Colossians 1:23 . . . if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
The promise of final salvation is only given to those remaining in the faith. [T]he one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22), said Jesus. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2), wrote Paul.
An important test of saving faith is believing in Jesus Christ until one’s final breath. There is no salvation apart from Christ (John 14:16), so we dare not die without him. Many who have fallen away from Christ hope to be saved in the end, but this is never promised. We must continue in the faith, established and firm, never departing from the gospel.
That said, it is possible to repent and be saved with one’s final breath. The thief on the cross was saved at the end (Luke 23:42-43), and others have likely followed him. We seldom know a person’s final prayer, and may be surprised by who we meet in heaven.
Colossians 1:24 I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
Paul was not claiming to be a co-redeemer with Christ, as though he had to suffer for our salvation too. But just as the gospel was purchased through suffering, so it is promoted through suffering. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, slandered and impoverished as he worked to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But this is also proof of the gospel. If Paul became rich through his missionary work, that could explain his motive. But to continue his ministry through suffering and martyrdom only makes sense if the gospel is true. Since Paul would have known if the gospel was false, his suffering proves that he knew it was true.
Colossians 2:2 . . . so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding.
The gospel of Jesus Christ not only brings salvation, but complete understanding of the world in which we live: created by God, ruined by sin, and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Believing the gospel is like putting on a pair of glasses that brings the whole world into focus. Some people do not care about that, but for others, nothing is more important.
An aviation missionary landed near a secluded village that knew little of the outside world. When he tried to leave, he was surprised to find a native strapped to the side of his plane. The native explained that, no matter what happened, he had to find out where the plane came from. We should be glad that we don’t have fly up to God to get the answers. Christ came down to give us the full riches of complete understanding.
Colossians 2:3 [In Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Jesus answers the most important questions, such as: Who are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life? How should we live? And, What really matters? These are called world view questions and are religious in nature.
There are about a dozen major religions, with thousands of variations. But there are only about five possible world views. Theism claims there is one God. Polytheism claims there are many gods. Pantheism claims that everything is God. Deism claims that God is outside creation. Atheism claims that God does not exist. Agnosticism is not a world view, but it claims that you cannot know if God exists, or what he is like if he does exist.
Nevertheless, a child who understands the gospel knows more about ultimate reality than a scientist or philosopher who does not believe. [In Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
The devil is a master of fine-sounding arguments such as: there is no absolute truth; the Bible is a matter of interpretation; a loving God would notsend people to hell; and it can’t be wrong if it feels so right. These arguments sound reasonable, and even self-evident. But they are intended by Satan to lead us away from the truth.
The devil knows that if he tells a lie long enough, loud enough, and often enough, people will believe it. If you are wearing a red shirt, but a thousand people say your shirt is yellow, you will begin to wonder what color your shirt is. If we can be deceived about things that are obvious, what about spiritual things? That is why it is crucial to immerse ourselves in the Bible almost every day.
Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.
The way to begin the Christian life is by receiving Christ Jesus as Lord. We do not receive him as our advisor, friend or peer, but as our Lord. This means giving him access to every part of our life.
If you are the head of your house, and one of your children puts a lock on their closet, that is a challenge to your authority. You will insist the lock be removed because, as head of the house, there is nowhere you are not allowed to go.
Likewise, when we receive Christ Jesus as Lord, we are saying there is no part of our lives where he is not allowed to go. He is Lord of our thoughts, Lord of our language, Lord of our money, Lord of all. We will never be perfect in this life, but we should always be trying to please our Lord.
Reflection and Review
Does Christianity make sense?
What is a worldview?
How do we receive Jesus Christ as Lord?