“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard” – Colossians 1:21-23 (NASB)
Being on the ‘outs’ of Christian fellowship was our circumstance before we received faith that made it possible to believe that Jesus, the Son of God is our Savior. We are converted from being ‘out’ to being ‘in’ God’s family when we are born of God – a work that God does for us according to his will and promise. It is a real transformation of our lives because before, or as our verse says, formerly we were alienated and had a hostile attitude. We were engaged in what is evil. Yet even in that state, doing nothing ourselves God reconciled us. When did this reconciliation happen? It happened on the cross, at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That is when the work of reconciling our sinful selves with our perfect God happened. Here is our promise: He did this so we can appear before Him holy and blameless (forgiven) and beyond reproach. We are to continue in the faith firmly founded and unwavering, not moved away from the hope of the gospel.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49 (ESV)
These are the words spoken by Mary when she visited Elizabeth to tell her of God’s plan for her. It is known to many as “The Magnificat” and this, we can see how. It was through the Holy Spirit; Mary understood a most remarkable thing about God. He was about to change the course of all human history. With the birth of John to Elizabeth the Barren and the birth of Jesus to Mary the Virgin, the most important three decades of all time were to begin. Two obscure, humble women are presented by Luke in this Gospel as wonderful heroines. Writing his gospel for a person named Theophilus, probably a nobleman of some sort, both Elizabeth and Mary are attributed cheerful humility in submission to their God. Indeed God is magnificent and deserves this honor and respect. Elizabeth and Mary acknowledged their lowly estate and God’s magnificence overwhelmed them. This is what it takes to truly appreciate the greatness of God in our lives and His greatness in the lives of others. Mercy, strength, subjection of those who are proud and think they are mighty. These and more are included in the full Magnificat. (Luke 1:46-55)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4 (ESV)
Three times in this letter to the believers in Ephesus, Paul uses the term “heavenly places.” The heavenly places are not often on our mind and yet as this letter tells us, this is where our real treasures are in Christ. We have received not one spiritual blessing but all spiritual blessings. God our Father has blessed us with riches promised and untold, particularly spiritual ones. The knowledge of God, the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, eternal life are spiritual riches and blessings which no human reason or method has revealed to us, but only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit these promises are made known. Paul says that it was determined by God choice, by His eternal decree made before the foundation of the world. God chose us so that our sinful life might be wiped away by the sacrifice of his Son Jesus. All because of His love for us, He chose us, and not because of any goodness we produce through our actions, thoughts or words, we will and do stand before Him blameless and holy. It has been planned this way by God and there is no other way but by believing in Jesus.