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God’s Word for You

Colossians 1:13 New Year’s Day

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, January 1, 2018

The Supremacy of Christ

13 He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Every unbeliever, including every newborn baby, is completely under the power of Satan until being rescued by God’s grace. Does this mean that sinful man is not responsible for his sinfulness? Not at all. “The sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7), not neutral. And God’s response is: “If you continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over” (Leviticus 26:27-28).

There are two causes for sin in man: (a) The Devil sinned first, and seduced man, drawing all mankind under his power to tempt and corrupt. But at the same time (b) man sinned. Being seduced by the Devil does not free man from the guilt of his sin; he is responsible for it and bears the guilt himself (Genesis 3:16-18). And more: Man cannot stop sinning. “You people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do” (Ezekiel 21:24).

But God has had compassion on man, unlike the unyielding wrath with which he condemned the devil. (Why did God damn the devil instantly? Quenstedt says in Systema I,829 that the most probable reason is that the Devil fell without seduction, while man fell by seduction.) The words Paul uses here are worth a closer look. He says that God has “rescued us.” “Rescued” is rhyomai, “to save, deliver; rescue from danger.” It’s another word that can be translated “Savior” (the other is soter, as in Luke 2:11). The other term Paul uses here is “he brought us.” This is the verb methistemi (μεθἰστημι), and it means to remove or transfer from one domain to another, as in settling colonists or slaves into a new region (2 Kings 23:33) or getting rid of idols and leaving them behind (Judges 10:16). We, however, have been removed from the domain of darkness.

The Colossians seem to have been facing a false teaching that was either Gnostic or very similar to primitive Gnosticism. The name “gnostic” comes from gnosis, “knowledge” (the silent g corresponds to the silent k in our word knowledge). This secret knowledge included a teaching that there are two forces in the cosmos, light and dark. God, the Gnostics taught, was the source of light. Paul shows that God is not merely the source of light, but is light. John says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), and Isaiah says, “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). So the kingdom of darkness is not merely opposed to God, it is subject to God. Christ is “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9). Since the light who is Christ “shines in the darkness” (John 1:5), we know that Christ entered the kingdom corrupted by Satan, but Satan did not understand why, nor did he overcome the Son of God. In fact, the whole religious system of the Gnostics is combatted by a single passage: “For with much wisdom comes much grief, and he who increases knowledge (gnosis) increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).

Christ rescued us. He transferred us from the kingdom of darkness by converting us to faith in him. The simple means of the word of God worked faith in our hearts. For little babies and new converts, the additional means of the washing of baptism, connected to the word of God, accomplishes the same thing, so that salvation is available to anyone.

We are rescued from the kingdom of darkness. We should live every day as if it’s New Year’s Day, striving and straining to please God our Father, our Savior, our Master; our King.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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