Date: June 10, 2018
Pastor Ron Bridge
Title: Elect, Holy and Beloved
Text: Colossians 3:12
Wellspring Church, Springfield, Ma.
SCRIPTURES: Isaiah 55 6& 9, Psalm 119:49-72, John 1:1-18
BIG IDEA:Elect, Holy and Beloved
It was Polonius a character in Hamlet who said “Brevity is the soul of wit”. A short concise statement is often the best way to explain complex ideas. We are familiar with JFK’s statement “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” or Roosevelt’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” or Churchill’s “Never nevernever give up” or Ronald Reagan’s “Trust but verify”. They stick in our minds because they say so much in such a brief statement. We would expect to find very brief statements in the word of God. And we do.
We find these words:
• “In the beginning, God”; Genesis 1:1
• “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” Colossians 3:12
• “In the beginning was the word”; John 1:1
• “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”John 3:16and
• “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”Hebrews 13:8.
Each of these statements so brief yet pointing to a big reality.
Today we will look at Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.
All that Paul has to say pivots on these few words; words that are rich and deep concerning the people of God. These three words encompass the entire doctrine of salvation. They follow “Therefore”, and refers to all that Paul has said about Jesus. We can ask: Who is Jesus? A couple of brief passages will help us:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:15-18
Then in Colossians 2:9-10.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
This phrase “elect of God, holy and beloved” is the great hinge upon which the Christian life turns. This prepares us for what is to come. Because we are the “elect of God, holy and beloved” something should be obvious in our lives: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering. What is the motivating power of a life like this? The indwelling Holy Spirit who guarantees that we are elect, holy and beloved.
If you are someone who has a sincere belief in Jesus, then you are the elect of God. God has chosen us before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 tells us“ even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him”. And God made that choice according to His sovereign purpose alone because no one would choose Him.
God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
The only thing that God sees as He looks down is a fallen people; a rebellious world; a world of people who avoid God at all costs and suppress the truth about Him. Men love darkness more than the love the light. The holiness of God repels the fallen nature.
In Romans 3 we learn that the whole world is guilty before God. The modern trend is to make God acceptable to people who naturally dislike him. So God must take the initiative. God must seek us before we seek Him. This reveals an error in today’s seeker friendly churches. It becomes unhealthy if the church fails to recognize the spiritual need of people and only focus on the common desire to be happy. Everyone wants to be happy. For example, we order what we like at a restaurant. So the message that we hear is God loves you and this is a very attractive message. BUT if what they hear only meets those natural needs of feeling good, then the true spiritual need is never met and great damage is done to the soul. It’s altogether different to hear that God hates sin. People reject it because they see themselves as good people who need a bit of help from God every once in a while. So people flock to these churches. After being entertained and being told they are loved by God they leave feeling good but dead in sin.
There are others that sense that something is seriously wrong with them but they can’t figure it out. They sense that there is something fundamentally wrong with them. They are being drawn by the Father. They are under conviction of sin. They want truth. They will knock down the walls of heaven to find it. They want to know not that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life but they want to know that God is not going to condemn them. They come to know that there is only one way and that is to know Jesus. The church is to meet that need and that need only. People need to be drawn to Jesus. Some of these people have been trying for years to get to God but they never find the truth. Martin Luther was like that, almost killing himself by following the duties of the Roman Catholic Church. How many times must we read that we are lost and dead in sin? Yet so many keep trying to do it on their own. It’s astonishing that so many believe that they can earn God’s forgiveness by what they do.
God chooses His people on the basis of grace alone, by faith alone through Christ alone and these are gifts. Salvation can only be received, it can not be earned. Now Christians fall into different camps when it comes to this doctrine of election. But when properly understood this doctrine brings forth the grace of humility. Anyone that understands the doctrine of election, cries out the same words “why me?” They ask that question because they realize that under no circumstances were they worthy or could they be worthy. They understand that they would never choose God. They have been drawn by the Father. The Son of God has revealed the Father to them. They are saved by grace for the sovereign purpose of God. These things were settled in eternity. The response is praise and thanksgiving to God alone.
There are a lot of people who are afraid to speak openly about this doctrine of election. If you belong to Christ it is because God sent His son to die for you. Because in eternity God decided to set His love on you, He has withheld nothing good from you, and it is only by the sheer pleasure of God. It pleased God to pour out his wrath on Jesus instead of you. The Holy Spirit is now living in you as a guarantee of your eternal and blessed inheritance. He has promised that you will be with him forever. You did none of it. So you see there is no other doctrine like the doctrine of election to motivate us to a life that is lived for His glory. We are the elect of God.
And we are holy. We no longer belong to ourselves. We have been bought with a price, an infinite price. Therefore, we are to glorify God in all things. Do we love to obey the law? The natural man does not love to obey the law but if you love to obey the law then this is assurance.
Holiness is the very opposite of the way the world is. Because we are holy Ephesians 2:1-6 says:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Holiness is a past, present and future reality. We are holy in the past tense because what God has already done for us. The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. That is one of the greatest text in the Bible. The great transaction – holiness for unholiness. We are holy because of what Jesus has done for us. There is also a present holiness – sanctification – the indwelling Holy Spirit is at work now conforming us into the very image of Jesus Christ. He will continue until the day of Jesus Christ.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Holiness is also a future condition. A time will come for every believer to stand before the Lord, perfect and complete – flawless. A story Spurgeon tells is that he is walking down the sidewalk with his deacon and they see a woman and the deacon comments that she does not look well. To which Spurgeon replied “if you could see her as she will be you would fall down and worship”.
1 John 3:1-3
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
These are things we need to meditate on – what God has done for us, what He is now doing for us and what He has yet to do for us – it should motivate us. This means that we will strive to be what God has called us to be. We will purify ourselves by separating ourselves from worldly practices, we will fight against sin to bring ever thought captive to Christ, we will fight against complaining, and we will not believe the lies of the devil. At those times that the devil tells us lies, we flee back to Christ, confess our sin and He is faithful and just. How can we be hopeless when we have Christ living in us?
Holiness is in short supply in our world, even among professing Christians. Some who occupy positions of authority are hypocrites. Even we are hypocrites sometimes. We attend church, we say the right things but there are times when we don’t live up to what we say. But God is greater than our hypocrisy. He paid the price for that. So are you holy my friends? Do the characteristics of thankfulness and obedience mark your life? Do you love Jesus? Do you desire to be used of Him? Does my life glorify God? Does my life reflect the holiness that God has bestowed upon us? Be careful that Christianity is not just on the surface. It is possible to back slide and let the pressures of the world draw you away from your first love. Turn again to Jesus. It is so easy to forget Jesus. So we need to flee back to him. Cry out with the psalmist – lead me to the rock.
Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
Point 3: Beloved of God
To be loved by God speaks of intent. This is not a casual love. In Jeremiah 31:3, Jeremiah looks back and hears that God has always loved him. This is true of every Christian. We have always been beloved of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a term of affection. It is reserved for those who God loves. How many times do we hear beloved in the Psalms? When you look at the entire Bible, half of time this word is used in reference to Jesus. Paul used it for some of his closest friends. It reveals a strong bond of affection. Consider this – God calls Jesus beloved and then the very same word is used for all those who belong to Jesus.
“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
This is an astonishing statement. There is a unity between the Godhead and His people. This love which emanates from the Godhead encompasses you and me. It is an indescribable love because it is a divine love. It is manifest in the gift of God’s Son to us. Are you beloved of God? Did Jesus die for you? Can there be a more important question?
We are the elect, holy, beloved of God. This is a special relationship that lifts us out of sin and corruption. It was planned in eternity and intended to transform us into the image of Christ; planned in the past, promised for the future. We are moving to glory.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Are you being transformed? Do you know for certain that God has called you to be his beloved child? How can you know? First, you have no confidence in yourself! You have relied totally on what Jesus has done for you. For you the words ‘”nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling” are true. Are those words true for you? Second, the love you had for self is being replaced by a new love – a new affection. When you fall in love with Jesus, all other loves begin to fade away. Some of them disappear almost instantly but some take a lifetime. All other loves fade away. His love enhances love. You pray for others and speak to them about Jesus. You find that you have compassion for people you did not once like. You love those close to you in a deeper way. This is a lifetime process. The trend line of your life is a closer walk with Jesus and a deeper love for God and the things of God. Are you among the elect, holy and beloved of God? If so, rejoice and live in a way that pleases God. No one knows your heart like God. If you are not sure that you are among the elect of God, not holy, not loved by God, what to do? Flee to Jesus! Call upon Him – confess to Him – own Him as Lord and Savior.