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The Real Thing

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The Real Thing

Let’s open our Bibles to
Read Colossians 1:3-8.
Over the summer, we took a trip to the Czech Republic.
Anytime someone spends time in another country, the people there love to share their culture with the visitors.
One of the things that was shared with us, was a soda drink called Kofola.
The story goes that during their time under communism, the Czechs were unable to get western products there.
And one thing that couldn’t be imported into what was at the time called Czechoslovakia, was Coca-Cola.
Someone took advantage of the situation and created their own version of Coca-Cola.
It’s called Kofola.
I can only describe it as a mix between:
RC Cola
Dr. Pepper
Cherry Pepsi
And Black Licorice.
It certainly has a … unique taste.
Though if it’s trying to be the real thing, it’s no Coca-Cola.
There is only one Coca-Cola.
And when compared to the wannabe sodas that are out there, the generic, imitation colas … Coke really is the Real Thing.
In the 70’s, Coca-Cola introduced their slogan, “It’s the real thing.”
They were trying to make a statement that there is only one real cola, Coca-Cola, and it’s to be shared throughout the world.
Today, we find ourselves in Colossians.
Paul is writing to a church he’s never visited.
The famous Paul.
The Apostle to the Gentiles.
The one who loved to preach to people who never heard the Gospel, had never visited Colossae.
They’ve been converted through the preaching of a man named, Epaphras.
He’s not as famous as Paul.
He’s not as influential as Paul.
And perhaps they are wondering if they heard the real Gospel.
Did they receive the real thing?
Or was it the Kofola version of the Gospel?
Was anything missing?
The town of Colossae had many philosophers in it.
There were various worldviews.
There were gnostics.
There were pseudo-religious scholars.
These philosophers, these scholars, thought that they knew something that the simple Colossian Christians didn’t.
After all, they weren’t converted by the preaching of Paul.
He’s the real thing.
They’d heard it through simple Epaphras.
And so, Paul writes this letter, to the Colossians.
He writes to affirm that what they’ve heard is true.
He applauds the work of Epaphras.
You see this in
Epaphras isn’t passing off some wannabe Gospel.
He’s a beloved fellow bond-servant.
He’s a faithful servant of Christ.
He’s there on Paul’s behalf.
And what they’ve heard and what they believe is the real thing.

Since they’ve received the Real Thing, Paul begins our text by giving Real Thanks.

In verse 3 Paul describes his prayer for the Colossians.
His prayers are filled with thanks.
He says, “praying always for you.”
Not to imply that every prayer that he ever prays is for the Colossians.
But rather, that every time he prays for the Colossians, he is thankful for them.
Have you ever known that person that you’re embarrassed to be around?
He’s loud.
He doesn’t seem to know the volume of his voice.
His jokes aren’t funny.
But he sure thinks they are.
He says things wrong.
He begins speaking and you grimace, because it could have been said so much better.
I like to play hypothetical games.
Such as “If you were on a deserted island what would you bring with you.”
I’d bring a Swiss Army Knife.
I’d bring Duct Tape.
I’d bring a Bible.
And I hope this guy is no where near me.
That’s not how Paul was with the Colossians.
He was not ashamed of them.
He was immensely grateful for them.
He spoke to God.
The God.
The One who sent the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
And he thanked God for the Colossians.
Thankful that the Lord had spared them from His wrath.
Thankful that they were going to be with him in eternity.
Which goes one step further from the who would you bring on a deserted island.
Because Paul’s saying, he’d like to spend eternity with them in heaven.
We need to hear things like this, and we need to hear things like this about each other.
Because in reality, we aren’t the people that you’d normally want to bring with you onto a deserted island, or even eternity with.
In , Paul says, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,”
Think back to when you were a kid and you were picking teams for dodgeball.
Who did you pick?
The tall kids.
The athletic kids.
The ones with good hands.
But who is God picking for His team.
The under privileged.
The weak.
The underdog.
The ones you would pick last.
We know this about ourselves.
And so we doubt.
“Why in the world would God pick me for His team?”
We dwell on our sins.
We dwell on our weaknesses.
We dwell on what we were before we were converted.
“There’s no reason for me to be here. Maybe I’m not the real thing.”
says that Satan is our accuser, who accuses us before God day and night.
“Look at that Christian.”
“Your son died for him?”
Sometimes we don’t even need Satan to accuse us, we do it ourselves.
“I’m not the real thing.”
This is why we need to be a people of the Cross and about the Cross.
Frequently, speaking of what Christ has done.
Frequently, spurring one another on.
Frequently, encouraging one another.
And when we see a brother or sister, demonstrating the work God has done within him … say something.
Give thanks to God.
And say something to the person.
And by saying something to the person, you are giving thanks and credit to God who transforms souls.
And yet, by the grace of God we are:
says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
It’s amazing what God does with us.
We are but sinful clay, with borrowed breath.
And it’s by God’s grace that He calls us and makes us His own.

Paul then lays out the evidence that God has worked in the Colossians life. He gives a series of proofs that someone is the real thing.

First, he hears of Real Faith.

Look at verse 4, Paul says, “since we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus ...”
Somehow the idea has spread that faith is a private thing.
That it isn’t tangible.
That it’s only internal.
That it cannot be observed.
Have you ever tried to evangelize to a random stranger?
It’s not uncommon to hear, “My faith and how I worship is private.”
And yet, Paul says something different.
“We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus.”
Faith is verifiable.
The way a Christian talks should be different from the world around us.
Whatever faith is, it’s verifiable.
I don’t mean in the way that before we gossip about someone we say, “bless her heart ...”
You know Nancy, bless her heart, but she is just such a sneak. I heard that she ...” and then we go on with our gossip.
I don’t mean people hear us gossip differently.
I mean the subject matter is different.
The world around us has their unspoken rules.
We can talk about entertainment.
We can talk about celebrities.
We can talk about sports.
But whatever we do, don’t talk about religion.
But a Christian’s speech is different.
While the world around us sees religion as taboo.
Our religion is heard.
In fact who we talk about is different.
Our faith is to be heard.
It’s what we talk about.
It’s what we sing about.
In Paul explains that we are to talk this way, by “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Our faith is to be heard.
And notice that our faith is in someone.
The world around us tells us that we need to have faith in ourselves.
That we are the only one that we can count on.
And this comes from a lifetime of broken hearts.
Friends let us down.
Family lets us down.
Those closest to us let us down.
And so with calloused hearts, we say, “I’m the only one I can trust.”
And yet, the Christian is most vocal about his faith, because it’s in someone that Who never let us down.
Our faith is unique.
It’s in Christ Jesus.
The first proof of you being the real thing is that you have verifiable faith.
One of the proofs of the Christian religion is that our faith is heard.
That it is in Christ.
And that it is heard.
So what do people hear when they hear you speak?
What does your spouse hear?
What do your children hear?
What do your fellow believers hear?
If you are the real thing, then people are hearing of your real faith.

The Real Love

The next test of true conversion is that the Colossians had a Real Love

We see this in the second half of verse 4.
Paul says that he has heard of their faith, and also that he has heard of the love that they have for all the saints.
Another mark of genuine faith is that a person loves the church.
And it’s not just Paul who says this, these were Jesus’ own words.
says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is a visible love.
This is an active love.
Everyone has a pet name for their grandma.
It’s a love that is involved in people’s lives.
My mom was the
says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
I know people say our faith is private and religion is private, but according to Jesus, that simply can’t be.
The love that we are to have for each other is demonstrated.
And for it to be demonstrated … we have to be around each other.
Television church doesn’t work when it comes to the real thing, to real love.
Internet church doesn’t work when it comes to real love.
We have to be around each other.
You’re sick one week, stay home.
Listen to the sermon on your iPhone.
Then you’re better, get back here.
And what is the motivation for our love?
Because let’s be honest … sometimes we are hard to love.
Sometimes you’re just a little bit grumpy.
Sometimes I say things I don’t mean.
So how are we to love one another … when it’s just a little too hard.
Our motivation to love is found in what we believe in, in what our faith is.
Our motivation for loving is found within the very Gospel itself.
Each of us are sinners.
And in that sin … we are strangely, quite unloveable.
Our sin is gross.
Our sin is offensive.
Our sin is hated by God.
And yet, God has shown love for those who are unlovable.
He has shown love by dying for those who are sinners.
His justice called for our death.
His love satisfied His justice, and made peace between us.
And this is a perplexing love.
It’s a grace filled love.
And it’s what we show to each other.
The second proof of you being the real thing is that you have real love, that is rooted in the Gospel, and shown by loving the unlovable.

Paul continues in affirming the Colossians that they are real thing because they have a Real Hope.

Verse 5, “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel”
I like traveling, but I’m not a very good spontaneous traveler.
I like to make sure everything is ready.
I like a map.
I like to know where all the stops are.
I like to know where I’m sleeping at night.
I’m not a fan of finding a hotel based on if the light outside says vacancy or not.
I’d like there to be a reservation waiting for me.
“Here you go Mr. Kirkendall. Here is your room.”
Paul says that the Colossians had a hope laid up for them in heaven.
When it says that hope is laid up in heaven, it means it’s set aside, it’s reserved, it’s being held for you.
There is a reservation in heaven.
When it says that hope is laid up in heaven, it means it’s set aside, it’s reserved, it’s being held for you.
There’s a reservation, and it won’t be given away.
When I was younger, I played a lot of video games.
One time when a game was released, I went to the store, early in the morning to try and get it the very first day it came out.
It was early in the morning.
I waited in the cold.
The store opened.
I went inside.
And it turns out that they were sold out.
The only people who could get the game were those who had preordered it.
Those who went to the store ahead of time and paid for it up front.
I did not preorder it.
Even though it was sold out, I was not phased.
I went up to the counter where they were distributing it, and asked if I could get the game.
The worker turned around, grabbed a box with someone else’s name on it, took the tag off and gave it to me.
If that was our hope … we’d be in trouble.
Our hope is
In , Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Our hope is not being laid up by a pimple faced teenager, working for minimum wage.
It is held by Christ Jesus Himself, who is preparing a place for you, right now.
And holding it.
He knows His sheep by name.
And the payment that was given was His very life.
Do you have a hope?
If you were to die and find yourself before God what would happen?
And you need a hope that is tangible.
Many believe
Who is it?
Many think they will go to heaven.
They hope they will go to heaven.
But there’s no substance behind it.
It’s empty.
says, “... is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
There is a real God.
There is a real judgment for sin.
And hoping that God will simply overlook your sins is not a good hope to have.
It’s a hope that God is inconsistent and a poor judge.
But for the Christian … our hope has substance.
It’s not a hope that God will overlook sin.
The hope is that Jesus died for sin.
And when Jesus died for sin, justice was served.
And not only was justice served, but a payment was given, so that a place could be secured and laid up for you in heaven.
What a great confidence this is.
I told you I like traveling.
I like knowing there is a reservation for me.
Before Jesus died, He said He was preparing a place for me and all those who believe in heaven.
And when we get there, He’ll open that giant book.
Revelation calls this book the Book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
He’ll check for a reservation.
He’ll find your name.
He’ll see that the payment was given.
And He’ll welcome you in.
Do you have this hope?
This is the hope of a Christian.
If you have this hope, you’re the real thing.

The final test that they are the real thing is that there is Real Growth.

The church is a beautiful thing.
The local church is beautiful.
But the global church is spectacular.
I remember hearing a story about John MacArthur going to Russia after the USSR fell.
During the Cold War, many American Evangelicals couldn’t go into Russia, they were forbidden.
Which means many valuable resources and teachers couldn’t go there to strengthen the local church.
Finally, the USSR collapsed, and John MacArthur made a trip to Russia.
He was expecting to teach them the truth.
To straighten them out.
What he found was they already knew what he was going to teach.
And there was sweet fellowship between the Russian Church and the American Church, because really … they’re the same church.
Under the Lordship of the same Jesus Christ.
The church is something that stretches beyond national borders.
And here are the Colossians.
They’ve heard the real Gospel from Epaphras.
They weren’t established by Paul.
And the thought is, “are they a part of this same church.”
Do they have the same standing as the churches that Paul established?
Or are they only half a church?
And what does Paul say in verse 6?
“which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,”
What has come to you … has also come to the world.
What they saw happening in the other churches … is also happening in the Colossian church.
Paul compares the church to a tree.
It’s bearing fruit.
And it’s increasing.
And they are happening at the same time.
Think of an apple tree.
It’s not just growing fruit.
But it’s branches are spreading, and it’s roots are sinking deeper.
It’s bearing fruit … and increasing.
How does this happen?
It’s when the church is utilizing her gifts, and using them to build the kingdom of God.
This is an active church, that is firing on all cylinders.
This church is being obedient to the great commission.
“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,”
They are going.
They are producing fruit.
They are making disciples.
Paul has heard good things about the Colossian church.
They have faith in Christ.
They have a love for each other.
They have a hope of something reserved for them.
And now he hears that they are growing, and bearing fruit.
I believe this is our goal as well.
Notice the very end of verse 6, “even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.”
This isn’t something we need to prepare for.
It begins in an instant.
“the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.”
At the moment of conversion.
At the moment you receive faith.
At the moment you repent.
At that moment of regeneration, you are brought into the kingdom of God and made a part of His glorious church.
And you start increasing and bearing fruit.
Proof that you are the real thing is that you are growing and bearing fruit.
You are actively maturing in Christ.
And you are actively being used by Him.
Can you look back on where you were 10 years ago and see spiritual maturity?
Can you look at your life being used by God to serve His kingdom?

Paul thanks God because the Colossian Church is the real thing.

They have real faith.
It’s a faith that is heard.
What do people hear?
How do you speak?
What do you communicate?
They have a real love.
It’s active in the life of the church.
Is your participation with the body based on love?
How do you show that love?
They have a hope.
They are growing and bearing fruit.
When you have these things you know that you are the real thing.
Do you
I don’t want you to go home and think about whether you should have:
Or serve within the Body.
Do it now.
May today be the day of your salvation.
And prove that you’re the real thing.
They are what separate you from being a counterfeit.
I want to thank God for what’s in you.
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