Over the past eight weeks (I’m sorry, but where did that time even go?!) we’ve discussed several false gods in our culture and the false gospels that they bring with them. The consistent issue with all of the false gods we’ve discussed is that these are not the God of the Bible, but rather gods of our own making. A splash of church teaching, a dollop of culture, and a sprinkle of assumption are the ingredients for this DIY theology. When we do this we become the creators and god becomes our creation.
It is imperative that we know who God is so that we can identify who he is not.
He’s not our homeboy, but he’s also not some vindictive bully. He does give us good things, but He’s not a vending machine where we place our order. We can go to Him with our problems, but He’s not a medicine cabinet to be approached on an “as-needed” basis. He dwells within us, and therefore is not a concept we get into and get out of. We must know who He is so that we can know who He is not.
So let’s remind ourselves of who God is according to his Word and what’s so freeing about this gospel of his. You’ll see a series of self-diagnostic questions to help process through your view of God and how you are walking in light of the gospel.
God created all things, including people, for his purposes.
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” Colossians 1:16
Ask: For whom were you and I created? For whom do you live? Is there discrepancy between your answers?
He holds it all together.
“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.” Colossians 1:17
Ask: Do you trust that He holds it all together? Are you trying to hold it all together yourself?
He is preeminent (surpassing all others).
“He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,”
Ask: Do you view him as though he surpasses all others? Do you treat him as though he surpasses all others? What would it look like to do so?
Without Christ, we don’t measure up before God.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin…For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:20 NIV & 23
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,” Colossians 1:21
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” James 2:10
“For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23
Ask: Are you still trying to convince others or yourself that you do measure up? What things in your life make you think that maybe you do measure up?
Jesus had to die.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” Hebrews 9:22
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith… It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” Romans 3:24, 26
Ask: Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? Why was it just for the Father to pour out his wrath on him?
It is only Jesus’ blood that makes us acceptable before God.
“and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross… he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” Colossians 1:20,22
“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” Galatians 2:16
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Ask: What do you do to make yourself acceptable? (i.e. doing nice things for people, finding a respectable job, appearing to have it all together etc.)
Our inadequacy is a key ingredient in the gospel narrative.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”
1 John 1:8
Ask: Why does our inadequacy seem to be something we want to conquer, when God’s power can be made perfect through it—it can serve to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?
We Free, Y’all!
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:13
Clearly, this is a topic that cannot be done justice, much less exhausted, in a single blog post. Here’s what we know from scripture: He is good and loving, and holy and just. He created all of us for his purposes and to bear his image. Our works don’t impress him, but his grace will not be exploited by our licentiousness. It is simultaneously simple and complex, which is why we need to look to scripture to tell us who God is and what is gospel is about. May we all hold fast to the truth of scripture and use it as our guide to navigate these tempestuous times.