Salvation, Not Self-help

Jane Olson

READ : Colossians 1:15-20

. . . and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . making peace by the blood of his cross. (vv. 19-20)

Every morning, as I go online to catch up on the day’s news, flashing ads on the web page shout, “Click here to lose 15 pounds by following one easy rule!” or “Learn financial security in three short steps!” advertisers tell us that personal transformation can be fast, cheap, and painless.

We might expect after Colossians 1:1-11 that Paul would follow up by telling the church his “how to” method for Christian growth. But instead of giving three easy steps to increased spiritual maturity, Paul offers a majestic passage on the person and work of Christ. Paul’s point is that we cannot expect to experience spiritual growth until we have experienced Christ. And the place where we come to know Christ most fully is the cross.

The gospel is not a religious self-help method designed to make you be a better person. It’s about our total incapacity to save ourselves and our desperate need of a Savior. At the cross, we’re forced to admit that all our attempts to patch up our own righteousness have failed and that without Christ we are without hope. And at the cross, we also receive the promise that God is reconciling us to himself through Christ’s blood. The more we come to understand our need for Christ’s atoning death, the more we are able to live as people of the resurrection. Spiritual growth is the by-product of a life that is steeped in the grace of the cross.


Lord, bring me to the cross so that I may know your grace.