Bible Reading Plan – November 19-25
Bible Project Reading Plan (November 19-25):
Colossians 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5; 2 Thessalonians 1-3; 1 Timothy 1-2; Psalms 13-19
Colossians 1 is a wonderful and powerful chapter. It starts with a striking passage of encouragement. Paul was himself encouraged by the reports he was hearing of the Colossians’ faith, therefore he, firstly, encourages them to keep up the faith by defining precisely what they have done well (vv. 3-8) and secondly pray to God that such things continue on the proper course (vv. 9-14). This encouragement/prayer works on two levels, and each is important. The first level is human; Paul hears of the many things that the Colossians are doing well and affirms these things as a way of prodding the Colossians on. The second is divine; he knows that such faith and action is only present among them because of the work of God, so he simply asks God for further evidence and proof of faith.
Paul ends the section with a brief statement of how this all came about: God has qualified the saints in Colossae for these things because he has moved them from a kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Jesus is their king now, who has given them reconciliation and the forgiveness of their sins. But, who, precisely, is this king? Glad you asked!
Paul’s beautiful and condensed verses on the person of Jesus Christ are nearly unequaled in all of Scripture. Here Paul affirms the following:
- Jesus is the image of God. Not a projection, or an abstraction, but the living image, the full revelation, of God.
- Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. Here, regardless of what Jehovah’s Witnesses say, is just an affirmation of his preeminence. He is greater than any created thing.
- Jesus is how all things were created, both seen and unseen.
- Jesus is the reason all things were created, both seen and unseen.
- Jesus is, again, above all things, and the very thing that holds reality together.
- Jesus is the head of the Church. Not just the leader, but integrated and tied into it organically.
- Jesus is the beginning of the new creation.
- Jesus was the pleasant dwelling place of God’s fullness.
- Jesus reconciles all things through his blood.
It is hard to beat that. What can we add? Nothing – but this doesn’t mean that our salvation requires nothing of us. Paul adds that while Jesus has reconciled angry, bitter enemies back to God, we must hold on. This passage, therefore, in all of its glory, matches the previous two in reverse.
- You have done well – continue!
- I pray that God continues to help you
- I know that Jesus has already helped you
- You must continue to do well
Friends, sanctification and walking in the faith is never “Let-Go-Let-God” stuff. That is the nice pithy statement of people who do not want to attempt to do the difficult work of purging sin and walking well in the world.
But, sanctification is also never “Pull-Yourself-Up-By-Your-Own-Bootstraps” stuff. That is the nice pithy statement of people who think so highly of themselves they cannot see the great things that Jesus has, is, and will do for his people.
Let us do both. Knowing, resting, on what Christ has done because of who he is, let us strive all the more fervently. Not to gain his love, nor to earn his forgiveness. But because our king is kind, forgiving, loving, faithful, strong, and wise. We don’t replace the hope of the gospel: that Jesus died for our sins to unify us to himself and his Father through the Spirit. But, rather, we walk in it.
Or, as Paul puts it:
Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. . .