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Col 2 6-15 - December 3, 2006

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A Christ-Centered Church

Colossians 2:6-15

I.          Introduction

            A.        ILL: Alexander the Great

                        1.         For Alexander the Great, there was a connection between name                                                and conduct.

                        2.         If you carry the name Alexander, then your conduct should match                                              the name.

                        3.         There is a direct connection between name and conduct.

            B.         In the mid 1990’s the Christian group Newsong came out with a song that                                 reflects this same idea.

                        1.         The chorus says -

                                                We wear His name
                                                The name above all names
                                                We wear His name
                                                In a world that's lost
                                                In hopelessness
                                                We are called to be the light
                                                We wear His name

                        2.         This song makes the same connection – wearing Christ’s name                                      invokes a conduct consistent with that name.

                        3.         Jesus is the Light of the world and has called us to be the same.

                        4.         Why?  Because we wear His name.

            C.        Our text

                        1.         Paul is addressing Gentile Christian community that has truly been                                              positive examples of commitment to Christ.

                        2.         However, some false teachers have come on the scene and are                                      causing doubt and dissention within the church.

                        3.         The false teaching seeks to undermine the sufficiency of the person                                 and the work of Christ.

4.         So, Paul is calling the Colossian believers back to a Christianity that is totally centered on Jesus Christ, because without the foundation of Jesus Christ, the church will be rendered powerless in accomplishing God’s mission in this world.

            D.        Two More Characteristics of a God-Centered Church

II.         Will Be Loyal to her Lord (2:6-7)

A.        Big Idea: To embrace Christ as Lord is to have His Lordship inform every aspect of our conduct.

B.         ILL

1.         Although he commends them for their faith, Paul cannot remind people enough – “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him”

            a.         You have received the truths of Christ from Epaphras, you        have embraced these truths in faith, and have           acknowledged that Jesus is the way, truth, and life.

            b.         Now – Walk in Him!

2.         Walk in Him

            a.         The word “walk” is a command and deals with everyday           life conduct.

            b.         NIV renders the word “continue to live in Him” which is a         good translation.

            c.         The truths of Christ are not simply to be relegated to      intellectual propositional statements.

            d.         The truths of Christ are to permeate every facet of our lives.

            C.        Application Interlude

1.         As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view our role as husband or wife?

2.         As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view our work ethic, even if we are union?

3.         As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view all relationships?

            a.         Instead of bitterness, we will be marked by forgiveness.

            b.         Instead of revenge, we will be marked by unconditional             love.

            c.         Instead of tearing down through gossip, we will build one           another up with edifying speech.

            d.         Instead of my individual rights, we will seek the best      interest of others.

4.         As stated previously, embracing the truths of Christ is more than agreeing to intellectual propositions – it means submitting to His Lordship.

            D.        Two reasons why Christ’s Lordship ought to inform every aspect of our                                    conduct.

                        1.         Nature of Christ’s work (vs. 11-12)

                                    a.         Vs 11 – Difficulty lies in that the NIV translators not only                                                           translated this verse but decided to make an interpretive                                                            judgment.

                                                1)         NIV interprets Christ as the one performing                                                                               circumcision on us – a spiritual circumcision of the                                                                     heart.

                                                            a)         NIV renders the Lit. “Body of flesh” as our                                                                               sinful nature or flesh.

                                                            b)         This is a circumcision performed by Christ –                                                                  he performs the act of circumcision on us.

                                                            c)         Romans 2:29 - Paul does speak of                                                                                            circumcision of the heart but that it is                                                                             performed by the Spirit.

                                                2)         However, the verse could also be read as Christ                                                                        being the recipient of circumcision.

                                                            a)         The only other time “body of flesh” is used                                                                                in the NT is Col 1:22, which clearly speaks                                                                               of Christ’s physical body.

                                                            b)         Verse 12 – refers to the burial and                                                                                            resurrection of Jesus, so it seems that verse                                                                               11 completes the triad – the death, burial,                                                                           and resurrection of Jesus.

                                                            c)         Couple the metaphor of circumcision (which                                                                  was literally a    small minor incision) with                                                                                   the verb “putting off” which literally                                                                                             “stripping away” – you have a very horrific                                                                          picture of the brutality of Christ’s physical                                                                                  suffering and death.

                                    b.         The POINT

                        1)         Christ does not seem to be the one performing the                                 circumcision in vs 11; he is the one receiving it!

                        2)         Paul says we have received this circumcision of the                                heart because we died with Christ, were buried with              Him, and were raised in Him.

                        3)         Paul uses the metaphor of circumcision to describe                                the horrific brutality of Christ’s suffering and death.

            c.         Therefore in vs. 11-12 Paul informs us as to why Christ’s          Lordship ought to inform every aspect of our conduct -    because of the nature of Christ’s work.

            D.        Nature of God’s Work in Christ (vs. 13-15)

                        1.         Paul balances the triad of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection by                               specifying three things God has accomplished in Christ.

                                    a.         God made you alive in Christ (vs. 13)

                                    b.         God cancelled the written code that was against us (vs. 14)

                                    c.         God made a public spectacle of the powers and authorities                                                        (vs. 15)

                        2.         “Written Code”

                                    a.         Many have suggested that this refers to the Law and its                                                  regulations, but Christ did not come to abolish the Law.

                                    b.         However, Paul seems to be using commercial trade                                                                   language of the day.

                                    c.         Written Code refers to an IOU – a note of indebtedness that                                         acknowledges the obligation to pay a debt and is signed by                                                        the debtor.

                                    d.         Paul seems to be making the case that Jew and Gentile                                                  alike share the same indebtedness to God, for there is none                                                   righteous – no not one!

                                    e.         And unlike a commercial IOU – this debt cannot possibly                                                          be paid by sinners.

                                    f.          PTL – God cancels the debt!

                                                1)         Not by ripping up the IOU and throwing it away

                                                2)         But by exacting the full penalty of the debt                                                                                 (DEATH) on his Son, Jesus Christ.

                        3.         Vs. 15 – the image refers to what was going on “behind the                                                       scenes” as it were when Jesus was crucified.

                                    a.         Paul uses this image as a paradox

                                    b.         Jesus captors dragged him through the city, stripped him                                                            naked, held him up in contempt, and nailed the charges                                                  against him to his cross …

                                    c.         But while this was going on, unbeknown to the world, God                                                        was doing the exact same thing to them.

                                    d.         God made a public spectacle of all that opposed Jesus by                                                          showing how utterly powerless they were to deter the plan                                                         and purposes of God.

                                    e.         God raised His Son from the dead declaring his ultimate                                                            triumph over sin and death.

            E.         Paul says, on the basis of Christ’s work and God’s accomplishments in                          Christ, walk in Him.

                        1.         God’s gracious provision in Christ must invoke a response.

                        2.         The response of a true disciple will be to allow His grace to                                           permeate every aspect of their lives.

                        3.         To be bound to Christ is to be bound in obedience to Him.

            F.         Paul summarizes it this way – “you have been rooted, you are being built                                    up, and you are being strengthened in the faith”.

                        1.         Three participles in the passive tense that indicate God’s divine                                      activity in our lives.

                                    a.         We have been rooted in Christ – like a tree firmly planted                                                          by streams of water.

                                    b.         We are being built up – we have not yet arrived for we are                                                        a work in progress.  Yet God remains active in conforming                                                        us into the image of His Son.

                                    c.         We are being strengthened in the faith

                        2.         By the use of these passive participles, we can see that all that God                                demands…He provides for is Christ.

                        3.         Therefore, walk in Him!

            G.        Application

                        1.         As a side note – is Paul speaking to a specific individual or is he                                                 speaking to a church?

                        2.         To the church, Paul is saying…

                                    a.         You have been rooted, are being built, and are being                                                     strengthened.

                                    b.         Paul is encouraging these Gentile believers with Christ’s                                                             promise – I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!

                        3.         Isn’t it easy to become discouraged with the church?

                                    a.         Full of Christian sinners who talk behind one                                                                  another’s back, stew in their anger, refuse to deal                                                                      with unresolved conflict.

                                    b.         When it comes to church isn’t it easy to peer over the fence                                           to see how good some other church has it in comparison to                                                           how awful we have it?

                        4.         Paul reminds them of the words of Christ, “I will build my church                                               and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.”

                        5.         A Christ-centered church will be loyal to her Lord.

III.       Will see abundant thankfulness as spiritual protection (vs. 8-10)

            A.        As I am sure you noticed, we totally skipped vs. 8-10.

                        1.         But did you really notice?  Doesn’t the message seem to flow                                        perfectly jumping from verse 7 to verse 11?

                        2.         Why did Paul insert verse 8-10 (another command) at this point?

                        3.         Why didn’t he simply wait after our verse 15 to make another                                        point?

            B.         I would suggest to you that Paul intentionally interrupts his flow of                                  thought because he makes the connection between our abundant                                         thankfulness and our protection from being kidnapped through hollow and              deceptive philosophies.

                        1.         In the list of participles in verse 7, the first three were passive                                         indicating things that God does to us.

                        2.         The fourth participle is the word “overflowing” and it is the only                                                 active word listed – indicating the appropriate response of the true                                             disciple.

            C.        Immediately following our active response of abundant thankfulness to                           God for His work in our lives, Paul warns the Colossians not to be lured                               by deceptive and hollow philosophies.

                        1.         Describes these deceptive philosophies in three ways

                                    a.         They depend on human tradition

                                    b.         They depend on the basic principles of this world

                                    c.         They do not depend on Christ

            D.        ILL:      Basic Principle of this World – FAIRNESS

                        1.         Marriage

                                    a.         50-50 marriage

                                    b.         I give my tail off for this marriage but my spouse gives me                                                          nothing in return – it’s just not fair!

                        2.         Workplace

                                    a.         I work my tail off for this company, and my coworker is so                                                        lazy – yet we are treated as equals.

                                    b.         It is just not fair!

                        3.         The issue of FAIRNESS seems like a hollow and deceptive                                          philosophy that depends on the infantile principles of the world                                            rather than on Christ.

                        4.         God does not operate on our understanding of fairness at all – he                                               simply says “Follow Me”.

            E.         The point I think Paul is making is that when we are overflowing with                             thankfulness for what God has done and continues to do in our lives, we                                     protect ourselves from the elementary principles of this world that do not                                 depend on Christ.

            F.         Paul makes a direct connection between thankfulness and our protection.

IV.       Application

            A.        A Christ-centered church will be loyal to her Lord

                        1.         The God-centered church will so strongly embrace Christ that His                                             grace will mark the fellowship within and the ministry without.

                        2.         Christ is building His church – he loves her and so ought we.

            B.         A Christ-centered church will see abundant thankfulness as spiritual                               protection.

                        1.         To not continually reflect on the nature of Christ’s work or God’s                                              work in Christ is to open ourselves up to the hollow and deceptive                                             philosophies of this world.

                        2.         If it doesn’t depend on Christ, then it must be dismissed.

            C.        If we would only remain focused on Christ and His gracious provision

                        1.         We would see how sinful we are…

                        2.         How easily we stumble into sin…

                        3.         We will be less critical of the church

                        4.         We will be less critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ

                        5.         We will be more loving and more humble

                        6.         We will be more concerned about the mission of God, then internal                                squabbles.

                        7.         And we will remember that the work will one day be done,                                                        because He said – I will build my church!

            D.        Do you love the church, cherish her?

            E.         Are you willing to lay down your life for her?

            F.         Read Colossians 2:8-10

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