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Christ is our Witness (2)

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Christ is our Witness

Paul was not only a soul winner he was a great friend - maker. There are more than 100 different Christians named and unnamed associated with Paul in the Book of Acts and in his epistles. He named 26 different friends in alone!
Friends did not see one another that much, and letter service was very slow and limited. Paul’s greetings were much more than social; They were conveyed out of his genuine spiritual concern for them.
Paul sent personal greeting to Colossae from six of his associates in the ministry: Aristarchus, John Mark, and Jesus Justus, all of whom were Jews; and Epapharas, Luke, and Demas, who were Gentiles.
Paul then sent special greetings from two church assemblies, with a special word to one of the pastors.
All of these men were characterized by faithfulness to the Apostle Paul in his hour of need. They were the men who stayed and stood by him possibly to his death.
Aristarchus: 10a. This man was identified as Paul’s fellow prisoner and fellow worker. He was from Macedonia and was one of Paul’s traveling companions (). He was originally from Thessalonica and willingly risked his life in that Ephesian riot (). He sailed with Paul to Rome, which meant he also experienced the storm and shipwreck that Luke so graphically described in . Aristarchus stayed with Paul no matter what the circumstances were, a riot, a storm, or even a prison. It is not likely that Aristarchus was an official Roman prisoner, probably means that he shared Paul’s confinement with him so that he could be a help and comfort to the apostle. He was a voluntary prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. He did not run when the going got tough. He suffered and labored with Paul.
John Mark: Mark, the writer of the second Gospel, played a very important role in the early history of the church. He too was a Jew, a native of Jerusalem where his mother, Mary, kept “open house” for the believers (). John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas who went with Paul on his 1st missionary Journey. It is most likely that John Mark was led to faith by the minister of Peter. When Paul and Barnabas set out on their 1st missionary Journey, they took John Mark with them as their assistant. He probably took care of travel arrangements, supplies etc. for them. But when the going got tough, John Mark abandoned the preachers and returned home to Jerusalem. Why John quit is not exactly explained in scripture. We do know that Paul was taking over the ministry and replacing his relative Barnabas. Later when Paul and Barnabas wanted to go on a second Journey Paul refused to take John Mark.
Paul was not running a popular tour; he was seeking to win lost souls to Christ. No amount of danger or inconvenience could hinder Paul from reaching unbelievers with the Gospel. Paul did forgive John Mark and commended him: “Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable for the ministry” (). Mark, Titus, and Timothy were all young men who served under Paul as representatives.
Jesus Justus: Jesus Justus was a Jewish believer who served with Paul, but we know nothing about him. The name Jesus (Joshua) was a popular Jewish name, and it was not unusual for Jewish people to have a Roman name as well (Justus). John Mark is a case in point. Jesus Justus represents those faithful believers who served God but whose deeds are not announced for the whole world to know.
Luke: Luke was very important man in the early church. He was a Gentile, yet he was chosen by God to write the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. He is probably the only Gentile writer of any book in the Bible. He was also a physician and held in high regard. He was dearly loved by Paul. Luke joined Paul and his party at Troas. Luke traveled with Paul to Jerusalem and was with him on the voyage to Rome. No doubt Luke’s presence and professional skill were a great encouragement to Paul during that difficult time. Luke remained with Paul to the very end.
Epaphras: The man we met at the beginning of the study, who founded the church at Colossae. He had been led by Christ through Paul’s ministry at Ephesus, and had returned home to share the Good News of Salvation. It seems likely that Epaphras also founded the churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Epaphras was a church planer.
Epaphras was motivated to share the gospel.
Epaphras loved Jesus Christ and wanted to serve Him and share His message.
Epaphras believed in the ministry of the local church. (he was a fellow servant)
Epaphras prayed for the church
*Epaphras was concerned that Christians know and do the will of God.

1. We are called to know and do All the will of God.

“All appears over 30 times in the book of Colossians” - not just in part but it is the idea of perfect complete will of God.
Only in Jesus Christ can we stand perfect and complete in God’s will.
We can stand complete in God’s will.
This request carries along with it being mature and perfectly assured in the will of God and parallels Paul’s prayer burden (). “Full assurance in the will of God.”
Praying that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.
Epaphras experienced great distress in His prayer. This does not mean that we wrestle with God in order to get Him to answer. But it does mean that we must throw ourselves into our praying with zeal and concern.
Epaphras was the only one commended for his prayer ministry.
*Paul had very loyal and great friends around him that had a burden for the ministry to which God had called Paul to follow.
Perhaps the reason that our churches today do not experience great revival is because we do not fervently pray for one another.
Demas: is mentioned only 3 times in Paul’s letters, and these three references tell a sad story. The final reference tells the story of what happened to Demas.
2 Timothy 4:10 ESV
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
It must have hurt Paul greatly when Demas forsook him. It also hurt the work of the Lord, for there never has been a time when the laborers were many.
1 John 2:17 ESV
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

2. We are called to read aloud the word of God

(v. 16)
Paul’s great concern was that the word of God be read aloud in these churches. This is why we read scripture out loud and responsively.
There would not have been copies of the letter for everyone to read on their own. It is a strong conviction of mine that we need to return to the public reading of the Word of God in many of our churches.
1 Timothy 4:13 ESV
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
In many of our churches the public reading of scripture is but a smattering among that gets lost in all of the hype, smoke, and lights. God’s word has a message and meets the deepest longings of the human heart. God’s word does not have to be edited or changed in order for it to meet different problems in various situations, it is always applicable in every situation. The Word of God will never come back void.
What was the Epistle from Laodicea? We don’t know for sure. Some scholars think that the Epistle to the Ephesians was this missing letter, but this idea is speculation. This does not some how indicate that we are missing a part of God’s inspired word. Instead of wondering about what we do not have, we should be applying ourselves to what we do have.
Archippus: When we compare and , we get the impression that Archippus belonged to the family of Philemon. Possibly, he was Philemon’s son and the pastor of the church that met in Philemon’s house.

3. We are called to fulfill the full purpose of God

(v. 17)
The word fulfill carries with it the idea that God has definite purposes for His servants to accomplish. He works in us and through us to complete those good works that He has prepared for us to complete.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
FULFILL: Parallels the whole theme of Colossians - the fullness of Jesus Christ available to each believer. We are able to fulfill our ministries because we have been “filled full” through Jesus Christ.
A PERSONAL MESSAGE: ‘take head’. The Lord Jesus Christ expects all believers to do their part in discharging the ministry given to them, whether preaching, teaching, leading or serving the local church.
A PUBLIC MESSAGE: ‘take heed tot he ministry you have received in the Lord.” The call to the ministry that he was called to discharge. The Lord expects us to do his will when vows have been made.
A POINTED MESSAGE: ‘fulfil it’. Obviously Archipus needed this exhortation, but why? Had he lost heart? Had he found the office to which he was called too demanding, and did he now want to relinquish it? We do not know. God wanted him to complete the work he had received.
(v. 18)
Paul usually dictated his letters to a secretary and then signed his name at the end. He always added a sentence about the grace of God, for this was his “trademark”. The combination of his signature and “grace” gave proof that the letter was authentic.
Paul authenticates his writing then he reminds the Colossians of his chains. This is a very human touch and indicates his great need for prayer support.
Those in the service of Jesus Christ are not immune to hardship or injustice in a fallen world. Suffering is ordained by God for believers.
2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Ephesians 4:1 ESV
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
He does not say remember I am a prisoner send me some supplies. He says’ remember my bonds or chains. This adds weight to his exhortation. The fulfilling part of the ministry to which God has called us is to walk in a manner worthy of that calling.

4. We are called to daily grace

(v. 18b)
Paul began with Grace:
Colossians 1:2 ESV
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Paul ends with Grace.......
Grace is required to start the Christian life. (grace is freely given)
Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Grace is required to the end of the Journey.
Matthew 28:20 ESV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We need grace to keep us from falling under the control of the ‘spoilers’, and to keep us strong in the Lord and the power of his might.
Grace is necessary to do God’s will, and fulfill his work in our lives.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
What is God’s work in our lives? The act of sanctification to make us holy as he is holy. This is the daily growth where more grace is required.
John 1:16 ESV
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
C.S. Lewis
From mere intellectual acceptance of, to realization of, the doctrine that our sins are forgiven. That is perhaps the most blessed thing that has ever happened to me. How little they know of Christianity who think that the story ends with conversion. (p. 425)
I had assented to the doctrine years earlier and would have said I believed it. Then, one blessed day, it suddenly became real to me and made what I had previously called “belief” look absolutely unreal. (p. 751)
I had been a Christian for many years before I really believed in the forgiveness of sins, or more strictly, before my theoretical belief became a reality to me. (p. 935)
1)we are never too old to experience a new work of grace. (Lewis was 53 and only had 12 years left to live)
2)we are never too mature to experience a new work of grace. (seasoned Christians never outgrow the need for a fresh outpouring of grace)
3)Grace prompts grateful acknowledgement and signs of encouragement in our day to day lives.
CONCLUSION: After reading and studying this letter we cannot help but see that we have in Jesus Christ all that we can ever want or need. All of God’s fullness is in Jesu Christ and we have been made complete in Him.
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