Colossians 1:2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
I. God’s Holy People: What does holiness mean in this verse? (See separate post on “Holiness”)
A. Popcorn: What is grace? What words or short phrases come to mind when you think about God’s grace?
1. God’s undeserved goodness
2.a wonderful, saving surprise against the flow
3. GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
4. Mercy when least expected
5. The giving of “slack”
10. Debts forgiven
A. What Is God’s Peace?
1. God is himself the “Fountain of peace.” (Pink, 30)
a. Peace is an attribute of God. Peace describes his nature.
b. God is impassible–he himself is never perturbed and he does not suffer.
c. God is immutable–he does not change.
i. with God there are no surprises (Acts 15:18 (NKJ))
ii. with God there are no disappointments (Romans 11:36)
iii. with God there are no disturbances (James 1:17)
iv. with God there is no change (James 1:17)
2. How does this attribute of God and these verses reassure us?
a. Our salvation is not based on us nor upon our behavior but upon God’s own eternal decision within himself.
b. We can’t surprise God, nor disappoint him, nor cause him to change his mind about us. Once adopted into his family–always in his family, always loved.
c. Are we then robots, completely controlled by another? No. Modern example of “predestination” (think Calvinism) coexisting with “free choice” (think Arminianism): Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat. Although the hat made the ultimate decision, it never went entirely against the wishes of the student, but took his or her desires into strong consideration. (Decision of the Hat)
3. Is God then completely mechanical, cold, and unmoving towards us? No. Church Father Cyril of Alexandria always spoke of “qualified impassibility,” or, “God suffered without suffering.” The Council of Chalcedon (Council of Chalcedon 451) adopted his thought concerning the two natures of Christ in one person, one nature divine and one human, united yet distinguishable, which remained the norm in the Christian church for one thousand years. From Scripture, we see that both Yahweh of the Old Testament and Christ in the New suffered and experienced emotion. Yet, paradoxically, God in himself, God eternal and sovereign, remains always unperturbed, always at peace as the fountain of peace.
Think of planet Earth as viewed from space. How does it appear? Completely smooth, having a level and even surface. From earth, however, steeply elevated mountains and precipitous canyons abound. Earth is also home to severe earthquakes and tremendously destructive storms. Likewise, the eternal God, in and of himself, never changes and is always at peace, at rest, within himself. Yet in his interactions with us, when he relates to us at our own level, he often responds to our storms with storms of his own. (Psalm 18) (“Our Great God” by Fernando Ortega)
God in grace, mercy, and love accommodates our frailties and finiteness by using a translator to interpret and express himself to us. This translator is divine, God himself. He is Christ, the Word, the logos, the expression and outward manifestation of God. Christ became flesh and lived among us.
As noted above, God expresses and manifests himself as Yahweh, I Am That I Am, in the Old Testament, and as Christ in the New Testament. God-in-relation-to-human-beings suffers with us and responds to our repentance, prayers, and petitions. Nevertheless, in his eternality, He is always at peace. He is like a father who can fully comprehend, sympathize with, and have compassion for the suffering of his little child, without he himself in his being ever becoming “shaken to his core,” nor disturbed in any way.
The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message, is that God did indeed “come down” to us.
God in his infinite holiness, unchangeableness, and purity of peace did come down, all the way down, to Planet Earth in order to participate fully in the humanity of people, except for their sin.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Next Week: Two Kinds of biblical peace for humans–1) covenantal peace (think peace treaty) and subjective peace (think peace of mind)