Our gauge, our measure, to see if we are really reconciled to God and not just spouting off, you know, I follow, I believe, is this. You continue in the faith, ground it steadfast, and you're not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which you heard.
Because of our sins against God, payment had to be made to satisfy God's justice. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip examines the amazing truth about what Christ willingly endured on your behalf to pay your debt. But first, did you know we've redesigned the Connect with Skip app to be more intuitive and give you a better user experience? If you've already been using the Connect with Skip app, you'll love the new version.
And if you've not yet downloaded it, you'll want to be sure to download it today, wherever you get your apps. Now, we're in Colossians 1 as Skip begins today's teaching. And you who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he has reconciled. People are the target. They're the primary ones that God is interested in reconciling with, individuals, individual personal relationships. That's his target because that's God's crowning creation, because mankind is in the image and likeness of God.
And there's a problem. The reason people are the focus is because people are the ones alienated. Look at the verse. You were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works. God's reconciliation arises from mankind's miserable condition.
God's reconciliation arises from man's miserable condition. It's what theologians call total depravity. Have you ever heard the term total depravity? Total depravity is the idea that because of the fall of man, there is not a single area of our lives that is not tainted and ruined and marred by sin. The idea of total depravity isn't that we're as bad as we can be, that we're the worst possible people we can be. It means we are as bad off as we can possibly be.
Before God, we are as bad off as it possibly gets. And the word here is alienated, estranged, separated from God. It's a persistent condition, a hostility to God that begins in the mind, according to Paul here, and ends in our actions.
It begins in the mind. Here's the problem. People hate God. People hate God? Yeah, people hate God. And you know why they hate God?
The text says, wicked works. It says in the Gospel of John, men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. They love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. So they want to hold on to their stuff, their sin, their activity. They don't want anybody, any deity telling them, you need to change your lifestyle. And you bring God in, and God will confront you with the alienation factor, that things have to change.
So that's total depravity. Alienated begins in our minds. You remember in Genesis 6, before God flooded the world, that He gives insight into what people were thinking.
It says, every intent of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually. Now I've noticed this, you've noticed this, nobody likes to hear this. There's not a person out there who's unsaved that likes to hear that they are alienated and separated from God and that they are sinners. That's not good news to them.
That's like, what on earth? You know, that's usually where we don't begin there. We usually begin with, you know that God loves you, right?
We want to give them that message and then tell them the problem. But nobody likes to hear this truth. It is not the current philosophy of the world. The current philosophy of the world is this, I'm okay, you're okay. Everybody's good in their own way. Everybody's good in their heart.
Really? If you're okay and I'm okay, if we're all okay, then why is this world so messed up? Want to know why it's messed up?
You ready? You ready for it? It's your fault. It's your fault. It's my fault. It's our fault. All of us.
It's our fault. In the 17th century, a lady by the name of Lady Huntington, who was a wealthy lady of substance and notoriety in England, she was a patron of many Christian leaders, she invited one of her friends, the Duchess of Buckingham, to hear George Whitefield preach. You know George Whitefield. He was the Anglican preacher who founded Methodism. He was the fiery preacher in England. So she brought her friend to hear George Whitefield preach. Well, the Duchess of Buckingham so hated what she heard in the sermon.
And so she wrote her friend, Lady Huntington, this little note. It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting, and I cannot but wonder that your ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding. How can you listen to a preacher who says somebody as wonderful and marvelous as you and I are need help?
That's pride speaking. That's alienation speaking, alienated in the mind. So it's true that you are alienated. It's true that you are enemies of God by nature in your mind. But it's also true, look at verse 22, that He will present you holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
Let that seep into your soul. Holy, blameless, and above reproach. Now, I read that verse, and I think, that does not sound like me. I am not blameless. I have bad moods.
I get traffic tickets. I say selfish things. I think evil thoughts.
So I'm not blameless. I'm not holy, but notice what it says. Blameless, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Something happens to change the way God sees you. That's reconciliation. Something happens to change His eyesight.
It's like corrective lenses. Oh, wow. In His sight.
Before Him. That is how you are presented. So that's the magnitude of reconciliation. We have the meaning and the magnitude. What's the means of it?
How does it happen? Back to verse 20, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of the cross. Through the blood of the cross. Now, look at verse 22.
In the body of His flesh through death. There's two clauses, and they basically mean the same thing. Two different verses, two separate clauses, but they're describing exactly the same thing. So you have peace through the blood of His cross, in the body of His flesh through death. That's Paul saying Jesus physically died on a cross. And the reason he's belaboring it is he's writing to people who are tainted by Gnosticism, who didn't believe Jesus had a physical body. But He was a phantom. So He died physically. His blood was shed literally, and that's the means by which we can be reconciled to God.
Now, remember I said something a moment ago. I said to be reconciled with God, a transaction has to be made. To be reconciled with God, there has to be a transaction that is made. This is that transaction.
Here's how it works. Our bank account was in the red before God. We were bankrupt before God. The wages of sin is death, so separation.
We were alienated. And crime demands payment for God to justly forgive sin. He can't just wink and go, yeah, not a big deal. That wouldn't be just.
That wouldn't be fair. So payment has to be made for God to justly forgive. So what happened is what I like to call the great exchange or the great substitution. And for that I want you to look at 2 Corinthians chapter 5. You turn there, so just flip over to 2 Corinthians 5 real quick to get some more material that beautifully explains what we just read.
2 Corinthians 5 verse 18. Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God were pleading through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Now on the surface, that's an awkward statement, not easy to understand, but there's a principle at work here.
It's called the principle of imputation, imputation, or putting something to somebody's account. So Jesus stood in for us, took the blame, took the rap, took the punishment. He became proxy for us. You know what the Bible says? He was wounded for our transgression. He was bruised for our iniquity. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.
That's the great exchange. So not imputing trespasses to them. Again, another bookkeeping term. He's not going to put that to your account. What it means is God decided to put your sin on Jesus' account books. And put His righteousness onto your account books.
And that's verse 21. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. Not to be a sinner for us. Jesus was never a sinner. He never committed a sin. He was without sin, the Bible says.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Let me put it another way. God the Father treated Jesus like you and I deserve to be treated so that He could treat us like Jesus Christ deserves to be treated. That's what that means. That's what that means. God treated Jesus like we deserve to be treated so He could treat you like Jesus deserves to be treated.
I remember first time I heard the gospel, I had this thought. I said, God, you're not getting a good deal. I don't know why you want my life.
Not much there. You're going to give me your righteousness, your salvation. Jesus gave His life for me. You want me to give my life? I don't get the exchange. It's like you're getting a bad deal. I, on the other hand, am getting the deal of the century.
I will not walk away from this deal. So that's the means of it. The shed blood on the cross in the body of His flesh. You know, there's three basic ways that people lean on, believe in, to get right with God.
None of them work. There's a fourth and it's outlined here, but here's the three basic ways. Number one, by being good. Most people say, well, if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, then I'll go to heaven because good people go to heaven. I don't know where they got that from. Good people don't go to heaven. Do you believe that good people go to heaven? Saved people go to heaven. That's who goes to heaven. But they think if I'm good, if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, this is what Muslims believe. Every Ramadan, Jews at Yom Kippur want their good deeds to outweigh their bad deeds. So they believe by being good.
Here's the problem. Isaiah 64, all our righteousness is like filthy rags. Whatever good thing you can do ain't good enough. It might be good for you or your neighbor or your friend, but not for a holy, perfect God.
Not good enough. That's one, by being good. Another basic thing people do is by being religious. If I go to church, if I keep rigorous disciplines, if I observe rituals, if I obey laws, if I take a pilgrimage to a holy place, holy place, and so many people have turned Christianity into a religion of self-effort and self-righteousness, it doesn't work. A third way people try to get right with God is just by being sincere. They say, it doesn't matter what you believe or not believe.
What really matters is, are you sincere? And if you're sincere, you'll get to heaven. Problem with that is Proverbs 14 says, there is a way that seems right to every man, but it leads to death. The fourth way is the only way.
And that's this way. And the way is reconciliation initiated by God through His Son. The means is the blood of His cross. It's going to include the whole universe, but it's specifically for you. And He's going to exchange your badness for His goodness, exchange your sin for His righteousness.
That's the idea. And it only happens through the death of His Son. I remember hearing about a husband and wife, they had one son, an only child. That son died tragically.
Sadly, they buried that child. Subsequently, as often happens in marriages like this, the relationship got strained after the death of their son. They separated, and he moved to a different part of the country.
She stayed in town. So now they were apart. One day, he was back in town on business. Of course, he went to the cemetery and stood at the grave of his son and spent several minutes, maybe hours. He was about to walk away, and he heard a noise behind him, and he turned, and it was his estranged wife walking up to visit her son as well. When they saw each other, their first impulse was to separate, to kind of go back. But then they grabbed hands because there was something they shared in common. What they shared in common was a dead son. They both had interest in that grave, and they reconciled over the death of their only son. Our reconciliation took nothing less than the death of God's only son, and that is the means of our reconciliation. So that's the meaning, the magnitude, and the means.
Let's close with this, the measure of it. Look at verse 23, which closes out this paragraph. If indeed, so all this is great and true and cool. If indeed, hmm.
I don't like the word if. If indeed, you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under the earth. If indeed, to every creature under heaven, which I, Paul, became a minister. Sort of sounds like a contradiction of all that has gone before, or at least in addition to grace. It almost sounds like Paul is saying, now once God has reconciled you, you've got to work hard to keep it.
Now that's not it. Paul is simply being practical. Paul is giving us a gauge, a way for us to measure our lives to see if we really are reconciled to God. He's not saying you become holy and blameless and above reproach by your devotion. He is not saying that you as a Christian may or may not continue in the faith. He simply, by this statement, assumes that you will.
Because you've been reconciled, he assumes that you will continue. In fact, the best Greek construction of this sentence reads like this, if indeed you continue in the faith, and I'm sure you will, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which is preached to every creature under heaven. So here's the point. The gospel doesn't work like magic. You've still got to cooperate.
Your will is still involved. And here's the simple measure. Here's the measure.
Here's the gauge. Real faith leads to real results. Those real results become the gauge of real faith.
It's that simple. Real faith produces real results, and the real results become the measure, the gauge of real faith. One of the most sobering facts in the Bible is that not everyone who thinks they're saved is saved. Not everyone who claims to follow Christ and be a child of God really is. Jesus said, many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord. And Jesus will say to them, you know what he's going to say? Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.
I never knew you. So one of the marks of being converted is staying faithful. Conversion leads to continuity. Salvation leads to service. That's reconciliation. And that's the gauge. Oh, I'm reconciled to God.
Look, I see the evidence. Not perfect, but I'm growing step by step. Yeah, I'm not what I could be.
I'm not what I should be, but I'm not what I was. That's the gauge. You can see it.
It's evident. I want to close with a story. A building engineer was up on a scaffold, three-story high scaffold. The engineer slipped.
They were at a construction site. He fell. It appeared that it's going to be a fatal fall. Three stories and a scaffold lights out.
We're going to bury this boy. And he plummets to the ground. Below him on the scaffold is a worker, a laborer, who looks up as he is falling down, realizes that he is standing exactly where the engineer is going to land. Something came over him, and he braced himself on the poles of that scaffold, and he absorbed the full impact of the fall. The man fell on him. The impact slightly injured the engineer who fell down, but severely hurt the laborer. Several bones were broken, and after he recovered, he could no longer work. He was severely disabled and handicapped. Years later, a reporter found that man, that worker, now handicapped, and asked how the engineer has treated him since the accident.
He was wondering to write a story. And the man said, he has given me half of all he owns, including a share of his business. He's always concerned about my needs, never lets me lack anything.
Almost every day, he gives me some token of thanks or remembrance. You see, the engineer who was saved became the servant of the one who saved him. That's the gauge.
That's the gauge. Our gauge, our gauge, our measure to see if we are really reconciled to God and not just spouting off, you know, I follow, I believe, is this. You continue in the faith, grounded steadfast, and you're not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard. Now, Paul wrote, and we already read it, so I'm not going to go back to it in 2 Corinthians 5.
He said, look, I'm God's ambassador. I'm pleading with you. Be reconciled to God, and I'm pleading with you. If you're not reconciled to God, be reconciled to God. I'm pleading with you.
I'm begging you for your own good. God will exchange your sin for His righteousness. God will change thoroughly the relationship and change your life. He wants to reconcile you.
All things, yes, but you in particular. He's provided the means, the substitute, the perfect one, and He has made the first move, but He will not save you. He will not save you if you don't want Him to save you. In fact, He loves you so much, He will honor your choice if you want to spend forever in hell. He'll honor that.
You can do that. God is pro-choice when it comes to eternity. He'll let anybody make a choice where they want to spend eternity, but I plead with you.
Be reconciled to God. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series Always Only Jesus. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Right now, we want to share about a special resource that will help you better understand and follow God's will. We want to tell you about a powerful resource that will help you understand and follow God's will. It's Pastor Skip's eight-message package, Discovering God's Will. You have the Spirit of God living in you, and He will guide you, He says, with His eye. And do you realize God is more interested in guiding you than you are in being guided?
So as soon as you say, Lord, I want to take and be ruled by your peace and rooted in Scripture, and I want to honor your name, He's right there to direct your steps. Skip Heitzig's Discovering God's Will package includes message titles such as Guardrails to Knowing God's Will and Navigating Another Year as part of eight full-length teachings by Skip. We'll send you this powerful resource as thanks for your gift to expand Connect with Skip Heitzig to reach more people in major U.S. cities. So request your resource when you give and start to make your life count for God's kingdom. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer.
That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Be sure to listen again tomorrow as Skip shares an insightful message about how you can serve Christ in an unchristian world. No matter what job you have, no matter what season of life you are in, no matter what your background, what your education, one area we all overlap in is this. You're all called to be His servants. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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