"A PEACEFUL, GRATEFUL, WORD-FILLED COMMUNITY"
(A Message from Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 8/8/00 a.m. Colossians 3:15-17
PROPOSITION: The power of the resurrection of Christ at work within the believer and his/her community of faith will produce peace, joy and gratitude as a way of life.
- THE same power that stopped the decay in Jesus' body, that reversed the rigor mortis; that prevented brain damage; that raised up His dead body as a new and glorified body; that blew the stone out of the way to show that the grave was empty....is at work in you and me right now.
- THE New Testament is full of the power of this resurrection principle.
* The resurrection of Christ is the source of our eternal Life. In John 11:25, Jesus said,
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'"
* The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our salvation. Romans 10:9 says,
"…if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
* The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our hope for heaven. I Peter 1:3-4 says,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you..."
* The resurrection of Christ was the center piece of the message the apostles preached. Acts 4:33 says,
"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”
* The resurrection of Christ is the source of supernatural power in us to live victoriously today. Romans 6:4 says,
"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
- AND in his letter to the church on Colosse, Paul develops several key principles for godly living in Colossians 3….based solely on the significance of the resurrection of Jesus.
- IN Colossians 3:1 he writes (page 1167),
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ..."
- "SINCE you live with a different power base than the rest of the world.....the resurrection power of Christ within you...."
- SINCE you have been raised with Christ, live in such a way that honors the name that you carry.
- AND what follows naturally from living in resurrection power in the following verses is….
* Set your hearts on things above.
* Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
* Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.....sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed.
* Rid yourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies.
* Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
* Bear with each other. Forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
* Above all these virtues put on love that binds all of these together.
ii. let the peace of Christ rule
- AND then what I want to concentrate on this morning is tied to resurrection power and described in verse 15a.
- I BELIEVE what Paul describes in verses 15-17 is crucial to what the Lord has in store for us in the months ahead.
- IN fact, the elders and I talked just yesterday morning about what the Lord is preparing us for to be a light on the hill….and one of those things is for us to have a quality of relationship that speaks hope for the growing relational dysfunction in the world around us.
- SO Paul says, “Since then you have been raised with Christ…..”
- COLOSSIANS 3:15a,
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace."
- PEACE is the opposite of disturbance....of hostility.
- PEACE is the opposite of a state of war.
- BUT peace also means a sense of wholeness...of well-being…the kind that only comes from God.
- THIS peace comes from the saving work of Jesus in your heart where first you and He ceased being enemies….through the cross.
- IT is the peace OF Christ the rules in your heart.
- THEN, after you have the peace of God it translates into peace with the members of Christ’s body showing up in our everyday lives.....by the power of the resurrection within.
- PEACE in our family, in our relationships, in our church, starts with peace in your own heart and in mine.
- PEACE is one of the spiritual weapons of Ephesians 6....the shoes of the Gospel of peace.
- EPHESIANS 6:15 says,
"Stand firm then.....with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."
- THE Roman soldier had very important footwear for battle.
- AND the reason that his footwear was so important was that one of the principle strategies for warfare in Roman times was long marches where a lot of ground was covered quickly and the enemy caught by the element of surprise.
* Apparently, the enemy would have a report of your position and the size of your army. He would estimate how long it would take you to move that many men over the terrain that separated you from him....and gage his strategy against you accordingly.
* If you were able to move faster than he anticipated, by a significant margin, you would catch him unprepared.
* This was one of the reasons behind Rome's military successes.
- AND one of the critical ingredients in moving an army across terrain is what they have on their feet.
- THE Roman army wore a simple leather sole, strapped to their feet and ankles with leather ties. This was light in weight for mobility, it breathed, and didn't create blisters.
- ON the bottom of the leather soles, metal studs or nails were attached to prevent any slipping and sliding. This enhanced stability in battle, and mobility in all kinds of terrain.
- WITH this footwear you could....
* Move into battle fast and surprise the enemy.
* Climb difficult inclines, without sliding backwards.
* Remain standing and stable even when absorbing blows in battle.
* Negotiate the spikes that the enemy would sometimes imbed in the battlefield, trying to trip you up and wound you.
- WHAT is this footwear, the readiness of the Gospel of peace?
* It is the cessation of hostilities between you and God.....PEACE WITH GOD. Romans 5:1-2 says,
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand."
- BUT there is another meaning to this footwear, the readiness of the Gospel of peace?
* It is the cessation of hostilities between you and those around you.....THE PEACE OF GOD. Hebrews 12:14 says,
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy."
- I BELIEVE that the absence of peace between members of the Body of Christ trips up more spiritual "armies" than the devil has destroyed since Acts 2:4.
- WHY is this aspect of the Gospel of peace important?
- WHY is this aspect of the footwear so critical?
- WHEN you and God are in open hostilities.....taking on the enemy is tough business. In fact we give the enemy place in our lives when we are not operating in peace with God or one another.
- WHEN you and your brothers or sisters in the faith are in open hostilities......taking on the real enemy at the same time is impossible.
- ON the other hand, unity in warfare is an awesome, powerful thing. Jesus said that is two of on earth agree on about those things that have to do with the kingdom of God.....it shall be done for them.
- THE devil HATES unity in the church.
- JESUS, on the other hand, prayed for our unity, and that we would be protected from the evil one, in the same prayer (John 17).
- SOME years back Dean Sherman taught is that peace is not just so that we can be nice and happy in the church....it has to do with getting and staying in Spirit flow.
- THERE is no discord in the kingdom of God.
- THAT is why Colossians 3:15 says that since we are raised with Christ, we are called to peace.
iii. be thankful
- BUT wait, there is something else that being raised with Christ results in.
- VERSE 15b says,
"And be thankful."
- THIS is quite a theme for Paul. He uses the phrase or some derivative 42 times in his writings.
- THE reason for the thanks is that in all we are others who watch our lives might give glory to God.
- SO, God's glory is the objective of our thankful attitudes (2 Corinthians 9).
- READ Paul sometime, and look for the times and places he is thankful.
* He is thankful for the faith of the Roman believers.
* He is thankful that Jesus is the way out of his frustrations with himself in Romans 7.
* He is thankful for the Corinthian believers.
* He thanks God that he speaks in tongues.
* He is thankful to God for every memory he has of the Philippians believers and his time with them.
* He is thankful for His calling as an apostle, even though it cost him dearly.
* He is thankful to the Lord for Timothy, his young trainee pastor.
* He is thankful for Philemon and all that he did for the saints.
* He is thankful to God who gives the victory.
* He is thankful to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.
* In fact, in everything we find Paul giving thanks to God.
- SO, this is not just a throw away phrase stuck in at the end of Colossians 3:15 by Paul.
- THANKFULNESS gives birth to humility and deals a death blow to opinionated pride and selfishness.
- THANKFULNESS also kills self-pity and discouragement...when we are tempted to think that God no longer pities us. Self-pity is a form of atheism.
- AND self-pity gives birth to resentment and bitterness.
iv. let the word reside in you
- PEACE, thankfulness….and one more thing that flows from resurrection power…
- VERSE 16,
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
- THE Word of God is the source of faith and strength for every believer.
- YOU will starve to death without it.
- YOU need to be taught in His Word.
- YOU need to be warned by His Word (Admonish).
- ALL of the spiritual warfare equipment of Ephesians 6 is really quite useless without the sword.
- WITHOUT the sword, you might be able to last for a while in battle, but you could only absorb so many blows and then you would go down.
- WITH the sword you can deflect the blows of the enemy.
- YOU can also strike at his strongholds, taking the battle to him at a time and with a swiftness that he has not anticipated.
- IN other words, instead of staying in the trenches, waiting for him to bring the fight to you......you can follow the Spirit's direction in taking the battle right into his strongholds.
- AND the sword is the one weapon that allows you to do that.
- WHAT is the sword?
* It is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17b says,
"Take......the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
* The Word of God is the revelation of Himself to His creation, so that we can know Him and be saved (Hebrews 1:1-2; Philippians 3:10).
* The Word of God is a powerful sword.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17)
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
* It is the sword "of the Spirit", effective only when wielded by the believer in the Spirit.
* The carnal mind cannot comprehend the things of God, they are only spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14).
* Without the Spirit, the Word of God is a dry and lifeless letter.
* But the Holy Spirit searches out, and understands the "deep things of God" (I Corinthians 2:10).
* And God has revealed these things to us "by His Spirit" (I Corinthians 2:10).
* And by the Spirit in us, revealing truth to us, God's Word will never return to Him without accomplishing what He desires in us (Isaiah 55:10-11).
- HOW does the sword of the Spirit work?
* Defensively, it blocks the penetration of our lives by the enemy's lies and deception.
* When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, he used scripture, twisted and taken out of context, to try and derail the purposes of God in His own Son. Jesus answered with the truth of God's Word, lifted up so as to block those lies. Because of the power of the Spirit in the word of God in Jesus' mouth, satan had to leave (Luke 4:13).
* Satan will try to come in for "the kill" on us with doubt, unbelief, false teaching, condemnation, accusation, misleading information, wrong turns, dead ends, temptations, lies and half-truths.
* The sword, taken up in your hand, under the anointing of the Spirit of God, can block every lie.
* Offensively, the Word of God can be used to demolish strongholds in your life, and the lives of others you can minister to, setting captives free.
* Satan has established the gates of his kingdom to protect those that he has trapped in sin, and keep them in his territory.
* Jesus came that those prisoners may be set free (Luke 4:18-19).
* Jesus promised that we could go through those gates of darkness and continue that work for which He came (Matthew 16:19).
* Paul tells us that it is through the hearing of the Word that faith is established in men's hearts, and they are released from darkness and death (Romans 10:17).
* II Timothy 3:16-17 says that God's Word will....
* Instruct those bound by ignorance concerning God and His salvation and righteousness.
* Rebuke and correct those who are heading towards destruction.
* Provide a track of righteousness to run on for those who are derailed in the corrupting ways of the world.
* Psalm 119:36 says that God's Word will "turn your heart from worthless things.....and remove the disgrace that you dread."
* Psalm 107:20 says that God "sent forth His Word and healed them, rescuing them from the grave."
- CAN you see why the enemy will do everything in his power to keep you from God's Word?
- THE enemy hates God's Word. He knows the power of your sword and will do all in his power to stop you from using it.
* He will see to it that you are too busy to pick up your sword and use it.
* He will see to it that you are distracted, or interrupted when you try to practice with your sword.
* He will try to block your understanding of God's Word and discourage you from using it.
* He will attack you with condemnation, so that you are weighed down with guilt and cannot pick up your sword.
- SOMEONE once said, "The best defense is a good offense!"
- MAKE God's Word a priority in your life.
* Invite the Holy Spirit within to reveal God's heart to you in the Word.
* Don't just speed read it, meditate on it.
* Listen for the voice of God when you read it.
* Keep a journal of what the Lord says to your heart as you read.
* Study the Word. Get into a good Bible study Sunday School class and dig into God's Word.
* Memorize the Word. The Navigators have a good system for memorization.
* Use the Word to block the enemy attacks.
* Use the Word to set captives free.
- THIS passage in Colossians says that the Word needs to be sung too as a form of teaching.
* Psalms....the Word set to music.
"Bless the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy Name." (Psalm 103)
"The Name of the Lord is...a strong tower. The Righteous run into it and they are saved" (Proverbs 18:10)
* Hymns....songs that teach strong doctrinal content.
"Grace, grace...God's grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin."
"Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see."
"There's no one, no one like Jesus....Who dies for me, just to set my spirit free."
* Spiritual Songs....songs with inner reflection.
"Sitting at His feet...that is where my life is complete."
"He's all I need....Jesus is all I need."
- BUT in case we get carried away with the benefit to us in this singing....Paul reminds us that it is to the Lord that we sing.
- OUR edification is not the chief purpose.
- WHICH brings us to Paul's conclusion of the practical application of the resurrected life in verse 17,
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
- WE are full of resurrection power.
- AND we are carrying His Name.
- SO let's commit ourselves to obedience in what the Word has spoken to our hearts today.....
* Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts.
* Being thankful.
* And letting the Word dwell in us richly.