For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NASB)
Now that Thanksgiving is over it only seems natural to look towards Christmas and with the over-commercialization of the holiday we call Christmas, one might wonder, "Does Christmas Really Matter?"
Many in the liberal and progressive communities will say that it doesn't. They will attempt to convince you that it has lost all its meaning. In fact, they don't even want you calling the holiday by its name. It has always been interesting to me that every other holiday on the calendar is ok to call by its name but with Christmas, we are not supposed to call it Christmas. We are supposed to just say "holiday," or "holidays."
If you allow progressives to dictate your view of such things you will no doubt walk away thinking that Christmas doesn't matter. Or, if you place your joy for Christmas in the amount or quality of presents that you receive, then you will no doubt find Christmas not measuring up to what you think it should be.
However, if you let Christmas stand for what it truly means. If you allow for Christmas to be defined based on its actual origins, then yes, Christmas has mattered, it matters still, and will continue to matter for all of eternity.
In the book of Colossians Paul speaks of the preeminence of Christ. In verses 13 and 14 in particular, Paul speaks of the fact that God rescues us from the domain of darkness because of His Son in whom we have redemption and forgiveness.
The beginning of verse 13 is translated in the following ways:
1. For he rescued - NASB
2. He has delivered us - ESV
3. Who hath delivered us - KJV
All are correct and wonderfully capture the meaning and essence of the Greek word that can be translated "rescued," or "delivered." It is the same word you find in "The Lord's Prayer," which is recorded in Matthew 6 when it says, "Deliver us from evil," or from "the evil one."
The "He" in verse 13 is God the Father for it is He who rescues us and transfers us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, or the Son of His love. God is able to justify the sinner based on the payment for sin that His Son has made by shedding His blood as a perfect, sinless Lamb. The kingdom of elect people that the Father gives the Son is an expression of His eternal love for the Son.
This great rescue mission that God the Father performs to save His elect people by sending His Son into the very creation that He created has a 100% success rate. You will not find one instance in Scripture where Jesus tries to save someone and fails. So, it can be said both that all that the Father gives to the Son will come to the Son and everyone that believes and has faith in the Son will have eternal life.
Think about rescue missions for a minute. Why does one need a rescuer? Why would one need saving? The reason someone needs saving is that they can't save themselves. They don't have the capacity to change their imprisoned state. Therefore, they are in desperate need of someone who does have the power to rescue, the power to save.
We are sinners, born into bondage in sin. We need a Savior. We are slaves to sin and don't have the capacity or even the desire to change our sinful condition. We love our sin and if left to ourselves, we would die choosing our sin. Without the grace and mercy of God hell would be 100% populated by every single person who has ever lived. Our only hope is to be rescued.
For the sinner, Christ is that Savior. Christ is that rescuer. Those who repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ will be saved and have eternal life.
What are we being rescued from?
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13 NASB)
We are saved out of the domain of darkness. Our wills, our nature, our desires, our very souls are in a very real, spiritual slavery and bondage. We need to be liberated. We need to be released from our bondage to sin. We can't free ourselves. We need someone to free us.
The word translated domain in verse 13 is a word that can also be translated, "dominion, power or authority." It is Satan's authority, dominion, and kingdom of spiritual darkness. God is completely sovereign over all things but Satan is currently and sovereignly allowed by God to be the god of this current world.
The kingdom of Satan will one day end and the eternal kingdom of Christ will be ushered in. However, until that day, time remains while God is rescuing His elect people from the four corners of the earth out of this spiritual darkness and domain of Satan and sin.
We are born into bondage. A bondage to sin. We are slaves to sin. When we are saved, when we are rescued by God, we become slaves to Christ! The only true freedom in this life is to be a slave to Christ.
Take Acts 26:18 into consideration:
To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18 NASB)
Notice in this verse which is part of an account of Paul's conversion that those who receive eternal life, those who are saved, are saved from darkness to light. They turn from the dominion and come out from under the authority of Satan and are now under the domain of God. They receive forgiveness of sins and the inheritance of the saints and are sanctified and set apart to God on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ.
This new kingdom we are a part of after our rescuing, after our saving, is the kingdom of Christ, the beloved Son of God the Father. This is where it transitions into verse 14. Verse 13 was talking about what God does. Verse 14 is about what we have in Christ.
In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.
1. In Jesus Christ, we have redemption.
God the Father rescues us and He does so on the basis of our faith in His Son who made the satisfactory payment for sin on our behalf. This salvation that is granted us by the Father through His Son is God's way of redeeming us back to Himself out of the slave market of sin. It is in Jesus that we have this redemption. Christ is the One who made the payment for sin. It is Christ who paid the ransom.
The word translated redemption means, "a release or to deliver by a payment made for ransom." This word was commonly used in this culture to speak of freeing slaves from their bondage.
Jesus Christ, our Savior when He died on the cross made the payment to secure the ransom for our sin, for the sins of the believing ones, those who place their faith and trust in Him for salvation. The totality of Christ's work, His one sacrifice for sin was the exact payment that was needed to justify the ungodly (you and me) by faith.
2. In Jesus Christ, we have forgiveness of sins.
Not only do we have redemption in Jesus Christ but we also have forgiveness of sins. The word translated forgiveness in verse 14 means a "dismissal or release of a penalty." It is a pardon or sending away of sins forever. This forgiveness is not only complete at the moment in time it is granted but it is also eternal in nature. There is no possibility of reversal of this forgiveness.
Merriam-Webster defines pardon as, "the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pardon). This means that God will never come to us wanting a payment for our sin. It was fully dealt with on the cross and the penalty for our sin is 100% excused without the need for a penalty on our behalf. The full wrath of God for our sin was poured out on Jesus Christ and because of His death, we can live with Him!
We have release from bondage in Christ Jesus!
We have all our sins forgiven in Christ Jesus!
We are justified and declared righteous on the basis of our faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Yes! Christmas does matter! The incarnation of Jesus Christ which is what we celebrate at Christmas time does matter because without the incarnation of Christ we have no redemption and we have no forgiveness of sins. Therefore, we would still be in our sins and we would still be under the authority and dominion of the kingdom of darkness.