DEVOTIONALS ON COLOSSIANS Introduction
THE PRIORITY OF MY LIFE AND MINISTRY
Gordon E. Johnson
Rio Grande Bible Institute
As I begin a series of devotional studies, you may ask a question: why do you always end your letters and devotionals with the phrase: Yours in the Message of the Cross? The question is most valid. Allow me to give you the background to this, my priority of life and ministry.
First of all, it is a biblical term in itself: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1Cor. 1:18 NKJ). A little later Paul says: "But we preach, (announce) Christ crucified, to the Jews, a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (22,23). Later he adds: "for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2:2). This is how Paul would deal with the open carnality of those in
Second, what is the biblical meaning of the cross? The cross in biblical language is the equivalent of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. It is an all inclusive term and may include even the sending of the Holy Spirit once for all on the day of Pentecost (Acts -24,32-33). The cross is not the wooden instrument of death, much less any representation of the same.
Third, Paul without apology views the preaching of the cross of Christ as the heart of the message we preach and live. Any other emphasis is «another gospel» and let such be anathema (Gal.1:4,7-9). He answers Peter's inconsistency by stating an aspect of the cross often forgotten but profoundly personal for him: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I love by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." () He concludes this impassioned epistle with: "But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision, nor incircumcision avails anything, but a new creation"(14,15).
Four, this message of the cross became a living reality in my personal life from the days of my first small pastorate in
Five, for too long the matchless truth of the death of Christ has been emphasized almost exclusively with reference to justification, my new judicial standing before God assuring me of full forgiveness and heaven. What has been seriously neglected is the accompanying truth that in Christ Jesus we died to sin (
Six, these are all biblical truths, but they need to control and govern our lives. It is only through openness to God and one another, honesty before the Lord, brokenness of heart in the presence of our pride and egotism can the Holy Spirit can do his sanctifying work of grace. Not I but Christ is the essence of victory over sin, self, the world and the devil. It is a walk by faith (Rom.1:16) in the power of the Holy Spirit. We will not arrive at perfection, but we will know maturity and Christ likeness. There can be no higher goal.
Yours in the Message of the Cross,
Gordon E. Johnson
April 8, 2005