And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
– Colossians 2:13-15
God is the winner. Always.
What an amazing passage this is! Notice the deliberateness of the text, the matter-of-fact record of the victory of God.
We were dead. God made us alive.
Alive together with Him.
He has forgiven (past tense) all our trespasses.
He has cancelled the record of debt that stood against us. The unbearable burden of our sin, subject to the exacting legal demands of justice, He bore in His own flesh.
That record of our debt? Yes, cancelled. But not just cancelled. Set aside and nailed to the cross.
And the rulers and authorities? Those unseen powers of wickedness running rampant on the earth? Disarmed! Put to open shame! God has triumphed over them!
And notice that there’s truly no room for anyone else to take the credit. There isn’t much passive voice in this passage. God did it.
I wonder if I’ve ever truly grasped the victory of God. It goes far beyond just my personal salvation – it’s the disarming of all His enemies and the triumph of His majestic redemption.
May I grasp this just a bit more and bow deeper in praise to my Lord.
My Lord, who always wins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. 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, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
– Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)
In my life I’ve been so blessed, beyond what I ever could have imagined. And yet there are mornings like this when I feel a bit overwhelmed with the day I have before me, and when my physical body is feeling a bit puny (I’ve been sick), my spirit is feeling a bit dry, and my relationship with God is feeling a bit distant (my fault).
I’m weary from trying to hold everything together.
But I am in Christ. And in Him all things hold together! In Him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and with us Jesus was pleased to dwell, though we rejected Him and killed Him, that He might become the bridge of reconciliation to the Father. By His blood we have peace.
Suddenly my day doesn’t seem at all overwhelming.
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you . . .”
– Luke 6:27 (ESV)
Below is the story of the selfless (and self-sacrificing) love of 16th century Anabaptist martyr Dirk Willems from Profiles of Mennonite Faith:
Dirk Willems was racing across the thinly frozen pond. He was racing for his life. He knew that returning meant death. Dirk was an Anabaptist (a sixteenth-century name for many Mennonites), and Anabaptists all over Europe were being tortured and put to death. If the guard caught him it would be his life. So he ran as fast as he could. But he was weakened, in fact quite thin and light, from his stay in prison. He was so light that he made it over the thin ice of the pond, the “Hondegat.” But his pursuer, stronger and heavier, did not make it across. The ice cracked, the guard fell in, and soon the cold water swirled above his head. He was gasping as he tried to get out, but the ice kept breaking. The guard was sure he would drown in the icy waters.
Suddenly he saw a hand reaching for him and a voice telling him to hold on and to be calm. Slowly but surely Dirk pulled him from the water and to the safety of the pond’s edge. Soon the exhausted guard realized that it was Dirk who had saved him. The prisoner trying to escape had come back to save the guard. The guard, exhausted but happy to be alive, had no choice but to take Dirk back to prison.
Some weeks went by as Dirk languished in prison. One day the guard heard the judge in the courtroom next to the jail handing out the sentence. “Whereas Dirk Willems, born at Asperen, at present a prisoner has . . . confessed, that at the age of fifteen . . . he was rebaptized in Rotterdam, at the house of one Pieter Willems, and that he further, in Asperen, at his house, at diverse hours . . . permitted several persons to be rebaptized . . . therefore, we the aforesaid judges . . . do condemn the aforesaid Dirk Willems that he shall be executed with fire, until death ensues.”
Dirk Willems, imprisoned and condemned for his faith, was put to death in the flames.
[Hat tip The Christian Century via Michael Spencer]