This Week's Focus Passage

What is the Gospel

Focus Passage: Colossians 2:13-15

‘You, I say did he make alive together with him.’

What is the gospel? This question has often been asked. The answers are often as multitudinous as the number of individuals to whom the question is put. Many, not surprisingly, response immediately—and perhaps without a great deal of thought—that the answer is John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ In the minds of many it would be almost blasphemy to suggest that this is not the case; that there are many features of the good news that are not to be found in that verse. To others the answer may be simply, ‘ye must be born again,’ John 3:3, 5. While that from the lips of our Savior is manifestly true, and the new birth is absolutely essential unto salvation, it is hard to think of it as good news since, as Nicodemus responded to Christ, that answer brings forth another question, ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ The answer of a great many is found in the words of Paul in Romans 10:13, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ This may also be considered a truism, but who will call upon the name of the Lord unless they are given a new heart, and are there any that can give themselves a new heart? Peter called upon all those assembled at the day of Pentecost to ‘Repent ye, and be baptized,’ in response to their inquiry, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Will anyone with an ‘old heart’ repent?

While there may not be a passage in the Scriptures that encompasses the entirety of the gospel, bringing virtually every aspect of it before us, our passage for this week, Colossians 2:13-15, contains much that is absent from the answers posited above. Paul wrote to those in Colossae, ‘And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’ This text speaks of spiritual death and helplessness, ‘you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh.’ All died in Adam. The result of that death is the corruption of every part of the man; he is spiritually dead and unable to do anything savingly good. But God—BUT GOD—‘did .....make alive together with him,’ together with Christ. We must be in Christ. God has put us in Christ; we did not, nor could we ever have done so. We therefore were raised together with Him when He was raised from the dead. His resurrection was applied to us in regeneration at the time appointed by God; made alive.

There was a bond written against us; and I.O.U. if you will. But we are bankrupt; we have nothing with which to pay the tremendous debt that we owe. We desperately need a Co-signer to step in for us; we need a ‘Man to stand in the gap;’ we need a Mediator. We must be enabled to stand one day before the Father with a receipt; a document with PAID IN FULL embossed upon in, blotting out the debt completely; blotting out that bond that was against us; the ‘handwriting’ in ordinances: is this not the Law of God which He had written with His own finger upon the tables of stone which were then presented to Moses? We understand by the ‘bond written’ that this document was a written one, and a majority of our translators have retained the word ‘handwriting’ from the original. The word in the Greek is cheirographon from cheir for hand, and grapho for writing; thus forming the word, handwriting. Paul is telling us that there was a hand-writing against us. All have sinned! Sin is transgression of the Law! There has been a warrant signed with that same finger that wrote the Law; a warrant to be served on us in that day.

But the beauty and glory of the message from Paul here in Colossians is that the cheirographon has been blotted out. The New King James translators have rendered this good news, as, ‘having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.’ But how is this accomplished? Paul goes on to say that God did it by nailing it to the cross with the Son of His delight. Paper (papyrus) in those days was often washed in some solution to remove the print so that the precious paper could be employed once again. We might say that Christ washed out this handwriting in His own blood at the cross so that the new print NOT GUILTY might be written across it. The charges have been completely removed, even as we read in the Older Testament, that God has put them behind His back; He has cast them into the depths of the deepest seas; He has placed them out of His sight forever. God nailed this handwriting to the cross. The writing was washed from view in Christ’s own blood as it ran down from His head; from His hands; His feet; from His emaciated body: blood everywhere running down to the ground and taking with it the ink from off that document; that handwriting that was against us.

Peter put it this way; ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed,’ and God said, ‘I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near, saith Jehovah.’ Isaiah 57:19 See how the principalities and powers have been despoiled; Christ has crushed the head of the serpent. ‘He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’ This could well be a reference to the Romans victory parade. One writer has depicted the scene of such, ‘It followed every major military victory in ancient Rome: the successful general drove through the streets to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill; behind him streamed his raucous soldiers; in front were his most glamorous prisoners, as well as the booty he’d captured.’

‘Christ’s death was a battle, and in it God achieved an immortal victory. The conflict was a furious one, mighty and mysterious in its struggle. The combatant died; but in dying He conquered.’ We may thus say with Paul, ‘Being therefore justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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