friends, let’s stay in it to win it until He brings us home to heaven!