The giving of the Old Covenant left the Israelites quaking in fear at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Divine justice would not leave the guilty unpunished. But the New Covenant invites all the nations to come to Mt. Zion in joyful assembly with the confidence that they have been judged innocent and made perfect through Jesus, the Messiah. Sprinkled with blood, we enter the narrow door to paradise.
Running the race of life requires perseverance because the Word of God brings division and persecution and violence. There will be hardships that cause the heart to grow weary. But God promises that these trials— even to the point of shedding of blood—are meant for our good. They are God’s way of disciplining us as his
The last of three readings in Colossians tells us to set our mind on things above, not on earthly things like the man who built bigger barns or the teacher who chased the wind. Yes, our struggle continues between the old and new Adams. But that old Adam has been buried with Christ, and the new man has been raised with Christ. The result is that our life is hidden with Christ in God. We do not seek worldly wealth but heavenly glory.
This second reading in the three week series from Colossians points out the reason we can be so bold in prayer. God has given us the fullness of Christ. In him we were circumcised, buried, and raised to life. Sins forgiven, we have been made children of God who have every right and encouragement to ask of God—as a child would ask his dear father.
This lesson begins a series of three readings from Paul’s letter to the congregation at Colosse. Spirit-worked appreciation for what has been given to them in Christ Jesus has led the Colossians to bear fruits of faith and love for the benefit of God’s kingdom. Paul’s prayer is that this work of the Spirit continues, not only in the hearts of the Colossians, but also in hearts of believers today. Rescued from darkness, we too know and embody the love of Christ, bearing fruit in every good work done for the love of our neighbor.
Using harvest language, Paul is inspired to encourage our participation in the Lord’s kingdom work. In our “Me” oriented culture, bearing our own burdens seems tough enough. But the Lord calls on each of us to help bear each other’s burdens. What joy is ours to fulfill the love-law of Christ as we share the message not only of forgiveness in Christ Jesus but also of comfort for the weary. This doing “good to all” even carries over into our support of kingdom workers as we share all good things with spiritual instructors.
How can a Christian rejoice even in the suffering and persecution? When we know that these sufferings are for the sake of Christ who bought us and made us his heirs. We confess Christ even in the face of persecution because we belong to Christ and look forward to an inheritance that no suffering, no evil, no attack can take away from us. Paul contrasts the harsh imprisonment of the law with the gracious freedom of the gospel that comes through faith. In this contrast we see how the Lord can use the trials of life and temptations of the heart to build deeper appreciation for his gracious salvation in Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we have been made equal and unified heirs of the promise, boldly claiming our inheritance from the Father.
The Law is necessary to show us our sins, to curb our actions, and to guide our lives. The Law, however, cannot save us; only the Gospel can. The sinful flesh continually temps us to believe that God loves us because of who we are rather than in spite of who we are. Men came from Jerusalem and wanted the Galatians to believe that fulfilling the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament was a necessity for salvation. Paul shows us that not even Peter can change what God ordained: salvation is by grace.
As a testimony to the power of the Christ and the authority of his gospel, Paul cites the example of his own previous way of life. The power of the Christ raises the spiritually dead to spiritual life. Paul who once persecuted the church, was redeemed and raised from death to new life in Christ—a life of service to the saints in the Lord’s Kingdom work and life forever in heaven.
Paul pleads with the Galatians not to abandon the faith to which they have been called. Their faith is in the Lord who has rescued them from hell itself. How can they abandon the Gospel they have known? But in the midst of trial, know this: It is the Lord who brings salvation. We place the confidence of our hearts in him alone.
Luther's Small Catechism
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