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The Power of a Letter

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“The Power of a Letter”  Col 1:1-2

-          The letter we received not being selected for a job in Dallas

-          The letter of encouragement that I had received on my windshield

-          Letters from my honey

-          Many significant events in life are marked with the reception of a letter: letters of acceptance, offer letters, “Dear John…” letters, “Pink slip” letters, a letter can be a powerful thing

-          The entire Bible is a love letter from God to us, talk about a powerful letter

-          A letter from God that tells us where we came from, what the problem is with this world, how the problem was solved through the ministry of the Lord Jesus, how to live this life, where we are going in the next life

-          In the New Testament there are books that were letters, the Book of Colossians is a letter with a powerful message that is so applicable to us today

I.                     Details of the Letter (1:1-2)

A.        Necessary Facts

·         Author details (1)

Ø          Who?  Paul the Apostle, The sent out one of Jesus Christ, the one that Jesus Christ has especially sent out as His messenger

Ø          By the will of God: it was not by the will of man that Paul did what he did, it was not by him attending some school that Paul did what he did, it was by the will of God as God empowered by His Holy Spirit

Ø          Paul planted and pastured many different churches, responsible for the gospel going to the Gentiles, for the gospel reaching the known world at that time already to Rome, authored 13 books in the NT (14 if you believe he wrote Hebrews), no doubt about it, He was called, commissioned and sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ

Ø          I think it should be noticeable when someone is in a position by the will of God, or by the will of himself, herself or man

Ø          Timothy was with Paul in Rome, sends his greetings for him, I like the way that Paul refers to Timothy, we know that Timothy was younger than Paul, was a convert of Paul, but he is referred to as his brother

Ø          There really shouldn’t be any hierarchy in the church, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ……

Ø          When?  Write around 60 ad

Ø          Where?  From a prison in Rome, Paul was always busy for the kingdom of God, whether free to go or in a prison

Ø          For some Christians, their body is a prison, their laid up in bed, even there they can be mighty instruments busy for the kingdom of God, prayers

·         Recipients: Church at Colosse (2a)

Ø          Colosse the city: was one of the tri cities located on the Lycus river some 100 miles SE of the city of Ephesus, modern day Turkey

Ø          Colosse may have gotten its name from the “colossus” like formations of limestone and calcium deposits for which the area was known for

Ø          By Paul’s day it was a small town, a has been town, once booming but now insignificant, had it not been for the church there or this letter, nobody would probably know about it

Ø          There is no such thing as an insignificant town when it comes to the Great Commission: I believe that the bigger Christian fellowships in the bigger cities should be looking to start works in the smaller towns out there

Ø          The Church in Colosse was a beautiful work of the Lord, there were works going on in each of those tri cities

Ø          Paul had never visited one of those cities, Colosse is never mentioned in the book of Acts, the churches there were probably born through some individuals that got saved in Ephesus when Paul was ministering in that area for some 3 years or so

Ø          Verse 7: Epaphras probably founded the church, the church in Colosse met in the home of a man by the name of Philemon

Ø          I love this, people getting saved, going back to their home towns and starting a work, the Colosse church is an example of lay people getting to work for the Lord

Ø          Things have changed so much for the church in America: we send Christians to school to get degrees, then they petition various established churches around the country

Ø          The model from the NT is that churches begin when lay people go out and start them, and are raised up and equipped by the Lord to pastor them

Ø          A situation has come to Paul’s attention while in prison, and although he did not directly start the work in Colosse, he is just as concerned as if he had

Ø          Notice how the members of the churches are referred to as: saints, and the faithful brethren

Ø          Saints: hagios, a sacred, consecrated, holy, set apart one, Mother Theresa is supposed to be on the fast track towards official sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church, I believe the Bible teaches that all Christians are saints…..many Christians don’t act like saints

Ø          Faithful brethren: The church is a family of brothers and sisters who are to be faithful to one another

·         Typical greeting and salutation (2b)

Ø          “Grace to you and peace from God”…….what a great way to greet someone on the street

Ø          Instead of, “have a nice day”….grace and peace to you from God Himself

Ø          That should be our prayer that people could experience the Grace that comes directly from God, and the peace that comes from experiencing the grace of God

B.         Purposes for the Letter

·         Primary purpose: refute heresy

Ø          A weird kind of heresy had crept into the Church at Colosse, Epaphras had traveled many miles to Rome to meet with Paul and talk to him about the matter, Epaphras may have been put in prison with Paul for a spell

Ø          This letter is Paul’s answer to the heresy that had come into the church

Ø          It is really kind of hard to put a label on the heresy that was creeping into the church, it was a mixture of all kinds of aberrant thoughts, both Jewish and Greek, mysticisim, human philosophy

Their doctrine was a strange blending of some Christian truth, Jewish legalism, Greek philosophy, and Eastern mysticism --- Warren Wiersbe 

Ø          That kind of mixture can be so dangerous, because it appeals to everyone, makes everyone think they are right, demolishes absolutes, something in it for anybody and everybody except the truth to save a person from their sins

Ø          Judaisitic legalism: must be circumcised, keep certain feasts, avoid certain foods, keep special days in order to become a perfect spiritual specimen

Ø          Severe asceticism: beating up your physical body, not taking care of yourself, denying yourself, trying to beat your body into submission, cut themselves, hurt themselves to avoid sinful lusts and thoughts

Asceticism, practice of self-denial and renunciation of worldly pleasure in order to attain a higher degree of spirituality, intellectuality, or self-awareness[1]

Ø          Mysticisim: angel worship, astrology was becoming big because the angels they worshipped were supposedly in charge of certain heavenly bodies

Ø          The worship of human knowledge, in the church of Colosse we see the beginning of a dangerous aberrant philosophy known as gnosticism

Ø          The Gnostics were those teaching that there was a deeper way to God through knowledge, knowledge of their system and their way of thinking, gnosis

Ø          Agnostic: somebody who does not know, the Gnostics thought they knew everything about God and you had to grasp their special knowledge in order to advance

Ø          Your divine qualities could be reawakened through knowledge in their system

Ø          The Gnostics believed that all physical matter was evil, but the spiritual was good

Ø          This believe led to asceticism, or to unbridled licenses to sin

Ø          They had a hard time explaining Jesus, since all matter was evil, they could not conceive of God taking upon Himself and evil human body……He was phantom, He looked human but He was not, He would not leave footprints in the sand when he walked, just sort of floated

Ø          They could not believe that God could create this evil material world, so they taught a series of emanations that proceeded from God, these emanations become less and less holy, less and less deity, until there was only enough deity to create this evil world

Ø          Angels were parts of those emanations, which is why they worshipped angels

Ø          Jesus was very far down on the emanations list, not much deity at all

Ø          Every single one of those heresies that Paul had to deal with almost 2000 years ago are still present today…….Elements of gnosticism can be found in various religious groups such as Christian Science, Scientology, New Age religion, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses

Ø          Anyone that teaches satisfying all the cravings of your flesh because it doesn’t matter is a heretic

Ø          Legalism: that is following a code of ethics, a group of laws in order to get saved is abberant, most of the world religions teach exactly that

Ø          These kinds of things can be so easy to slip into, like a legalistic system and approach to God

Ø          These kinds of beliefs are refuted in the Word of God, Colossians was written primarily to refute those kinds of beliefs

·         Secondary purposes

Ø          To encourage the Christians at Colosse to grow in their maturity, in the knowledge of the one true God, strengthened in his might, fruitful for the kingdom of God

Ø          To teach the Christians how to live as Christians in daily life, the morals, the power of the Holy Spirit, practical matters like how to live in the Christian home

Ø          To inform the folks of what was happening in his life and to elicit their prayers

Ø          Major theme: the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ, a major statement on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ

Ø          Paul does not preach a philosophy or a system or a special kind of knowledge but a Person, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ

II.                   Title of  study

A.        Jesus in Focus

·         We want to see Jesus clearly

Ø          | 2 Cor. 11:3 through 2 Cor. 11:4 (NKJV)
3But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the £simplicity that is in Christ. 4For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! Matthew 24:5 (NKJV)
5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. |

Some people do not have the right Jesus in their belief system, there is a correct Jesus, there are wrong Jesus

Ø          | Israel is beefing up its mental health services as it prepares for an outbreak of Jerusalem Syndrome, a condition which convinces thousands of tourists they are Jesus or another biblical figure. It has been estimated about 40,000 people will suffer biblical delusions during their Christmas visit to the Holy Land. Every year thousands of tourists become so affected by the Holy City's powerful religious icons they are overwhelmed by delusions that they are the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, or one of his disciples. 1999 Christmas Eve BBC newspaper |

The Gnostics preached a false Jesus, many of the cults preach a false Jesus, a number of people each year come on the seen claiming to be Jesus

Ø          | Some of the many examples of false messiahs in our generation are: Father Divine, Charles Manson, Maharaja Ji, Jim Jones (People's Temple), Sun Myung Moon (Unification Church), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Transcendental Meditation), The Dalai Lama- Tibet (1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner), Lord Maitreya New Age Avitars, and David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Marshal Applewhite, significant followings, leading people to death  |

Yeah, now there are some real goof balls out there that do this kind of stuff, but there are some pretty serious goof balls, who can mislead a whole bunch of people, even to their deaths

Ø          Colossians teaches the true Jesus, what Jesus is really like, Who He is, What He did, What He does, will the real Jesus please stand up, He does in Colossians

Ø          Others may know the true Lord Jesus, but perhaps He is a little blurry to you

Ø          This book will help us to put Jesus in Focus

Ø          A good Biblical understanding of Jesus Christ will keep you from aberrant thought

·         We want to be focused on Jesus

Ø          Not only do we want to get a clearer picture of Jesus during this study, but we also want to stay focused on Jesus

Ø          This letter tells us that it is a must to stay fixed on Jesus Christ, focused on Him

Ø          Jesus Christ is the center of Christianity, Jesus Christ is to be the center of your life

Ø          | Hebrews 12:1 through Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)
1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Colossians 2:6 through Colossians 2:7 (NKJV)
6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding £in it with thanksgiving.  |

That is told to us time and time again in Scripture

Ø          Christ is to be our focal point, our hub, our center, our point man, our anchor, the rock of our salvation, our sun which we revolve around

Ø          This book contains one of the clearest affirmations of the deity of Jesus Christ, Paul will stress that Jesus is pre-eminent, before all things

Ø          Is Jesus pre-eminent in your life, before all things

Ø          | I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough toexplode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal acup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.  I don't wantenough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with amigrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth ofthe womb, not a new birth.  I want a pound of the Eternal in apaper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.  |

If Jesus is pre-eminent in your life, then it will affect the way you live, the choices you make, your relationships with other Christians, your desire to be a part of the Great Commission


-          Jesus Christ is all that you need, the Jesus in Focus is all you need, all you need is to stay focused in Jesus

-          | I read about an instant cake mix that was a big flop. The instructions said all you had to do was add water and bake. The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell—until their research discovered that the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that required only water. Apparently people thought it was too easy. So the company altered the formula and changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water. The idea worked and sales jumped dramatically.  |

Don’t let anything: system, thought, philosophy water down the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing needs to be added


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