Meditations in Colossians: 12. The Truth of Grace
Col 1:6 All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
I am finding with this letter to the Colossians that there are words or phrases that I have for so long taken for granted but failed to consider in any depth. For instance in verse 6 above Paul speaks of the Gospel that the Colossians had heard and understood it as “God’s grace in all its truth”. Now what does that actually mean? We have considered ‘grace’ in the fourth meditation and noted a variety of meanings or applications of it, but there seems a different emphasis here.
Let’s cheat, let’s use the Amplified Bible: “ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. [You came to know the grace or undeserved favour of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it.]”
Our NIV verse above simply speaks of how they “heard it and understood”. The Amplified expands that to, “heard and came to know and understand” Observe the ‘came to know’ which makes us realise that when grace impacts our lives we not only hear it as someone speaks to us but we get involved with it in our minds and come to understand what it means and the implications of it.
Now why am I apparently backtracking in this verse? Because we are talking about truth and for truth to impact us we must first hear it, then absorb it and then come to a place of understanding it. There is something to be thought about, effort given to coming to see what it is really all about, coming to understanding what it means.
One of the things the enemy whispers into the ears of the unwary is, “It’s all right, you don’t need to worry about these things, they are things for the very religious or college professors, but ordinary believers don’t need to worry over these things. The result is a shallow and therefore weak Christianity.
As the years have passed I have come to see more and more that those who stand strong against temptation and against deception are those who have spent time in God’s word, not merely reading but seeking for understanding. That’s why the psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man (whose)… delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”(Psa 1:1,2) He goes on to give a beautiful picture of what this person is like: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psa 1:3)
In the Amplified version, after the expression, “the grace of God in truth,” it goes on to point out that this means, “You came to know the grace or undeserved favour of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it.” Grace is simply expanded to mean “undeserved favour of God in reality” i.e. in reality everything about our salvation is a pure gift of God and not deserved by us. We did nothing to ‘earn’ it.
But look again at how it says we received this grace: “deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it,” and just in case in all of this you have lost the thread, we are looking at an expansion of “you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” The compilers of the Amplified Bible know, as we said above, for grace to have impact in our lives we need to “deeply and clearly and thoroughly” ponder it, think on it, meditate on it, until we become “accurately and intimately acquainted with it.” i.e. we correctly understand what it means, and become very closely or very clearly familiar with what it means.
Now yes, you can get by in your Christian life with a shallow understanding of this but you leave yourself vulnerable to deception and temptation. Why? Well when you understand something of the wonder of God’s grace it will thrill you, strengthen you, encourage you, build you up and generally bless you. As a result of that you will stand with head held high, rejoicing in God’s goodness to you and the enemy will run a mile!
So here’s a final question: how much do you know of God’s grace – (a) what it means and (b) by experience of it? A help with the first part may be to go back and reread Meditation number 4. You will know you have moved on in the second part when you find yourself rejoicing daily in the wonder of what God has done for you and you rest in His love and simply receive what He has for you, rather than struggling and striving to achieve. The experience of God’s grace is all about receiving it from Him, allowing Him to lead you by His Holy Spirit and empower you to change to become more like Jesus, and to equip you to serve without struggle, and all this is made possible by what Jesus did on the Cross – and you cannot add to it – this is God’s grace!