12/25/2022 - Christmas Is An Invitation
Colossians Series • Sermon • Submitted
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Heavenly Father, be glorified this morning as we open your Word.
Open our ears to hear it. Open our minds to understand it. Open our hearts to believe it. Open our mouths to confess it.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You today.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Welcome to Central.
Let me begin by saying, “Merry Christmas” and “Welcome Home” to you!
As an expository church, we prioritize preaching and teaching that focuses on a Christ-centered, holistic, and sequential approach to Scripture.
We enjoy preaching through books of the Bible and tackling each passage with a high view of Jesus Christ and an intent to be led into worship and transformation by what we find therein.
We have been preaching through the Bible book of Colossians.
Paul is writing to a church he has never visited. He doesn’t know these people.
Paul wrote Colossians between 60-62 AD during his first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28).
Paul also wrote Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon during this time.
Pastor Epaphras planted the Colossian church and came to Paul because they had problems that needed to be addressed.
Paul writes this letter in the midst of their many heresies with one solution in mind - Correct Christology.
A low view of Christ was the problem, Paul gave us a high view of Christ.
We have learned that the root of the dysfunction in Colossae, Hieropolis, and Laodicea was because of an incorrect view of Jesus Christ.
Paul reminds the people that Jesus is everything and understanding Who He is, is vital to living the Christian life in the way that He intends us to live.
As a byproduct, by the power and involvement of the Holy Spirit in our life, we are changed to reflect the likeness of the One Who has saved us.
Our lives are changed because of the mercy and grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Everything in our life is impacted by Christ.
Because of the power of God, we can expect to live a life that impacts others for the sake of the gospel and the mission of God.
On this Christmas morning, we conclude our Colossians series with Colossians 4:7-18 and a sermon I have entitled, “Christmas Is An Invitation.”
Christmas is truly an invitation. It is an invitation to the Mission of God.
Today I want to look at two invitations to the Mission of God.
Matthew 1:18–23 (ESV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
1. The Mission of God Invites the Lost
1. The Mission of God Invites the Lost
Luke 19:10 (ESV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 5:27–32 (ESV)
27 After this he (Jesus) went out and saw a tax collector named Levi (also known as Matthew), sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”
28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.
30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
Romans 5:8 (ESV)
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:8–9 (ESV)
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
2. The Mission of God Invites the Church
2. The Mission of God Invites the Church
Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
18 And I tell you, you are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The Mission of God and the Church of God are both built on Christ and His finished work.
They will not fail.
Therefore Jesus commissions us and invites us to be involved.
Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Mission of God is meant to be a team sport!
Listen to how Paul concludes his letter to the Colossian church.
Colossians 4:7–18 (ESV)
7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),
11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.
15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
Tychicus was apparently the one who was chosen by the Apostle Paul to carry this letter from Rome to Colossae.
How amazed Tychicus would have been if told that these bits of parchment would outlast all the ostentatious pomp of the city, and that his name, because written in them, would be known to the end of time all over the world.
Paul here assures the saints that when Tychicus arrives he will tell them all the news of the apostle’s affairs.
Again it is nice to read the combination of titles which Paul bestows on this brother. He calls him a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord.
Tychicus’ trip to Colosse would serve two purposes.
First of all, he would give the saints a firsthand account of Paul and his companions in Rome, and also he would comfort the hearts of the Colossians.
Here again, comfort probably has more the idea of “strengthen” or “encourage” (Col. 2:2) than that of consoling.
His ministry to them would have the general effect of helping them to stand against the false teaching that was then prevalent.
The mention of the name Onesimus brings before us the lovely story unfolded in Paul’s Letter to Philemon.
Onesimus was the runaway slave who sought to escape from punishment by fleeing to Rome.
Somehow he had come in contact with Paul, who, in turn, had pointed him to Christ.
Now Onesimus is going to travel back to his former master, Philemon, in Colosse.
He will carry Paul’s Letter to Philemon, while Tychicus carries the Letter to the church at Colosse.
Picture the excitement among the believers in Colosse when these two brethren arrived with the Letters from Paul!
Doubtless they sat up late in the evening, asking questions about conditions in Rome and hearing of Paul’s courage in the service of his Savior.
Not much is known about Aristarchus except that he had previously been arrested in connection with his service for the Lord, as recorded in Acts 19:29.
Now he is Paul’s fellow prisoner in Rome.
Mark is here identified as the cousin of Barnabas.
This young man had started out with Paul and Barnabas in missionary labors.
Because of his failure, Paul decided that he should be left at home, but Barnabas insisted on taking him with him.
This caused a rift between the two older workers.
However, it is good to learn that Mark’s failure was not final, and he is now restored to the confidence of the beloved Paul.
If Mark should visit Colosse, the saints there are told to welcome him.
The expression about whom you received instructions does not necessarily mean that the Colossians had previously received instructions concerning Mark.
It may refer to the instructions which Paul is now giving to them: If he comes to you, welcome him.
The tense of the verb received may simply mean that by the time the Colossians read this Letter, they would have received instructions.
Another co-worker of Paul is spoken of as Jesus, who is called Justus.
Jesus was a common name then, as it still is in certain countries.
It was the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name “Joshua.”
No doubt this man was called Justus because his Christian friends would feel the incongruity of anyone having the same name as the Son of God.
The three foregoing men were all converted Jews.
Indeed they were the only three former Jews who were fellow workers with Paul for the kingdom of God, men who had proved to be a comfort to him.
As Paul is bringing his letter to a close, Paul mentions Epaphras.
Epaphras, a native of Colosse, was constantly remembering the believers in his prayers, asking the Lord that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Col. 4:12).
Paul bears witness to the fact that Epaphras travailed in prayer not only for those in Colosse, but also for the Christians in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis.
This man had a personal interest in the people of God with whom he was acquainted.
Doubtless he had a very long prayer list, and it would not be at all surprising if he remembered each one in prayer every day.
(Context: Luke & Demas)
(Context: Luke & Demas)
Now Paul sends greetings from Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas.
Here we have a study in contrasts.
Luke had traveled with Paul considerably and had probably ministered to him both physically and spiritually during his times of sickness, persecution, and imprisonment. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
Demas, on the other hand, had gone on with the apostle for a while, but it was necessary at last for the apostle to say of him: “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10).
Greetings are now sent to the brethren who are in Laodicea, to Nympha, and the church that was in his house.
We read again of the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:14–22.
The church there became lukewarm about the things of God.
It became utterly materialistic and self-satisfied.
Thinking that all was well, the people did not realize their own nakedness.
Manuscripts differ as to whether Nymphas (a man) or Nympha (a woman) is addressed.
But it is sufficient to notice that there was a church in that home in Colosse.
(Context: Laodicea and the Letter)
(Context: Laodicea and the Letter)
In those days the Christians did not have elaborate edifices such as are used today.
However, most of us will readily agree that the power of God in a local church is far more important than an elaborate building or fine furnishings.
Power is not dependent upon the latter; luxurious church buildings often serve as a hindrance to power.
When this epistle had been read in Colosse, it was to be sent to the church of the Laodiceans to be read there also.
Undoubtedly this was done, but from what we learn in Revelation 3, it seems that the Laodiceans did not heed the message of this letter, at least in a lasting way.
Paul also directs that the epistle from Laodicea should be read in Colosse.
There is no way of knowing what letter is referred to.
Some believe that Paul’s so-called Letter to the Ephesians was the one in view.
Some ancient manuscripts omit the words “in Ephesus” in Ephesians 1:1.
This has led commentators to believe that the Letter to the Ephesians might have been a circular letter which was supposed to be read in several different churches—for instance, Ephesus, Laodicea, then Colosse.
This view is also strengthened by the fact that so few personal references are made in Ephesians compared to the number made in Colossians.
Archippus is told to take heed to the ministry which he had received in the Lord, and to fulfill it.
Here again, we do not have definite information as to what ministry is referred to.
Many have believed that Archippus was a son of Philemon, and that he was active in the church at Colosse.
The verse will become much more meaningful to us if we assume that our name is Archippus, and if we hear the Spirit of God saying to us: “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
Each one of us has been given some service by the Lord, and we will some day be required to give an account of what we have done with it.
There was a story that Jesus told in Luke 15 that has been called the story of “The Prodigal Son.”
But I would agree with Pastor Timothy Keller who wrote a terrific book entitled, “The Prodigal God,” that the story is more about God and the two sons, than it is about one prodigal son.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “prodigal as, “someone who lavishes extravagantly.”
This definition has more to do with the father in the story than it has to do with the sons.
I believe understanding this story in its true context and light helps us to understand the invitation we have been given.
The story starts by telling us that there was a father with two sons.
The younger son desires his inheritance and leaves to spend it on foolish living.
He hits rock bottom and realizes his sinful ways and decides to return to the father.
Listen to how Jesus describes it:
Luke 15:17–24 (ESV)
17 “But when he (the first son) came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’
20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
That all sounds pretty amazing!
It is a beautiful thing when the lost come home.
We love grace for me, don’t we?
But that is not how the story ends.
It is not just about the lost.
The lost are invited into the Mission of God, the house of the Father.
Because of the sacrifice upon the cross that Jesus has made, the lost can truly come home and be saved.
But there is more to this invitation.
Listen to how Jesus describes it:
Luke 15:25–32 (ESV)
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’
28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
Do we truly believe the words of the father?
Is it truly right to participate in the Mission of God?
We love grace for me but not for thee.
(Invite Worship Team)
My encouragement this Christmas is that no matter where we fellowship or call our church home that we will choose to participate in the Mission of God.
It is not only the job of the Pastor to hold the door open to the Father’s house, it’s your job too!
You are invited to extend the Father’s heart to the ones on the road on the way home to the Father!
Christmas is an invitation that declares, “The Father’s house is open to all who recognize that they are lost. He wants you to come home and be found by Him.”
The lost can come home, the found can open the door!
Jesus was speaking to two groups of people in this story: the lost and those who call themselves found!
Luke 15:1–2 (ESV)
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.
2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
The coming of Christ reminds us that the lost have been invited to the Mission of God.
The lost have been invited in to taste the salvation and new life given to those who become His children!
The Church is invited to take part in the Mission of God by partnering with the Father in the work of bringing the lost into the house of the Father and in to relationship with Him.
But too often we reject the mercy that the Father has for others by refusing to take part in what He is doing.
Christmas begins an invitation for you and I to go from LOST to FOUND, and from OUTSIDE to INSIDE.
Have you experienced the saving embrace of God through sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ?
Have you decided to come into the Father’s house and embrace His mission?
Paul closes his letter with his list of those who have helped him to open the door to the Father’s house.
He closes his epistle with the words “Grace be with you.”
Believer’s Bible Commentary (E. Greetings and Instructions (4:15–18)
A. T. Robertson writes: “There is no richer word than the word ‘grace,’ for it carries in it all of God’s love as seen in the gift of His Son for us.”
Are you lost? God desires to name you found!
Are you engaged in the Mission of God? God desires for you to come in to His Mission!
1. Would you like to become a believer in Jesus Christ? (Yes/No/Already Am)
2. Are you Lost or Found? (Blank Lines)
3. Have you engaged in the Mission of God? (Blank Lines)
4. How do you need to respond to the preached Word today? (Blank Lines)
5. Do you have any prayer needs today? (Blank Lines)
(Give Response Card instructions, etc.)