Team Work

SCRIPTURE: Colossians 4:7-18

7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here. 10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”18 Here is my greeting in my own handwritingPaul. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.

INTRODUCTION

There is no doubt about it, Paul was not only a full blooded Jew, he was a type-A, heavily driven person who demanded 100% from himself and everyone around him. He had little tolerance for slackers. If you were on Paul’s team, you learned to pull your weight. Sometimes we get the idea that Paul flew solo, that he was a one man band but nothing could be further from the truth. He was always the team leader but he never worked without a team. There is no doubt in my mind, the key to effectiveness in God’s kingdom is in learning to work together with other believers and churches.

As is Paul’s custom, he closes each letter with a list of credits to friends and helpers. Keep in mind throughout the course of this message that the theme or point is that we need each other. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger” ministry. Every good Team Leader understands his vital need for a team of co-workers. The kingdom agenda cannot be accomplished by one man or one church or even one denomination.

THE MESSENGERS/COURIERS

Paul begins with his couriers, Tychicus  and Onesimus.  He told the Colossians, “Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.

Thchicus which means “fateful” was an Asiatic covert who joined Paul somewhere is Asia on Paul’s third missionary journey. He became Paul’s courier. Paul used him to send messages to churches. We know that he used him to send a message to Colosse and to Ephesus. Good communication is vital to any endeavor. Bad communication is a sure ticket to failure. This was before the postal system or email. Ty will go to Colosse in Paul’s behalf and give them a full report. Paul refers to Ty as more than a courier, he calls him his beloved brother and faithful helper. “He serves with me in the LORD’s work,” Paul said.

The purpose of Ty’s trip is to encourage the believers at Colosse by giving them a full report on Paul’s condition. As we have said many times, discouragement is never of God. Paul’s intent is not to discourage but to encourage the Colossians. He sends Onesimus with Ty. He will share in the mission: both will tell what is happening with Paul. Travel was dangerous in those days and there was always safety in numbers. Sending two instead of one was not uncommon. NOTE: Onesimus is a run-a-way slave but Paul regards him as a brother in Christ.

BFF…BEST FRIEND FOREVER

The next man on Paul’s list is Aristarchus. Aristarchus hailed from Thessalonica and he like Ty joined Paul on his third Missionary Journey. Aristarchus which means “The Best Ruler” was actually Paul’s “Best Friend”. He stayed with Paul from Macedonia until the very end. He was with Paul in Jerusalem, Caesarea and made the voyage with him to Rome where he was imprisoned along side Paul. Many scholars believe that Aristarchus gave us his freedom at Caesarea and voluntarily became Paul’s personal slave. According to Roman law, a slave was not a person but merely property. Therefore Paul had the right to carry his property with him. In other words, in the eyes of the Romans, Aristarchus was just another suitcase, a part of Paul’s baggage. He was with Paul on the voyage, ship wreck and the imprisonment in Rome. Some even believe that he was executed a long side Paul. We know he was executed by the same man, Nero [No one’s hero].

There are some interesting things here: some thoughts that penetrate the mind: [1] How valuable was it to Paul to have a friend who was willing to lay down his life for Christ sake to serve and encourage Paul. [2] Paul accomplished great things: how valuable was Aristarchus to Paul’s success. Will Aristarchus be one of those who worked silently in the background here on earth but will be in the forefront when we get to heaven. [3] How rare, very rare is this kind of loyalty?

I heard a story once. A preacher told it so I don’t know if it has been exaggerated or not. I may have exaggerated it some myself so lets just call it a parable: a earthy story with a heavenly meaning. A young man entered the ministry and was called to a rural church out in the middle of nowhere. The church met in an old building that was supported by pillows of concrete block. The young preacher met with phenomenal results; decisions every week. He became quite proud of himself and when a large city church called, he felt God leading him to move to the bigger church for the glory of the LORD. When he got to the bigger church, things stopped happening. He preached the same sermons with the same passion but no response. Finally, he got so discouraged that he took a Sunday off and went back to the little county church. He parked a ways from the church and began to pray. Right at preaching time, he noticed one of the older deacons slipping out the back door and crawling up under the floor right beneath the pulpit area. There he got on his knees and stayed there until the service was over. Like a burst of sunlight, the thought beamed in the preachers mind, “It wasn’t me. It was not my sermons or my gifts. It was God honoring this old man’s prayers.”

I do not know if the story is true but it contains a truth: You may never know the source of your success until you get to heaven. Behind every great man of God there is a team of people that are lifting him up in prayer.

OLD FRIENDS

It is interesting that Paul mentions John Mark. Paul got very upset with Mark when he bailed out of the first Missionary journey. I am not scholar or authority by any stretch but I take the side of Barnabas and Mark. I have always believed that Paul was wrong to be so hard on a youthful Mark. We don’t know what changed; did Mark work hard and earn Paul’s trust or did Paul mellow out and become more tolerant of those not as strong as himself. It may have been a mixture of both. The main thing is that they got it worked out so that they could work together. Paul came to understand that the marvel of the body of Christ was it’s uniqueness; many members but all different, no two alike. Paul learned to celebrate diversity. We are different but we are not to be divided. Barnabas and Paul were as different as daylight and dark but they worked together until the division split them apart. Paul never confesses any error on his part but I have to believe that in time he took some of the blame for the misunderstanding. He sure thinks a lot of Mark at the end. He has a deep desire to see him before he departs this world.

PRAYER WARRIORS

Next on Paul’s list is Epaphras who is known for his power in prayer. Every time this man is mentioned in scripture, it is in relationship to prayer. “He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.” Epaphras was a man of prayer. If you read the Epistles of Paul, you will see some things that all his letters have in common. He begins them all by wishing the recipients GRACE and PEACE. Paul always emphases “Thanksgiving”: it is a redundant theme in every letter. He always gives credit to his helpers, usually in the last chapter. He always exhorts and he always solicits prayer, always. Check it out, when he writes to a church, he asked for prayer. The letters to individuals are a little different. I have been a young preacher and now I am an old preacher and I can tell you one thing for certain: other than the sovereign grace of our LORD Jesus Christ, prayer is the most vital aspect of our faith. I am a prayer glutton. I want everyone to pray for me.

Many, many years ago, I went through a crisis and truthfully there where times when I did not think there was even a remote possibility that I would survive. I bumped into my Father in the ministry at a preachers conference and I ask him to make me a prayer project. I told him the truth: I fully believed that only prayer could save me. I may be wrong but I credit my survival to his prayers and God’s grace. Folks, I believe in prayer. I believe practically every church would have a better pastor if the members prayed for him as they should. If prayer could out weight criticism, I think we would see a huge difference. Paul was a great man and he accomplished great things but he also had men like Epaphras praying for him. I would be thrilled to have an Epaphras on my team.

THE GIFTED

You have them on every team: those who can do about anything. Luke was a Greek physician who lived in the Greek city of  Antioch in Ancient Syria. Luke wore three hats: He a physician, an evangelist and historian. He chronicles all of Paul’s activities. Luke wrote not only a gospel, he also wrote Acts which gives us the details of Paul’s missionary journeys. What a valuable asset he was to Paul’s team. He could give Paul medical treatment, help in sharing the gospel and he keep a record of all that happened. Do you keep a daily record? If you do, you know that it is not easy. It is more difficult than maintaining a Quiet Time.

A DESERTER

In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul said, Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me.” It is believed that Demas remained faithful all the way to Rome. Unlike his friend Aristarchus, Demas did not give up his freedom and for a while he made the visits to prison where Paul and Aristarchus were confined but over time the pleasures and sensations of Rome began to draw him away from his prior commitment. Demas was a charismatic personality. Everyone liked Demas. He was passionate and enthusiastic. His goal was to be faithful to the end but as he began to see the end, he had second thoughts. Like Lot, he began to pitch his tent toward Sodom and eventually, he moved in with the pagan community. There is no joy in Paul’s voice when he talks about Demas. No doubt Paul had high hopes for this young man and his desertion brought huge disappointment.

WOMEN

The KJV puts an s on Nympha which makes it masculine but there is no s. Women played a huge role in the early church and part of this had to do with churches meeting in the home. Trust me, if a church meets in our home, June will play a major part. We know that in Philippi, Paul worked with Lydia and there are records where he worked with both women and couples. Paul didn’t hate women, he just did not see a need to be married to one. Personally, I would not attempt to pastor a church that did not have women: how could you do AWANA, Nursery, pre-school or VBS without them? I am certainly not fond of the idea of a male secretary. Women have a intuition that men do not have. They have valuable insights. I am a fan of the open discussion. I run things by my wife and secretaries. I want to know what they think. I can tell you one thing: you better pray a lot before you go against them.

SLACKERS

The last guy on the list is Archippus who is probably the junior member of the team and he is at Colosse, not with Paul. Paul tells the recipients of the letter to tell Archippus to tighten up…“Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.” Evidently, he was slacking and Paul wanted them to give him a nudge. It is believed that Archie was Philemon son.

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Encouragement To Pray

Colossians 4:2-6

2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Introduction

What is the highest or the most noble use of the tongue? Dr. Warren Wiersbe says the two most noble uses of the tongue is in prayer and praise. I given a lot of thought to what he said and I cannot argue with him. Even though the truth of this statement resonates in my mind and soul, I need encouragement to do both. Prayer is easier for me when I have someone to pray with and so is praise. In the text today, Paul is encouraging the Colossians to pray. Let’s look at what he says…

I. We are to Devote ourselves to prayer. The word devote means :[1] to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one, [2] to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, [3] to continue all the time in a place, [4]to persevere and not to faint, [5]to show one’s self courageous for one, [6] to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly. It’s like going into a sit down restaurant and a waitress comes to your table or an ocean cruise where you go to the fancy dinning hall for dinner: you have a waiter or waitress devoted to your table. Their focus is on you, no one else. When we pray, we are to be focused like a laser. A laser is powerful; it can cut through steel and all it is focused light, concentrated light.

II. Secondly, we are to Prayer with an alert mind. A part of being “devoted” to prayer is to be alert or watchful. The word Paul uses here means to watch, to give strict attention to. It would be like a Sentry posted to guard a wall. If you are like me, you probably struggle in this area. It is hard to stay alert in prayer. We have a lot of forces working against us and this makes alertness a real effort. The flesh doesn’t want to pray. The devil doesn’t want you to pray and the world will hinder or distract you from prayer. If you are to ever master the art of prayer, you must have a quiet place, away from the distractions of the world. You cannot maintain alertness of mind in the midst of distractions. So, number one, get rid of distractions: TV’s, Radio’s, noise, traffic, etc. This is a starting place but it will not take care of all the problems: what happens when you get in a quiet place and get relaxed? You get sleepy or you mind begins to wonder. I am not expert but I can tell you things that help me with this problem. [1] Get a pen and paper and write your prayers down. This is good for two reasons, you have to focus and stay alert to write and you have a record of your prayers. It is a blessing to go back and read prayers that I prayed 25-30 years ago. I am always amazed at how many prayers God has answered over time and I was not even aware that He had answered them until I read these old prayers. Some Baptist act like it is a sin to write a prayer but it is no sin. George Washington, the most indispensable man in American history had a prayer book. [2] Get in a place where you can talk out loud without fear of someone other than Jesus hearing you. The devil has no power over the spoken word. When you speak your prayers aloud, it is like scratching on the blackboard to Satan, it drives him away.

III. We are to pray with thanksgiving. This is a continual theme with Paul; one that he repeats more than any other. Oswald Chambers believed that prayer was a kin to begging. It the old days a beggar did not ask for specific things but simply begged for help and would take what ever you were willing to give. The true beggar puts himself at the donor’s mercy. Our problem, according to Chambers, is that we have imagined a specific or desired result and God answers our prayer in such a mysterious way that we don’t recognize that He has answered it at all. Therefore give thanks for His wisdom and mercy: He will answer the prayer but it may come in a form that we are not expecting. Israel prayed for a Messiah: God answered their prayer but not in the way they had imagined and they failed to recognize the answer when He stood right in front of them. Prayer may not seem that powerful to most but devoted prayer is very powerful.  Last, Paul exhorts us to keep on praying. William Barclay said, “Even in the best of us, there comes a time when prayer seems unavailing and when I prayers don’t seem to be getting any higher than the ceiling. As such times the remedy is not to stop praying, but to go on praying; for in the man who prays spiritual dryness cannot last.” 

IV. We are to pray for God’s servants: Paul didn’t make any bones about it, he said, “Pray for us.” I am a prayer glutton, a prayer hog. I’m not saying this is a good thing, I am just stating facts. Several years ago, my wife got word that a certain ladies prayer group were praying for our marriage and she got ticked. I just laughed. These girls were wearing the halo too tight and they were more than a bit self-righteous but I was not offended and I knew we needed the prayer. About three years ago a vicious rumor got started about our church in general and myself in particular. It all began with a woman getting upset because we had prayed for her husband in a deacon meeting and one of the deacons went and told her. I do have to admit that I don’t understand why people get upset when they find out some group is praying for them. Paul would not have gotten upset. Perhaps you feel that the group doing the praying has problems of their own or is self-righteous or hypocritical. I don’t care: I’ll take prayer from anyone anytime. If you want to pray that I will become a better preacher or witness; help yourself, it cannot hurt. God’s servants need prayer just as a fish needs water. Paul even gives us some specific things to pray for:

  1. Pray that God will give us many opportunities to speak about His mysterious plan concerning Christ.
  2. Pray that I proclaim the message clearly as I should.
  3. Pray that you make the most of every opportunity
  4. Pray that your conversation be gracious and attractive: that you draw rather than repel.
  5. Pray that you have the right response when you get the opportunity to confront another person
  6. Remember those in chains. Somehow, we American have convinced ourselves that persecution is a thing of the past but it is not. We need to remember those in prison like Paul for sharing the word, that the message of the gospel be proclaimed clearly. I still keep up to a degree what is going on with the VOICE OF THE MARTYRS.  Saeed Abedini, a 33-year-old Pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, is currently imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith. After intense interrogations, Saeed was placed under house arrest and told to wait for a court summons. On 26 September 2012, instead of receiving a summons telling him where to appear, five members of the Revolutionary Guard raided Saeed’s parents’ home in Tehran, confiscated many of Saeed’s belongings, and took him to an unknown location. After four days the Revolutionary Guard informed the family that Saeed was in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison. During solitary confinement, Saeed was only brought out of his small, dark cell to be subjected to abusive interrogations. Saeed had been denied medical treatment for infections that resulted from beatings. The ward doctor and nurse refused to treat him because, as a Christian, he was considered “unclean” and an infidel. Saeed’s family in Tehran may visit Saeed on Mondays, but he is not permitted to make phone calls, cutting him off from his wife and two young children in the U.S. In late February it became known that Saeed was suffering from internal bleeding, an injury from beatings he endured during interrogations. Doctors examined Saeed in early March and determined that his injuries warranted immediate attention, and, in their medical opinion, he needed to be treated in a non-prison hospital. For a month, the Iranian regime ignored this advice. In an attempt to appease international pressure, on 8 April 2013, the Saeed was taken to a private hospital. Before doing so, guards forced Saeed to change his prison uniform to that of a murderer. Saeed resisted, the guards beat him, and forced him to wear the uniform. When Saeed arrived at the hospital he was never admitted or treated because, according to the guards, the doctor on staff was not present. Saeed has reported that several cellmates, who appear to be connected to the Iranian intelligence police, have threatened to suffocate Saeed while he sleeps. So here is a servant that is suffering and we are to pray for him. I can promise you, Saeed will not be offended by the news that you or your group is praying for him. Prayer is a form of remembering: Saeed knows this and so do our Missionaries. It is not rocket science: if you prayed for me, I had to come to mind which means I was remembered.

 

The Christian Wardrobe

Scripture Text: Colossians 3:12-17

 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about “Spiritual Stripping” but tonight we talk about something more delightful, putting on a believer’s outfit. I had rather talk about what we put on than what we take off. When it comes to covering the shame of my flesh, more is better. I want to be fully clad, dressed or covered. Here is a list of the things that Paul tells us to “Put on”.

  1. We are to clothe ourselves with A HEART OF COMPASSION. The NLT translates it “Tenderhearted Mercy”. The AV reads “Bowels of Mercy.” In the ancient world the bowels were associated with inner feelings. The one thing that we all feel is the activity of the bowels. When they are agitated or moving, it is something you feel on the inside. Compassion is something we feel on the inside. We have a little girls in our church family that has spinal bifida and we went to see her in a baseball game last night. She and about 6 others swing the bat from their wheel chair and then roll around the bases. Many of the children suffered from Down Syndrome or other things that challenge them mentally. They have no umpires; no outs are recorded. Everyone hits, runs, scores and is cheered on by the entire crowd. The thing that really impressed me, was the way they celebrated with each other over what we would define as a minor accomplishment. Every thing is big in their world. There are no little things. I was moved with compassion. I could not even speak to my wife as we drove out of the parking lot: my heart was full of emotion. I wrote in my daily blog that it was good to be stirred. I needed to see that game. My heart grows cold and that warmed it up. It was good for my soul. We need to put on a heart of compassion.
  2. We need to put on KINDNESS, moral goodness in word and deed. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It could be something as simple as a smile or a friendly greeting but we usually associate it with a deed. Back in the 90’s when I was a student of Seven Habits, I put an act of kindness on my to-do list. My goal was to do one act of kindness per day. Of course I was trying to establish this as a habit. We humans tend to think of “Great Things” or “Big Things.” Things that would make the headlines or the evening news but in God’s kingdom, it is the little things that go unnoticed which are big. A good example is found in Luke 21:2 where Jesus notices a widow woman who gave two small copper coins which is less than a cent. We would frown on anyone who gave a penny, let alone less but Jesus commended her because it was all that she had and He said she had given more than all the others. Wow! Don’t concentrate on doing big things that bring notoriety, concentrate on doing small acts of kindness that no one even notices other than Jesus.
  3. The 3rd thing we put on is HUMILITY. Humility is not thinking little of yourself, it is not thinking about yourself at all. It is 1st base in the Kingdom of God. If we don’t touch 1st, we cannot possibly score. Humility is fundamental to everything we do: Worship, Ministry, Fellowship, Evangelism, Mission, etc. Humility is the most elusive virtue. The opposite side of humility is pride and pride disqualifies us from meaningful service in God’s kingdom. I have known highly gifted preachers who struggled with pride. I made a Freudian slip last Sunday and everyone laughed at me. It was a bit embarrassing but I laughed it off and moved on. I saw the same thing happen to a famous preacher some 40 years ago and he got offended and retaliated. Humility is tough and the greater our success the tougher if becomes.
  4. Next Paul says, we put on GENTLENESS. The AV translates it “Meekness”. The Greek πραότης (praotēs) is used 9 times in N.T. and the AV translates it meekness every time. The NASB consistently translates this word “Gentleness”. It can be translated meek, mild or gentle. My New Testament Professors in seminary said that it was the word used to describe a gentle horse. In other words, meekness is not weakness but strength under control.
  5. Next we put on PATIENCE.  The Greek word is μακροθυμία (makrothymia),
    which occurs 14 times in 14 verses in the Greek concordance of the NASB. It means slow to get angry and is used generally in reference to people. People are more likely to agitate us than circumstances. The slow line at Walmart is usually personnel related or an unhappy customer.
  6. Next we put on TOLERANCE which is the grace of allowing for each others faults. No one is perfect. Whereas this is true, it is not an alibi. We should strive for perfection. We are not talking here about accepting adultery, fornication, greed, drunkenness or sexual perversion. We are talking about the fact that no human is without flaw; we all have our strengths and weakness. A church that demands a perfect pastor could neither find one or keep one. In 99% of marriages, one spouse has quirks that annoy the other. Marriage can only work when we tolerate each other. The same is true with church work. I know pastors who were great at ministry but horrible at confrontation. They idea of handling conflict was to look for another church. I’ve known churches who had great pastors but they were weak in the pulpit. They did such a great job on the pastoral side that the congregation made allowance for their weakness in the pulpit.
  7. The next thing we put on is FORGIVENESS. You don’t need a definition or the exposition of the Greek word, you know what forgiveness is and what it is not. Jesus never made “forgiveness” an option for His followers. He simple said, “If you don’t forgive each other, My Father will not forgive you.” How can I reconcile that we grace? I can’t and I don’t have to. I believe that if you are a child of God that He will give you the grace to forgive which literally means to let go. For years, I took great pride in my ability to forgive but I had deceived myself: the exact opposite was true. I was holding on to things from my childhood, high school days and since. I’ve had people tell me over and over that they had forgiven a certain person when I knew that had not: simply because they are still talking about it. Forgiveness is letting go. Give it to God. Our fear is that the offence we took personally will not warrant His attention or Judgment. So we refuse to let God have it. To us, it is a form of control and it gives us the assurance that all is not forgotten and justice will be served one way or the other.
  8. Now we get to the overcoat which is LOVE. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. {V.14}. Love binds us together, it closes the net. Love gets us tight. We come together. When we come together, we have unity. When we love and give preference to each other, we have harmony. I know a church named Unity, it is a split, off of a split, off of a split. Junior Hill tells about the story of driving through a small town in the Bible Belt. He saw three churches by the name of Harmony. One was simply Harmony Baptist Church, the second was New Harmony Baptist Church and the third was Greater New Harmony Baptist Church. The fact these three churches had no unity makes you wonder if they had any harmony.
  9. It keeps getting better, next we put on PEACE. This peace which comes when we trust Christ completely will umpire [rule] our life. It will guide us and blow the whistle if we get out of bounds. A man called me just yesterday with a problem. He was very stirred up and I listened for a while and then I said to him. “This is a problem but it is not really your problem. It is an associational problem [70 churches]. Obviously, it had you upset to the point that I fear for you. I want you to calm down and give this problem to the Lord and to the others who are addressing it.” He was not convinced and I felt that my advice was ignored. I got a phone call today and he said, “I heard what you said, I have met with the person in question. We sat down and worked everything out. I am not happy with the decision and I think it was the right one.” I don’t know for a fact that the decision is right or wrong but I do know this, God is sovereign and He is always is control even when we exercise our free will. Our responsibility is to obey HIM and that is it. The outcome of things is not our responsibility. The man’s peace was disturbed because he had assumed God’s responsibility.
  10. Knowing Paul, we are not shocked that number ten is THANKSGIVING. Actually Paul says more about thanksgiving than any thing else…For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. {Col. 3:15-17} What can I say, gratitude is attractive. Grateful people are happy people. Ungrateful people are unhappy people.

CONCLUSION

If you strip off the works of the flesh: Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, greed, anger, temper, malice, slander, foul talk, and dishonesty and you put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, love, peace and thanksgiving, we will be blessed indeed.

Spiritual Stripping

Colossians 3:5-11

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

INTRODUCTION

Life is about giving up things or having them stripped from you. If you don’t know this now-you will know eventually. It is best that we lay some of these things aside without having them taken. Paul challenges us to treat the flesh and it’s habits as dirty clothes, take them off and don’t put them back on. I am thankful that God is gracious and that He has a lot of patience with us. I love the NLT, it is so clear; note Paul’s introduction to this passage, So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.” That makes it crystal clear.

TRANSITION

What are some to the things we are to take off, lay aside?

  1. Paul begins his list with SEXUAL IMMORALITY. The AV translates the Greek word porneia as fornication but the word covers all elicit sex: fornication, adultery, homosexuality and all others. Any sexual sin you can name is covered by this word. Are you shocked that Paul would mention this first? It was a huge problem in the ancient world, especially among the Gentiles or as Williams translates “the heathens.” It remains the number one problem today and the internet has not helped. All porn is wrong and offensive but child porn is heartbreaking and it has increase 1500% since 1997. Until the late 80’s and early 90’s porn images were not available on the net in mass, then some anonymous inventers came up with ways to transmit images clearly and since then it has been Katie bar the door. One pedophile was arrested in Great Britain who had 450,000 child porn images in his possession. I could say more but it is too hard to stomach. I read all I wanted to in five minutes. Some say that 37% of internets sites are porn; others say it is more like one in four. Regardless to who is right and who is wrong, it is too many. Some sites are pay-per-view and 90% of their hits come from men. Williams translates 1 Corinthians 6:18…”Keep on running from sexual immorality.” Note two things: it is a continual battle “Keep on running” and we are to run ‘from’ it, not to it.
  2. Second on Paul’s list is IMPURITY. The AV translates it Uncleanness. It refers to either spiritual or physical uncleanness. It is the closest thing to the off quotes “Godliness is next to cleanliness,” which is not in the bible.
  3. Third on Paul’s list is PASSION [Greek is pathos]. The AV translates it INORDINATE AFFECTION, the NIV translates it ‘lust’ and the CEV ‘wrong desires.’ Actually this word pathos can be used in a good or bad sense. Pathos is a deep feeling which occupies our mind and motivates our actions for good or bad.
  4. Number four is EVIL DESIRES. The AV translates this as ‘Evil Craving’…It is a desire for the forbidden. The old “Don’t walk on grass” or “Wet paint, don’t touch” principle.
  5. Five is GREED which is translated ‘Covetousness’ in the AV. Paul said that greed is synonymous with idolatry.
    • Idolatry is driven by selfishness–People form gods in their own image to conform to their desires. The pagan had combined worship with the first four things on Paul’s list: Sexual immorality, impurity, passion and evil desires.
    • Idolatry is the worship of self-will…”I want what I want.”
    • Materialism becomes Idolatry when we covet wealth more than God…Wealth becomes our god.
    • Greed has never been limited to the wealthy, or the immoral. Both the poor and the religious are subject to greed.
    • Greed is a subtle and destructive trap–it can destroy life and legacy. I read a quote the other day, “Misers are no fund to hang out with but they make good ancestors.”
    • There are two sins you’ll never hear a Baptist confess: Greed and Jealously.
    • At this point, Paul does an aside, “Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.” I don’t know how to reconcile accountability with grace but Paul said twice [Romans 14:10] Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. [2 Cor. 5:10]. One thing is sure: we are accountable to God for the choices we make.
    • Paul starts a second list in verse in verse 8 with this introduction…BUT NOW IS THE TIME TO GET RID OF…the word rid means to lay aside or store away like a garment. So in essence, we are still stripping.
  6. Get rid of ANGER [orge]. This is a slow burn fire that goes deep, a smoldering fire that refuses to go out. When I was 16 years old, I accidently burned down the family barn and it was full of hair and corn. Inside the barn and around was layers and layers of dried manure and it burns for weeks. I don’t mean days, I mean weeks. We usually associate orge with sexual immorality and it is related but it also speaks of a hidden anger. Whatever is eating at you inside, you need to deal with it and get rid of it. When humans are not designed to carry fire.
  7. Number seven on Paul’s list is TEMPER and this is a very familiar Greek word ‘thumos’. But it does not mean to keep hot, it means to blaze with anger, it is not hidden anger but an outburst of anger. One characteristic of a foolish person is to brag about their ‘thumos’, their outburst of anger. Proverbs 16:32 reads…”Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Self-control trumps brute force.
  8. Number 8 is MALICE. Malice is a vicious word that indicates a persons intent to injure. Some people are careless with their tongues and say dumb things that hurt others but they have no idea that their words injured. They were speaking in ignorance. Then there are words that are intended to harm, to discourage, to destroy and these are malicious words. We have to account for all misspoken words but Malice carries a much stiffer fine because it is not done in ignorance.
  9. Number nine is SLANDER. The Greek word for slander is ‘innuendo’…I am kidding, the Greek word is ‘blasphemia’ and it speak of lies about another person. Slander is extreme malice with the intent not just to harm but to destroy. I mention innuendo, an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging comment relating to another’s character, because some folks SLANDER SUBTLY by using innuendo. It is not so much what they actually say as what they suggest. They use this subtle form of slander because it makes it much harder to hold them accountable.
  10. Number ten of all things is FOUL TALK. The AV renders this filthy communication and it refers to obscenity and suggestive language often times whispered so everyone cannot hear. When I think about foul talk, I recall those who cursed and talked filth for all to hear. I have to confess that this became a habit in my youth. God convicted me strongly and delivered me instantly. This is the only bad habit in which God removed in this fashion, at least that I recall. The others have been long battles. Note: THE LAST THREE SINS ON PAULS LIST HAVE TO DO WITH THE TONGUE.
  11. I don’t know about you but I’ve about had all I can take in one sermon but Paul is not finished; not quite. Number is eleven is DON’T LIE TO EACH OTHER. My first thought is of preachers and their tendency to exaggerate. Bro. Inman use to say, “Preaches don’t exaggerate, they just magnify it up so you can see it.” But that is really not what Paul is talking about here: he is talking about our tendency to hid our sin and to pretend that everything is OK when it is not OK. I read a story yesterday about a new convert who attended church for his first time after someone had shared Christ with him. The preacher did something highly unusual. He read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11…Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God…and then he said, “If one or more of these sins are in your background, I want you to stand.” At first no one stood and the new convert thought, “Oh no, I’m in the wrong place.” But then one by one, people began to stand until the new Creation in Christ felt at home. I have to admit when I read the story, my first impulse was, I don’t want to be associated with this list…just look at it…but LORD began to convict and He started with sexual sin and before He was through, I could identify with practically every sin on the list. I had the most chilling thought: what if this guy had come to our church, do we have anyone honest enough to stand and confess? Only God knows, I don’t.

CONCLUSION

No one is their right mind wants to be left naked. Stripping is one thing but going naked is another. The good news is that we put on Christ [New Nature]…Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. [v.10] In this way Christ becomes our all in all. He is our shoes, socks, pants, undergarments, shirt, coat, tie, hat, whatever. Actually it can be summed up in one word “Robe.” Isaiah 61:10 reads…

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
By the way, Jesus was disrobed in our behalf in order that He could robe us…And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. Jesus was stripped for our sins and robed in scarlet for our transgression so that He could give us a white robe of righteousness. Hallelujah, what a SAVIOR!

Mortifying The Flesh

SCRIPTURE

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5, AV

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Colossians 3:5, NLT

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

Colossians 3:5, NASB

INTRODUCTION

The word translated ‘Mortify’ in AV is an interesting word. It is the Greek word nekroō and it has several meaning: [1] to make dead, to put to death, slay [2]worn out [3] of an impotent old man [4]to deprive of power, destroy the strength of. I like the NASB, “Consider the members of your earthy body as dead”…reckon them as dead or impotent. But the NLT really makes the message clear, So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

There is a strange theology floating around that denies the sinful nature that lurks within. The most recent proponent of this theology is Neil Anderson. They base everything on 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. The Greek word for ‘old things’ is archaios from which we get our word archaic. It means original, old or from the beginning. It is not the Greek word for ‘flesh’, ‘old man’ or ‘old nature.’

  1. No one is arguing the point that God in Christ makes us new creatures. The disagreement has to do with the process.
  2. Neil Anderson and his disciples believe that God eradicated the old nature, the sinful desires lurking in us. They distinguish the old nature from the flesh while most of us see them as one in the same. The flesh, the old man, the old nature is used interchangeably in the N.T. The Williams translation for example translates flesh as old nature consistently where as some translations go back and forth.
  3. The common Greek word for ‘flesh’ is sarx, old man is palaios anthrōpos, and nature is  anthrōpinos.
  4. Galatians 5:17 is my basic proof text that the old nature, the flesh, the evil lurking in us is still in existence…The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. [NLT] If you prefer the NASB…For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
  5. God is the creator of both the natural and spiritual and the natural is a shadow or dim reflection of the spiritual. The Apostle John, called the Mystic, was the first to capture and convey this truth. Jesus used the natural to illustrate the spiritual. A parable is a natural story that has a spiritual meaning. The universe is governed by the law of opposites. We have light and darkness. There is good and evil. How could you know good if you had no knowledge of evil. You could not know success unless you experienced failure. Electricity is possible the best example: you have a positive and a negative. In terms of propagation, you have male and female.  The opposites we see in the natural world indicate to us that there are opposites in the spiritual world.
  6. When we are converted, the Holy Spirit takes residence in us and He becomes an antagonist to the flesh. A none Christian can enjoy sin but the Holy Spirit will not allow a believer to enjoy sin. We have the capability to sin but not to enjoy sin. To deny that the fleshly nature that is inclined to sin is lurking within us is dangerous. Jesus told Peter, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” He tried to warn Peter that he was not above temptation and yielding to the temptation. Peter learned the hard way.
  7. The Neil Anderson Theology is an attempt to live by the power of positive thinking. It is what I call “Positional Theology.” The emphasis is on who we are in Christ. We are forgiven, liberated, new creations, saints, etc. In your daily life, do you think of yourself as a “Saint” or a “Sinner”. Positionally, I am a Saint, practically, I am still a sinner. Of course their point is believe what the Scripture says you are not what you feel which is a viable point.
  8. My conviction is that we are Saints in God’s eyes but not the world or even in our own eyes. How are we going to relate to a fallen world if we deny our sin. We all sin. Obviously some are not aware of their sin but we all sin. John said, “If we say we have no sin we make God a liar.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we all make mistakes everyday, we all sin and fall short everyday. There is no way we can live up to the glory and the perfection that we see in Jesus. How be it, this is not an excuse to sin but it is impractical, unethical, dishonest and dangerous to deny our sin.
  9. Those who get caught up in this positional theology become obsessed with the theology and their interest is in propagating their theology not the gospel of Christ. They cannot relate to sinners, they only relate to other believers.
  10. The truth is that Believers struggle. Our desire is to please the LORD but we have a tendency to fail. We are caught in a war that is both beyond and within us. I struggle with temptation. I am being honest. If I told you that I did not struggle, would you believe me. If you examine or observe my life closely, will you declare me a saint or a sinner?

STORY

I was riding with a good friend to a conference at Ridgecrest and we got into this discussion. He is an Anderson disciple and a good man. We began debating and it turned into an argument. I called for a time out. I said, “We are arguing and this proves my point.” “What are you talking about?” He said. I said, “Arguing is a fruit of the flesh, it is coming from our old nature, a Saint would not argue.” He did not agree but he knew he was wrong and we changed the subject. I am telling you whether you like it or not, the old nature is still lurking in you and you have the potential to sin, to even bring shame on yourself and Christ.

TRANSITION

Why did God not eradicate the old sinful nature the moment He saved us?

  1. In this life, God will not do anything that makes us totally independent. He has created us to need HIM. You have to be converted before you really sense you total dependency upon HIM. It is by God’s design: The only way to live in victory over Satan, the flesh, and the world is to depend totally upon Christ, there is no other way and God made it so. Christ wants us to rely on HIM and this is healthy. This is the exact opposite of the natural realm. When a baby is born, he or she is totally dependent but they grow toward independence. When I was a baby, my mother took care of me but now my mother is in heaven and I have to take care of myself. I can change myself, feed myself, bath myself and seek shelter for myself. I grew from total dependence to independence and this is healthy. When a kid is 50 years old and living with his parents because he does not have a job and no sense of responsibility, this is not healthy. The child has not matured. He should not be dependent on parents at this age. It is the opposite in the spiritual realm. When we are born spiritually, we retain a lot of our old ways including our stubborn self-will but as we grow and mature in Christ, we become more and more dependent on Him. A mature Christians is totally dependent on Christ.
  2. A second reason why God did not eradicate the old nature is that it is our primary source of humiliation. Although we shun humiliation more than we do suffering, it is a necessary component to our spiritual growth. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Nothing moves us toward this spirit of humility more than humiliation. It works effectively and fast. Peter boasted to Jesus that he would not forsake Him in His hour of need. Jesus said, “You will not only forsake me, you will deny me three times before morning.” Peter vehemently protested, “Never” he said but Peter did exactly as Jesus prophesied. Peter embarrassed and shamed himself. He trusted in his flesh and his flesh failed him as it does you and I. There is one thing about the flesh that you can count on, failure. It will fail 100% of the time. Jeremiah said, 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. I am a Jeremiah disciple and this is one of the first verses that I committed to memory. It is a mistake to rely upon our human strength or flesh. It will disappoint you every single time. God uses this constant failure of the flesh to move us toward a spirit of humility. When I graduated Seminary, the last thing on my mind was being a bi-vocational pastor. I was not aware of it at the time but I had a lot of pride in this area. I looked down on bi-vocational pastors and assumed they either lacked faith, ambition or did not want to pursue their education. It did not dawn on me that Paul had a Phd. and yet was never supported by any church full time but worked as a bi-vo his entire life. The church I was serving in rural Mississippi knew that I would need more income and so one of the folks got me an application to teach school which I could have done at that time but I could not bring myself to fill it out. My thinking was that God did not call me to be bi-vocational. In reality, I thought I was too good to work. I prayed for God to open up a full time church which I assumed He did. We moved in August of 74 and went from $90 per week to $150.00 [no car expense]. After three years without a single raise, we were struggling and I was getting bitter. Providentially, God had my path cross a big Texan Dudley Hall and he straighten me out. He ask, “Where in scripture does it say that your church is to provide your needs? Some of you have made a god out of your employer. The bible says “My God, not my church, will supply all your needs.” He nailed me. I was guilty as sin and I knew it. I went back to the church on Sunday and made a confession about my attitude and then I told them that I wanted to follow Paul’s example and do whatever necessary to be able to preach the gospel. I expected one of two things to happen and neither happened. I thought they would fire me on the spot or give me a massive raise. It did not happen. No one seemed offended or convicted about my speech to go bi-vocational. One deacon came up and said, “I need someone to run a chain saw. I will pay you $20 per load if you will cut my wood. I will furnish the saw, the gas and the truck.” Then this same deacon starting recommending me to his friends and I worked odd jobs as long as I was serving the church. I discovered that the physical labor relieved a lot of my stress. I remain bi-vocational for the next decade or longer. I worked odd jobs until my wife completed nursing school in 1986. Things that seems humiliating in 1974 or no longer humiliating. The point is: God uses fleshly disappointment and failure to draw us to Himself. I am not pretending to be humble but I know that my attitude is better for having experienced what many preachers would consider humiliation.
  3. The third reason I offer as a suggestion as to why God does not eradicate the flesh when we are saved. The flesh being the constant [daily] antagonist that it is, forces us to come to Christ on a daily basis for help. This does overlap with my first point of being totally dependent on Christ but from a slightly different angle. The flesh, the old nature does not go away, we have to face it every single day. There are two trees in every believer’s garden and you have to make a choice daily as to which you are going to partake. God’s mercies are new every day because we need new mercy and grace every day. Pride, lust and the entire fleshly troop do not go away. Perhaps I won a major victory yesterday: that will have no bearing on today. We cannot rely on yesterday’s mercies. We need new grace every day. To win this battle over the flesh, we have to have a daily quiet time with Christ. This is not an option: it is essential. The constant failure of the flesh pushes me toward Christ who is my only source of hope. I absolutely must spend time with Christ if I am to succeed.
  4. One last suggestion: the flesh is relentless. It is a constant thorn in our side. I long for heaven for many reasons but close to the top of my list is my desire to be rid of the flesh. I get so sick of the flesh. I loathe the flesh. Like Paul, I concur that there is nothing good in my flesh. It is vain, selfish and self-serving. There are some things about aging that are not pleasant but the one good thing is that we are closer to being liberated from these fleshly bodies and separated from these fleshly natures. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians…So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Transformation

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTICE IS OUR POSITION

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. [Col.3:3]

Paul said we are hidden with Christ in God. Our position determines our function and our benefits. When I hired on at A&P as a high school senior, I had the lowest position of any employee of the store. Every Saturday night I had to sweep the parking lot until they hired someone else, then he had to sweep the parking lot. For the last 40 years I have served churches as Pastor. I could call myself the Senior Pastor but for a long time I was the only pastor. The position has some perks but also some pitfalls but the position itself determines my function. I do the work of a minister. I officiate funerals, weddings, worship services, special services, and I visit hospitals, nursing homes, and homes in general. My position determines my function and my benefits are there are many benefits; too many to mention.

It is vital that we remember our position in Christ. In Christ we were circumcised [2:11]. In Christ we have been made complete [2:10]. Paul said we are buried with Him in baptism [2:12] and in the same verse, we are raised in Him to walk in a new life. We are made alive together with Him [2:13] and raised up with Him [3:1]. We are also seated with Him is heavenly places [Eph. 2:6] and here in 3:3, we are hidden with Christ in God.

Paul made it clear that we are in union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection of which baptism is a symbolic and mental picture. Baptism pictures our union and our burial. Paul said, “We are buried with Him in baptism–raised up through Him in faith.” [2:12] We are raised up to new life in Christ because we trusted the mighty power of God. The same power that raised Christ raises us.

The term that Paul uses here is unique to the N.T. and I think it is very interesting and exciting. Paul said with are hidden with Christ in God. Baptism is actually a picture of this concept but the problem is that modern baptisteries are filled with crystal clear water and have a piece of glass in front so that all can see. In the muddy Jordon, when a person was immersed, they were hidden from sight: they were buried and hidden at the same time. I have read through the N.T. multiply times and although I had seen the phrase “Buried with Christ in God,” I had never really given much attention. Dr. Charles Qurles, a professor at Louisiana College, believes that our new life in Christ is hidden from the world or at least not fully visible. Dr. Qurles wrote the Winter Bible Study for 2014 and it is a commentary on Colossians. When I read his statement, my first reaction was: “This cat missed it.” So I pulled out other commentaries and began reading. William Barclay agrees, “That which is hidden is concealed or unseen. The world cannot recognize the true Christian. The greatest and the glory of the Christian is hidden from the world’s view.” Tyndale commentary reads…It is true, to be sure, the new life is hidden from view. The world does not see or understand this new life which the believer experiences. The results is enmity, misunderstanding and even persecution.”

Speaking of enmity and misunderstanding: we have had the Jews for Jesus several times and on one of those occasions when I took our speaker out to lunch, I asked him why Jews in America were liberal and always voted for democrats who are not pro-Israel but lean more toward the Arabs and Palestinians? He said, “the Jews live in fear of another holocaust and they are convinced that Hitler would have come from the religious right. You see yourselves as conservatives who love Jesus and Jews but they see you as extremist who have the potential to persecute them.” He basically said, they cannot see the new life that is hidden in us.

There are two points of clarification that I want to make: first, this principle that Paul is teaching is not a license for us to keep Christ hidden. He commanded us to confess Him openly and there is no nobility is being ashamed of who we are: that said, I think the principle that Paul teaches here is right on, the glory of the new life is hidden, not just to the world but to us as well. I sure we see more than they but I don’t think we see it all but we will. Herbert Carson says, “The Christ who is ignored, despised, and rejected by this world will be revealed in a blaze of glory–then they will see.” I concur, the sun needs no witness to its glory and when Jesus returns, He will need to witness to His glory but we will also see His glory in us and that may be the biggest surprise of all.

So, our position is that we are hidden with Christ in God. Our position determines our function and benefits.

II. WE NOT ONLY HAVE A NEW POSITION, WE HAVE A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  [Col.3:1-2]

The bible teaches a progressive transformation: we are being changed into His likeness but it does not happen over night. Paul said to the Corinthians…But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. {2 Cor. 3:16-18} One of the first steps in this radical transformation is in how we think. God is going to completely transform us and He begins with our thinking. Note what Paul said to the Romans in chapter 12…Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Dr. Qurles did a survey among his students at Louisiana College [18-22 year olds] and he did it over a 4 year span. The results is astounding and disturbing and could explain why young people in mass voted for Obama.

  • 80% believe that people are inherently good.
  • 59% believe that faith in Jesus is unnecessary for salvation.
  • 40% could not define the new birth.
  • 40% deny that Christians are New Creations being transformed by the power of Christ.
  • 40% say that the only difference between believers and non-believers is believers have been forgiven.
  • 33% did not know that Christianity affirms faith in a triune God or the deity of Christ.
  • 23% did not know that Christianity affirms a bodily resurrection of Christ.

When we are saved, born again, forgiven, converted, a radical change begins. This transformation is a process not an event. It takes time. It is not an instantaneous experience but a life long journey and it begins with a change in the way we think.

  • The natural man is focused on the world,time and space: on things that are seen–The believer is focused on heaven [affections are on things above], on the things that are not seen.
  • The natural man values earthly treasures–A Christian values heavenly treasures [The unbelieving world can no more value heavenly treasure than a hog can value a pearl]
  • The natural man things about his physical appetite and the lust of the flesh–the Spiritual man thinks about eternity [Jacob and Esau]
  • The natural man thinks “Getting” and the more he gets, the more he has but the Spiritual man things giving and the more he gives the more he has.
  • The natural man thinks justice and revenge but the spiritual man things redemption, mercy and forgiveness.

When you invited Jesus into your life, you gave Him permission to change the way you think and if you are truly born again, He is changing the way you think about everything.

III. THE THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS OUR GLORIOUS PROMISE

And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. [Col.3:4]

Paul said, “When Christ who is your life is revealed to the world, you will share in His glory.” [Col.3:4]. In other words, when He is revealed, we will also be revealed. There is a lot of scripture to support this point. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. {Philippians 3:20-21} Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. {I John 3:2}

butterfly-cocoon_10302
Butterfly Cocoon

The word Paul uses for transformation is metamorphoō  from which we get our word metamorphosis which is defined as the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages. Jesus was a master at illustrating spiritual truth from things that occur in the natural world. The butterfly is a perfect example of what we are talking about tonight. The Butterfly has four stages or three, according to how you look at it. There is the egg, then the worm, then the cocoon [tomb] and then the glorious butterfly. If you were to look upon a cocoon, you would not see any signs of life let alone glory. I admit that I do not see a lot of glory in fellow believers and I do not think that see a lot in me. Every now and then, I see a flash of glory but it is a tiny and momentary thing. When Jesus comes back, we are going to see HIS GLORY but we will also see HIS GLORY in every believer. It will be a glorious day.

 

CONCLUSION

Note what Paul said in verse 4, “When Christ who is your life.” Have you ever heard someone say about another person, “Music is his life”…or “His grandchildren are his life,”…or “Sports is his life”…or perhaps you have heard this phrase “He lives for his work.” If we were talking about the Apostle Paul, we would not say, “Music is his life, or sports is his life but Christ is his life. He lives not for sports or work but he lives for Christ. This is exactly what he says in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ.” How would you end that sentence, “For me to live is ___________.” Be honest with yourself, what goes in the blank.

The Wrong Direction

SCRIPTURE

Colossians 2:16-23

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. 20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

INTRODUCTION

Dr. Adrian Rogers tells the story of returning to the Florida to do a revival meeting for a friend. He flew in to the nearest airport and rented a car. He assumed that he knew where he was going and so he got on the road and was making great time. After several hours, he began to wonder because the church was not far from the airport. He stopped and inquired from the locals: they got out a map and he discovered that he was going in the wrong direction. He said, “I was making great time, enjoying the journey but I was headed in the wrong direction.”

In today passage, Paul is concerned that the Colossians are about to head in the wrong direction and he wants to prevent this from happening. Churches often plateau and then hit retrograde and begin going down hill. Paul’s message is: “Don’t drift backwards.”

I. DON’T GET INTO LEGALISM

“Don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.” [2:16]

    1. Legalism is as bad as Gnosticism. Legalism was coming from the Jewish influence and Gnosticism came from the Greek influence but both were bad because they advocated that CHRIST WAS INSUFFICIENT, not enough.
    2. Legalism is cold, condemning, shows no mercy–antithetical to Christ.
    3. Legalism majors on minors–Strains the gnat and swallows the camel [get the attendance and tithing right but miss the mercy]

II. DON’T FOCUS ON THE SHADOW AND MISS THE SUBSTANCE

For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. [2:17]

    1. I love the Old Testament but everything in the Old Testament is pointing to Jesus who is the Substance: the Passover, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Temple are all shadows: even the animal sacrifices are shadows of the real thing which is Christ.
    2. We do no focus on shadows; if we do, we will miss the Substance. We’ll be like a dog chasing the shadow of a bird on the ground. We will become so engrossed with the shadow that we never look up to the reality that is creating the shadow.
    3. There is an arrow on every page of the O.T. that is pointing to Jesus and the Jews worshipped the arrows and rejected Jesus.

III. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE SENSATIONAL

Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud. [2:18]

    1. The phrase “Pious self-denial” is translated “voluntary humility” in the AV and “self-abasement” in the NASB. Barclay translates it “Ostentatious Humility”. In other words, a false humility, a showy humility, flaunting humility. Humility is not an act, it is an attitude of the heart. If we are acting humble, it is proof that we are not.
    2. For some reason, I have been unsuccessful in educating believers to see this in FALSE TEACHERS. All false teachers practice this fake humility.
    3. Paul said, “Their sinful minds have made them proud.” FALSE TEACHERS are arrogant; they are proud of their pride and then we follow them like sheep off a cleft.
    4. This arrogant pride goes against everything that Jesus taught: “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” is the first beatitude for a reason. Humility is first base in the kingdom. You can not possibly please God with out touching first.
    5. This FALSE TEACHERS are not a part of the body of Christ…and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. I John 2:16These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us. Williams translates this verse, “They have gone out from our number, but they did not really belong to us: for if they had they would have stayed with us. It was to show that none of those who went out really belonged to us.” Have you ever heard of a dismembered finger starting a new body?

IV. DON’T SLIP BACK INTO BONDAGE

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. [2:20-23]

    1. Christ has set you free by His death…He died for you
    2. Everything Christ experienced here on earth was in our behalf
      • He died to sin and self so that we could die to sin and self
      • He became sin in our behalf and died with our sin burden on His shoulders then it was carried to a grave and buried our transgressions, put out of sight, put an end to.
      • He arose from the grave, defeated death so that death has no power over you and I.
      • He ascended to the Father and you and I will also ascend to the Father. His experience is ours when we trust Him as our Savior and LORD.
    3. Don’t let the FALSE TEACHERS capture you with their myths, methods, misinformation…with their list, legalism and love of praise. 
    4. The FALSE TEACHERS and their damnable doctrines will not help you conquer your old sinful nature with its lust for power and its pride.

CONCLUSION

It doesn’t matter if its legalism or liberalism, the point is…don’t let the enemy capture you. Your loyalty is to Christ, not a domination, or some spiritual leader. Any spiritual leader who makes more of himself than he/she does Christ is not worthy of your attention. If their passion is not to point to Jesus and praise Jesus then its time you joined yourself to a fellowship that celebrates Jesus every time they meet. There is no justifiable reason for JESUS not to be the focus of every service. When His name is not mentioned: that is a clue that those listening are following the wrong leader. Jesus is THE leader, THE truth, THE way and THE life. The is emphatic which means no other. When Jesus leads it is called CHRISTIANITY…when man leads it is called a CULT.

EXTRA

Recently I talked to a young lady who had been on a trip with a group from a certain church in a near by city. She was talking about their excitement over what was going on in their church. To be honest, I had some questions about the church so I ask her this question: what did they talk about most, their pastor or Jesus? She shocked me with her answer, “Actually, they talked more about Jesus and they witnessed to everyone they saw. To be honest, they kind of made me feel bad because I don’t witness to everyone I meet.” If your pastor has inspired you to share Christ with others, he deserved to be followed. Whether it is tele-evangelist or a pastor, when they make more of themselves than they do Jesus, it is not a good sign. A FALSE TEACHER will not be able to contain their ego over the long haul; sooner or later, they are going to seek the glory by making the movement about themselves. It is the nature of the beast.

Remember the story of the frog and scorpion. The scorpion needed to cross the river but he could not swim. He ask the frog for a ride and frog said “No, when we get in the water, you will sting me and I will die.” “Why would I do that?” said the scorpion, “If I stung you while in the river, we would both die.” The frog agreed that he had a good point and allowed him to crawl on his back and into the water they plunged. While in the deep current of the river, the frog felt a painful sting and the numbing poison coursing through his veins, “Why did you sting me?” said the frog, “Now we will both die.” “I could not help myself, it is my nature,” said the scorpion.

 

Marks Of a True Church

TEXT: Colossians 2:1-10

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 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. In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 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. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. 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. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority.

INTRODUCTION

Paul has an agonizing burden for the churches at Colosse and Laodicea. They are both under attack. They are caught in a fierce battle but it is not a flesh and blood battle. No bullets, no swords, arrows, tanks, missiles, that sort of thing. The battle is for truth. They are being assaulted by misinformation, propaganda and heresies. They were fighting the same battle we are engaged in presently, a battle for truth. Paul writes to encourage and enlighten them.

TRANSITION

How do we as a church win this battle for truth?

FIRST OF ALL–WE MUCT FACE THE ENEMY WITH COURAGE

 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. [Colossians 2:2]

Paul addressed these churches as a Commander would address the troops before a great battle. One of my favorite movies is Brave Heart and I love the speech that William Wallace makes when the Scotts are about to leave the battle field before the battle. He rallied the troops. Had it not been for his leadership, they would have went home. You cannot win a battle if your troops are discouraged. The first thing that a Christian Soldier should learn in this battle for truth is the truth about discouragement.

  • Not once is scripture does God discourage His people; not one time. The LORD said to Joshua [1:9], “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you where ever you go.” This is God’s word to His troops.
  • If God does not discourage: who does? We must always…I repeat, always realize that discouragement comes from the devil. If you are a worker in the LORD’s vineyard, you can expect people to say discouraging things to you but you must realize that the devil is using them. He is behind all discouragement. You can deal with discouragement once you identify the source.
  • Why would the devil discourage? His strategy is simple, “discouragement leads to defeat.”

SECONDLY–YOU MUST STICK TOGETHER

“We have to be knit together in strong ties of love.” {verse 2}

  • Personally, I think the lack of unity is the primary reason for our failure and I am talking about us personally. Some churches are unified and they are standing firm against the enemy. We are not together. We have too many agenda’s. The key to victory is simple but at the same time very difficult. If we can get all members to come under the authority of the HEAD [verse 10].
  • We must follow Christ as LORD [verse 6]. If every member submits to the LORDSHIP of Christ, you have UNITY. When every member does as they please and that includes worship attendance, you have anarchy.
  • Jesus said, “By this all men shall know that you are My disciples if you have love one for another.” Our strength is in being knit together by love.
  • Another favorite movie of mine is the Gladiator. When Maximus and the others are put into the area to face the wild beast, he tells them, “Stay together, our strength is in our unity.” Some of the men do not listen and are devoured by the beast but then they realized that Maximus knew what he was doing and they all came together and won a great victory.
  • First, the devil likes to discourage but if that doesn’t work, he will divide.

THIRD–WE HAVE TO BE ARMED WITH TRUTH

 In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Colossians 2:3]

  • The first piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 is TRUTH.
  • We are to be girted with truth. Truth is the belt that supports not only the body of the soldier but also his weapons.
  • The Truth is: God’s Mystery is Christ who is the hope of all mankind, both Jew and Gentile. This truth was hidden from the Jews as a whole although some of the prophets understood.
  • Christ is the TRUTH. In Him lie all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In a battle for TRUTH, Knowledge is a key.
  • Our victory is in Jesus–Only by knowing the truth in Christ can we stand against error, heresy, lies and false doctrine. [verses 4-5]

FOURTH–WE MUST CONTINUE TO FOLLOW JESUS AS LORD

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. [Colossians 2:6]

  • This calls for purity–no duplicity, no hidden agenda.
  • This calls for action. Jesus is not passive, to follow Him, we cannot be passive.
  • This calls for passion. Our motivation for following Him is love.

FIFTH–WE MUST BE ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN TRUTH {JESUS}

  • Rooted like a tree: deep, firm, unseen from the surface.
  • Grounded like the solid foundation of a building.

SIXTH–WE MUST OVERFLOW WITH TAHNKSGIVING

 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. [Colossians 2:7]

  • Thanksgiving regulates our attitude. Ungrateful people have a bad attitude.
  • Ungrateful people either do not understand grace or they need a refresher course. We have to be thankful to dispense grace to others.

SEVENTH–WE MUST NOT GET CAPTURED

 “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” [Colossians 2:8]

  • We can’t win if we are prisoners of war.
  • I visited a couple last winter and the woman told me that they devil had been keeping them out of church. She will not win the victory because she has been captured and captivated by the enemy. The woman is not a devil, she is not a vile person but she is ignorant. The devil has no power over the human will. Nothing is scripture teaches that he can come into a life and totally captivate a person without their permission. While I was there, she talked more about devils and demons than she did Jesus.
  • I do believe in the devil and demons but that is not the reason she is not in church. She is not in church because she has not activated her will against the will of Satan. She can do it; she has this power but by not knowing the truth she has been captured and captivated by the enemy.
  • If you make more of anything other than Jesus, you are going to get captured. Some are captured by sports; some by recreation, some by their work, some by money, some by sex, some by pleasure. The devil does not care what it is so long as it is not Jesus.

EIGHT–WE MUST STAY IN CHRIST

 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority. {2:10}

  • The word “Complete” is another military term, it means to be completely equipped, armed for battle.
  • Christ is not only our AUTHORITY [Commander and Chief], He is our armor and our shield [protection].
  • Remember the story of the disciples caught in a storm with Jesus asleep at the bow. I love the hymn based on this story, “Peace, Be Still.”

The winds and the waves
shall obey my will, peace be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
or demons, or men, or whatever it be.
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;
they shall sweetly obey my will,
peace be still, peace be still.

CONCLUSION

You stay in the boat with Jesus and you are not going down. The key to victory is to abide in Christ.

 

 

 

Hymn of Praise Or To HIM Be Praise

 

Colossians 1:15-20

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning,  supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ. 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

INTRODUCTION

These days when I approach the pulpit I feel like I am about to wade into a sea of truth that is way over my head and it is not just a feeling, it is a reality. The best I can do is grab hold to something that is floating on the surface. There is no telling how many sermons have been preached from this hymn or how many can be. I can assure you that I will only scratch the surface at best but here goes.

A part of the Colossian heresy is that Jesus is more than man but less than God. The Gnostics had Jesus on the same plain as the angels–somewhere between God and man. In this brief hymn about Jesus, Paul shots a theological clip of holes in their false doctrine.

  1. Paul said [1:15] “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God”
    • Jesus was not God like–He was God!
    • Jesus was not a symbol of God–He was the substance of God!
    • Jesus was not a representative of God–He was a manifestation of God
  2. The Greek word for image is icon [eikon] and it refers to an image of exact likeness. Same word used in reference to a passport, it reveals all personal characteristics and distinguishing marks. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. He is the full, complete and perfect revelation of God.
  3. The Jehovah Witness us verse 15 in KJV as a proof text that Jesus is not God because He was created. The NLT makes it much clearer…Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the creator, not a creation or creature. He was begotten, not born. He was born into to time and space as a human but as a being, He has always existed. As the black preacher said, Jesus is, He always has been is and He always will be is.” I don’t think you can say any better: I know I can’t.
  4. The Deity of Christ is not just an issue with cults, it is a big issue with culture. The world does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The secular world portrays Jesus as a moralist, a teacher, a revolutionary who gave his life for a cause and made an impact on the world. C.S. Lewis is right when he says, “Either Jesus is who He said He was or He is a lunatic and a liar. The one thing is not is a good man.” So Paul writes this hymn of praise to refute the false doctrine that Jesus is not God.

In the passage, the key to look for is “Everything” or “All things.” When you see these words, you know that Paul is about to make a major point.

I. PAUL SAYS JESUS EXISTED BEFORE ALL THINGS He existed before anything was created”

Jesus cannot be a creature because He existed before creation. Before anything was visible, Jesus was. I know you have heard the riddle, “Who at birth was the same age of their Father and older than their mother?” Yahweh which is translated in the Septuagint at Jehovah comes from the Hebrew verb for being ‘hayah‘. Many times it is translated into English as LORD is small caps. The word God used to reveal Himself to Moses comes from this verb which contains all the tenses. Not just present but past and future and future perfect, etc. It is a fascinating word because it contains every tense imaginable. In English it can be translated “I AM” or I AM BECAUE I AM…I AM SINCE I AM…I AM BECAUSE I WAS…I WAS BECAUSE I AM…I AM SINCE I WAS… I WILL ALWAYS BE WHAT I AM. It is an inexhaustible list of ways you can translate the verb but each way says something true about the nature of God. Moffatt always translates the word “The Eternal” which is great. God is the eternal, self-existent, infinite One who has not beginning and no end. Jesus Christ is God’s Son and has these same eternal qualities. Don’t ask me to explain it: I can’t explain it and if I could you couldn’t understand: God is infinite and so is Jesus Christ. If we could put Him in a finite frame, He would not be infinite.

The liberals, bless their idiotic hearts, come up with the most outrageous explanation for creation minus a Creator. The big bang theory. My soul folks, you would have to be a moron to believe such an idiotic theory. Do you believe I could drive by a junk yard and throw out a hand grenade and after the dust of the explosion settles, there out of the explosion would sit a brand new Lexis? The big bang theory is stupid and no intelligent person is going to fall for this nonsense. Ask your liberal friends one question: when and where did it all start? The evolutionist believe that matter creates matter. Where did the matter come from? Ask them to explain infinity. Don’t worry, they can’t. Infinity is a witness to the infinite, dah! Just as a creation is a witness to a Creator. Does the sun need a witness to its glory? Would you argue that the sun is not glorious when you can not look directly at it due to its radiance. Moffatt always translates YHWH as “The Eternal One” but it could be translated “The Infinite One”. The liberals have Albert Einstein posted as an atheist. That is wishful thinking on their part. He was not a Christian by profession but he was not an atheist. He may have said some things in his early life that leads one to think he was a atheist but he was no atheist. He like most all great philosophers and scientist believed in the infinite. I did not say that he believed in a personal God but he believed in an infinite power: Only a fool would not. So Jesus is the essence of the infinite God who is and always has been.

II. SECOND: PAUL SAID JESUS CREATED ALL THINGS Jesus is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. [15b-16]]

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.

Read it again with Jesus in His proper place, He being the Logos.

In the beginning the Jesus already existed. Jesus was with God, and the Jesus was God. Jesus existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Jesus, and nothing was created except through Jesus. Jesus gave life to everything that was created, and Jesus life brought light to everyone. Jesus shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish Him.

Jesus is the logos, the word or mind of God expressed in human flesh. The Bible is the written word and Jesus is the living word. All things were created by HIM and for HIM and He is supreme over all creation whether visible or invisible. Jesus spoke everything into being that is and nothing was spoken into being a part from HIM. He created everything in all realms: heaven or earth, spiritual or natural. Nothing was created that He did not create and He created everything from nothing. As one of my seminary professors was fond of saying, “Jesus can do a lot with nothing.” Man can duplicate, he can manufacture from existing goods but man cannot create and neither can Satan. The devil can twist and pervert what has been created but he cannot create. He did not create pleasure, joy or fun but he wants you to think it is his creation. He didn’t create anything and he could not have fouled anything up had we not cooperated with him. He used us to bring sin, guild, fear, death, sorrow and the lost of dominion to the earth.

Jesus is the Creator and an infinite Creator is He. He has the ability to make all things new. He rarely does the same thing twice. One Red Sea, one Mount Sinai, one John the Baptist, one cross, one resurrection [Christ], one Pentecost and one Paul. You can pray for a second Pentecost but I don’t think you will get it. He has something new and fresh for you. He creates new mercies every day. The more He gives, the more His wealth increases. He will never burn out of give out.

III. THIRDLY: JESUS SUSTAINS ALL THINGSHe existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. {2:17}

Jesus is the cosmic glue of the universe; He literally holds all things together. The atomic age has brought much truth to light. The atom is a tiny particle, so small that millions can light on the tip of a needle. How many are in the human body? They estimate 7 x 10 to the 27th power which is more than you and I can count. The strange thing about this tiny orb is that it is mostly space. It appears as a tiny solar system. The core that is called a nucleus is made up of a cluster of protons and neutrons. This is also called the core. If you disturb the core, you get a nuclear reaction which may or may not be good. Zinging around the core is an array of electrons. They are traveling at unbelievable speeds. What keeps all creation is place is the nucleus of the atom and no scientist knows what hold this core together. If the core were to come a part, we would have a universal instant melt down: everything visible would become invisible, even space. The world doesn’t know what holds all things together but we do…Jesus!

IV. JESUS IS TO HAVE PREEMINENCE IN ALL THINGSChrist is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

  1. In laymen’s terms…It is all about Jesus which is a mystery to most. Actually, real or abundant life is only found in Jesus. He is the hidden treasure. Once a person makes this discovery, celebrating Jesus is a way of life.
  2. Paul gives us an example and it is the Church. Jesus is the Head of the church which means He is preeminent in our teaching, preaching, ministry, missions, worship, etc. If we do something and it is not about Jesus, we have missed the point.
  3. In our culture, the seekers do not use the term Jesus, they use God in a generic sense. Even when they are speaking of the 2nd and 3rd persons of the trinity, they say ‘God.’ It is a subtle thing I admit but an important thing. Do not attend a politically correct church. You will not get into God’s heaven with a politically correct theology. You must confess CHRIST before men. If there is no JESUS in your theology, you better change theologies. I have heard these guys who fill up a sanctuary 6 times per Sunday preach an entire message [an a good one information wise] and never mention Jesus. We are talking about highly intelligent people with super gifts but they do not exalt Jesus.
  4. God the Father wills that His Son get glory. You will never please the FATHER until you learn to lift up the SON.
  5. Isaiah 42:8–“I am the LORD; that is my name, I will not share My glory with anyone else.”
  6. Remember Jesus transfiguration and baptism: the Father spoke from heaven, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” The NLT reads…Who brings me great joy.
  7. John 8:54–Jesus said, “My Father glorifies Me.”
  8. John 16:14–Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit glorifies Me.”
  9. Is this so hard to believe? God the Father and Father of fathers, wills that His only begotten and perfect Son get glory. I grew up in the 50-60’s when kids had to work. I got to play one year of organized baseball and that was my Senior year in high school. County schools didn’t have baseball in those days but I did play basketball and football for 6 years. My dream was to be a professional athlete. I had no other dream. I played a lot in Junior High but in High School my career hit a wall and it actually got worse my senior year. I had already quit Basketball because they would not allow me on the court but I would not quit football although the coach did everything he could to discourage me. In the middle of my senior year, he humiliated myself and five more seniors. He did something unprecedented at Athens High School, he cut Seniors who had played for all three years including one year on the suicide squad. We came to the dressing room on an black October day and our names had been removed from our lockers. It was the ultimate humiliation for a high school football player. Finally, one of the assistants had mercy and told us where to find our equipment. We all sat down in dismay and discussed the situation. We agreed that he did it to force us to quit and we decided not to give him that satisfaction. We dressed for practice and went on to the field. He made us do drills but would not let us scrimmage which is the fun part. Long story short, my high school sports career ended in dismal failure. My son was the 7th man on the Junior high basketball team and I thought, here we go again but by the grace of God and his hard work, he bloomed as a sophomore and started as a Junior and Senior. He was the go to man in his senior season and shared the MVP award. I was sitting in an annual meeting of all things when a country preacher brought a message from this text in Colossians. As he was preaching, the lights came on: in a flash God spoke to me is a real and vivid way. He ask me a question: “Jack, if you could trade places with your son, and you be the star and him sit on the bench, would you do it?” I wept silently and muttered, “No LORD, you know I would not. I would never be happy taking the boys glory. I have no problem with what You have done.” It may seem like a crude illustration but it opened my eyes. The heavenly Father loves for us to praise His Son just as I enjoyed seeing my son get praise for his performance on the court. I have never forgot this moment or this insight. It changed my life completely.

CONCLUSION

I don’t know everything but I know some things:

  1. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself
  2. Everything comes from Christ [the source], it is sustained by His power and created for His glory. [Rom. 11:36]
  3. All things were created by Him, for Him and they are coming back to Him.
  4. The world doesn’t know where it is headed but I do: all creation [Rom. 8] is coming to Christ and every knee will bow and every tongue confess. I’m afraid it will be too late for salvation, but for God’s glory, every knee will bow and every tongue confess. It is going to happen. Christ hating atheist are going to confess He is LORD.
  5. The good news is that Jesus came to reconcile you personally.

STORY

One of the most moving stories I’ve heard comes from Max Lucado’s GENTLE THUNDER. It is the story of Cinderella’s Castle. I’ve never been to Disney World and have to intention of going but every where I tell this story, someone comes to me and says, “I have been there and seen what you were talking about.” At certain times, Cinderella will come out of her castle and mix and mingle with the children gathered in front of the castle. A certain man carried his children to Disney World and they were standing in front of the castle waiting for Cinderella’s appearance. When she came out the kids all flocked to her, surrounding her. She was a beautiful model; more beautiful than the picture this father had seen of Cinderella. He was stunned by her beauty. When he gathered his wits, he noticed two boys in the corner of his eye, they had not moved with the crowd to Cinderella. Now they were standing alone and one was a couple of feet taller than the other. The small boy had a disfigured face and a dwarfed and twisted body. It broke this father’s heart and he voiced a prayer in his mind. If Cinderella would only notice this child and befriend him he prayed. Sure enough, Cinderella had noticed the child to and worked her way toward him. He was petrified and did not move. She came to him and touched him, gently bending to his small frame and kissing him on the forehead. Wow, what an awesome scene! The father thought to himself, “Would it not be great if she could transform his disfigured body?” Then it dawned on him that this is exactly what Jesus did: he came to us, He condescended to our littleness of statue and He kissed our marred frame. Jesus took our ugliness upon His own person and took it to the cross of Calvary and in exchange, He gave us His glorious perfection. What an exchange: You give Him your faith [trust] and He gives you His righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel

Colossians 1:1-8, NLT

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sistersin Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
 

Introduction

 
Paul has never visited Colosse. The church was planted by Paul’s associate Epaphras. The church is located in the Lycus Valley and is very near Laodicea. Epaphras was a beloved and humble servant of Christ. His name means lovely. He is Paul’s fellow servant and Helpful associate. He founded the Church at Colosse. He was faithful and a giant in prayer. He legacy was that he was a man of prayer: spent a lot of time in secret, wrestled fervently in prayer. When you add it all up he was: [1] Helpful [2] Useful [3] Faithful [4] Prayerful.
After the brief greeting in 1:1-2, Paul said, “We give thanks” and in the following verses of the above text you can see that Paul is thankful for many things but primarily the GOSPEL [Good News]. In this passage, I believe the Gospel is the common link.
 
I. FIRST AND FOREMOST, IT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
  1. If you will look at verses 1-4, you will notice that they emphasis is on Jesus Christ.
  2. Paul was chosen and sent by the will of God to be an apostle for Jesus Christ. [v.1]
  3. The only Gospel Paul knew was that of Jesus Christ
  4. Paul addresses this letter to believers in Jesus Christ [v.2]
  5. Paul give thanks to Jesus Christ and considers Him equal to the Father [v.3]
  6. Paul had heard of their faith in Jesus Christ and love for each other. [v.4]
II. IT IS A GOSPEL OF HOPE
 
Quote: Hope is the certainly that in spite of the worlds’s present power, influence and standards, God’s will and purpose will be accomplished and He will  have the final word. ~C.F. Moule
 
James Russell Lowell…..”The Present Crisis”……Tho the cause of evil prosper…yet tis truth a lone is strong. Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne: Yet the scaffold sways the future and behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
 
Hope is a weak word in our culture because we have been pampered by prosperity. We are soft and presumptuous. We know very little about difficulty and hard times. The Israelites in Egypt were the same way until there arose a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph [Christ] and then he made life a living hell for the Israelites and then they began to hope for deliverance. We have a Pharaoh who does not know Joseph [Christ] and he will persecute the church. If we had been persecuted like the Eastern world, we would lay hold of our hope and we would think about heaven.
 
William Barclay says, “The Christian HOPE is the certainty that it is better to suffer for Christ than to become friends with this world.” This is exactly what Moses did…as detailed in Hebrews 11 “ It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.”
 
III. IT IS THE GOSPEL OF TRUTH [v.5]
 
The Gospel of Truth transforms: a street preacher who had drawn a nice crowd was telling the story of Jesus turning water into wine when a heckler from the crowd began making fun. “Jesus could not change water into wine, where did you come up with this fiction?” The preachers daughter was with him and she went straight to heckler and said, “Jesus can turn water into wine, I know He can. I have seen Him turn wine into food and furniture.” Her daddy was a hopeless drunk until he met Jesus. Jesus transformed this drunk into a good daddy who put food on the table and furniture in the rooms.  This Child knew that Jesus could transform the ordinary life into one of abundant joy.
 
IV. IT IS A GOSPEL FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD [V.6]
  • A persons I.Q. determines what studies they pursue
  • A person social status determines the circles they move in
  • A persons wealth determines the opportunities they have
  • A persons natural gifts and abilities determine what they will achieve
  • BUT the gospel is for everyone
The Colossian Heresy was a thing called Gnosticism which comes from the Greek word for knowledge. Gnosticism was very complex and highly sophisticated, it was what they define as “Esoteric” knowledge. Esoteric means for the intellectual few, for the exceptionally bright but not for everyone. You can see that Gnosticism was anti-gospel because the gospel is for everyone, no hidden passwords, no intellectual hoops to jump through. The gospel is so simple that a child can become a Christian.
Gnosticism was an elaborate and intellectual religion that was for the chosen few [frozen few] and it created a religious aristocracy. It’s coming back today but under a new name…I think they call it Reform Theology and it is highly intellectual and for the chosen few. It is not the true gospel.
 
V. IT IS THE GOSPEL OF GRACE [v.6b]
  1. GRACE is God Riches At Christ Expense.
  2. GRACE is blessedness enjoyed by one who is favored by a superior [like subject before a king]
  3. GRACE is always accompanied by peace but grace comes first always. If you don’t experience Grace, you will not have peace.
  4. GRACE is a spiritual blessing that comes by knowing Christ. Grace and Peace are found only in Jesus.
 Conclusion
 
The Gospel is the good news and it is to be shared. It is never diminished by being given away. The more the gospel is shared, the more powerful it becomes. At first, the church was predominately Jewish but that changed quickly. By the time John wrote his gospel there were 100,000 gentiles to every Jew in the N.T. Church. Yet for the first few years, the gospel was contained in the church in Jerusalem but persecution scattered believers like embers from a fire. All of the Apostles eventually left Jerusalem and became Missionaries. Peter, Phillip and Paul went to Asia and Eastern Europe. Andrew ventured further East to Turkey. Matthew went South to North Africa. Mark went to Egypt where the church he found still exist and has been persecuted by the Muslims in recent months. Thomas went to India, Luke to Greece and Simon the Zealot all the way to Great Britain. As you well know, the church in Jerusalem had a very brief history, in the neighborhood of 40 years. If the church had refused to move beyond Jerusalem, Titus would have destroyed it in 70 A.D. Thank God for Missions and Missionaries!