Tag Archives: Christ

My Favorite Two Verses and Why

There are two verses in all of Scripture, that I meditate on often. They are filled with such rich theology, glorious truth, and powerful encouragement that I think I should share not only where these verses are found but why they are my favorite.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross, (Colossians 2:13-14, ESV).

To understand these verses in all their glory, we must first understand their context. We should never separate any verse from its context lest me misunderstand what it is truly saying. So let me quickly share with you what is happening as you get to these two verses: Paul has been writing about the deity of Christ for what seems like forever. Beginning in chapter 1, verse 15. At times, Paul seems to get away from the deity aspect for other practical matters, but those practical matters are only practical because of Jesus being God in the flesh. As he wrote, it is Jesus, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (2:3, ESV). That means there is no treasure in any human wisdom or philosophy or way of life that can even come close to what you find in the God-Man. Thus we need to walk (live) in that wisdom and knowledge. We need to believe and order our lives accordingly. “For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority,” (2:9-10, ESV). You have been filled in him. Jesus is the fullness of deity in the body. You (and I) are filled in him. Another way of saying it is: Jesus is completely God and you are made complete in him. It may seem like you’re missing something. Something needs to be added to this life of faith. But there isn’t! The Colossians were being taught that circumcision, sabbaths, new moons, or certain forms of worship were lacking. Paul told them that nothing was lacking. They were complete in Christ. You and I are no different.

But then Paul wrote something strange: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,” (2:11, ESV). Notice that 1. Paul is writing in a spiritual way. The Colossians didn’t need to be circumcised, they were circumcised. God circumcised them (a circumcision made without hands). 2. In human circumcision, just a tiny bit of flesh is removed. Paul stated that when God circumcises, the who fleshly body is completely removed.

Paul wasn’t saying that we are now without sin, but saying that there is nothing left to do: God has already done it. When? On the cross. “By the circumcision of Christ,” was not in reference to his being a baby in the temple having his bris, but of his dying on the cross shedding his body. (This is the part that really begins to explain my favorite verses). When Jesus’s full body was circumcised (“into your hands I commit my spirit”) so we were spiritually circumcised. By his death, our fleshly body (sinfulness) was removed from us. “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead,” (2:12, ESV). Once Jesus died he was placed into the tomb. That is what our baptism represents. The old man/woman is dead and buried. It has been removed from us. But just as God brought Jesus back to life in a new, glorious, and powerful way, so we are too! God has done all that is needed.

Now we get to my favorite verses. They basically tell the same idea over again, but in a powerful way: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Paul didn’t deny that the Colossians had been sinners to the core. He included himself in that, as well as all of us (notice the shift from “you” to “us”) Nor did he deny that that we were dead in our tracks. We had nothing going for us. But none of that mattered. God did everything that was necessary. We came completely empty, but left completely full. God made us alive with Christ. When Jesus rose, we rose. Every sin was forgiven. How? Not by excusing it away. But by nailing it to the cross. He cancelled the debt against us. It demanded payment. But the one to whom the debt was owed, forgave it and canceled it.

Back in the day, there was something called debtor’s prison. If you owed a debt and couldn’t pay it, you went to prison until someone paid the debt for you. Then the record of debt would show that it had been paid in full. That’s what we see in John 19:30, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit,” (ESV). “It is finished,” was another way of saying, “Paid in Full.” Another way was to have the debt forgiven or cancelled. That’s how Paul thought of it. It was cancelled upon its being nailed to the cross. Our debt died, but we were made alive.

If the debt is cancelled, there is nothing left to pay. (This, by the way, is why I hate the doctrine of purgatory. It’s debtor’s prison all over again. The debt has been paid! Or another appropriate image is that it was cancelled. Either way, nothing is left to purge or pay for.) We come empty, but leave full. As I said before, these verses are filled with such rich theology, glorious truth, and powerful encouragement; I am sure I have not even done them justice in this post, but I hope you will meditate upon them night and day.

11 Jews in Eternity

On October 27, 2018, 11 Jews worshiping in The Tree of Life Synagogue were killed by a man bent on white supremacy and a hatred for Jews.  Eight men and three women perished.  Today begins the first of many funeral services. As I was thinking of this tragedy, my mind could not help but think that the souls in that synagogue were just a few of those all around the world that have so much but just don’t know it.  The Apostle Paul asked the question, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God,” (Romans 3:1-2, ESV). From the Law to the Prophets to the Writings, the Jews were given the very Word of God.  To the Psalmist, this word was greater than gold (cf. Ps. 119:127).

I am not sure, that these eleven men and women, or the Jewish community at large understood or understand what a precious commodity they have in their Scriptures.  Like many Christians, the Jews leave their oracles of God unread and untouched.  The are content to hear the traditions of men rather than the Word of God. Because of this, many die daily without ever knowing their Messiah, the one whom the Law and Prophets and Writings were pointing toward.  “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith,” (Galatians 3:24, ESV).

Those who were at the Tree of Life synagogue were there for a Torah study, Shabbat services (Sabbath worship including prayer and reading), and a bris (circumcision of a boy 8 days old).  As we’ve seen, the Torah’s job was to be a guardian over us until the Messiah came. It points us to Jesus, He who is the Prophet Moses foretold would come, the Son of David. But the circumcision also was pointing us to Him. It was a shadow of the covenant of blood in Christ. “These (festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths) are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ,” (Colossians 2:17, ESV).

Sadly, of the 15 million+ Jews on planet Earth, only a small percentage knows of their Messiah and have received him.  Those in that synagogue died Saturday and met their Maker having rejected the very Cornerstone of their faith. As the Apostle Peter said, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:11-12, ESV).  I say this not in anger or malice, but with a broken heart.–as Richard Baxter would say, “as a dying man to dying men.”

Like the rich man in Jesus’s parable, there are 11 persons suffering at this very moment desiring to tell their brothers and sisters at Tree of Life and everywhere to be reconciled to God. But the response is the same, “‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ . . .’If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:29, 31, ESV). Is that not heartbreaking? It was for the Apostle Paul,

I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit–that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They were Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. to them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5, ESV).

They had and have all they need, but they have turned from it. Let us pray that those who remain return, as is the promise of Romans 11:25-26.  It is too late for these 11 men and women, but not for their kinsmen.  May this tragedy stand as a reminder that those who were once part of the tree, but have been cut off, can be grafted back if and when they received their Messiah Jesus.

I was reminded this weekend at a conference, of Psalm 67:2, “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations,” (ESV). It is because of God’s working through the Jewish nation and in Jewish people that the nations were brought to God through their Jewish Messiah.  We owe so much to these people. May we seek to bring them to the salvation that they brought to us.