Colossians 1:20-23

Dr. Steve Viars September 17, 1994 Colossians 1:20-23

INPUT - what is the theme of this book, and what verse (s) do we find
         that theme?  (the preeminence of Christ, 2:9-10, 1:18-19)

INPUT - why do we as a SS class and church family need to study this
         theme?  (to help us develop Christ-centered lives, families,
           - (also could develop--because there are so many other things
               vying for preeminence)

- Pastor Shelburne also mentioned last week of why this theme was so
   important for the Colossian church.
   - some false teachers were promoting a heresy that had elements of
      both Gnosticism and Judaism.
     - Gnosticism said that matter was evil, and that the second person
        of the Trinity could never have become a man--so they were
        denying the deity of Christ.
     - Judaism said that ceremonial law had to be kept in order to be
        saved--so they also were denying the deity/sufficiency of Christ.

- so the Colossian church desperately needed this message--and you and I
    need it as well.

- in today's verses, Paul's going to add to our understanding of the
    preeminence of Christ by reminding us of the blessing of

- let me ask you to think this morning about a time in your life when you
   were in an unreconciled state with another person.
    - undoubtedly every one of us has been in that position from one time
       or another--whether it be a:
          a) relatively minor incident that was cleared up in a few days
          b) or a major incident that we (wrongly) chose to let go on for
               an extended period of time.

- INPUT - as you think about those kinds of events, what words come to
    your mind to describe the period of time between when the breach in
    the relationship took place, to when reconciliation took place?  In
    other words, what is it like to be in an unreconciled state with
    another person?

- INPUT - What words come to your mind to describe what it was like after
     the reconciliation occurred?

- with those thoughts in mind--Paul is going to teach us about a much
    more significant kind of reconciliation than what we've been
      - he's talking not about reconciliation between one person and
           - he's going to talk about reconciliation between a person and
               the very God of Heaven.


- Reconciliation is one of the five key words used in the NT to describe
   the richness of our salvation (MacArthur) along with justification,
   redemption, forgiveness, and adoption.

   1) In justification, the sinner stands before God guilty and
        condemned, but is declared righteous (Rom. 8:33).

   2) In redemption, the sinner stands before God as a slave, but is
        granted his freedom (Rom. 6:18-22).

   3) In forgiveness, the sinner stands before God as a debtor, but the
        debt is paid and forgotten (Eph. 1:7).

   4) In adoption, the sinner stands before God as a stranger, but is
        made a son (Eph. 1:5).

   5) In reconciliation, the sinner stands before God as an enemy, but
        becomes His friend (II Cor. 5:18-20).

- the word reconcile literally means "to change" or "exchange"

    - When a person trusts Christ as Savior and Lord, he changes from
        being an enemy of God to being at peace with Him.
          - that’s reconciliation--the restoration of a right relationship
              between God and man.

- the point of the verses we're studying this morning is that the
   reconciliation between God and man couldn't be achieved by just
     - it required the work of our preeminent Savior, the Lord Jesus

- read Col. 1:20-23

- we're going to divide these verses into the plan of reconciliation, the
   means of reconciliation, the aim of reconciliation, and the evidence
   of reconciliation.  (MacArthur)

I. The Plan of Reconciliation

    - one way to think about the message of the entire Bible is that it
       is that it is the story of God's plan to reconcile all things unto
    - this passage makes it clear that that is true both of people, and
       in some senses of the entire creation.

    A. Regarding creation

        - the Bible teaches us that when Adam and Eve voluntarily chose
          to disobey God, their sin not only affected the human race, but
          it also affected the created world.

        - while everything that happens in the created world today is
            still under God's sovereign control:
               1) He has chosen to allow sin to run its natural course
                  in terms of its affect on creation
               2) He has also allowed our adversary, the "god of this
                  world" (II Cor. 4:4) to use his wicked influence on

        - the NT describes this in Romans 8 as "the creation groaning."

- the point that Paul is making to the Colossians is that Christ's death
    is so sufficient that it will actually have an affect on the created

- some examples of how that’s true is:

    1) changes in the animal world (in the millennial kingdom)
        - Isa. 11:6-9 - "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the
            leopard will lie down with the kid..."

    2) changes in the earth and solar system
        - Isa. 30:26 - "The light of the moon will be as the light of the
           sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter..."

    3) reconciliation of the entire created order
        - Rom. 8:21 - "the creation itself will be set free from its
            slavery to corruption."

        - II Peter 3:13 - According to His promise we are looking for new
            heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."

- of course Paul centers in on the matter of reconciliation:

    B. Regarding people

        - INPUT - What are the three ways Paul describes our relationship
           with God before we were saved?

           1) alienated

           2) enemies (hostile) in our minds

           3) engaged in evil deeds

- the only way that a person can understand//appreciate Christ's ministry
    of reconciliation is if we first understand just how significant the
     breach was before we were saved.

- (on white board, draw a diagram similar to bridge to life)

   - in order to fully appreciate that, I need to understand:
       1) the depth of my sin
       2) the "depth" (completeness) of God's holiness  (and his
            attendant hatred of sin, and wrath because of the existence
            of sin)

- but that’s the problem, isn't it?
   - when you think about the average person in our world, most folks
       have a "watered down" version of both sides of this equation.

- INPUT - how is that true on man's side of the equation? (instead of
    recognizing the depth of our sin, as unbelievers we viewed ourselves
      - I'm not that bad
      - I'm better than my neighbor
      - Its not my fault
      - I'm a victim
      - I do a lot of good things
      - God is pretty lucky to have me...

- point is--without a biblical view of man, I can't appreciate the need
    for reconciliation.

- INPUT - how is this true on God's side of the equation? (instead of
    having a right view of God's holiness -- and therefore his attendant
    hatred of sin and His wrath because of sin, God is viewed as...)

    - He'll look the other way
    - He's a jolly man upstairs
    - He doesn't know or care about what I do, think, say, etc.

- in other words, the world's attitude toward the whole matter of the
     need of reconciliation is:
        - what's the problem, what's the big deal?

        - it's like the person who has a breach with another person who
          responds with things like:
            - its no big problem
            - they'll get over it
            - time heals all wounds
            - I might get around to talking to them some day.

- that’s why you didn't have to fight a traffic jam on the way to church.
   - it would have taken a lot longer if you had made the trip on Friday
      evening...because the "big deal" is to get to the restaurants.
   - it would have taken a lot longer if you had tried it on Saturday,
      because the bog deal is to get to the stores and get some more

- but when it comes to the matter of being reconciled with God--the
   "status quo attitude toward that subject" on the part of our world is
      "It's not that big of a deal"
        - which translates into---I'm not that bad, and God's not that

- let's stop there for a moment and talk about:
    INPUT - how can believers communicate to the Lord, to their families,
       and to those the Lord has placed around them that they consider
       the matter of being reconciled to God as being a "very big deal."

- Paul also in this passage talks about:

II. The Means of Reconciliation

    - Paul is very clear about what was necessary to accomplish our
       reconciliation to the Father.

    A. What it is

        INPUT - what "means" of reconciliation is mentioned in verse 20,
          and what "means" is mentioned in verse 22?

            - the blood of His cross
            - the body of His flesh through death

        - Paul wants the Colossians to be impacted in their hearts by the
            incredible means that were necessary to bring about our


- many of us have watched/read about the baseball strike with various
    levels of cynicism and indifference.
     - to me, one of the hardest jobs would be the people who are
         functioning as mediators or "reconcilers".
     - can you imagine what it would be like to try to bring those two
         groups together?

     - the problem is--the mediators have no "means" to get the job done.

     - they have no authority, they have no power/ability to change
         someone's heart
           - it's a frustrating and fruitless process.

- that’s one of the reasons that Jesus Christ is preeminent--
   - because He not only comes with the desire for reconciliation... -
   He comes with the means for reconciliation.

- INPUT - what are some ways that you and I can keep our hearts and minds
     focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ--and how
     can we keep this a central focus in our families?

      - participation in the Lord's table
      - concentrating on the words of our hymns as we sing together
      - making this a focus in prayer
      - ...

    B. What it accomplished

        - Paul also told us in these verses that the blood of Jesus
            Christ made it possible for us to be "at peace with God."

        - cf. Rom. 5:1

- let's think together about this phrase "at peace with God.
INPUT - what are some of the practical benefits of being "at peace with

   (make the point - are you taking advantage of the benefits that come
      from being at peace with God?)

III. The Aim of Reconciliation

    - Paul makes it clear that God had a clear purpose in mind when He
       made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him.
    - read 22

    - INPUT - what is the aim of reconciliation?

    1) holy - separated from sin and set apart to  God.

    2) blameless - (amomos) - without blemish

    3) beyond reproach - unable to have a charge brought against us

    - cf. II Cor. 11:2 - READ

    - of course this aim will be fully accomplished in heaven when we are
          - but Paul wants the Colossians to see that the more they
            understand the preeminence of Christ...and what was necessary
            for them to be reconciled to God...
              - the more concerned they would be about personal holiness
INPUT - why is it important to God that we be holy, unblameable, and

      1) it honors Him

      2) it prevents us from experiencing the hardness that comes with
           the way of the transgressor

      3) it models for others the truths of verse 21 (in other words, one
          the best ways for who don't know Christ to see their sinful
          condition is for God's people to live a life of holiness before

IV. The Evidence of Reconciliation

    - verse 23

    - those who have genuinely been reconciled to the Father will
       demonstrate that by their perseverance.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video