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  • Hope in CHRIST, and Christ ALONE. 2018-11-11
    Daryl Schwenke

    2018-11-11

    Read Colossians 1:3-14

    OPENING Example: the development of the toothbrush. One purpose, but always needing to improve to bigger and better! Does a fancy toothbrush do any better job?

    Link ‘tooth-brush’ example to the church i.e. Purpose of Colossians:

    Written by Paul while in prison in Rome (AD. 58-62) to the people of Colossae. 

    News from Epaphras, that false teachers were teaching that Christ was not sufficient; that they had received revelation from God that “more” is required for true fullness of life.

    Pauls letter addresses this heresy and elaborates, in no uncertain terms, on the Supremacy, Sufficiency and Divinity of Christ, that there is nothing more than Christ that is needed (see Chp 1, vs 15-17)…… and Christ is what they already had!!  

    This passage that can be divided into two distinct sections: 

    1) Verse 3-8 – In this first section, Paul commends and “gives thanks to God for the Christians” of Colossae (vs 3) based on the reports he has heard from Epaphras (vs 7).         

    Why?

    We read in vs 4: “because of their faith in Christ, and their love for all the Saints”. 

    In this sentence, we get the sense that Paul had a sincere love for these fellow believers; 

    This letter was NOT intended as swift reprimand for their failures. Rather the letter starts with a commendation, followed by a supportive word of reiteration of the Gospel and encouragement.

    You see, the Gospel had already spread to Colossae by Epaphras; they already had a “true understanding of God’s grace” (vs 6).

    Colossae was a place of ‘Syncretism’ – incorporate a mixture of beliefs and pagan religious ideas. 

    e.g. JAPAN – friend who was born into Shinto’ism, had a “Christian” wedding, and yet practices Buddist rituals – why? To cover all his bases!!!! 

    And it was this mentality that Paul wanted to refute; to remind the Colossian Christians that their “true understanding of God’s grace” was enough!

    Interestingly, Paul had never been to Colossae. But Paul himself had a faith and love for the Colossians BECAUSE of the common source (given by GOD) that they shared from where their faith and love “springs” from;

    HOPEthe hope of salvation; to enter into a new life as a child of God with which you stand to inherit the glorious riches of God, that He will lavish on you for eternity (Ephesians 2).

    Upon embracing the good news of the Gospel (i.e. Word of truth), then came a HOPE like no other!

    NOTE: Biblical HOPE is not an uncertain hope (I hope it rains tomorrow), but rather a hope with absolute certainty; i.e. the promise of a full assurance (Hebrews 6:11). 

    How do we know this?

    = because it is stored for us in heaven (vs 5) speaks of a HOPE that is secured by God himself!! Nothing can take it away!

    In vs 6, we see the power of this WORD in that, despite on-going persecutions, the Gospel is bearing fruit: ALL OVER THE WORLD!!!

    Now, I’m not sure the geographical extent this term refers, but regardless of territory isn’t the point that it is spreading to areas/regions/countries that have not heard the Gospel and are, therefore, without true HOPE! After all, it was Epaphras who brought the WORD of truth to Colossae (vs 7).

    SUMMARY: So in essence, Paul is commending the Colossians for the faith and love, and reminding them of the HOPE given them by God. 

    Picture this: you’re one of the Colossians hearing this letter from arguably one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the early church. By this point in the letter, you’d probably be quite pleased with yourself. Yet it is at this point that Paul’s letter turns from commendation to an encouragement and appeal to “not waver, and to do better”.

    Story of tactic from boss at work: compliment followed by criticism! 

     

    2) Vs 9-14.  Perhaps a common theme through this part of passage is one of ‘continuance’.

    Paul begins by repeating that he has not stopped praying for his fellow believers; Paul is well aware of the continual spiritual battle that is waged daily; 

    Don’t get me wrong, as Christians we have the ultimate victory through Christ, and “we have been rescued from the dominions of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son”(vs 13) but that does not make us immune to the attacks of the devil.

    Like Paul, we too need to pray daily for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…… do you do this? 

    And although we may indeed pray for each other, what do we pray for? earthly or heavenly things.  

    In Colossians Paul’s prayer was to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will!!!

    To know what God’s will is, requires Spiritual [not earthly] wisdom and understanding – that is, revealed to you by God through the Holy Spirit.

    Vs 10-11 = Paul then explains why you need to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will; 

    so that you may:

    • live a life worthy of the Lord 
    • please him in every way NOTE: all continuous, on-going callings  
    • bearing fruit in every good work           they are not a one-off that you 
    • growing in the knowledge of God           achieve and then tick the box!

    This list is extremely daunting. Who can attest to each one of these…… continually? 

    It is not possible ……. at least not by yourself!

    That is why Paul subsequently prays that you are 

    • strengthened with the very “Power according to His glorious might”! (vs 11)
    • with endurance and patience!!

    Vs 12-14. After such a challenging call, Paul reaffirms his love, encouragement and firm belief in the Colossian Christians as he reiterates the HOPE that they have;

     that is God has “qualified them to share in the inheritance of the Kingdom of God”. 

    ANALOGY: Encouraging children as they try new challenges – yes it will be difficult, but you believe in them and encourage them that they can achieve the impossible!

    IMPORTANT: At this point, everything that I have spoken about has been in reference to God. Many of you here may be making the natural link to Jesus Christ! 

    But Paul was aware that the Colossians did not necessarily make that connection; that perhaps Jesus was just one spirit to be worshiped!

    Indeed, we are talking about a society that was ‘contaminated’ by many other religions, beliefs, practices, of which many were thought to be a potential link to God.

    Still common today: “all roads or religions ultimately lead to God”

    So it is when we read the following passage (vs 15-20) we see that Paul makes one of the strongest declarations in the New Testament of Christ’s supremacy over every being, every power, every authority and His representation of the invisible God.

    Read vs 15-20: 

    In essence, Paul is saying that all of the Hope, Faith and Love that you have – is because of Jesus; for Jesus is God incarnate!!! Nothing else is needed or required!!!

    With this is mind, Paul is making the direct parallel that it is in Christ and through Christ, and Christ alone, that you can: 

    • live a life worthy of the Lord 
    • pleasing him in every way       
    • bearing fruit in every good work  
    • growing in the knowledge of God

    SUMMARY

    As I read this passage I am reminded that each one of us is deeply loved by God; 

    That we have a HOPE, an unwavering HOPE, that is because of CHRIST. 

    And it is through Christ that we stand to inherit the promises of God, not only when we get to heaven, but right now, today!

    = the promise that Christ is with us, and that He alone is sufficient for hope, wisdom and strength!

    CHALLENGE: You may be thinking “I know that Christ is sufficient, I don’t have any other fundamental beliefs or practices that can sway my faith in Christ”.

    But isn’t that what the Colossians were thinking (e.g. “This is the gospel that you heard” vs 23), yet they needed this letter from Paul as a reminder.

    Let me implore you to be on guard against heretical teaching from: 

    • other religions 
    • within so-called ‘Christianity’ (e.g. service to the church as a tool for salvation, spiritual gifts, salvation by works, etc)
    • the world… e.g. finances, family, work, holidays, 

    NOTHING should take the place of your reliance and dependence on Christ to:

    • live a life worthy of the Lord 
    • pleasing him in every way       
    • bearing fruit in every good work  
    • growing in the knowledge of God

    We are called to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through Spiritual Wisdom and understanding, by:

    1. Spending time in His word….. daily (Joshua passage)
    2. Time in pray……… daily 
    3. Fellowship with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (i.e. Church)…. regularly

    Then we are reminded that “through Christ, [and Christ alone] all things are possible”.

    There is nothing else more important, or that can add to, the fulfilment that we can experience in Christ. 

    Lets Pray!!!

     

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