The Hope of the Gospel or Presenting Yourself Perfect
(Col. 1:19–29 KJV) “19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope 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; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Paul begins this chapter thanking God, (Col. 1:5–6 KJV) “5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:” It is this hope that allows the believer to bring forth fruit because they know the grace of God in truth. This truth was not revealed prior to the revelation of Paul’s gospel. Then in verse 9 thru 18, Paul draws their attention to his desire for them to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” But to what end, for what purpose?
(Col. 1:10–12 KJV) “10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father,”
Giving thanks for what? In verses 12 thru 18, Paul reviews what the believers have in Christ. What Christ has done for them. Paul wants them to stay focused on what Christ has done for them. Remember this is the hope they had heard in the word of the truth of the gospel that brought forth fruit. Paul said, “Since the day ye heard it.” So, it continues to bring forth fruit. This is not a reference just to them being saved, but to continuing in fruit bearing. But again, why does Paul want them to be filled with knowledge and spiritual understanding? “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful.” What you know and understand effects how you do what? How you think.
Paul wanted the believers to keep their focus on the hope of the gospel. The hope of the gospel is rooted in the work of Christ. However, religion has led people astray into thinking that it is somehow connected to one’s works even after salvation. It was the work of Christ that brought about peace with God to reconcile all things to himself.
(Col. 1:20 KJV) “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;”
It is the reconciling work of Christ that makes those who were alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works reconciled, so that he could present them holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight.
(Col. 1:21–22 KJV) “21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”
It is very important that we don’t read that too fast. Did that verse say they were alienated and enemies of God by wicked works? No, it did not. It said, they were sometime alienated and enemies in their MIND. What do you do with your mind? You think. What had changed what they thought? The hope of the gospel which revealed to them the reconciling work of Christ. But what happened? Look at the end of verse 21, “yet now hath he reconciled.” That’s Christ’s work. Let’s look over to 2 Corinthians and see what Paul reveals about the reconciliation work of Christ.
(2 Cor. 5:18–20 KJV) “18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
The hope of the gospel reveals what God has done for all the world, so that rather than being “alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works,” they would be reconciled to God by coming to him thru Christ. “In Christ” the world can be reconciled to God. This is the ministry that God had given to Paul to reveal this wonderful truth. God had already done what was necessary for him to reconcile the world to himself. And he committed the word of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation to those who had accepted God’s offer of eternal life through Christ. God puts all those who he saves “in Christ” where they are reconciled to him. Those who choose to be reconciled because of the hope of the gospel are then “reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” If we were unholy, blamable and reproveable in his sight, we would not be reconciled.
It is Christ that presents us in this state, not we ourselves. Failure to understand that this condition is based upon the work of Christ rather than the works of the individual will lead to a false understanding of the rest of the verse and passage. Religion teaches that Christ reconciled us so that he could present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight, but then it is up to us to work to make it possible for him to do so. We have to work to stay “right” with God, so that he can do this. If it is up to us to work to make it possible then it would be ourselves presenting ourselves as holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight. Remember, Paul states that we were alienated and enemies in OUR MINDS by wicked works. This is key to understanding the passage. Remember the hope of the gospel caused us to change our minds, to repent of what we were thinking about ourselves and about God. Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Can our minds alter the work of Christ? Can we return to the state of being unreconciled? It is at this point that the self-righteous mind takes control in interpreting the scripture, look at verse 23 “if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.” The self-righteous mind believes that the “if” implies a condition by which our actions can prevent the reconciling work of Christ from having its effect. In other words we have to do something or not do something in order for Christ to be able to present us in such a fashion. Is Paul talking about believers choosing to sin or not to continue in the faith and therefore changing their standing before God or is he speaking to how they think in their minds about their relationship with God and the peace that God has procured? If the believer does not continue in the faith grounded and settled, does it undo the work of Christ? If the believer stops believing the hope of the gospel, does it undo the work of Christ? If the believer stops continuing in the faith grounded and settled and is moved away from the hope of the gospel, does their lack of belief or thinking undo the hope of the gospel? Absolutely not, as the hope of the gospel is based upon the work of Christ.
At the heart of Paul’s gospel is the glory of the mystery and the riches of the glory of this mystery which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory. What glory is the believer hoping for? (Rom. 5:2 KJV) “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” It is this glory, the glory of God, that Christ has provided and which gives us reason to rejoice. It is in grace that we stand, and why we can therefore rejoice in hope of God’s glory. Our standing is in grace. Faith merely allows us to see it, to perceive it, to believe that it is so. If we do not continue in the faith and are not settled in it, yes, we may move away from the hope of the gospel in our thoughts, but the hope of the gospel does not move away from us for we stand in his grace. But who is to make known the glory of this mystery, if we who are the recipients of it don’t continue to believe it and be settled in it, but instead move away from the hope of the gospel?
It is this very reason that Paul preached, warning every man, and teaching everyman. As he said, “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Was Paul warning believers that they had to do something so that he could present them to be perfect in Christ Jesus? Absolutely not. Paul had no more control on the believer’s perfection in Christ than they do or their pastor does. Perfection in Christ is what is provided because the believers are “in Christ.” Paul also was not instructing believers that they would have to present themselves perfect in Christ Jesus. If that were the case, how would they do it? How would they present themselves perfect? Sinless perfection, not a chance. The last rites in case they forgot to confess something before they die? What if they had sinned and then never confessed it? Would it be covered by a blanket confession of, “Lord forgive me of whatever sins I’ve committed and forgot to confess?” What is the measure of perfection? The reality is the believers cannot present themselves perfect either. Paul through his preaching the hope of the gospel was labouring and striving according to Christ’s working mightly in him to bring men to Christ for the perfection of Christ’s work in them by grace. This is the hope of the gospel.
It is because of this hope that the believer can continue to work by faith and labour by love. (1 Th. 1:3 KJV) “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” Hope gives us the patience to keep on going. It is this hope that God has given us in the gospel that keeps us going by faith and love. The assurance that no matter how much we win or how much we lose our hope is not taken away. It is laid up for us in heaven. Paul reminds us of this hope that is contained in the gospel, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;” (Col. 1:5 KJV). The gospel that Paul preached revealed the word of truth of the gospel that gives us the assurance of the hope that is laid up for us in heaven. Paul spends a great deal of time focusing the believer on their hope through the gospel. It is our motivation for work and labour. It is what allows us to have patience to keep going. Make no mistake the hope of the believer is Christ. (1 Tim. 1:1 KJV) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;” Our hope is secure in Christ’s ability to present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight for he himself is our hope. So, when Paul writes to believers about how to behave, he reminds them that they are “holy and beloved.” Why, because that is what Christ has made us and it is how he will present us. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col. 3:12 KJV). Paul tells the Corinthians, “for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:17 KJV). This is not of the believers doing. This is the work of Christ. The believers are not going to present themselves holy, Christ is going to present them holy because they are in him and he is holy. The believer being presented holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight are all based upon the reconciliation that Christ wrought and that God gives to those “in Christ.”
The devil and self-righteous believers would like nothing better than for believers to become “alienated and enemies in their minds by wicked works” again, rather than by faith being “grounded and settled,” and “not moved away from the hope of the gospel.” They would have the believer focus on their failings rather than on Christ’s success. Why, because if they can get the believer to view themselves as alienated and enemies, then they won’t be spreading the hope of the gospel. They’ll be moved away from that hope. This is one of the greatest failings of those who try to teach that the Christians relationship with God is the same as it was in the Old Testament and do not teach the wonderful truths of the work of Christ revealed to Paul for this present dispensation through the gospel revealed to Paul. This has created a second generation of believers who have given up hope because they can’t measure up to the self-righteous standards that they have been taught that they have to maintain to stay “right” with God. They have been taught not to trust in the work of Christ, but in their own ability. And when they have repeatably failed they lose hope and quit rather than continuing to rejoice and be thankful for the work of Christ. Religionists have diminished the work of Christ and elevated their own works. Paul wanted the believers to keep their focus on the hope of the gospel, so that they would continue to be fruitful.
(Col. 1:11–12 KJV) “11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”
I pray that believer will renew their minds by focusing on the wonderful works of Christ as revealed by Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.