Faith in Christ is central to being a Christian, but why? This article uses the CFM NT lessons to explain why it is so important.
Note: This article is Day 1 of week 42 for the 2023 New Testament lessons in the Come, Follow Me manual.
Have you ever read something in the scriptures and were left with the feeling that what you felt and understood from your reading was only the tip of the iceberg? It is so frustrating to sense that there is so much more to what is written before you, but you can’t quite make it out, yet. I have complained in the past about the length of the sentences found in the Book of Mormon, yet verse 21 in Colossians 1 starts a sentence that doesn’t finish its thought until the chapter ends with verse 29. So what we gain from today’s verses in 21-23 is just the beginning of the thoughts expressed in this very long and complicated sentence.
Below are my thoughts and feelings about what I am gathering from selected verses in Colossians 1. The point of my doing a running commentary on these verses is to answer why my faith is founded on Jesus Christ.
16 For by him were all , that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or , or powers: all things were by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things .
As I try to comprehend what these two verses imply or state directly, my mind is expanded and stupefied at the same time. Jesus, being created by God before all other creations in the universe was placed in a position of preeminence and importance. It was given to Jesus to create all that is known/unknown in the universe. Jesus did not just create the earth on which we live now. He also created all the kingdoms that God’s children would inhabit after their judgment for the rest of eternity. Hence when verse 16 says Jesus created all things, “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers,” Paul is referring to the totality of God’s presence in this universe. We have all been promised that for our obedience to Christ’s commandments we will be given thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. And that is just what Jesus created for us long before the earth was ever here.
When verse 17 says that Jesus is “before all things” I envision his position as creator placing him above all, in all, and through all, for all answer and are controlled by him. Small wonder that when he spoke to the storm and said, “Peace, be still” the wind and the waves obeyed him, their creator. He set their bounds, their laws, and their very properties by which they exist at all. He is in very literal form their God.
Back to verse 16. I find it important that the verse ends by saying that all things were not just created by him, but “for him” as well. As I have pondered that comment, it occurs to me that if they (all things) did not exist for his purposes as God, the creator and judge, it would have hampered his ability to be the judge of all things. He had to be in complete control in order to fulfill his calling as Messiah, Redeemer, and Savior, for his atoning sacrifice brings peace between God, our Father and all of His creations made by the hand of His Son, which is everything in the universe. With that offering and sacrifice made, all accounts in the universe were settled and peace restored for all eternity, for his sacrifice was infinite in its scope. Now the issues of our agency and the punishment for its misuse lay between not us and God, but between us and Christ. We now answer fully to him for our behaviors and choices, for Jesus has already reconciled us with our Father in Heaven.
18 And he is the of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
The church is not just a social organization. The church is the earthly part of God’s kingdom, over which he reigns as King of kings, and Lord of lords. We make up the body of his kingdom/church, but Jesus is the head of all things. In every way imaginable he is first and foremost. He is the first born, the giver of all life, the Reconciler for sins, the Redeemer, the first to rise from the dead and gain eternal life and exaltation as one of God’s children. The word preeminence describes his position within the family of God perfectly, for there is no one who is before him, above him, or more important to everything than him.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all dwell;
Jesus did not take all this power upon himself. Everything that makes Jesus who and what he is comes because it pleased God for him to be our Christ, our Messiah. All that Jesus does is at the behest and by the will of God, our Father. As important and as powerful as Jesus is, he always defers to our Father in all things. This puts his humility as the servant he demonstrated he knows how to be in the mortal body even more powerful as an example of how we should be. This was a man who couldn’t be killed by any power on earth, for life and death obeyed his will. He suffered all things, the least of which were hunger, thirst, and fatigue in his efforts to fulfill his Father’s will.
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
This verse puzzles me. How did Jesus dying on the cross help to “reconcile all things unto himself”? We always talk in terms of him reconciling us with God. Did his atoning sacrifice, which reconciled all things with agency with the will of God also bring peace to the universe Jesus governs? There is so much I don’t yet understand and comprehend about the scope of Christ’s responsibilities and power. How would you answer this query?
21 And you, that were and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through , to present you holy and and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye in the faith , and be not away from the of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
These three verses are just the first third of the sentence, but they contain some important information we should consider about Christ. Paul is saying to those converted to the church that before they were converted and forgiven by Jesus for their sins they were at some point “alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.” Now that they have repented and have been baptized (and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost) they are reconciled to Christ. They are no longer strangers or enemies, but he has now reconciled them with God.
Verse 22 tells us that it was through Jesus’ death (and resurrection) that we can now be presented “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Without Christ this reconciliation with God is not possible. That is why God gave us a Messiah in the first place. He loves us enough to sacrifice his First Born Son, because Jesus could open the way for us to repent and improve, to grow and become more like Jesus is. Only through Jesus can we become whole (the biblical meaning of perfect) enough to return and live happily in God’s presence again.
The caveat given in verse 23 is that for us to return to God we must ground ourselves in a faith in Jesus Christ, and not allow ourselves to be moved away from the hope we have in the gospel Jesus preached. This is the gospel Paul teaches to others.
So this is why I believe we must put all our faith in Jesus Christ. He is our King and our Lord, our Redeemer and Savior from the lost and hopeless condition we would be in without him. It is his willingness to obey our Father in Heaven that enabled his atoning sacrifice to be made and the debt from my own sins to be paid in full. Now I turn to Christ for a forgiveness of my sins. That forgiveness comes because I keep his commandments, the ones Jesus gave us from our Father. For everything we receive from our Father in Heaven is designed to bring us happily and safely home to live with Him again, and to become like Christ is, perfect, whole.
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