The “If… Then Theorem.” Colossians 1:22-23
“22) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23) if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” Colossians‬ ‭1:22-23‬
In the Old Testament, God proclaimed over and over again that He was for Israel as long as they honored and obeyed Him; but if they turned away they would loose His favor and blessing. Instead, they would inherit a curse and discipline. The most profound text to establish this principle is Deuteronomy chapter 28. Reading this chapter in its entirety is shocking.
It defines what I call the “if.. then theorem.” “If” you obey God and walk with Him, “then” His blessings will overtake you. But, “if” you turn away from Him and choose a life of sin and rebellion, “then” His rod of discipline will settle on your life.
This principle holds true in the New Testament as well. Ephesians 4:30 warns that the Holy Spirit can be grieved and Hebrews 12:4-13 explains how God disciplines those whom He loves. There are innumerable rewards and benefits to obedience and walking in fellowship with God.
In this context in Colossians 1:22-23, Paul says “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”. Here we see the “if… then theorem” in a New Testament context.
I do not believe this text is about loosing salvation or being kicked out of the family of God. I believe it is about living pleasing to God and walking in the light as He is in the light. (See 1 John 1:5-7) John warns in these verses that we can fall out of fellowship with God.
I have been there! It is not a pleasant place to live. Jesus does not force us to come to salvation or to walk with Him. Many Christians live fleshly lives; but they forfiet the glory of friendship with God, walking in the Spirit, Divine favor, manifold blessings, the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual wisdom and discernment.
Instead these backslidden Christians quickly become irritable, self centered, condemning and grumpy as they live defeated lives in spiritual bondage. They spread bitterness, contention, and division within the church. Unfortunately, our churches are filled what Paul calls “carnal Christians.” (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
But those who sincerely seek Jesus and “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” are transformed by the Spirit of God. Agape love enfolds them and the Holy Spirit works in and through them. They are not perfect, but they are alive, growing and pressing on for the glory of God.
If you are a Christian but out of step with God, why not repent and run back to Him? Revival is a precious doctrine. Like the Father of the prodigal son, God is waiting for you to come home. Why live a miserable life in a foreign land when the Father is eager to welcome you home and surround you with His love and acceptance?
Psalm 4:3 is an ageless truth; “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.” God favors those who walk with Him in sincerity and truth. Be one of them!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global