*All scripture references come from the New King James Version
One of my favorite movies from the early 2000’s was called The Second Chance. The film starred Michael W. Smith and was the story of a privileged PK (Preachers Kid) who is primed to take over his fathers mega church. Smith’s character, nick named “Gucci” by the inner city pastor he is sent to serve because of his high dollar shoes, is simply going through the motions. He is a Christian in name only and the more people who are watching him as he gives $200 dollars to a homeless man or his leather jacket to a thief, the better. Our protagonist didn’t know how to serve Jesus because he didn’t understand who Jesus was. In short, He is LORD. Pastor Greg Laurie said it best:
Jesus is either Lord of all or He isn’t Lord at all
That means, ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Paul reminds the Church in Colosse and us as well that Christ is Lord in verses 16-18
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
The first thing to notice here is, “For by him all things were created.” By Him,” this puts Jesus Christ on the same playing field as the Father, “by Him,” (meaning Jesus) that all things were created. As my pastor is famous for reminding us, All, in the Greek, means all. Let’s take a step back to verse 15.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
This is one of those moments when the English language is shallow and unless we look closely, the meaning of a word or passage can be truly lost in translation. The word image in the Greek is eikon. This is where we get the English word icon. It means, “copy,” or, “likeness,” Jesus Christ is the perfect image – the exact likeness – of God and to finish out the verse, has been so from all of eternity.
Have you ever sat back and given thought to the deity of Jesus? It is truly mind-blowing. How is it that Jesus is at once man and God. As this passage, and many others point out, Jesus is God but we know He was a man as well. As the prophecy found in Isiah 53:3 states:
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
I won’t even say that this can be confusing because, when it is contemplated by the human mind it is. So how is it that the church in Colosse is to accept Paul’s statement here? How are we? How are we to believe that Jesus, a man who walked the earth, as also God Possessing all of the attributes listed in versus 16-18? One word, faith.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Have you ever wondered why it is that Christianity is so divided? In all honesty, I myself hadn’t given it too much thought until recently. Some of the divide exists due to interpretation of scripture; tenants such as baptism, (Acts 16:33) the validity of the rapture, (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16) and spiritual gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12) are common points of contention. These however are not deal breakers. They do not prohibit fellowship among believers. The issue arises when, “believers,” have different interpretations of core tenants such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. Cultists such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses stand in contravention of the bible on these teachings and therefore stand outside the body of Christ.
In looking at the text for this lesson, the striking thing is, no matter how much things change they do remain the same. The battles we fight today within the church are no different really then those fought by the emergent church of the first century and they all center around one central question: Who is Jesus Christ?
As we discussed last week, Paul is writing the church in Colosse to deal with heresy as well as legalism which have become manifest within the church there. The primary heresy in colosse was the belief in Gnosticism. This teaching holds that Jesus is not the Son of God one with the Father but a lesser being subservient to the greater being. Jesus is subservient to no one. He is the son of God.
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Preeminence of Christ
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
Preeminence is defined as: the fact of surpassing all others superiority. Starting here Paul sets out to show the believers the superiority of Christ. But, before he does or says anything, he reminds then that he has prayed constantly for them regarding their understanding of the transcendence of Christ.
Paul is showing us how to share the truth with someone; through the Lord, not of ourselves. Paul took his communication with the Colossian church, as I’m sure he did all the churches to the Lord in Prayer first asking that God intervene on his behalf. Paul is asking that the church be given knowledge and spiritual understanding, that the questions would be cleared up before the letter was even received. Is this how we approach evangelism opportunities in our lives, is this how we approach our existence – taking everything to the Lord in prayer first? if it isn’t it should be. How is your prayer life, and in conjunction, how is your walk with the Lord?
Paul further prays that the church would walk worthy of the Lord that they would be pleasing to Him and fruitful in every good work increasing in the knowledge of God. We can’t know the will of God and therefore can’t know if what we spend time doing is pleasing to Him unless we spend time with Him through, prayer, fellowship and time in the word. A person that is rooted in the will of the Father is amazing to behold. Look at 2 Kings.
And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah Shall again take root downward, And bear fruit upward.
12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,[a] the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
God has qualified us to be partakers (participants) in salvation and through salvation, he has delivered us from darkness (sin and death apart from Him) and has walked us into the kingdom of the Son of his love. The bottom line – we are redeemed to a right relationship with God the Father by the blood sacrifice of God the Son.
Scripture tells us that we are sons of Adam, born into sin. Who is Jesus Christ?
the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
You can proclaim your faith in Jesus right now just by talking to God.
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a savior. I believe that you died and rose again on the third day to forgive me of my sins. I want to turn from the ways of the world and follow you for the rest of my life.
If you prayed and were sincere it then welcome to the family of God! If you’ve made a profession of faith today I would love to know about it. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or you can simply leave a comment on the site so I can pray for you.
I will post again from the road as my family and I are going on vacation. We will finish chapter one next week.
Until the Whole World Hears,
Colossians 1:3-8New King James Version (NKJV)
Their Faith in Christ
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,[a] as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.
My pastor said something last night that will stick with me for quite a while, ” We build a bridge for two reasons, you’re building a bridge to get to their side and, never forget this, the whole purpose of getting to their side is to bring them back with you.”
He was speaking in terms of relating to people. Not by giving up or damaging your witness but so that you can get to them and bring them back with you. So you can bring them to the truth of salvation. As we dive into the text for this week, the thought of reaching people, of reaching the lost, the backsliden, the damaged, and the hurting in the world weighs heavily on my heart.
Paul is writing this letter to the church in Colosse to deal with some serious issues that had come up within that body of believers. It is also important to remember that Paul had never been to this church in person . This was not a church that Paul planted. Rather, this church was planted by Epaphris whom scholars agree was most likely saved during Paul’s time planting the church in Ephesus.
In versus 3-8, Paul is building a bridge to a group of believers that he has never seen. He starts in verse 3 by telling them that he and Timothy, “give thanks,” to God for them (the church in Colosse), “praying for them always.” what an amazing statement. It speaks to Paul’s heart for fellow believers, Paul’s heart for the church as a whole, and Paul’s character as a follower of Christ. Paul loved them. He gave thanks fort a group of people he had never met, further he’s spent time, “always,” in prayer on their behalf. Is there anyone else reading this that is feeling a bit convicted? Or is it just me?
I say that because I am an arguer and I am competitive; that makes for a rough combination. In short, I like to win. To many times early in my walk with the Lord (and to many more times in the last thirteen years) when I found myself with the opportunity to share my faith with a non believer or come alongside a believer in crisis, I’d go into debate mode. Often having my argument prepped before the other person was done speaking, I’d let them have it! Bam! Zowe! and Crack! Just like the old Batman TV fights; I win! Then there was always that moment as I was basking in the glory of victory, looking into my opponents eyes, I would say, “oh yeah, Jesus loves you and so do I.” Let’s just say that when Bob Hokstra wrote the book, Speaking the Truth in Love, My approach was in the chapter entitled, You’re Doing it Wrong.
Paul tells the church that he loves them and spends time praying for them and then he tells them what he knows of their fellowship. Paul has heard of the faithfulness of this congregation of believers as well as their love for the, “saints,” the church at large. I wonder if that is a statement that could comfortably be made about us and our churches today? Are our churches known for their faith in love? Or, are we simply going through the motions , simply checking church off of the list for the week?
When we have an honest walk with Jesus, our love shows because we have hope. Every time I think about hope, more specifically the hope we have in Jesus, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” —Unknown
It is the hope we have in Jesus that gives us our faith and our love. Christians look to the second coming of Jesus, Christians have a relationship with Him through prayer, fellowship, and the reading of His word.Christians know that when we leave this world, it is not the end but a beginning. The hope in what is to come is what Paul is speaking of here. It is that hope that changes the way we as believers, look at death, handle funerals, and serve the world at large. Peter revels in this hope:
[ A Heavenly Inheritance ] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
This section comes to a close with a reminder that we are all given this hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul also recognizes the fruits that the Lord as brought forth in Colosse and gives a nod of encouragement to the pastor that planted the fellowship.
It always amazes me to hear the testimonies of lives changed by the gospel; lives changed by hope in Jesus. Through one moment of humility and acceptance we find ourselves doing things that were impossible and unconsidered previously. From all the full-time missionaries that serve globally; to the group that is leaving my church this week to go on a short-term mission trip to Brazil; to the new believer who because of Jesus is able to put down the bottle and pick up a bible – set aside despair and discover hope! Give thanks for them all and pray for them always.
Until the Whole World Hears:
Verses 9-29 We will finish Chapter 1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.[a]
And so it begins. Today we start our study of an entire book of the bible; chapter by chapter and verse by verse it is my prayer that theses studies will be a blessing to you and bring you into a closer understanding and relationship with God.
Paul the apostle wrote four prison epistles all around AD 62 and all from Rome. Paul’s letter to the Colossians is one of two letters Paul sent to churches he had never been to; the other being the letter to the Romans. The church in Colosse was planted by Epaphus whom scholars agree was converted along with Philemon and “all which dwelt in Asia,” while Paul spent two years with the church at Ephesus.
And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
It is worthy to note here the faithfulness of God. As you look at the map above (the same one that is most likely in your bible), it not only shows the rout that Paul took but it speaks volumes to the faithfulness, the power, and the sovereignty of God. Jesus told Ananias to go to Saul of Tarsus (Paul):
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Paul was used by God to do all of those things. Paul was obedient to his calling and the Lord of the universe was faithful! This is a promise that all of us can hold fast to. For Paul as for us it wasn’t easy to be sure but God’s blessing was on Paul as it is on us we only need be obedient to the call of our Lord.
In the text, Paul Greets the Colossian church by giving them His credentials, ” I Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. The word apostle (apostolos in the Greek) means sent one. Paul is telling the church succinctly that he has been sent to deliver what follows. We read this today and can easily skip over it. After all, of corse Paul is an apostle all we need to do is view the width and breadth of his ministry to know that! But, as my pastor reminds us consistently Paul didn’t have the benefit of the bible as it is today. He could not simply turn to the right and discover how it ends; he was living it, every day, in the moment. So how did he know he was sent? How does he make that statement with such boldness? Put simply, Paul had encountered Jesus and had been changed. On the road to Damascus Paul (then Saul) the persecutor of the church, the willing witness of the death of Stephen was knocked off his high horse if you will.
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Because Paul has encountered Jesus he can not ony say with boldness that he has been sent but can confirm by whom, ” by the will of God.”
Are you living in God’s will for your life today? If you are reading this and have had an encounter with Jesus you too can speak with boldness knowing that the Lord of creation has a plan and a purpose for your life. As to what that plan is, the Lord is faithful He will reveal it through His relationship with you. As you spend time with God in prayer, study of His word, and fellowship with the saints you will know.
For those of you who might have stumbled upon this and honestly can’t say what you are still reading this, welcome to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Are you tired of living life, “on purpose,” as the world teaches? Do you want to live life, “With purpose?” God has a plan for your life and wants to share it with you.
Before you can enter into a relationship with God He must do business with you. Put more plainly, you must do business with Him. Jesus said:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
In order to have a relationship with God you must first deal with the truth that you are a sinner in need of a savior. Jesus Christ (God in human flesh) came to this earth, forsaking His glory to die as final payment for our sins. The bible says that the wages of sin is death – Jesus paid that price – one time for all time.
Paul ends his greeting in verse 2 by addressing the saints and fellow brethren; those are fellow believers who have also come into relationship with Christ. If you would like to be addressed among the saints, simply ask Jesus to come into your life. You can do this by praying a simple prayer like this one:
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a savior. I believe that you died and rose again on the third day to forgive me of my sins. I want to turn from the ways of the world and follow you for the rest of my life.
If you prayed and were sincere it then welcome to the family of God! If you’ve made a profession of faith today I would love to know about it. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org opr you can simply leave a comment on the site so I can pray for you.
Next week we will be going through Colossians 1:3-8. Have a blessed week!
Until the Whole World Hears,
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
[ Not carnality but Christ ] If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
[ Greeting ] Paul and Timothy, bond servants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
There are moments in time you will never forget: That moment you realized that your mom wasn’t holding on to the bike seat anymore and you were riding on your own, your first kiss, your first paycheck and there are so many more. For Christians, I would imagine the first time you discovered the love of God for yourself is somewhere on that list. The moment when Ephesians 2:8 came to life and was made true by the Holy Spirit; the realization that God loved YOU for YOU. God’s love was not a result of your grandma’s relationship with the Father, nor your parents, not even the lady down the street, or your goofy college roommate. Whomever God put in your life to lead you to Him, they each had their own relationship with God. You can not have their relationship, God wants a personal relationship with you a personal and meaningful relationship. God tells us in scripture that He thinks about us individually.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
“A future and a hope.” When I came to the realization that there was nothing I could do to earn the love of God; that He loved me in spit of me. Through Gods grace (that which as a sinful being I do not deserve) I am saved through faith in Him. Wow! The day I realized that He loved me no matter what and there was nothing I could do to earn it – that all I needed do was accept it and believe it was true; that is a moment in time I will never, ever forget. it changed my life.
Grace is the giving of that which we do not deserve. God is gracious. So gracious in fact that He gave His only son to die horrible death so that we might live eternally with the father. Jesus was given as a sinless sacrifice for a sinful humanity. in one moment the Father poured His wrath on the only sinless man to every walk the earth. Jesus hung on a Roman cross 2000 years ago and paid for every sin that has ever and will ever be committed. He was the atonement for our sins.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Why would God do this? Because He loves us! He loves us with an unfathomable love, an unconditional love that is beyond our understanding. Knowing this, knowing the grace and mercy that have been afforded us, it is hard to imagine that a “believer in Christ,” would ever cheapen the gift. That, however, has been done by christians as well as entire denominations. It is a cheapening of Gods Grace by humanity. What exactly is “Cheap Grace”?
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”- Detrick Bonhoeffer
This is not intended to be a hit piece. It is not intended to call out any specific church, moment, sect, or denomination. It is intended to shine a light on a failing of the church today. There are many churches that water down the Gospel in an effort to remain, “relevant,” There are many churches today that heap on helping after helping of love, forgiveness, and peace but when it comes to judgment and repentance – silence. Why? The answer is simple really, those topics are uncomfortable and can bring about feeling on conviction and no one wants that. Nevermind that it is often through the conviction of a heart devoid of God that the spirit brings a person to the realization that they need Jesus! To often, it becomes more important to have a sanctuary full at the expense of the truth. Thus, cheap grace. Cheap grace comes with an exorbitant cost – saved souls! A gospel taught without repentance, discipline, and confession is a gospel void of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there can be no salvation. What is the cost of cheap grace? Tragically, churches full of shiny happy good people who don’t have a personal relationship with God and are therefore not saved.
When the Gospel is taught in its entirety, focused on God not vanity, money, or narcissism the Spirit is present and hearts get changed, lives get changed, and names get added to the lambs book of life (Revelation 13-8)!
Ephesians 4:20-22, 24 NKJV
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Time is short; to short to worry about offending people. The stakes are too high. May we preach the Gospel with bold completeness from Genesis to Revelation.
Until the Whole World Hears!
[ Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking ] “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Prayer is our direct link with the Father. God communicates with us through His word and we respond through prayer. It is intended to be a two way conversation. As we practice the discipline of prayer, not only will we become better at it but we will also become more attuned to the answers that God provides. ?We are the children of God. He loves us, loves our prayers, and answers them.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,