Hope of the gospel. Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It all starts with hope, however the Holy Spirit’s job is to take that which Jesus has spoken and help us understand it. The mystery was made clear through what Jesus, Paul and the Disciples taught us. All of our hope rests in Jesus and His perfect work on the cross and not on our efforts.
Colossians 1:23 a & 26-27, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, … 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
I wanted to revisit verse 23a and tie it into verse 26-27. Paul is a man with great passion for the call on his life and in many cases in his writings he starts out in one thought and in his exuberance takes a justifiable rabbit trail to add emphasis to what he is teaching only to come back to his original point later in his writings. This is often done in preaching, but preachers can talk faster than most people can read so the rabbit trail in writing can lose the point not add the point. Quite often people who sit down to read their bible do so like they are reading a book. When this happens we tend to overlook or completely miss great nuggets of truth. Also if we read the bible like a book and do not take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal these truths deep into our spirits, what we read usually goes right through us like grease through a dog. Studying the bible should be seen as a lifelong event of continual revelation. This section of Corinthians is just that case where Paul took a rabbit trail and we typically just read right through it. I have taken the first part of verse 23 and tied it to verse 26 and 27 to show the whole point Paul is trying to teach.
The first part of 23 is a word of encouragement from Paul in our walk as Christians. Remember he has written to a church that much like today has slipped back into their natural thinking; some into works, some into mysticism, and the rest into a gnostic mental ascent instead of a spiritual walk. When you take verse 23 and tie it to 26 & 27 you can see that Paul was saying, if you are grounded and steadfast, if you have not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, then He will make known to you the great mystery which is Christ in you the hope and glory. Having Christ in us is our only hope, and His living in us brings us glory. How awesome it that news? Remember we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We cannot look at the natural and see this spiritual revelation. The only way we can be truly grounded is through our own personal study of God’s word. We can read all of the self-help books and bible commentaries that are written, but nothing beats reading God’s word and even more so is to hear the preached Gospel. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17. These verses are not saying that we must stay steadfast in faith in order to keep our salvation, but if we do not walk in these statutes we will begin to lose our personal relationship with God. Paul is still showing the Colossians and us that the battle is in the mind, salvation is here and real regardless of whether you believe it or not. You are saved by the blood of Jesus if you accept Him as your Lord and savior. This is true whether you feel saved or not and it is true even if you let your mind wander from the truth. Once the price was paid it was paid to the fullest.
In Greek the word for “grounded” is THEMELIOO and literally means to lay a basis for or a foundation. A Christian that has a good foundation in the word of God is not easily moved by what they think or see. Running down the aisle and shaking the preachers hand and confessing Jesus as your Lord and savior is not the completion, but rather the beginning of a brand new lifestyle. You wouldn’t move to a foreign country without learning their language and ways of commerce and expect to live a comfortable life and yet this is what Christians do every day. We understand that Jesus is the only way to God, but that is exactly what He is, the only way to a relationship with God. Go on inside the water is fine. You wouldn’t go to the most fabulous department store in the world, stand in front of the most beautiful door ever built and not go inside. Yet Christians do just that by accepting Jesus and then stopping at that cross. God wants you to come on inside and fellowship with Him.
The payoff for following the first part of verse 23 is not just maintaining salvation; it is having great revelation and a fuller understanding of God. The mystery Paul is speaking of that God has revealed to us in the New Testament is beyond just salvation, it is the ability to come to God just like the children of Israel; just like the child of a king can go sit in their fathers lap. Israel was God’s chosen people, but only for a specified time until He could come to earth and pay the price for all of us on the cross. The Old Testament people could not see the truth even though it was hidden in God’s word. Until Jesus came and tore the veil in two they could not see the truth. And what is this great mystery, Christ in you, the hope of glory. When God looks at us He actually sees Jesus in our place. He no longer is looking at our sins, He sees His son. What the Old Testament saints could not understand is that when the messiah came, He through the power of the Holy Spirit, took up residence in a believer. Romans 8:9, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
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