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Grounded in the Gospel

Grounded in the Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:45
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As you have noticed already, we have a new theme for 2018: Grounded in the Gospel. Here in a few minutes, we will be looking at Colossians 1 if you’d like to turn there.
Our theme verse for the year is found in Colossians 1:23. we will spend some time with this verse in observation and interpretation here in a little while, but I’d like to take a moment and view how we are planning to apply this verse this coming year.
Paul instructs the Colossian believers to continue in the faith being grounded and settled. In essence, to grow deeper in the good news of Jesus. We too, as the church, should be grounded in the Gospel and we will grow together this year. That deepening work must be: intentional, biblical, and continual. And we will do that corporately two ways:
1. New City Catechism
Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greek katechein, which means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth”).
The practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning. In short, catechisms are less individualistic and more communal. So, as a congregation this year, we are going to walk through these 52 questions and answers in each service, with the hope of grounding us in these important biblical doctrines.
Look at the back of your bulletins.
Q. What is our only hope in life and death?
A. That we are not our own but belong to God.
We will also highlight in greater depth the truth learned in the weekly catechism in the Sunday evening sermon. So, if you want to ground your life in the truths you are learning throughout the week, join us on Sunday night.
2. The Story
Have you ever wondered how the Old Testament and New Testament correlate? Well, The Story is a 31 week chronological progression through the entire bible for the purpose of learning how it all fits together. This book takes the mega-themes of passages and weaves them together into one chapter. Here’s a closer look at what to expect:
This is going to be great! And so, we have purchased copies of this book for each household within our church. You may pick one up on your way out this morning. Read chapter 1 this week, and come prepared for the sermon next Sunday.
So, these two tools are going to assist us in fulfilling our goal for the new year. I hope you will take full advantage of these resources!
Are you there with me in Colossians 1? If not, join me there.
Colossians is Paul’s response to the false claims that Christ was insufficient. People were apparently saying that Jesus was a good start, but that other beliefs and practices had to be added. Paul affirms that nothing needs to be added to the work of Christ, and as Lord of all creation, He is more than enough for every believer.
In vv. 19-23, Paul addresses our reconciliation with God.
Read Colossians 1:19-23
Colossians 1:19–23 KJV 1900
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
v. 19 - says “it pleased the Father that in Christ, all fulness dwelt” - referring to God being fully present in Christ. Similiar to what Paul said in 2:9.
Colossians 2:9 NKJV
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
Believer’s Bible Commentary C. The Glories of Christ the Church’s Head (1:15–23)

Gnostic heretics taught that Christ was a kind of “halfway house” to God, a necessary link in the chain. But there were other, better links on ahead. “Go on from Him,” they urged, “and you will reach the fullness.” “No,” Paul answers, “Christ is Himself the complete fullness!”

Jesus was fully God - making Him sufficient for everything required for redeeming mankind. His sufficiency is what provides peace (v. 20).

1. Our Problem (v. 21a)

Our problem, as highlighted by Paul, is that all of mankind is inherently sinful.
Ephesians 2:1–3 NKJV
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Each of us, just like in Paul’s day, naturally fulfill the lusts of the flesh and are children of wrath. By nature we are problematically sinful. We are enemies of God, and we choose to live outside of obedience to Him. In fact, our brokenness extends past willful sin and includes sin that we aren’t even aware of.
ILL: Aleah (OMG)
Our brokenness is really bad. None of us are exempt, and there is no hope outside of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:12 NKJV
that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
So, our problem is that by nature we are enemies of God alienated from God in our minds by wicked deeds, hopelessly living without Him. And there is nothing that we can do, within ourselves, to fix this problem.

2. His Purpose (vv. 21b-22)

Christ came to reconcile unrighteous creation to a righteous Creator.

To reconcile means to restore to a right relationship or standard, or to make peace where formerly there was enmity.

Christ came to make peace available to those, who are by nature, opposing to His nature. He provided a way to have a right relationship to us who had a fatal relationship.
Notice, this reconciliation is always us reconciled to Him. We don’t reconcile God to us.
Ill: Piano tuning. The piano is always tuned to the tuning fork. Not the tuning fork to the piano.
2 Corinthians 5:18–19 NKJV
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
impute = to credit
Christ did not credit our trespasses to us. Rather he imputed (credited) His righteousness to those who come to Him alone by grace alone through faith alone.
But look with me at the means by which He accomplished this reconciliation.
v. 21b-22 “yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death”
This reconciliation came at the highest price. It wasn’t enough for Christ to come in the miraculous way He did. And it wasn’t enough for Him to only have lived a perfect life, like He did. Reconciliation was made possible (v. 22) through the body of His flesh through death.
It is important to note here: Christ was not an angel or a nonphysical being; He had a body, and He endured suffering and death in His body. By emphasizing Christ’s physical body, Paul may be combatting early gnostic-like influences that could have been at work in Colossae. Gnosticism emphasized spiritual, nonmaterial reality over the material reality. Some denied that Christ had a physical body at all. Paul refutes that here.
We know that Christ, through physical pain and death, made it possible to be reconciled. This was His purpose in coming.
And we stop and reflect on this most costly sacrifice, each time we partake of the elements of the Lord’s table. That perfect Jesus would willingly give His body to be beaten and His blood to be shed for imperfect me-for imperfect you. This is the means by which He fulfilled His purpose.
But there is a second element to His purpose, and it is found in the later part of v. 22.
He has reconciled us in the body of His flesh, to:
Present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
This holiness was not something they needed to generate. In fact, it is not something they could generate. This is imputed holiness from the Holy One, Jesus Christ.

The Colossians cannot claim responsibility for their status before God; no human tradition or rule made them holy. Rather, Christ’s work of reconciliation brought them into relationship with God, making them holy. Since believers belong to God, they bear His image (3:10), which enables them to live out God’s command to holiness.

3. Our Perseverance (v. 23)

Some have struggled with the “If” in the first part of this verse, but as John Calvin wrote:

Here we have an exhortation to perseverance, by which he admonishes them that all the grace that had been conferred upon them hitherto would be vain, unless they persevered in the purity of the gospel.

The issue of perseverance is not about keeping ourselves in the grace of God. We can’t do that. It is the work of the Triune God who keeps us.
John 10:28–29 NKJV
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
they shall never perish
John 6:39 NKJV
This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
He will lose none
Ephesians 1:13–14 NKJV
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
sealed and guaranteed
1 John 2:19 NKJV
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
the falling away was evidence that they were never genuine in the first place.
Scripture is abundantly clear that those who are “in Christ” will not fall away from the faith. Those who seemingly fall away were never “in Christ” to begin with.
Some would assert that perseverance of saints is a license to sin, but Paul said:
Romans 6:1–2 NKJV
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Those who are in Christ won’t continue in willful sin. Although scripture makes reference to possible times of fleshly living, this is the exception not the rule.
It is important to define terms well. Perseverance, and eternal security are not the same things:
Perseverance is a divine work, the work of God powerfully holding us in Christ
Eternal security (assurance) is the subjective confidence that we belong to Christ based on God’s work of preserving
We do not have assurance in our salvation because of some objective work we accomplish, but in the subjective confidence in the work of God.
Perseverance is not based on what I do. It is solely based on what God continually does. He keeps His own.
I did not come to faith in my own strength, and I won’t remain in the faith in my own strength.
Galatians 3:2–3 NKJV
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
This “if” is not to worry the reconciled. It is to remind us of God’s continual power so that we can continue in the faith.
So, because God is at work keeping us - we can continue in the faith. This is where our theme comes into focus.
We continue being grounded and settled
grounded - strengthened at our foundation
settled - not subject to change or variation, steady
Psalm 1:1–3 NKJV
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
not moved from the hope of the gospel
This hope of the Gospel is referring to living in union with Christ and sharing in His resurrection.
Colossians 1:27 NKJV
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Us in Christ, and Christ in us.
Unrighteous reconciled by and to righteousness.
Sinners brought into harmony with perfection.
Not by works of righteousness, but because of His mercy He saved us.
!The Hope of the Gospel is that we get to live with God. Yes in eternity, but every day in the present!
We experience His peace that surpasses our understanding.
We experience His guiding grace.
We experience a sliver of what it will be like in Heaven, here on earth.
And this hope is grounded in the Gospel. The Good news about Jesus. The story of redemption in God’s Word.
This is where “The Story” will come in.
Over the next 31 weeks, we will walk through the entire bible, in chronological order, getting an overview of how it all fits together.
This is also where the New City Catechism comes in. As we focus on grounding our faith and answering some foundational questions about God and faith, we will strengthen our spiritual foundation.
Grounding our faith in the Gospel is key to continuing well. As God divinely keeps us, we bring glory to Him through continuing to strengthen our relationship with Him.
Scripture is clear about our relationship with God. We all have a problem called sin. Christ purposed in His coming to reconcile and present us Holy. Those who are in Christ should persist in the faith by continually grounding deeper in God’s Word. Join us on this journey - you won’t regret it!
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