Those That Persevere to the End Will Be Saved
INTERESTING FACTS : John Adams, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; DIPLOMAT; ONE OF TWO SIGNERS OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
"The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. . . . There is no authority, civil or religious - there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words damnation." 
DAILY READING : COLOSSIANS 1 - 4
TEXT : Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
THEME : PERSEVERANCE
Preface to the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians
Colosse, or rather Colassa, (see on Col_1:1 (note)), was a city of Phrygia Pacatiana, now a part of Natolia, in Asia Minor, seated on an eminence on the south side of the river Maeander, now Meinder, near to the place where the river Lycas enters the earth, and begins to run under ground, which course it continues for about three-quarters of a mile, before it emerges and falls into the Maeander. Of this ancient city not much is known: it was situated between Laodicea and Hierapolis, and at an equal distance from either; and to this place Xerxes came in his expedition against Greece.
The government of this city is said to have been democratic, and its first magistrate bore the title of archon and praetor. The Macedonians transferred Colosse to the Persians; and it afterwards passed under the government of the Seleucidae. After the defeat of Antiochus III., at the battle of Magnesia, it became subject to Eumenes, king of Pergamus: and when Attalus, the last of his successors, bequeathed his dominions to the Romans, this city, with the whole of Phrygia, formed a part of the proconsular province of Asia; which division subsisted till the time of Constantine the Great. After the time of this emperor, Phrygia was divided into Phrygia Pacatiana, and Phrygia Salutaris: and Colosse was the sixth city of the first division.
The ancient city of Colosse has been extinct for nearly eighteen hundred years; for about the tenth year of the Emperor Nero, about a year after the writing of this epistle, not only Colosse, but Laodicea and Hierapolis, were destroyed by an earthquake, according to Eusebius; and the city which was raised in the place of the former was called Chonos or Konos, which name it now bears. See New Encyclopedia. On modern maps Konos is situated about twenty miles NE. of Degnizlu, in lat. about 38° north, and in long. 29° 40' east of London.
The epistle to this city appears to have been written about the same time with that to the Philippians, viz. towards the end of the year 62, and in the ninth of the Emperor Nero.
That the two epistles were written about the same time is rendered probable by the following circumstance: In the Epistle to the Philippians, Phi_2:19, St. Paul purposes to send Timothy to Philippi, who was then with him at Rome, that he might know their state. As Timothy joins with the apostle in the salutation at the beginning of this epistle, it is evident that he was still at Rome, and had not yet been sent to Philippi; and as St. Paul wrote the former epistle nearly at the close of his first imprisonment at Rome, the two epistles must have been written within a short space of each other. See the preface to the Epistle to the Philippians.
When, or by whom, Christianity was first preached at Colosse, and a Church founded there, we cannot tell; but it is most likely that it was by St. Paul himself, and during the three years in which he dwelt at Ephesus; for he had then employed himself with such zeal and diligence that we are told, Act_19:10 : "That all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." And that Paul preached in Phrygia, the district in which this city was situated, we learn from Act_16:6 : "Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia;" and at another time we find that "he went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples;" Act_18:23. It has, however, been argued, from Col_2:1, of this epistle, that Paul had never been at Colosse; for he there says: I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh. But the consequence drawn from these words does not absolutely follow. Dr. Lardner alleges a variety of considerations which induced him to believe that the Churches of Colosse and Laodicea were founded by St. Paul, viz.
1. That the apostle was twice in Phrygia, in which were Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. See the places above quoted from the Acts of the Apostles.
2. That he does in effect, or even expressly, say that he had dispensed the Gospel to the Colossians, Col_1:21-25. See particularly the 23rd, 24th, and 25th verses.
3. From several passages in the epistle it appears that the apostle does not speak as to strangers, but to acquaintances, disciples, and converts. Some think that Epaphras, who is called their apostle, Col_1:7, was the first who planted Christianity among the Colossians.
But the arguments drawn from Act_16:6; Act_18:23, referred to above, are quite invalidated, if we allow the opinion of some learned men, among whom are Suidas, Calepine, Munster, and others, that the Colossus, a gigantic statue at Rhodes, gave its own name to the people among whom it stood; for the ancient poets call the inhabitants of the island of Rhodes, Colossians; and hence they thought that the Colossians, to whom St. Paul directs this epistle, were the inhabitants of Rhodes. This opinion, however, is not generally adopted. From a great similarity in the doctrine and phraseology of this epistle to that written to the Ephesians, this to the Colossians has been considered an epitome of the former, as the Epistle to the Galatians has been considered an abstract of that to the Romans. See the concluding observations on the Epistle to the Galatians (Gal_5:17 (note)); and the notes on Col_1:4 (note), and elsewhere.
Whether the Colossians to whom the apostle addresses this epistle were Jews or Gentiles, cannot be absolutely determined. It is most probable that they were a mixture of both; but that the principal part were converted Jews is most likely. This, indeed, appears to have been the case in most of the Asiatic and Grecian Churches; for there were Jews, at this time, sojourning in almost every part of the Roman empire, which then comprehended the greatest portion of the known world.
The language of this epistle is bold and energetic, the sentiments are grand, and the conceptions vigorous and majestic. The phraseology is in many places Jewish; and the reason is obvious: the apostle had to explain subjects which never had a name in any other language. The mythology of the Gentiles could not furnish terms to explain the theology of the Jews; much less, the more refined and spiritual system of Christianity. (Adam Clarke) 
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "THOSE THAT PERSEVERE TO THE END WILL BE SAVED."
Here in Colossians, the Apostle Paul accents a few salient points about the LORD Jesus Christ and salvation. All of them are important. Further, the few statements he makes in our text make up the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Known as the "kerygma," (Greek for "preaching") this Greek word was used by the Apostles as well as the Apostolic Fathers to describe the fundamentals of Christianity. The virgin birth, the crucifixion, Jesus bodily resurrection from the dead, and his second coming were some of those fundamentals. Not all of these foundational beliefs of the Church are in our text. However, some of them are mentioned in addition to the deity of Christ, and Christ's position as the Creator.
First, the Apostle Paul tells you that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and the firstborn of every creature. This is a seeming contradiction since God never was born. God is eternal. Yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a revelation of God becoming man. You read this in the first chapter the gospel according to John - "the word became flesh and dwelt among us." Therefore, Jesus Christ is "Emmanuel," which means - God with us. In this respect, "God with us" refers to God becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ. This is how he is the firstborn of every creature. He, that is God, became one of us.
The Apostle Paul also instructs you that all things were created by Christ Jesus, and they were created for him, not for man. We see this same truth in the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. In addition, the Apostle Paul reveals that Jesus of Nazareth was "preexistent." This goes along with his eternal nature. Some believe that Jesus was preexistent, but not eternal, since that would make him equal with God. Yet, in the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul again tells us that Jesus was indeed equal with God, therefore, he is God.
You are also told that Jesus is the head of the church, his body. Never forget - Jesus is the head of the church not man. Of this fact, the Scriptures speak abundantly. It is a mistake on the part of the leaders in the church to assume a place that is not theirs. This means, that although there are positions of authority in the church -pastors, evangelists, bishops, prophets, teachers, etc. and so forth, there is only one head, and that is Christ. Christ is, and always will be the head of his own church.
It is through the cross of Christ that you are reconciled to God. All the patriarchs of the Old Testament, as well as all those who lived in Christ before you, and all who are living now or ever will live - in Christ, have been purchased or redeemed by Christ's blood shed on the cross at Calvary. Everyone who at one time was alienated from God through sin, Christ has redeemed. At least, he has saved (from the wrath of God) those that trust, trusted, or will trust in his atonement on the cross.
Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah. This salvation he has accomplished by his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. Further, he will come again to judge all who are living and all who are dead. (You can read this in the Book of Revelation chapter 20.) Therefore, though you were alienated from God by the wicked works, he has now reconciled you by the cross he bled and died on. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (that is, those who believe on him).
With this, his death and blood makes you "unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." This is the great salvation that Jesus wrought. After he died, and you accepted him as your savior, his death paid the penalty for every sin you ever committed or ever will commit. Because of this, God the Father can treat you "just as if you never sinned." The extent of Jesus' atonement reaches to the point where God looks at you as though you had never sinned, not even once in your life. Truly, this is a great salvation! It is a great gospel, and worthy of the definition of the name "gospel" that means - "good news."
However, you must persevere to the end in order to be saved. Jesus said he that endures to the end shall be saved. Some people start well but finish poorly. Some start with Jesus and never finish at all. That is, they endure for a while -for a few months, perhaps for a few years -then, for one reason or the other, they stop following Jesus. Once again, there are many reasons that people no longer follow Christ as they once did. When asked, they will tell you they still - "love the LORD." Yet, it is plain to see they do not.
This you can discern because Jesus said - "he that hath my commandments and keepeth them loveth me; and he that hath my commandments and keepeth them not loveth me not." (Author's paraphrase) Many who no longer follow Jesus will deny they no longer love him. Still, the evidence of who serves the LORD and who does not is taken from the words of Jesus and his Apostles, so there is no mystery about what it means to be a Christian. It is clear from the many texts of Scripture.
Thus, you must make it a practice to be diligent. There are many temptations in the world. When you take your eyes off the Word of God and leave the closet of continual prayer, you begin to open the door that could lead you away from Jesus Christ. Perseverance is the act of setting the will never to give up, never to give in. Admittedly, this is not easy. Hence, Jesus spoke of any follower of his must bear his or her cross. You must die to self. However, the reward of a life (that is, this life) of living with Christ on the cross - one that gives peace, strength, and confidence - is more than worth the effort applied. Moreover, the peace of mind, the clearing of your conscience, is better than anxiety and lack of assurance.
Persevering to the end is both an act of faith (by which you gain the grace of God to continue day by day), and an act of the will. Always, the glory goes to God. Yet, in God's sovereignty and wisdom, he has decided to give us responsibility and free will. This means, that you must cooperate with God from the day you start following Jesus to the day you go home to be with him. Once again, you totally depend on God to do the work in you. However, asking in prayer, diligence in searching and studying the Scriptures, and having the will to endure to the end is part of the process as well. Be sure of this, Christ has not left you to yourself. He has not abandoned you nor will he leave you all alone. Still, you must settle it in your mind - "I will never turn back, I will endure to the end of this life."
This takes courage, commitment, and integrity. Yet, Jesus Christ and his gospel, his promises and principles, and the kingdom of Christ and the life to come are certainly the great prize worth obtaining at any cost. Never forget - those that persevere to the end shall be saved.