Introduction to Colossians
Take your Bible and turn with me to Colossians and I want us to, at least, begin to look at what God might have for us here.
In introducing a book like this, it is critically important for us to have some overall understanding in background.
Tonight we're going to begin a study that's going to take us probably for a couple of months, through this marvelous letter that Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossae.
And I think it's only fair to you to give you an understanding of why I feel we should study the book, what the book is generally all about, and what we're going to learn from it.
And I want to try to do that tonight.
At least for me, there are six important reasons for studying Colossians, six important reasons.
Number one, and this is to try to update Colossians so that you'll understand how relative it is to today, this is an age of science.
That's reason number one.
Fantastic things are being done in science.
We look about us and we find discoveries and accomplishments in everything from microbiology to macroscience, which would be the study of space and lunar studies and all that's involved with that.
There are things all the way from nuclear medicine to nuclear power ... fantastic scientific advances.
In fact, scientific and technological literature is flooding the world with 60 million pages a year.
Scientific and technical information is coming at such a rapid pace that no human being could master as everything is at least allowable if not possible.
Even religion has no authority.
Every man is entitled to develop his own religion.
We have in our world the religion of man, the religion of the human mind; no rules, no absolutes, just experience, fluctuating ethics, idol making.
And Jesus is just another guru, like all the rest.
His word is not absolute, His truth is not binding, He is not the one true God.
Now, in an age like this with no absolutes, somebody needs to really define who Jesus is.
Colossians does that.
Chapter 1, verse 15, "Jesus," it says, "is the image of the invisible God, the pre‑eminent one of all creation."
Chapter 2, verse 9, says: "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Colossians says there are some absolutes and Jesus is the first one.
Fourthly, this is an age of pragmatism.
I feel that this is the age when people want to know what works.
If you want to sell transcendental meditation, if you want to market yoga, if you want to get people to join in on reflection, then just tell them it will make some difference in their life, just tell them it will help them be a better whatever.
This is a practical age and people are asking basically one question ‑ Does it work?
It isn't so important if it's true, it's important if it works.
And I think in Christianity people would want to know the same thing ‑ Does Christ work?
Does He really change a life?
Will I have peace?
Does He give joy?
Does He really bring happiness?
Does He give meaning to life ... power...hope ... purpose?
Colossians answers that.
Chapter 1, verse 22, it says "That the body of His flesh through death is able to present you holy and unblameable and much as one single day's combined discoveries.
In a rapidly advancing scientific world like this where 95 percent of all the scientists who have ever lived in history are alive today, we naturally ask questions about how is God related to this, how is Christ related to creation, to science, to discovery?
Is He inside it or outside of it?
Colossians answers this question.
For example, in Colossians 1:16, it says: "For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth."
This is also an age of ecumenism.
This is an age when people are working for a one‑world church, the super‑church.
And I often ask myself if it won't be a body without a head.
Will there be true unity without true doctrine?
Can we really merge everybody religiously on the basis of philanthropy and culture and common enterprise socially?
Efforts are not only being made to wed those who are already closely akin, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, in an ultimate ecclesiastical union ... but even non‑Christian religious groups have been invited to be a part of this amalgamation ‑‑‑ Rama, Vishnu, Zoroaster, Buddah, Confucius, Moses and Mohammed have been lumped all together.
They've all made their contribution along with Jesus and we ought to all get together.
Is this the church God intends?
Who is the head of such a church?
What is the basis of its unity?
Colossians answers this, chapter 1, verse 18: "And He is the head of the body, the church."
Now, this is also an age of no authority.
This is an age where people are denying any absolute and opting out for relatives.
All authority is suspect.
There is nothing sacred.
The overthrow of unreproveable in His sight."
He can change you.
He can make you holy.
Chapter 2, verse 6 and 7, says: "That you're able to walk in Him to be rooted and built up in Him," and that's something that a lot of people need, roots.
You can experience thanksgiving.
Chapter 2, verse 10, says: "And you are complete in Him."
Chapter 3, verse 3, says: "You are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
There are some dramatic changes.
And chapter 3, verse 12, all the way through chapter 4, verse 6, tells about the new power you have for a changed life.
Three:12 says that we now have the capacity for tender mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearing, forgiving, etc., etc., etc.
All those things that men look for are possible.
So, Colossians speaks to that age, the age of pragmatism.
I think, too, fifthly, this is an age of frustrated relationships.
The mass of people in our world are looking for meaningful relationships.
They are looking for fulfilling relationships with each other.
Yet, so many people are desperately unfulfilled.
I would say most people are desperately unfulfilled.
Many people are lonely.
Many, many people are totally unrelated in a meaningful way to anybody, even their wives, their husbands, their parents, marriages, families, people who have to work together; none of them can get along.
They have a difficult time building bridges to one another.
What about relationships?
Colossians speaks clearly to this issue.
Chapter 3, verse 18, tells you all about wives and husbands, and how to have a positive relationship in a family in a marriage.
Verse 20, about children...verse 21, about fathers.... verse 22, about servants, or employees.
Verse 1 of chapter 4 about employers.... all about relationships and how they work.
So, to those in frustrated relationships, Colossians comes to the rescue.
Sixthly, this is an eschatological age, and by that I mean ever since, say the last ten years, when books started coming out like THE POPULATION BOMB and FUTURE SHOCK and all these things, I think people have become aware of the fact that we could be near the end of the world.
Man sees himself on a collision course with ultimate catastrophe.
We could starve to death, food wars and famine are very possible.
Nuclear devices have already been planted in off‑shore installments and I was reading recently where if anybody or anything ever triggered those things, it could create a tidal wave that would destroy the coastal cities.
And one commentator I heard, just this week, said it is not without possibility that such could cause a two-mile high tidal wave.
War could destroy us, nuclear war, chemical biological warfare.
Pollution could choke us.
When Apollo 8 took photos of the earth's surface, it discovered that not Los Angeles, but the worst smog in the world was Osaka and Tokyo.
And along that strip in Japan, 34 tons of dirt a month falls on every square kilometer and only 17 tons in New York.
We look at this age, it's eschatological, I mean, a lot of people think we're moving in on the end.
Colossians answers that, Colossians has something to say about destiny, something to say about the future.*
*In chapter 1, verse 12, it says: "Giving thanks to God who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints."
And in verse 13 it talks about a coming kingdom or a kingdom with a coming aspect.
Hey, there's a destiny factor here.
There's something in the future.
Chapter 3, verse 4, "When Christ who is our life, shall appear," that tells us there's something going to happen in the future, Christ will appear then we will appear with Him in glory.
View this age from every* *angle and you're going to find Colossians is up to date.