The Gospel in a Nutshell

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. “ Colossians 1:21-23

“In these few verses (Colossians 1: 21-23) we have the most amazing summary of the gospel and, indeed, the most compact summary of the whole Christian life. It can be summed up in three very simple words: once…but…if.

“Once you were alienated” (v21). Paul sums up the entire unbelieving world in these words. They are essentially aliens, and it is a relational alienation due to sin. And like all people, we willfully chose to cut ourselves off from God before we were Christians.

“But now he has reconciled you” (v22). Enemies are now friends, aliens are now family, all because of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus’ death does not just bring us back to God; it also has a future focus–that he might present us holy in His sight, without blemish, free from accusation. The image here is of judgement day, when the bride of Christ is presented to her husband. The question is: are you worthy to enter the kingdom? The psalmist says only the one with clean hands and a pure heart can ascend His holy hill (Psalm 24:4). The good news is that you can confidently reply, “Yes, I am worthy.” On that day we will not fear any voice challenging our claim, because Jesus has died for us to make us worthy.

“If you continue in your faith (v23). Of course, our salvation is secure, but we must continue in this gospel. We have been reconciled to God, and we must not go back to being His enemy. His death has made us holy , so we do not deliberately or willfully give ourselves to a life of ungodliness.

This is our spiritual biography: once…but…if. “

Journey Through Colossians and Philemon by Mike Raiter, p18