Week 9 – Colossians 3:1-11 “If You Have Been Raised with Christ, Then…

It’s such a powerful thing to sink our teeth into the meat of God’s Word over a period of time! We’re in Week 9 now, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just keep desiring more and more to know God through His Word and in prayer.  This walk with Jesus is not easy, but it’s awesome; and I pray that as you open the Word today that He will speak directly to your heart and mind.  I pray you will be captivated by the Love of God through Christ Jesus as we learn what follows our decision to make Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.  If He is Lord, then there will be notable change.  Here are your notes and homework for Week 9:  Col PN 3.1-11

Paul takes all the things he’s been telling the church in Colossae  in chapters 1 & 2 and sums it up in these four verses to begin chapter 3. IF this is true, THEN that should be happening. You’ll find in the NIV and NLT the word ‘if’ is translated ‘since.’ If you are reading from those translations, SINCE this is true, THEN that should be happening. Either way, there is an expectation that follows; the consequence of our decision to follow Christ should be evident.

If you have been born again,

if you have been raised to new life with Christ,

if you are alive in Him (Col 2:6-15),

if you believe that He is the Messiah, your Savior (Col 1:15-23),

THEN here are some specific directives as to how to walk this thing out.  This, Church in Colossae (and Believer in Christ Jesus, wherever you are), is practically how to operate as a Follower of Jesus: out with the old and in with the new, and it starts with your mind. It always does.

Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek cthe things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. SEEK after & SET your mind on the things that are above. (Col 3:1-2)

If Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, then our sights should be set there. What we are seeking and what we set our minds on WILL determine the way that we live. This is why Jesus Himself directed us so clearly as to what we should do!

Look at Matthew 6:33, What does Jesus commands us to do?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Other translations say “and all these things will be provided for you.” This is where Jesus is telling us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. Can you imagine how much freedom our minds would have without worry? If we really only trusted the Lord with our lives, if we would really just seek Him first, I believe that 99% of our stress would be gone immediately. Stress clouds the human brain, it is a physiological and neurochemical fact.

In day 4 of your homework, we will break down the contrast of having a mind set on earthly things vs. things above. (Matthew 16:23 & Philippians 3:19-20)

If our mind is set on earth, our lives will reflect it. If our mind is set on Heaven, then our lives will inevitably reflect that as well! We cannot do both.

Where the mind goes the body follows. Jesus knew that, and that is exactly why He told us what to seek and where to set our minds.  NOW, verses 3:

Colossians 3:3

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Your life is HIDDEN with Christ in God because you died

I absolutely love the way the Amplified Bible puts this:

For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.

The most real we will ever be is when we are in Christ Jesus. He is real life, and the greatest reality is that which is in Heaven. Do you remember last week when we talked about how all these earthly things are just shadows of the true reality to come? Our new, real life is hidden with Christ in God, and when He (Who is our life) returns we will be with Him eternally. Hallelujah!

Let’s revisit for a moment the concept of our death (as far as the world is concerned) when we receive new life in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 2:20 

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world…

The entire chapter of Romans 6 is so beautifully written; I want to pull a couple of verses from there to further expound upon this idea. Please take time to read all of Romans 6 if any of this ‘life and death’ stuff is confusing to you. I want to encourage you to always go directly to the source, go straight to your Bible and make sure that all of these things I (or anyone else whom you listen to or do bible study with) am saying line up with the truth of God’s Word. We must be diligent to get His Word into our own minds and hearts. Do not be content with just listening to other people talk about it! Now…onto Romans 6…

Romans 6:2

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Romans 6:10-11

When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

When we decide to follow Jesus, we are:

  • dead to sin
  • dead to our old ways of living
  • dead to the elemental spirits of the world, the things of the world

And, we automatically become:

  • alive in Christ Jesus
  • alive to live a new life
  • secured, we are concealed (hidden)

In day 2 of our homework this week, we will discuss the security we have in Christ, the Rock of our salvation. We are tucked away and secured in Christ Jesus.

Our old life is no longer accessible, it’s hidden in Jesus, then Jesus becomes our life! Salvation is a MASSIVE UPGRADE OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. We trade in what is old, useless, meant for destruction; Jesus takes it away and gives us what is new, awesome, and cannot be destroyed! It’s redemption at it’s finest most holy example. He redeems us and now we are secure. What can separate us from His love?  Nothing.

Colossians 3:4

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. He is your LIFE now, and you will be with Him in glory (Col. 3:3-4)

Col 1:27 comes to mind again here:

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus is our ONLY HOPE of Heaven. He is the way, the truth, and the Life and NO ONE comes to the Father apart from Him (John 14:6). And let’s not miss Paul telling is WHEN He appears. It is in now way an “if”…it’s WHEN. And He is coming soon!

Rev 22:12 NIV

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

With that in mind…

Colossians 3:5-9

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Put to death what is EARTHLY in you; put off the OLD self (Col. 3:5-9)

 The KJV says “Mortify” these things.

In v.5, the word for “put to death” in the Greek is “Nekroo”, and here is the definition: “to put to death, to make dead, to slay, to deprive of power, to destroy the strength of.”

You & I are instructed to deprive the power of the earthly things in us. If you struggle with always wanting more and never being satisfied with how your house is decorated, then throw away all the Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn magazines! Deprive the power of it! Destroy the strength of covetousness and idolatry and materialism!  (That example happens to be fresh on my mind because I just tossed 5 lbs of brand new beautiful magazines I got in the mail last Wednesday).  Why did I throw them away without even look at the cover?  I’m starving the fleshly dissatisfaction I would feed by looking at them; I have fed it before and I am choosing to starve it now.  I wonder what sins you might be feeding in your own life?  We will discuss this in detail on Day 3 of our homework.

Let’s take an honest look at each of these sins Paul lists. Fight the temptation to skim that list and assume all is well in your heart. Each of these definitions are from Strong’s Greek Dictionary.

OLD SELF:                                               

Sexual immorality (porneia):

Illicit sexual acts outside of marriage; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, sex with animals, sex with close relatives, sex with a divorced man or woman; the root word of porneia means to prostitute one’s body to the lust of another

Impurity:

impure motives toward anything; but also the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate (extravagant) living

Passion:

depraved passion, vile passions; an affliction of the mind, emotion or passion

You & I are created to be passionate. Our sin nature makes us burn with passion for vile/deprave things, but our NEW self has nothing to do with evil passion…it can ALL be poured into Jesus Christ. Have you ever met a passionate Christian? Oh God, that our passion for You would be so magnified over ANY other passion we have!  Passion misdirected leads to entanglements and slavery to any number of things; the ONLY perfectly, abundantly SAFE place to put our passion is in Christ. He was passionate about us, we return His passionate love by dying to these old ways of living and become new.

Evil desires:

desire for what is forbidden, desiring what is troublesome, injurious, destructive; craving or longing for things that ought not to be, thinking acting or feeling what is wicked or wrong

Covetousness (idolatry):

“greed” which are both idolatry, desire to have more

For those things, according to Colossians 3:6-7, the wrath of God is coming on those who disobey, or the “children of disobedience.” And Paul says, “Yes, you! You lived that way for some time, but now slay it!”  And v. 8 we are to put off the following things. “Put off” is translated from the Greek word meaning, “to put aside, to put away.”

Anger:

Temper, agitation of the soul, impulse, any violent emotion, inflicting punishments

Wrath:

Anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again

Malice:

Ill-will, desire to injure, depravity, wickedness, not ashamed to break laws, evil, trouble

Slander:

Injurious speech to another’s good name, blasphemy

Obscene talk from your mouth:

Foul speaking

Lying:      

Speaking falsehoods deliberately, to deceive one by a lie

You & I CANNOT put off the old self by ourselves; we cannot defeat these things on our own. WE NEED JESUS!!! It is by His blood and power and victory transferred to us that we are able to overcome any sin. This is why we can never be “good enough” on our own. All have sinned and fall short of His glory.

Romans 3:23-24

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND ALL are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

It is finished for ALL of us, now it is our free will, our choice to receive the gift or not.

Take it or leave it, it’s right there, bought & purchased…waiting on our response.  Receive His power to overcome sin in your life.

So, we are to PUT OFF the old self…

Colossians 3:10

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

 IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Put on the NEW self, which is BEING renewed. (Col 3:10)

The more you and I know Jesus Christ, the more we know Him through His Word, the more we know God by walking closely with Him, we are renewed in the knowledge of Him. Our New self gets to be constantly renewed by knowing Him. Isn’t that such a profound thing? We are NOT ON OUR OWN!!!  He does not just leave us to our own strength. He will reveal Himself to us continually, if we are seeking Him and setting our mind on things above where Jesus is seated at the Right hand of our Creator – you and I will be renewed!!!

I love what Paul says to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 2:2,

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

All the knowledge in the world can’t do a thing to get us closer to God except knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and raised to reign at the right hand of God.

 Colossians 3:11

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

IF you have been raised with Christ, THEN

  1. Be DIVIDED no longer, because Christ is all in all (Col 3:11)

Basically every way that we could be divided, Paul is saying “No” it doesn’t work like that anymore. In Jesus, it’s not you over here and them over there in any context; we are – for better or worse – the family of God, the bride of Christ, and we are to be one!

Romans 10:12

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

I have read these scriptures many times over the years, and like many things I don’t fully understand, I just skim over it. If we learn anything in Colossians, let’s learn that skimming God’s Word is not okay; we are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In God’s economy, details matter. So, let’s get to the details of Colossians 3:10. Read the explanation of each of these distinctives Paul gives (ref. Strong’s Greek Dictionary):

Greek vs. Jew = nationality, race, or a difference in worship

Circumcised vs. Uncircumcised = culture, denominational differences

Barbarian =  one who speaks a foreign or strange language which is not understood by another, used by the Greeks of any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language, whether mental or moral; Greeks & Romans regarded all others or foreigners as barbarians

Scythian = literally meaning “rude or rough”; an inhabitant of Scythia or modern day Russia (about 500 miles N. of Colossae along the black sea coast); Greeks saw the Scythians as the wildest of barbarians, uneducated, uncivilized, violent    

These people would be the climax of barbarian; societal outcasts if you will; people you steer clear of if you are truly civilized.

Slave vs. Free – divisions by class

The ESV Global Study Bible says:

In contrast, Paul states that Christ binds all people from all nations together in unity through His love. Racial & cultural prejudice has NO PLACE AMONG CHRISTIANS!!!

(emphasis mine obviously, the people who wrote the ESV Global Study Bible didn’t yell that, but I did, in case it was confusing). But, not at you, though!   I yell it at myself.  I’d yell it from the rooftops if I could.  I, even as a 34 year old woman, struggle with mindsets that were engrained to my brain as a child. I don’t want to be like that. I want to put off that old sinful way of thinking & put on the new. I want the mind of Christ about ALL people created in His image, especially when they look and sound different than me.

John Piper said in a sermon on Colossians 3, which I think captures the truth of 3:10 so profoundly:

Once we boasted in our culture and our intellect like the Greeks. But now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we gloried in our tradition and our religious rigor like the Jews, but now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we got our strokes because of our ethnic pedigree. But now CHRIST IS ALL. Once we reveled in not being like the barbarians and the shabby Scythians, but now CHRIST IS ALL.

Once we struggled to find our significance and our happiness and our security in what we were in relation to other people—we’re Jews, we’re Greeks, we’re circumcised, we’re free, we’re American, we’re rich, we’re smart, we’re strong, we’re pretty, we’re witty, we’re cool. But then we sloughed off that old self. We put on the new self. And the core essence of the new self is that CHRIST IS ALL. “It is no longer I who live but Christ lives” (Galatians 2:20).

I found the coolest commentary in Robertson’s Word Pictures of the NT about this passage:

Christ has obliterated the words barbarian, master, slave, all of them and has substituted the word brother.

I love that so much. It’s back to unity in the body of Christ. Jesus prayed it for us in John 17:23, do you remember?

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Unity in the body is of paramount importance to Jesus because it is the hub around which the spokes of the great commission turn. We are told to go into all the earth and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt 28). And our unity is what will make us believable!  Our unity, as the body of Christ, will create momentum in the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  They will KNOW that God sent Jesus and that God loves them as He loves His own Son by they way we operate as one. What a beautiful thought; what a beautiful God!

I want to leave today with this thought from John Piper’s same sermon on Colossians 3:

In other words, God is creating a new community out of people who have sloughed off their old selves and put on their new selves. And the mark of this new (chosen, loved, holy) community is [first] that the people in it stop cherishing the things that separate Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman. The new people in the new community do not boast in ethnic distinctives or language or intellect or culture or race or homeland or social status. Those things have passed away. And the number one, primary mark of newness in the new people and the new community is that Christ is all and in all. Don’t miss that all important climax at the end of verse 11: “But Christ is all and in all.”

And for our personal response time today, I hope you’ll take 5 minutes and worship the Lord with me.  Jesus breaks every chain that holds and binds us, Praise His Name – we really are made new!  I pray you’ll feel His freedom overwhelm you as you listen to the words & sing:

 

Week 8 – Colossians 2:16-23 “We are FREE in Christ Jesus”

Welcome to week 8, as we finish up Colossians chapter 2! After this week we will have 2 more chapters to study and just 4 more weeks!

Today we’re going to see how important it is to know our freedom in Christ and the danger of being drawn away by rules and regulations set into place by man. The Colossian church was being pressured not only by Jews who were holding on to old covenant requirements; but they were also being pressured by the Gnostics who were telling them to worship angels and treat their bodies harshly in order to gain special knowledge from God. Both sides were a vain attempt to achieve closeness to God apart from Christ. And Paul says, “No! Absolutely not!” Let’s get into verse 16 to begin our study today. Here is the link to your notes & homework for Week 8: Col PN 2.16-23

Colossians 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 

  1. We are FREE in Christ Jesus, no longer under the law.

The tense of the words “therefore let no one pass…” means they in fact WERE letting these heresies influence them.

Paul acknowledges this is happening, and I want you to STOP LETTING IT HAPPEN. Paul also speaks to this in 1st Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:1-5

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Remember in today’s passage, Colossians 2:16-17, Paul is talking about 5 things they are being pressured about: what they eat & drink, the festivals, new moons (which could also be a reference to the mystical influence as well), and the Sabbath. In modern English, The Message translation says, “So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.”

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul talks to Timothy about false teachers’ lies regarding forbidding marriage and abstaining from certain foods. In both segments of scripture, the idea is that we are NOT to return to the Law or any other bizarre regulations that were not part of the new covenant with Jesus. We are not to be duped into believing that by keeping these rules that we are somehow becoming favored in God’s sight or getting closer to Him. The way to gain favor in God’s sight is by loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; it is not by keeping rules! We are free in Jesus Christ!

I want to give just a couple of examples in different religions: Hindus are not permitted to eat meat; Mormons are forbidden to have caffeine or alcohol; devout Jews who have not accepted Jesus as Messiah obviously eat kosher foods only (which are prepared only in specific ways, only from certain parts of the cow, do not eat pork, etc.), Muslims are forbidden to eat pork and have certain times of day that they must bow facing east and say prayers to a false god, and Catholic priests are forbidden to marry, Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden to celebrate birthdays or any holidays. We could go on and on about the restrictions involved in food/drink, holy days and Sabbaths. Where the freedom that Christ Jesus brings is not recognized, there is only slavery to those things!

But, praise be to Jesus! We are in a NEW covenant: the covenant of grace. Our sacrificial lamb has been slain once and for all (Hebrews 10:10), completely fulfilling the law and setting us free from it. We are also, by Jesus, set free from the world’s way of thinking and the pagan attempts to gain access to God apart from Him. Listen to this passage from Romans 14.

Romans 14:17-21

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

We are FREE in Christ Jesus!!! To be more like Him is the goal!!! Not to do enough of certain things, say enough certain prayers, nor to say “No” enough to certain things. It’s about living in love and having a heart and mind captive to Jesus. When our hearts and minds are captive to Christ alone, we serve Jesus in righteousness, peace and joy as Romans 14 just said. Serving God in THIS way is pleasing to Him.

Most of us worship corporately on Sunday…but everyday should be about worship!  Gathering corporately is not some rule we have to keep to make God happy; He tells us not to forsake gathering together for our own good!  Millions of people in America show up to church each week to get their check-mark and then go right back to living life for themselves, never giving God a second thought until the next week. I have been one of those people before!  This is grieving to our God; He does not want any physical consecration without true heart consecration. David said it so well in Psalm 51:16-17

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Because we are in Jesus, and because we love Him, we are then free to fast from certain things for a period of time. We do NOT fast in order to manipulate God into doing what we want or somehow to gain His attention or favor. BUT, as we consecrate ourselves in specific ways, it is for our benefit to focus on Him and to be captivated by Him rather than those other things (i.e. foods, electronics, social media, or whatever we may be fasting from). The main thing is that we have our sights set on Him, desiring for our hearts to be right before Him.

Colossians 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

It’s this idea that Christ is what matters, He is the substance; all these other things that are religious and make you look very pious, they are a vapor…nothing compared to the substance of Jesus. One translation says these things are a shadow but the body casting the shadow is Jesus. Why look at the shadow when the real thing is standing right there in front of you?!

Hebrews 10:1

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.

 

Philippians 3:8-9

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Paul then goes on to tell the Galatians how foolish it would be to accept circumcision, because in the new covenant in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:6), “neither circumcision or uncircumcision count for anything, but only faith working through love.”

Perhaps one of the greatest segments of scripture to flesh out exactly what v.19 means is in Hebrews 9. If anything we have discussed has ruffled your denominational feathers thus far, please read the entirety of the book of Hebrews, and particularly chapter 9. I pray that the Lord will bring great clarity to the freedom we have in Christ Jesus! But, for now, I want to read Hebrews 9:9-10. The author is talking about, in vv.1-9, the ceremonies of sacrifice and offerings under the old covenant in the tabernacle; then the priest would make the offering or sacrifice for himself and all the people to cover their sin.

Hebrews 9:9-10 NLT

This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies – physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.

Again, because the old covenant is no longer in play – we must guard our hearts from believing that anything but Jesus will save us. It is Him; and we are so thankful, amen?! Jesus IS the better system!

Sidenote: Colossians 2:17 calls these things a “shadow” of what was to come, but Jesus is the substance; here in Hebrews 9:9 the old covenant is called an “illustration” pointing to our present time; later in Hebrews 9:23, the tabernacle and everything in it were “copies” of things in heaven. I find it so interesting that what we experience day to day in this life seem like the greatest reality possible because it is our reality right now. But, brothers and sisters, there is a greater reality to come! One where we spend eternity in the presence of our Living Savior…Glory!

Colossians 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

  1. We are free in Christ Jesus, by holding fast to Him as the Head, not puffed up by human ways of thinking.

“Let no one disqualify you” is the same tense as in v.16, Paul is telling them to STOP letting people disqualify them. It’s the idea of an umpire making calls. Basically, Paul is telling them to silence these self-appointed umpires. They have no right to make the call of what rules and regulations you ought to be upholding if they have nothing to do with the truth of the Gospel!

Aceticism is the severe treatment of the body; severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence. The belief here was the more severe you were with the body, the more spiritual you were. Not only was the Colossian church being influenced by this, they were being pressured to do it! It was a vain attempt to impress men and impress God. This is not talking about a holy fast or consecrating yourself to the Lord for a period of time where you pull away from indulgences to focus on Jesus, as we talked earlier. Paul is talking about doing these things with the false belief that these things will save you. There is a HUGE difference!

The pagan mysticism practice in that day was to worship aeons of angels. If you will remember back to the 1st week of our study, we discussed how these pagan beliefs had Jesus as one of these levels of angelic beings. So, someone in their midst was “insisting” in asceticism as well as the worship of angels. Friends, we worship NO ONE but the One True God!

The third thing Pauls lists here has to do with visions. I wholeheartedly believe that God speaks today in visions and dreams to His people (see Acts 2:17 which is repeating what was prophesied in Joel 2:28)

Detailed visions, as Paul is speaking of, would have been “secret knowledge” they claimed to have that others did not have access to; it would have been a source of great pride and lofty thoughts of oneself being so enlightened above others, claiming to be superior. We must guard against these things as well, my friends! If the Lord does speak to you and I in visions and dreams, then we are to glorify His Name alone! The influences in the Colossian Church were not glorifying God. They were, as it says, “puffed up without reason by their sensuous minds.”

There is no secret knowledge in Christ. You may have heard it said, “The ground at the foot of the cross is level.” Jesus is revealed to us! We do have revelation, and personally, I believe it is often a progressive revelation the longer we walk with Him. But, the revelation of who God is isn’t exclusive to the time you’ve been a believer; and it’s available to all who call upon His name. He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11); he does not play favorites. God is not impressed with you and then, subsequently, wanting to get on board with our great experiences and ideas. He is God; we serve Him; let’s not get that mixed up!

The next verse we will look at is Colossians 2:19

and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

You may remember this concept of being “held together” or “knit together” from Colossians 2:2, when Paul is telling them how he’s been praying for them and the church at Laodicea for their “hearts to be encouraged and that they would be knit together in love to fully understand God’s mystery, which is Christ Jesus.” He repeats this same word again here in v. 19. But, what I want to take a look at is the second half of v.19. He is warning them not to come under the yoke of slavery to man’s rules or the law. He’s telling them that those things are from people who are disconnected from Jesus, the Head. It is by Him that the body is held together.

The ones who are insisting on these rules and regulations are not Jesus-focused people. When the focus leaves Christ Jesus, this is where things always get off course. Disconnected from the head means there is no “true north.” If you cut the head off anything, it does not survive. If a person cuts himself off from Jesus, he has no direction. AND beware, if a man has no direction and claims to – he is a dangerous person to follow! Remember, it is Jesus Christ, Him crucified and raised to life to overcome sin & death. He is who saves.

Colossians 2:20-22 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

  1. We are free in Christ Jesus; we died to the ways of the world.

 Do you remember all the scriptures we discussed last week about us dying with Christ, being buried and raised with Him? Basically he’s telling them, “Y’all just got out of all these rules, why do you want back in them with someone else?”

We will discuss more of this next week, in Colossians chapter 3.

Colossians 3:2-3

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

And Galatians 3:2-3:

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

We don’t need rules to purify or save us! We have Christ, and once we have Him, we will put the rules on ourselves out of love and obedience to Him; not to a church, not to a religion, and not to impress people! But, because we love the Lord our God, it pleases us to walk in righteousness and be free from sin!

What Paul is saying is, “Guys! This is not Christianity, this is legalism!!! This not the gospel – this is not Jesus!” We have to know that creation is good; God made it for our enjoyment…within His holy and protective boundaries! (i.e. sex within marriage of 1 man and 1 woman = beautiful; sex outside of marriage of 1 man and 1 woman = destructive)

Mark 7:14-23  

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

In day 4 of the homework, we will visit this whole subject of sin and grace pretty heavily. But, I love how Jesus teaches us here in Mark 7 about our hearts, it’s what’s inside, the sin nature that defiles, not food! And praise God, that is why we need Jesus and that is why we can have Jesus; oh how we need Him!

Colossians 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  1. We are free in Christ Jesus; He is the One who sets us free from our own flesh. 

We DO NOT need these things – we need HIM, we need Jesus, and He is the Only One!

“Many of the things we do are cultural and have nothing to do with Jesus. There are so many denominational biases and human traditions in the church. These rules are actually a barrier to spiritual maturity because it gives the false sense of “I’m doing so good, look at all the things I don’t do and my checklist of things I do for God.” It leads us down a path of “self-righteous” acts instead of faith and repentance as an on-going lifestyle.” – Bob Utley

I grew up this way. I knew how to make it all look good. And I definitely knew how to make it all sound good. But, God looks at the heart. And that is what Paul is telling them. You can check all the boxes in the do and don’t categories and still not walk one step closer to Jesus. It is a repentant heart and a humble spirit that draws you near to the throne of grace.  It’s obeying Him when He tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  As I quote earlier from Galatians 5:6, it’s not about circumcision or uncircumcision, it’s about faith expressing itself through love.  And take a look at what Paul says to the Corinthians…

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

When it says in verse 23 of Colossians 2 that those things, those rules, those regulations have “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh”, I have experienced this in my life.  I would check off enough items in the “good girl” category, so I figured I deserved a few sins to indulge my flesh.  I was so deceived in my way of thinking because I had one foot on the narrow path and one foot on the wide path the lead to destruction.  I lived with a double mind, thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal if I sinned every once in a while.

It WAS a big deal. I was deceived. I knew what was right, but I was so deceived by my own flesh and by the world, that I did not see what I was doing was breaking the heart of my God who rescued me out of that darkness. But, again, just as v.23 says, all the outside stuff I could do to make everyone else think I was good, did NOTHING to stop me from indulging in my flesh. And it surely didn’t fool my Father in heaven. Praise God Almighty, He did not allow me to stay in the immature, hypocritical state very long. He broke me out of that prison of darkness, which I subjected myself to again, after I was already free.

Paul is telling the Colossians not to take back a yoke of slavery after you are free.  You and I can take a yoke of slavery to the law or to sin; either one imprison us from experiencing Jesus’ freedom and love that He died to give us. Oh yes, I am free in Christ Jesus, He is the One who set me free from my own flesh. He does it daily. How about you?

Next week, we will study Colossians 3:1-15, and it’s all about putting on the NEW SELF. We have absolutely died to the law and sin and the flesh, now we must put on our new self in Christ Jesus!!!

For now, I want to give you the opportunity to worship right where you are. As we did last week, it’s about 7 minutes. Please play the video and respond to the Lord your God in worship. He is worthy of it, and He is so very worth it! I want you to take a moment and respond to the Lord, I wonder what He might reveal to you as you meditate on the words of this song…

Week 6 – Colossians 2:1-7 “Rooted-In and Built-Up in Jesus”

Welcome to Week 6 of our study through the book of Colossians (this marks our halfway point)!  What an amazing gift God gave us though Paul’s letter penned to this little house church full of believers who were in need of instruction and guidance.  Our God sees our needs, and He is there to show His sufficiency no matter where or who we are.  If we will call out to Him, He WILL answer.  It’s Who He is.  He cannot help Himself but respond as Deliverer to the children whom He loves; and aren’t we so glad He does?!  Thank you, Jesus!  Let’s get into Colossians chapter 2, there are 10 points in our notes today from this passage…here are your week 6 notes and 5 days of homework: Col Notes 2.1-7

Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,

Slide02

Quick History REMINDER: Laodicea is another town in the same valley, Epaphras started the church, Paul had not been there, and they met at Philemon’s house.  So, when he’s agonizing over them and for the church at Laodicea, Paul is talking about real, live PEOPLE!!!

1.  We can agonize (struggle) in prayer for those we know personally, and those we have never met.(v.1)

This is not agony or struggle without hope in the sense that we might perceive it in the English language.  We can actually biblically agonize for someone.  The Greek word Paul used here is “agon.” It means, “INTENSE care or concern for someone or something; anxiety.

Why do you think Paul would use a word that meant anxiety?  Inevitably, we will all feel anxiety in this life at some point.  When we do, we should immediately turn to Jesus; He is the One who bears our burdens.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you

I believe this is the point Paul is trying to make.  The proper expression of agony or struggle is in prayer!  The root word for “agon”  is “ago” which means, “to lead by accompanying into a place or to lead with oneself.”  I find this so fascinating and encouraging because Paul was agonizing in prayer for them.  He was boldly coming to the throne of our gracious God for them, showing intense care and concern, and willing to lead with himself.  Paul did not go around telling others they should pray for certain things.  He did it.  He led by example.

When is the last time you agonized for someone you have never met personally (i.e. someone’s testimony of persecution you saw on YouTube, etc.)?   Or maybe someone you have but do not have a current relationship with (i.e. someone from your high school years)?  Are you willing to take the lead for them in prayer?  Often you hear people say that what got them through great difficulty were others standing in the gap for them.  Are you and I the ones who are willing to put ourselves in the place of intercession?

That is what Paul does here. He agonizes in prayer, he takes it straight to the throne of Grace, he contends, he struggles against the powers of darkness and wants people he doesn’t even know to be free.

Now, take a look at verse 2.  It’s full of goodness, so we will break it up into 3 parts.

Colossians 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,

The NLT translates it this way: I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.

2.  We can know that it is God’s will for our hearts to be encouraged (v.2a)

Make no mistake, we are to be encouraged as Believers.  

Encouraged: to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

No matter how dark things get, no matter the depravity of man, we can KNOW that when we are IN CHRIST (as we talked about last week); we are in a place of security.  He will not loosen His grip on us. I don’t know about you, but that is plenty enough to console my heart and to strengthen my resolve to continue fighting the good fight.  We are commanded in Galatians 6:9 and 1 Thessalonians 3:13 not to grow weary in doing good. Be encouraged, we serve an awesome Savior!

The world is FULL of discouragement.  The Gospel is called the Good News for a reason; let that encourage your heart today.  Now, for the second part of verse 2:

3.  We can know that it is God’s will for us as believers to be knit together in love (v.2b)

The word for “knit together” in the Greek is: symbibazo.  It means, “to cause to join together, unite in affection, to gather, uniting in a conclusion or coming to the same opinion; it is said of the church, as the body of which Christ is the Head.”

Perhaps it’s because I have sat through hundreds of hours of science lectures in my lifetime, but the word “symbiotic” came to mind when I read that word. It’s fitting actually.  Symbiotic means 2 organisms living in close proximity, typically an advantage to both.

Symbibazo (knit together) is used only 2 times in the NT: Colossians 2:2,19; and only 3 times in the OT: Job 10:11, Ps 139:13

Not only are we to be knit together, but Paul makes sure we know that it is a knitting together in love, specifically agape love.  Do you remember studying agape love in WEEK 2?  We looked at Romans 5:5, its the Holy Spirit given kind of Love, and all those examples of what love is in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Let’s move to the 3rd part of this verse: I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.

The word for “complete confidence” here at the end of v.2 means, “FULL ASSURANCE, MOST CERTAIN CONFIDENCE.”

4.  We can know that it is God’s will that we know Jesus Christ, and knowing Him is what truly matters on all levels and in all realms (v.2c)

When it comes right down to it really, it’s all about Jesus Christ Himself. Do you know Him?  Do you believe He did what He said He did?  And that He’s who He said He is?  Or, do you believe something else about Him?

It is mysterious when we try to put it all together; how God orchestrated this whole story of creation and salvation and our Savior conquering death and sin.  And, we can have uttermost confidence that what what the Bible says about Him is true.  Not one detail of any prophecy about Jesus has ever been wrong.  Not one detail of anything in the entire Bible has ever proven false.  He is truly all in all and fills all things with Himself.

Colossians 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

5.  It is Jesus Who holds all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge. (v.3)

Paul uses the words as a play on the gnostic false beliefs. It is in Jesus ALONE that all they (the Colossians) and we (modern-day Americans) are wanting is found.

Different translations of God’s Word render the word “hidden” as  “stored up.”   The Amplified Bible uses both “stored up” & “lie hidden.”  Either way – we have full access through Jesus.  When we seek Him – what is hidden becomes revealed.  When Jesus is our chief desire, what is stored up becomes released.

Considering this subject of all wisdom and knowledge, do you ever think about how much you don’t know? I do. It happens daily as I attempt to parent a 3 year old with incredible strength of will!  I get reminded regularly as  I take care of hundreds of people with hundreds of different bad habits and lifestyle choices and I try to help them all feel and function better.  I rarely watch the news, but when I do, I wonder what on earth is going on in the earth…there is indeed a whole, whole lot that I do not know.

And yet, in HIM is hidden or stored up every single thing that I could ever need to know. The more I know Him, the more I will know what I need to know, and the rest I leave in His nail-scarred hands. You remember how Paul said He is supreme over all creation and that all things were created through Him and for Him. That’s all I need to know. I know The Man with the plan.  May these scriptures sooth the aching, struggling neuronal synapses in our tired and over-stimulated brains.

Prov 9:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Isa 33:5-6

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

JOB 38-39 when God answers Job. Read this if you want to fully understand what we do not know, it’s a chapter guaranteed to put us in our place; the place of humility before a holy and righteous and all-knowing God!

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Thankfully, the Lord invites us to ask Him for answers, and He delights to show Himself mighty.  Now, let’s move to verse 4.

Colossians 2:4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.

The NLT calls them “well-crafted arguments.”

6.  We CAN be deceived, but it is God’s will that we would not be swayed from the truth. (v.4)

Bob Utley, in his commentary, notes that Paul is warning them about people using eloquent style and reasoning.  The intellectuals could have fancy words, etc. with which to deceive or mislead the Colossians.  If you listen to the world, there are many well-crafted arguments to convince us that what we have been discussing about Jesus is non-sense, i.e. the storyline in the movie God’s Not Dead.  

There is no superior knowledge you can attain aside from knowing Christ Jesus personally, believing the truth of the Gospel and walking out how He says to live. Period.  That is what keeps us from being deceived.

Increasingly, at the end of days WE MUST FIGHT DECEPTION!!!  We fight deception by KNOWING GOD’S WORD.  That’s EXACTLY how Jesus did it!  Remember in Matthew 4, with every lie of the enemy, Jesus answer with the phrase, “It is written…”  The reality is that our enemy seeks to devour and deceive us.

John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

And yet, as deceiving as our enemy is, the reality is that he is defeated and King Jesus already won the victory at the Cross.  I love what Revelation 12:11 says:

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

May you and I be willing to stand for truth in a pluralistic, humanistic world where truth has been made relative.  Nothing about true Christianity is relative or plural.

Colossians 2:5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

NLT: For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

In the KJV, the words used here are “order” and “steadfastness.”  Again, going to the commentaries of Bob Utley, he explains that these words are 2 military terms, indicating the Colossians’ battle.

7.  Let’s rejoice when we see brothers and sisters living right with strong faith in Jesus. (v.5)

Paul’s influence on the Colossians started when he taught Epaphras the truth, and then Epaphras went and spread the gospel in his hometown of Colossae.  You and I do not just have influence on those who live under our roof, we have influence in all kinds of ways.  One of the ways the Lord has been showing me this is in the area of my prayer life, we’ll talk more about that in Day 4 of your homework.  Paul is then overjoyed to hear that they are walking in the truth in which they were taught.  He was far away from them, but his heart was with them.

Who, in your life, is far away from you but your heart is with them?  Isn’t it just the most wondrous news when you hear someone dear to you is believing God and strong in their faith?  I got this kind of news from 2 friends who were my very best friends from 6th grade until our Jr. year of college (until I moved to Dallas and time and space began to separate us).  I got news that one of them had breast cancer in November.  And yet I rejoiced because both of those friends had grown tremendously in their walk with Christ (as had I, praise the Lord!).  Their faith was strong, and it blessed me so much to hear it!  When we talk it is as if no time has passed since we were together.

Let’s be ready to rejoice and praise God when we get reports of others living as they should and strong in their faith!

Colossians 2:6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

NLT translates that last portion, “you must continue to follow Him.”

8.  It is God’s will that we receive Jesus as Lord and then continue to follow Him. (v.6)

In v. 6, Paul gives them the proverbial, “Keep on keepin’ on!”  I read this quote from Christine Caine not long ago, “It’s easier to start than sustain.”  Do you think that’s true?  It seems so easy to sustain something at the beginning when we are fueled by emotional hype.  But, when happens when the new and exiting wears off?  Are we willing to endure and persist for the long-haul with Jesus?

Greek word for “TO WALK” means:

to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities; related to the Hebrew word meaning, to live, to regulate one’s life, to conduct one’s self

Do we make our way to Jesus?  Do we make due use of the opportunities He gives us?  Do we regulate our lives by Him?  Do I conduct myself as He did?  These are valid questions, litmus tests if you will, to see if we are walking with Him or walking our own path.

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

NLT: Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

9. It is God’s will that we be rooted and built up in Jesus and established in the faith. (v.7a)

The word “ROOTED” here is “to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, to render firm, to fix, establish, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded.”

The only other use of this word in the Bible is Ephesians 3:17:

For context we’ll read Ephesians 3:14-21, it’s one of Paul’s famous run-on sentences so full of greatness you can’t do it justice if you break it up…

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Roots in the TRUTH give strength and staying power.  They provide nourishment and stability.  Roots in the TRUTH are the foundation and the lifeblood.

This concept of letting roots go down into Him goes along with Banning Liebsner’s message at the Inspire Conference I attended in July 2014.  I wanted to share a couple of my notes with you:

“God develops our roots in hiding, not fruit on stage.”

“He develops that structure needed to be able to hold the weight of what is coming”

“God did not develop David in the palace, 1st Samuel 16 he is anointed King by Samuel, then 15 yrs later he becomes King of Judah, then another 7 yrs before he’s King of all Israel.”

“The process is: Seed – Death – Roots – THEN Fruit”

“Longevity matters – long-term fruit matters, it’s more impressive to finish races rather than to just start them”

Paul makes sure that he reiterates to them that the truth they were taught is the truth.  Right?  He is contending against false teachers with eloquent arguments.  He wants the Church at Colossae to be rooted in Jesus, and we should be, too!  Strong roots yield good fruit.  We will get back to that in a moment, but let’s finish verse 7.

10.  It is God’s will that we with overflow with thankfulness. (v.7b)

If you have been with us all 6 weeks here, you can probably guess what that word thankfulness is in the Greek.  It’s a form of “eucharisteo”:  To feel thankful, to be thankful, to give thanks.   Do you remember now?  This is the third time Paul has used some form of this word thus far!  Here he is wanting them to overflow with gratitude.  Not just be filled with it, but to overflow.  When we are filled with gratitude all things change, situations turn a different direction, people are influenced mightily, and God is honored and glorified when thankfulness is our attitude.  We are made whole when we can trust our faithful God and give Him thanks no matter what the cost.

There are 4 directives in v. 7 I want to highlight before we go:

  • deeply planted in Him
  • being continuously built up in Him
  • growing stronger in faith
  • overflowing with thankfulness

All of these are related to our daily walk in Christ Jesus the Lord!  Show me a person who is doing these 4 things…I’ll show you someone who is bearing much fruit to the Glory of our Father!  This is a person who is showing him/herself to be a disciple of Christ Jesus!

Isaiah 58:11

And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.

Isa 61:3b

…that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

And I want to leave us with this awesome segment of God’s Word today…

Jeremiah 17:5-10   Wisdom from the Lord

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,

who rely on human strength

and turn their hearts away from the Lord.

They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,

with no hope for the future.

They will live in the barren wilderness,

in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord

and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat

or worried by long months of drought.

Their leaves stay green,

and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,

and desperately wicked.

Who really knows how bad it is?

10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts

and examine secret motives.

I give all people their due rewards,

according to what their actions deserve.”

Week 5 – Colossians 1:24-29 “Christ in You, the Hope of Glory”

Welcome to Week 5 of our Colossians Bible Study!  Today we are going to finish studying Chapter 1.  So, I have 7 points for you from verses 24-29.  Now, let’s remember the verses we just finished studying last week.  Who was it all about?  That’s right…JESUS!

In light of all the glorious, wondrous, fabulous work of Christ Jesus and Who He is, let’s go into verse 24 of Colossians 1 and finish studying chapter 1 today.

Here is your Week 5 Notes & Homework:  Col PN 1.24-29

Let’s start by reading Colossians 1:24-26

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

So, let’s look closely at v. 24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,”

What is happening to Paul? Suffering

What is he doing in his sufferings? Rejoicing

 Whose sake is he suffering for? Theirs personally, and for the body of Christ, the Church

Why? To fill up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the church

Doesn’t that verse just seem strange?  I thought what Jesus did on the cross finished everything, how then could Paul say that there was something lacking?!  Well, this drove me to do quite a bit of research from Bible scholars and pastors who have studied this much more than myself.  And  I really like the way the Amplified Bible translates it.  I think it encompasses this idea that there is something we, as Believers, have to contribute.  Now, let’s read v. 24 in the Amplified Bible: 

[Even] now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf.  And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking and remains to be completed (on our part) of Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.

  1. What is lacking in Christ’s affliction is only the personal presentation of it, and that is what He calls us to do – to personally present Jesus Christ to the world – a world full of people who have no idea what they are worth to Jesus. (v.24) 

It’s what Jesus told us to do when He said in Matthew 28:18, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  John Piper is one of my favorite pastors and biblical scholars, so here is what he had to say about this issue in v.24:

John Piper says in his sermon on Colossians 1:24,

I think Colossians 1:24 means this: Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. It is full and lacking in nothing—except one thing, a personal presentation by Christ himself to the nations of the world and the people of your workplace. God’s answer to this lack is to call the people of Christ (people like Paul) to present the afflictions of Christ to the world—to carry them from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

In doing this we “fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” We finish what they were designed for, namely, a personal presentation to the world of people who do not know about their infinite worth…

The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrifice and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for His saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of His people. Suffering is God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission. We have plenty of time in eternity to enjoy the benefits.

With that, it brings us to point #2.

  1. Suffering is good for us & good for the gospel, therefore we CAN rejoice in it. (v.24) 

Let’s read Mark 8:34-37 ESV 

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 

1 PETER 4:12-13 THE MESSAGE 

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t   on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

Is that not so good?!  We are in a spiritual refining process with glory right around the corner.  Our lives are a breath in the grand scheme of eternity.  And if we are willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, we are really saving our lives.  God is always on the job, He does not sleep, He does not miss the details of what is going on in your life and my life.  We can be glad when we are in the thick of what Christ experienced.  We can know that our identity is in Christ, and when we identify with Him in suffering He is glorified!

Cross-references for suffering in the NT:  Mark 8:34-37, 1 Peter 4:12-13

Old Testament references for suffering: Psalm 119:50, psalm 119:92, Isaiah 48:10, 1 sam 1:11

Paul lists out a number of his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.  In Day 1 of your homework, we will see how we might relate to Paul.

Speaking of suffering, I cannot help but think of our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.  If you can spare 5 minutes, please watch this video about a Christian woman in Syrian who tells her family’s story of faith under much persecution.

I seriously believe that we should thank the Father every single day for our freedom of faith in America; and equally, I feel that we should USE our freedom to share the true gospel!  But, with times as uncertain as they are, we may soon find ourselves Liena’s position.  Lord, may we be found faithful to Jesus, truly no matter what happens!

Let’s take a look now at  v.25:   of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 

  1. God gave Paul a responsibility which he took very seriously (v.25)

What is Paul’s relationship to the Church?   He became a minister according to the fact that God gave him this assignment to steward making the word of God fully known.  I wonder if we have spent enough time with the Father to have received an assignment from Him?   I believe He has assignments that change daily, I also believe has assignments more long-term for us.

Eph 2:10

We are created in Christ Jesus to DO good works which He prepared in advance for us to walk in them.

Thus far in our study of Colossians we have discussed numerous times that we, as the body of Christ, have different yet equally important callings.  Here again, Paul is making the point that God called him to this work he is doing.  We, too, will find it well worth our time to pour our lives out for the sake of the Gospel…it is only then that our lives truly count for eternity!

Colossians 1:26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

  1. The full revelation of God’s mystery is given over time.   He has purpose in everything He does and in the timing of it all. (v. 26)

Remember that Paul is writing to the church in Colossae because false teachers were trying to twist what it meant to follow Christ and be saved, they were adding to and taking away from the true gospel with secret knowledge and worldly “enlightenment” in order to get closer to God on this hierarchy of knowledge. Did you notice how many other world religions contained this type of heresy in your Day 1 homework last week?

Paul says he was sent to “MAKE THE WORD OF GOD FULLY KNOWN” in verse 25, and now in verse 26 he’s telling them yes there used to be a mystery hidden for all these generations, but NOW IT’S REVEALED TO YOU WHEN YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!!!

The work of getting the mystery solved and gaining higher knowledge was not up to themselves on some kind of quest…it was accomplished once and for all on the Cross at Calvary!!!  Our Savior, Jesus Christ laid His life down so that every barrier to knowing God was demolished and now we have full access to God.  Does that make anyone else just want to jump up & down???!!!

1 Peter 1:10-12

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

We will dig into these other scriptures concerning this mystery in Homework Day 2:  Romans 16:25-27Matthew 13:16-17Hebrews 11:13.  In these scriptures, God’s Word tells us who longed to experience what we have with Jesus as our Messiah!    

Angels (1 Pet 1:12)

Prophets (Matt 13:16-17)

Righteous people (Matt 13:16-17)

Those who died in faith (Heb 11:13)

As much as has been revealed to us in this mystery in God’s Word, there is still more revelation that will happen at the end!  Check this out:

Revelation 10:7

but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

There is the most amazing thing about how God has continually revealed Himself more and more over time.  He reveals Himself to more and more people over time.  When we get to the end of the present age; He will reveal even more of Himself  to even more people.

Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

  1. This mystery of the Good News is glorious. The hope we have, because Christ is IN US, is glorious, too! (v.27)

The NLT says, “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”

In the OT, it was definitely the exception that a gentile would be saved.  RAHAB & RUTH are two gentiles who were saved that immediately come to mind.  They were willing to believe the truth about the One True God and leave behind their pagan ways and cultures.  But, NOW (in New Testament days) the hope of Jesus Christ is extended to the Gentiles (you & me!), largely because the Jews rejected Him, and we are charged in Romans 11:11 to live in such a way that God’s People ISRAEL would be jealous and come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua, their Messiah and our Messiah!

I want us to read the definition of the Greek Word for GLORY (Doxa):

the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven

Eternal blessedness, a glorious condition, which is appointed to us and promised to us we Jesus returns.  Wow!  Heaven WILL exceed every possible imagination we may dare to have while in our human frames on earth.  This glory that He promises will be well worth every bit of dying to self, worth every sacrifice, every bold endeavor for Jesus, because seeing His face will be glory enough to last eternity.

Just to get a better understanding of what “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory” actually means, again I did a little digging and found this gem.  It’s in a sermon by the great Charles H. Spurgeon, which he preached in a Sunday Sermon on May 13th, 1883. You can click here for the whole sermon, but I wanted you to read just a bit of it so that we can get a better understanding of what Colossians 1:27 means.

But this morning’s text goes a little further—it speaks of glory which is a hope for soul as well as body. Why glory! Glory? Surely that belongs only to God. To Him alone be glory! Yes, but Christ has said, “Father, I will that they, also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.

And later in the sermon, Spurgeon goes on to say,

“And the glory which You have given Me, I have given them.” Think of it! Glory for us poor creatures! Glory for you, Sister! Glory for me! It seems a strange thing that a sinner should ever have anything to do with glory when he deserves nothing but shame. We are neither kings nor princes, what have we to do with glory? Yet glory is to be our dwelling, glory our light, glory our crown, glory our song! The Lord will not be content to give us less than glory. Grace is very sweet, but might we not be content to swim forever in a sea of Grace? But no, our Lord “will give Grace and glory.”

SO, in light of this — what are you and I to do????  Well, Paul tells us in v.28!

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

 The Message says: “We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity.”

In light of what Christ Jesus has done for us, we are to take action.  He, just like he told Abraham, blesses us to be a blessing.  When we really believe the truth of the Good News, that should compel us into action!

  1. Our faith always demands action . (v.28)

According to verse 28, Who do we proclaim? Jesus Christ

How do we do it? Warning everyone with wisdom, Teaching everyone with wisdom

Watch how many verbs the AMP uses: “Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God),”

Why do we do it? So that we may present everyone mature in Christ

If we are willing to receive this amazing gift of salvation and life with Christ in us, the hope of glory, are we not then willing to share it with everyone we know and make disciples of ALL nations?  Jesus commands it in the Great Commission found in  Matthew 28:16-19.  This moves us into our last verse of Colossians 1.

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

What does Paul labor & struggle for?  To present everyone mature in Christ (v.28)

How does he do it?  With all Jesus’ energy that Holy Spirit powerfully worked in him

  1. He gives us all His energy so that He can work powerfully in us & through us. (v.29)

We will discuss this idea of all God’s energy being available to us in Day 5 of your homework this week.  I think it’s really imperative that we rely on our Heavenly Father to work powerfully in us and through us.  We can be so tempted in this self-promoting, self-sufficient American culture in which we live to press and push our own ideas and endeavors through to completion, never having asking or relied on God what-so-ever!  Be aware!  Be on guard!  God is so willing and so able to give us ALL HIS ENERGY so that He can work powerfully in us and through us!  Why would we forfeit His energy and power just to do our own thing?

As we wind down session 5 today, I want you to notice how similar these themes in 1st Peter are to our segment of study today from Colossians 1:24-29.  God’s Word is awe-inspiring.

1 Peter 1:6-9  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

And, finally, I want to leave you with the ending statement from Spurgeon’s sermon preached exactly 132 years ago:

Comfort yourselves with this word—Christ in you means you in glory, as surely us God lives! There is no question about that! Go your ways and rejoice in Christ Jesus and let men see who it is that lives in you! Let Jesus speak through your mouth, weep through your eyes and smile through your face! Let Him work with your hands and walk within your feet, and be tender with your heart. Let Him seek sinners through you! Let Him comfort saints through you until the day breaks and the shadows flee away!

That is my prayer for you and for me today.  Christ in us…the hope of glory.  Amen!

Week 4 – Colossians 1:15-23 “Who is Jesus?”

Welcome to Week 4!  We are digging into Colossians 1:15-23 today, which is known as one of the greatest “Christological” segments in the entire Bible.  In plain English that means Paul explains exactly Who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He continues to do as the Messiah.  I suppose this is one of those subjects that we could explore the rest of our days on earth, then get to heaven and have our minds absolutely blown at how extensive is the greatness of our God.  So, let’s get going!  I am convinced there is NO better use our our time as humans than to meditate on the Lord Yeshua.  He is awesome and we’re about to see that in Colossians 1:15-23. Here are your notes & homework for this week:  Col PN 1.15-23

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

  1. He is the visible image of the invisible God (v.15)

John 1:1-5

In the beginning the Word already existed.     The Word was with God,     and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him,     and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,     and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness,     and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Those truths are highly reflected in Colossians 1.   So true is it that He IS God, yet His humility was such that He did not consider his equality with God something to cling to, which is what allowed Him to come and save us all. We learn this in Philippians 2:5-11

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Something we will study on Day 1 of your homework this week is the question of Who Jesus is, and how you look at Him.  Every other world religion or cult has to do something with the person of Jesus, and what they do with Him tells us immediately if it is something we should renounce or accept.  What Paul teaches in Colossians 1 about Who Jesus is will help us answer those questions and help us to relate to people with different views or wrong beliefs about Him.  It was his entire point of writing to the church in Colossae, so they could stand strong in the truth of the Gospel, knowing exactly Who Jesus is and how to view Him rightly.

  1. He is the firstborn of all creation (v. 15)

NLT: “He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation…”

“Jesus is God’s agent of creation. The One Who knelt down in the red clay of the Tigres/Uphrates River valley and formed man out of the dust and breathed into him the breath of life was no one less than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.” – Bob Utley

NIV Commentary:

He is the firstborn over all creation, a phrase which the Arians made to mean that Christ was a created being and not co-eternal with the Father, but the context rules this out completely. The title here given emphasizes the thoughts of priority and superiority, declaring, as Lightfoot states, “the absolute pre-existence of the Son.” The reference here is to His deity rather than His humanity, to the Son in His eternal being rather than the incarnate Son.

Hebrews 1:2-4 NLT

And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

Cross References: 2 Cor 4:6,  Psalm 89:27,  Romans 8:29 Jesus as firstborn:   Rabbis used term to speak of His Pre-eminence;  In the Old Testament, firstborn is used to describe the eldest son as heir & mgr of the family, (which is consistent with Jesus as the head of the church which we will get to, head of the family of God);  It also speaks of His pre-existence, that there has never been a time when Jesus was not.

Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

  1. He created all things in heaven and on earth; all things created through Him and for Him (v.16)

NIV Commentary

Christ is the source of life as He is also the agent of all creation including the heavenly and invisible, and those very powers whom they were being urged to placate. (speaking of the false-teachers in Colossae). Christ is outside creation, prior to it, distinct from it, and He is sovereign to it all, for it was created by Him and indeed for Him. In Him, the purpose of the universe is found, in Him is its principle of coherence, and it is He that ‘impresses upon creation that unity and solidarity which makes it a cosmos instead of chaos’ (Lightfoot).

If we really believe this is true – why would we doubt at all? Why would we ever fear? IN sharing the gospel, how could we ever worry about offending or be embarrassed, if we really believe that our God is the One Who made everyone! He is in charge, it is Him who is moving in hearts, are we willing to carry His message to whomever He calls us? I want to give you links to 2 sermons I have heard within the past month that speak so much to this topic…if we really believe that Jesus created it all, why do we fear anything?   If you struggle in this whatsoever, please take the time to listen to these sermons. 1st:  Dr. Kyle Martin, a sermon given at a Revive Indiana service; go to this link, you will get an audio file, his sermon begins in hour 2 of the recording.    http://www.sermoncloud.com/maple-city-chapel/revive-indiana-day-87/ 2nd:  Go to iTunes and search “Bethel Church Sermon of the week”, you will then select the sermon from 4/1/15 called  Activate Session #4 “Hearing God’s Voice”

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

  1. He is before all things (v.17)

Paul repeats himself here, it’s emphasizing that there is nothing that was before Jesus. John 1, in the beginning the Word was with God. In John 8:58, Jesus revealed this to unbelieving Pharisees, that He is the Messiah, the pre-existing One. “Jesus said to them, “Truly, Truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.””

  1. In Him all things hold together (v.17) 

Jesus is what holds it all together, by His power, by His grace, by His sufficiency.  Even at the crux of how we divide time is His time on earth.  Someday we will be able to understand what this sentence fully means, until then we can know that Jesus Christ is the center of it all.  And by all, God’s Word means ALL… Recommendation: Watch Louie Giglio’s 6 minute sermon about “Laminin”.  We will learn about Laminin in Day 2 of the homework…but this is well worth the 6 minutes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0-NPPIeeRk

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

  1. He is the head of the body, which is His church (v.18)

As a Chiropractor by profession, you know I have to comment on this!  It utterly fascinates me how complete and how true is God’s word.  Our human bodies work better when they are aligned.  It’s just a simple fact.  It is actually true in the cases of machinery, architecture, and probably thousands of other examples in the universe.  The body of Christ works only when we are aligned under the Head, His Name is Jesus.  He is our Savior, He makes us full and complete, we collectively make up the whole body but we are individual members of it.  This means that we must be diligent to align ourselves under Jesus.  That’s when we can be highly effective for the Kingdom of God.  I will never be effective for Jesus if I’m not aligned with Him.

Ephesians 1:23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is also the head of the church. He Himself being the Savior of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  Romans 12:5 …so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

  1. He is the beginning, firstborn from the dead, He is first in everything (v.18)

He is the beginning:  Some scholars believe that Paul reiterates that Jesus began the Church, in the context of the beginning of verse 18.  The Translator’s Handbook notes that it can also be translated, “the source.”  This would support the thought that Jesus is the source of the Church, the founder. This can also be translated standing alone (beginning as the Creator of the Universe).  Either is true, and both ideas are clearly portrayed by Paul in this segment of scripture.  Revelation 3:14 says ““And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.”  We know that Jesus was part of the creation process with the Father and Holy Spirit, not only was He there, He was active in it.  Here are a few other Cross References for “He is the beginning”:  Rev.21.6, Rev.22.13, Prov.8.22

Firstborn of the dead:  The little girl in Luke 8 or Lazarus may come to mind if you think of people who were raised from the dead before Jesus.  But, Jesus was the first to rise from death without dying again.  There is also another way of looking at it:

“Firstborn of the dead” is who He is coming out of the grave, He started the Church, the beginner of a brand new people not Jew or Gentile.” – Bob Utley

 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NLT

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.  So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

Cross References for “firstborn of the dead”:  Col 1:18, Ps 89:27, Acts 26:23, 1Cor 15:20

First in Everything:  This phrase in the KJV is stated “that He might have the preeminence” and the word preeminence is the Greek “proteuo” which is a verb.  He acts as the first. First place is what He does.  Isn’t that interesting?  It’s root-word is “protos” is an adjective would describe Him as:  first in time or place, first in rank, first in influence, chief, principle, and first in any sucesssion of things or persons.  I’d say it’s safe to see Him as supreme in everything, don’t you?!

Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

  1. In Him, all the fullness of God dwells (v.19)

The Translator’s Handbook for Colossians says that the more accurate rendition of this idea is that “The Son has in Himself the full nature of God, and it was God’s plan to have all the fullness dwell in Him.”  I really love and appreciate how it appears in the Amplified Bible:   “For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently.” Paul makes this point again in

Colossians 2:9,  “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.”

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 

  1. Through Him, all things in heaven and earth are reconciled and peace is made by His blood on the cross. (v.20)

All things in heaven and earth need reconciling to God, all things were estranged and separated from Him by the fall when sin entered the world and curses came upon creation.  God does not need reconciliation, but we desperately do, and He provided a way through Jesus’ blood on the cross for us to be completely restored. In studying reconciliation, I read a sermon by John MacArthur from 1976 about these same verses.  He explained that the Greek word Paul uses for reconcile in Colossians here in verses 20-21 is “apokatallassō”, it is only used 3 times in the whole NT, 2 of which are found here in Colossians 1.  MacArthur explained that by putting “apo” in front of the regular word for reconcile (which is “katallasso”), he was intensifying it.  It implies that Paul was passionately arguing against the heresy that had made its way into the Church in Colossae by false teachers. You may remember from week 1 that the false teachers did not believe that Jesus Christ was God, they put Him in some strange lineage of emanating spirits from God.  To them, He was just one in a long line of levels of getting to God.  Here Paul is saying absolutely positively only ONE way to God the Father is through reconciliation, total, utter, complete reconciliation through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross!  He is the peacemaker between us and God, there is no other way. In 2 Corinthians, Paul does not use the intensified version of reconcile, but it is the same concept of us being brought back to God by God:

2 Cor 5:17-19 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, Who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. Now to address the idea of creation being restored as well, when Paul says “all things on earth”:

“What is being claimed is quite simply and profoundly that the divine purpose in the act of reconciliation and peacemaking was to restore the harmony of the original creation…resolving the disharmonies of nature and the inhumanities of humankind, that the character of God’s creation and God’s concern for the universe in its fullest expression could be so caught and encapsulated for them in the cross of Christ.” James D. G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 104.

Even creation will be reconciled to God. When He says ALL, He means ALL.  Isaiah 11 is where Isaiah prophesies about what things will look like when ALL things are reconciled and Jesus is in full-reign.  It’s the amazing passage that talks about leopards lying down with young goats and where nursing babies will play over the holes of cobras.  These are things unimaginable in the human minds that we currently possess, yet when our God promises something will be, it will always inevitably be.  Thank You, Jesus, you are the Reconciler!

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

  1. He is the personal Savior, He did it for me & for you. (v.21-23)

Romans 5:6-11

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

The hallmark of true repentance and reconciliation and redemption is the word: CONTINUE.  If we have really accepted the free gift of salvation, then our lives with show evidence of it.  We discussed this thoroughly in Week 2 about how our lives will bear the fruit of having been changed by Jesus.  He came to exchange our guilt for victory – while we were still hostile toward Him!  Paul encourages them to hold on to the hope (remember Col 1:5-6?) of the True Gospel that they heard from Epaphras.  He urges them to be steadfast and stable in their knowledge of Who Jesus Is, not to be swayed by lies.

“We meet Christ in an initial decision initiated by Him, then we follow in the lifestyle of faith & repentance, which then validate that the initial decision was genuine & had validity.” – Bob Utley

The work of Jesus is too much to comprehend for any human mind.  I have the most confident feeling that when we get to Heaven and we fully know things as we are fully known by Him, that we will be flat-out astounded at how extensive and all-encompassing His work was in our lives, and in the world around us.  Jesus, the One and the Only, He is so great and so greatly to be praised!  I pray that today and everyday moving forward that we will have a deeper reverence for Him, a deeper understanding of Who He Is, and a deeper desire to live a life pleasing and worthy of His sacrifice.

Week 1 – Intro to the Book of Colossians and 1:1-2

Welcome to a 12-week bible study on the Book of Colossians!  The Lord put Colossians on my heart in June of 2014, when I began studying and memorizing chapter 1.  I was so captured by what God was teaching me in chapter 1, I just kept going, and it has been so much fun to dig into a book of Scripture like this.  I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Here’s how it works:  Each week I will post here on the blog my notes from the live class I teach at 7am CST , with a link to download notes you can fill-in as you read.  I will make distinctions with BLUE LETTERS where there are answers to the blanks in the post.  And in addition to the blog post, I will give you a link to homework that you can do for more in-depth study on your own until we meet here again next Tuesday!

The #1 goal when we study God’s Word is to know & love Him more, to understand Who He is, and to worship Him.  He has something to say to His children today, He speaks and when we focus on His words, we can hear His voice!  #2 is that I am asking God to pour out His Spirit in full-personal revival for whoever embarks on this 12-week journey of studying Colossians.  Revival means bringing back to life.  May the study of His Word bring your fervor & passion for Jesus Christ back to life so powerfully that you are compelled to go out and share Jesus with everyone who will listen, and love those who don’t even more.  And finally, #3 – is Unity in the body of Christ. No matter what body of believers we gather with on Sundays, no matter what style of worship we prefer or what spiritual gifts we actively use & pursue – you & I can all stand united under the Name of King Jesus, undivided & strong! THAT is how the world will know He came & is coming again! (John 17).

With those things in mind, Holy Spirit, we ask you to come and speak to our hearts as we come before you.  Lord, show us great & mighty things in Your word today!

Please click here for notes that you can fill-in as you read below:  

Col PN Intro, 1.1-2 

(When you click you will find 2 pages of notes for the intro; then 5 subsequent days of devotionals related to what we are learning in Colossians 1:1-2)

Author(s): Paul & Timothy

Recipients: God’s holy people, Believers in the city of Colossae

Date Written: Early 60’s A.D. (61-63 likely)

toward end of his Roman Imprisonment

around the same time he wrote the letters to the Ephesians & to Philemon

Delivered by Tychicus (TU-he-Coss) & Onesimus (whom Paul was sending back with a letter to his master, Philemon, who was a member of the Colossian Church (Col 4:7-9)) 

City of Colossae:

sevenCitiesMap

in the Roman province of Asia Minor called Phrygia (Fru-Gee-a) located in the southwest corner of modern-day Turkey

Revelation 1:11 –  “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”         – Notice all of those churches are northwest of Colossae.

10 miles from Laodicea and 13 miles from Hierapolis, 100 miles from Ephasus

Colossae, Laodicea & Hierapolis destroyed by earthquakes in 17 A.D. (in the reign of Tiberius) and again in the 60’s A.D. (in the reign of Nero).

Paul mentions the Churches in Laodicea 4x’s in Colossians, and Hierapolis 1x

Rebuilt after each earthquake, Colossae never regained its early prominence

manufactured a beautiful dark red wool cloth (colossinum) for which the city became famous.

In Paul’s day, the trade-route was moved & bypassed Colossae which increased trade in Laodicea and Heiropolis, but almost killed the commerce in Colossae completely (THINK of why Cresson is fighting against a by-pass right now)

by 400 A.D. the city no longer existed, no excavation has occurred to date 

 The Colossian Church:

  • The church at Colossae began during Paul’s 3-yr ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19)
  • Founded by Epaphras (Col 1:5–7), who apparently was saved during a visit to Ephesus, then likely started the church in Colosse when he returned home.
  • many speculate the Colossian church was a house-church meeting in Philemon’s home.
  • Mostly made up of Gentiles, but evidence of some Jewish believers there as well. In Acts 2:10 it lists “Phrygia” (which was a Roman province in Asia at the time) as a place where Jews had come from during Pentacost

 

The House Church (likely Philemon’s Home)

  • Philemon 2b: Paul sends greetings to the church in his house
  • Colossians 4:15 says to greet Nympha and the church meeting in her home
  • Acts 16 & Romans 16: Lydia; Aquila and Priscilla (house church in Ephesus); Gaius
  • According to Anglican evangelist David Watson,

“For the first two centuries, the church met in small groups in the homes of its members, apart from special gatherings in public lecture halls or market places, where people could come together in much larger numbers. Significantly these two centuries mark the most powerful and vigorous advance of the church, which perhaps has never seen been equaled. The lack of church buildings was no hindrance to the rapid expansion of the church; instead…it seemed a positive help.” (67 million Chinese Christians, house churches)

  • Donald Guthrie (lecturer London Bible College; book: New Testament Theology) wrote that

“the expression ‘in church’ (en ekklésia)…refers to an assembly of believers. There is no suggestion of a special building.  Indeed, the idea of a church as representing a building is totally alien to the NT.”

  • Ekklesia is used 111 times in the NT, never used for a building or place, always used for the gathering of Believers

The Cultural Influence in Colossae (Paul’s main concern in writing to the Colossians):

Pagan Mysticism and Jewish Legalism and that had to be dealt with by Paul when he got the report from Epaphras

non-Christian teachings were circulating within the Colossian church. The problem was syncretism: the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.

Jewish and Gentile beliefs and practices were being combined, creating a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity.

Pagan Mysticism:

  • later became known as Gnosticism: that God is good, but matter is evil, that Jesus Christ was merely one of a series of emanations descending from God and being less than God (a belief that led them to deny His true humanity)
  • a secret, higher knowledge above Scripture was necessary for enlightenment and salvation
  • that humans could transcend evil and the corruptions of the world through asceticism and their own strength of will.
  • worship of angels and mystical experience
  • Gnostics believed that they could essentially ignore the world and follow their own desires and impulses.
  • Paul wrote to the Colossian church to warn them away from error and reiterate the importance of the Christian ethic.
  • -Bible.org “Not only do we live in an atomic and space age, but in the most technologically advanced age of all time. As in the past, this is a day where, duped by the age-old lie of Satan, man still continues to believe in himself and his ability to solve his problems apart from God as He is revealed in Scripture.”
  • (Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 13.) Do we have any of this heresy today? Yes, we do; and it is just as deceptive and dangerous! When we make Jesus Christ and the Christian revelation only part of a total religious system or philosophy, we cease to give Him the preeminence. When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of “deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence!”

Jewish Legalism:

  • the necessity of circumcision for salvation
  • observance of the ceremonial rituals of the OT law (dietary laws, festivals, Sabbaths), and rigid asceticism(self-discipline).

Click here for a list of the Themes in the Book of Colossians:

Col PN Themes

Okay!  Now let’s get into the actual letter Paul wrote to the Believers in Colossae: Take a look at Colossians 1:1

1.  This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

  • He asserts his apostleship here, as he does in many epistles (Bob Utley)
  • Turn to 1 Cor. 1:1

Colossians Translator’s handbook says:

God’s Will may be translated “this is what God wanted” or “this is what God planned”; “God caused me to be an apostle of Christ Jesus”

Apostle of Christ Jesus must appropriately reflect the importance of the message communicated by Paul, as well as the special relationship between the apostle and the One Who sent him

I love how Paul says he’s an apostle chosen by the will of God, his testimony demands that he let everyone know he is not on his own mission, he wasn’t just born into this lifestyle of preaching/spreading the gospel, it is by GOD’S WILL alone that Paul is who he is…because of where Paul came from, he formerly “thought” he was in the will of God because he was operating in the system in which he was raised, a devout Jew, a persecutor of the Church and anyone who called Jesus Lord – He wants to make it clear that it was not his idea, he was undoubtedly CALLED BY GOD to spread the Good News of Jesus

What is your testimony?

What could you say of your own calling?

Are you living out the calling God has put in your life?

What are you passionate about?

 2.   We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.

  • God’s holy people:   The saint is one called out by God, set apart, same idea of a kingdom of priests in the O.T.
  • IN the city of Colossae:

“When God sees us, He sees His church in Elkart, in LaGrange, in Middleburg. He doesn’t see Maple City Chapel, He doesn’t see First United Methodist Church. He sees it as The Church. He doesn’t see it as the Amish district in Millersburg.   He doesn’t see the differences between denominations, He sees it as His people. And the way that we begin to realize that is through the Holy Spirit.” – Dr. Kyle Martin

  • Faithful brothers & sister IN Christ:  in Him we live, move, have our being, we are inside the sphere of Jesus Christ

Charis = Grace, very similar to the greek word for “greetings”,

Bob Utley (Bible Scholar) says that he believes Paul does this on purpose when writing to the Gentiles because it would be a play on words or sorts. They would expect the normal greeting, but this greeting means something SO MUCH more amazing.

And Peace, the Hebrew idea of Shalom.

We will discover much more depth in the 5 days of homework!  If you missed the opportunity to download the homework Col PN Intro, 1.1-2 and print pages 3-7 so that you can dig into God’s Word for yourself over the next week!  I’ll meet you back here next Tuesday.  May you feel the presence of the Lord in a powerful way this week, and may you be molded and shaped by the power of His Word!  He is worthy & He is worth it!!!