Pastor Don Carpenter
White As Snow (Sermon Kit) / Colossians 1:11–14; Ephesians 1:6–8
Jeannette George tells a story about an experience she had on a short flight from Tucson to Phoenix. Across the aisle from her sat a young woman and her baby, both dressed in white pinafores. The baby had a little pink bow where there would eventually be hair. The mother was smiling, as the baby kept saying “Dada, Dada,” every time someone walked down the aisle.
The mother said Daddy was waiting for them after they had been gone for a few days. She was so adorable – quiet – that all passengers enjoyed watching her.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of turbulence, making the flight extremely rough, which of course was hard on the baby. But the mother had some fruit and a little Thermos with orange juice in it. Every time the baby cried the mother fed her a little bit more orange juice and a little more fruit.
While this seemed like a good idea at the time, the turbulence seemed to spread from the air around the plane right down to that baby’s gastro-intestinal system, and pretty much all of the fruit that had gone down came up.
However, the process of coming up was considerably messier than the process of going down had been. It also seemed to have increased in volume tremendously between the going down and the coming up, so that not only were the baby and the mother pretty much covered in it, but so were most of the passengers within a significant radius of the baby, including Jeanette George, who was telling the story.
Fortunately for the mortified mother, all of the passengers were gracious and tried to help her and tell her it was OK. After all what could she do about it?? The baby was crying, and she looked awful. Even though they didn’t cry, her fellow passengers looked – and smelled – pretty awful, too. The mother was so sorry about it.
As soon as they landed, the baby was fine and returned to calling: “Dada, Dada.” The rest of the passengers didn’t recover quite so quickly, being covered as they were in pre-digested fruit. Ms. George said, “I had on a suit, and I was trying to decide whether to burn it or just cut off the sleeve. It was really bad.”
Waiting for the plane was a young man who had to be “Dada.” He was wearing white slacks, a white shirt, and he carried white flowers. Now what do you think that clean Daddy all dressed in white did when he saw his baby who had that sticky, smelly stuff all over her clothes and her face and her hair?
He ran to the young mother, who handed the baby over pretty quickly so she could go get cleaned up. That Daddy picked up that baby, and he hugged her and he kissed her and he stroked her hair. As he held her close, he said, “Daddy’s baby’s come home. Daddy’s baby’s come home.”
All the way to the luggage claim area, he never stopped kissing that baby and welcoming her back home.
Ms. George thought, Where did I ever get the idea that my Father God is less loving than a young daddy in white slacks and white shirt with white flowers in his hand? [Jeannette Clift George, “Belonging and Becoming,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 93.]
Today is week three of our four week series, White as Snow. If you were with us a couple of weeks ago you’ll remember the title of our series comes from the prophet Isaiah who said to the Israelites; “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
Isaiah, through the inspiration of the Spirit, was speaking about the innumerable sins of God’s people. In fact, he said their transgressions were so numerous that they were weighed down by sin. And yet, even in the midst of this reality, Isaiah was able to prophesy their sins, which were red like scarlet, would someday become white as snow.
But why could he say that? How would this come to be? What plan did God have in place to work this reality into His people?
These are good and right questions. And of course we now know the plan was in fact Jesus. Last week, we talked about God becoming human to be with us through the incarnation of Christ. This week, we turn our attention to the purpose of Christ on earth… the reason He came in the first place.
The good news is, this is the perfect time of year to consider again why it matters God put on flesh and dwelt with us. Why it matters that God sent His one and only son so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.
John 3:16–17 KJV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Jesus didn’t come just to hang out with us, have a fish fry, and host some dinner parties. No, no, the plan was always bigger than that. The plan was nothing less than the redemption of mankind.
Yes, Christ is not only God’s great gift to us, or the perfect High Priest…. He’s also our redeemer.
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible Redeemer, Redemption
Redeemer, Redemption. English words derived from a Latin root meaning “to buy back,” thus meaning the liberation of any possession, object, or person, usually by payment of a ransom. In Greek the root word means “to loose” and so to free. The term is used of freeing from chains, slavery, or prison. In the theological context, the term “redemption” indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, the ransom or price paid for freedom. This thought is indicated in the Gospels, which speak of Christ who came “to give his life as a ransom for many”
Matthew 20:28 KJV
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Redemption can also lose some of it’s beauty and power when we think about redeeming things like buy one get one (BOGO) free coupons or raffle tickets for cheap toys and prizes. Truth be told, for those of us who believe, redemption is so indescribably precious because our redemption IS Jesus. He is the one in and through whom it is even possible for us to think about being redeemed and freed from the kingdom of sin and darkness.
Purchased Freedom From Darkness and Bondage.
Colossians 1:10–14 KJV
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
• We do right as those who have already been set free, not in order to merit freedom.
• Free to live in the Light empowered by His power.
• Free to live with longsuffering
• Free to live with joyfulness- in spite of our previous status as blinded slaves
• Free to be partakers of the inheritance of light.
• Free from the power of darkness
• Free from the condemnation and darkness of sin!
Light and dark are obviously an image of good and evil. In the Bible, light is often associated with God, goodness, hope, and generally positive things… And darkness, the opposite. But this isn’t just a convenient metaphor, light and dark do have power, for both good and evil… Listen to these words from author Joan Chittister;
“??Psychologists tell us that one of the most difficult conditions a person can be forced to bear is light deprivation. Darkness, in fact, is often used in military captivity or penal institutions to break down an individual’s sense of self. Once a person becomes disoriented, once they lose a sense of where they are, and what it is that lurks in the dark around them, or where the next crevasse or wall or attack may be coming from—once they can no longer feel in control of their physical surroundings—a person loses a sense of self.
Every shred of self-confidence shrivels. The giant within them falls and they become whimpering prey of the unknown. The natural instinct to be combative is paralyzed by fear. The spirit of resistance weakens. The prisoner becomes more pliable, more submissive, more willing to take directions.
It disarms a person, this falls into the sinkhole of sensory deprivation. It can drive them to madness. It is, every military knows, an effective technique. Nothing does more than darkness to isolate us from the sense of human support and understanding which, whether we’re commonly conscious of it or not, is the human being’s main source of self-definition. Indeed, darkness separates us from reality. It disorients a person both physically and psychologically.”
Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, 2015, p. 17-18. The Crown Publishing Group.
Darkness separates us from reality. Darkness disorients a person, breaks them down, disarms them, and eventually swallows them whole. Well that doesn’t sound very pleasant does it? And yet, as you hear darkness described, there’s something about it that makes sense, and it also makes sense that the only antidote to darkness is light. And this reality is something the Bible has an awful lot to say about.
Paul is writing here to the church at Colossae with an amazingly encouraging word about light, darkness, and redemption. Those who abide in the kingdom of light have been freed from the dominion of darkness. And this is WHY Paul can say with confidence that we have been transferred from darkness to the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, Jesus. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
And there it is, JESUS. The one in whom we find our redemption. One commentator reminds us, “redemption meant freeing a slave by paying a price for that slave.” It was Jesus who paid the price for you and I. He traded His very life so you and I might find an eternal life of freedom as members of the kingdom of light.
•  Craig Keener, Biblical Background Commentary: New Testament, p. 571. IVP Academic
Darkness is my point of view, my right to myself; light is God’s point of view.
Purchased Freedom to Experience the Glory of God’s Grace!
Ephesians 1:6–8 KJV
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
• Made us accepted
• Made us Forgiven
• Made us to continue to discover the depths of the riches of His grace… more and more every day.
There it is, again, JESUS. The one in whom our redemption comes. The one through whom the riches of grace flow from the Father. The one through which a river flows of lavish love. The Father spared no expense and holds nothing back… As the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:20; “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
All the promises of God find their yes in Christ. And what more can we do but muster up a hearty “amen” in response to it all? What more can we do but simply receive the extravagant love?
Actually we’ll talk about this more next week, but for today I think it’s good for us to simply sit and receive this indescribable gift we have been given.
Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.
Purchased Freedom to Walk in the Light
• In this life.
John 1:6–9 KJV
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
1 John 1:5–7 KJV
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
• In the life to come
Revelation 21:22–25 KJV
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
No night, no darkness, no need for the sun or the moon as the light of Christ perpetually shines on His kingdom. Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it? This, to me, is the picture of extravagant goodness we look forward to as believers. Jesus didn’t just come to dwell with us, and it wasn’t only about freeing us from the slavery of darkness and sin. Redemption also means being set free to experience the manifold goodness and unbridled lavishing of love that God the Father has for us through His son.
Can we go back in time for a moment? Let’s jump back 2 weeks ago to when we started our series and we jumped right in with the prophet Isaiah. I want to take a little time to revisit the ancient prophets’ words as we simultaneously sit in the reality of redemption that we’ve been discussing today.
In Isaiah chapter 1 the prophet is sharing with God’s people just how disgusted God is with their sin. He says things like, “I cannot bear your worthless assemblies,” and “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you.” “Your hands are full of blood,” he says, which is another way of saying, “You’re guilty!”
All of that leads up to Isaiah 1:18 which, as I’m sure you now know says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” But the part of this verse that I haven’t been quoting yet is the very beginning of it, which says, “Come now, let us settle the matter.” And in ancient terms this was a legal way of saying let’s balance our differences and reach an agreement. Let’s “settle up,” is a very common way of saying, “Let’s figure out what you owe me.”
And that’s where you’ve just got to love the heart of God the Father who then says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Instead of saying, you owe me this and this and this for all your egregious sins God says through Isaiah that the stain of sin on their lives will be made clean. Or another way to say that is you’re forgiven.
You’re redeemed… I’ve settled the debt and set you free.
Think about this statement for a moment today. Free from your past life of sin. Free from the darkness. Free from shame and guilt. Your debt has been settled and you’re free.
I don’t know about you but the holiday season can often feel to me like an overly rushed, exhausting reminder of all the things I don’t have and can’t do. Songs of joy and cheer often feel forced or even coerced from my mouth as I know I should be full of Christmas cheer… but sometimes I’m just emptied of it all.
Maybe you can relate.
And if you can relate, then I hope you can also relate to the amazing peace and calm that comes when you stop to consider that for everything you don’t have and can’t do there is something you do have that is more valuable and important than anything that Amazon has for sale.
You probably guessed it, JESUS.
In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. In whom all the promises of God are yes. In whom we have a constant companion, He is Immanuel. God with us.
And because of Christ, our debt has been completely settled. We stand before God as white as freshly fallen snow.
No more guilt, no more shame, no more striving to accomplish things you and I could never do on our own in the first place.
Take some time this coming week to consider all you’ve been set free from. Count the blessings and the cost of redemption. And if you haven’t ever accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, then this is as good a time as any. You will never know a more extravagant and lavish love than that of Christ. Give Him room in your life. Give Him a chance.
And when all else fades away, give me Jesus.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:41 PM December 14, 2022.