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Exposition

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2nd Sermon for “Peculiar People” Sunday School Class

March 14, 2021
Fathom Boyd Kimes
Believers Chapel, Dallas, Texas
Please turn with me to Colossians chapter 1; verses 1 through 8
This is the Word of God
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;
5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,
8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.
Let us pray..........
Our Father.......
Before we get into today’s text, it’s proper to introduce the book so that we can have some background knowledge into the significance of the book, and to see why and to whom it was written. Also, to see how it is relevant for us today. Furthermore, so that we can study it in its correct context. For to study the Scriptures outside of its proper context, is to not study Scripture at all.
The Epistle to the Colossians is a book written from prison by the Apostle Paul, around AD 60-62, which was during his first imprisonment in Rome. The Epistle was named after the city of Colossae, which was located about 100 miles east of Ephesus. Colossae was a city in the Roman province of Asia, which is part of modern-day Turkey.
Colossae was comprised predominately of Gentiles, but also had a decent Jewish population. Because of the diverse population, the church there had heresies stemming from mysticism, some early elements of what would later become known as Gnosticism, and legalism. Paul in fact wrote this letter because of the heresy this church was being infected with.
As to the relevance, there are many reasons to study the Book of Colossians. Though the modern church may not be affected by the same heresy as the church in Colossae was, we certainly deal with similar and just as deadly poison in today’s church. Then, it was more of what I just previously mentioned, the infiltration of mysticism and legalism, and now, we deal with the New Age movement.
But know this, although we may call these by different names, the truth is, they are of the same essence. One person said it like this: “The New Age movement is not new; it is the most recent repeat of the second oldest religion, the spirituality of the serpent. Its impulse is foreign to none of us. The appeal is ancient; indeed, its rudiments were seductively sold to our first parents in the garden. Human pride was tickled, and it jumped.”
In other words, all religions, apart from true religion, namely, Christianity, is but man’s attempt to be like God.
A New Age writer by the name John Randolph Price teaches that everyone should affirm this, quote “I and the Father are one, and all the Father has is mine. In truth I am the Christ of God,” and that he “tars as ‘anti-Christ’ , those under-evolved, ignorant ones who deny ‘the divinity of all men’. Close Quote
The New Age way of thinking sounds similar to what the serpent said in the Garden..
Turn with me if you will, to Genesis chapter three verses 1 through 5:
1Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! And here it is……..5For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”
Now, ... there are 1,189 chapters in the Bible, and already, by the 3rd chapter in the Bible, we have the New Age religion, the religion that says, “Man is, or can be become divine, that he is his own God”, being introduced on the scene, to try to disrupt and destroy God’s relationship with His people.
So, as it appears, nothing is new. Though it has a different name or is perhaps packaged in prettier wrapping paper, this poison remains the same, the idea that God is not sufficient….. that His Word is not enough…… that we must do something, that we must add something to what God has said in His word. In order that we can in some way participate in obtaining our salvation or acquire some new revelation.
A common form of this in many churches is legalism. It is easy to get caught up in the notion that we can grow closer to God or obtain some special favor by performing a list of Do’s and Don’ts. This is un-Biblical and untrue. Now that is not to say that God doesn’t command obedience nor that God doesn’t want us to walk in accordance with His will, He desires both of these, but we kill our intimacy with God when we paralyze ourselves by trying to please God by attempting to sacrifice at all costs, even at the cost of our daily walk with God.
Dan Duncan put it this way:
“Christians are so easily drawn into all of that, so easily drawn into legalistic ways of life and forget their daily walk with God. Is that too simple? That’s how growth happens, it’s by knowing Christ, that’s really what He desires of us. More than he desires you to do the things that you’re commanded to do, and certainly He desires that, but first and foremost what He longs for is relationship with you, with His people, to know you, that’s really how He defines eternal life, in John Chapter 17 in verse 3, it’s knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. That’s what He desires so that’s how we grow. It’s not through all of the mystical things or the formulas that these teachers were proposing in Colossae or are proposed today”………. Close quote
So now, maybe more than ever, this study through the Epistle to the Colossians, is relevant.
Pause for a second………….
Colossians is considered by many to be the most Christ-centered book in the entire Bible. The book can be broken up into 3 categories…… and though we will only scratch the surface of the first one today, they are as follows: Number 1, which consists of only the 1st chapter:
Christ’s preeminence declared
The second, which consists of chapter 2:
Christ’s preeminence defended
And the third, which consists of chapters 3 and 4:
Christ’s preeminence demonstrated
...........So, let’s get into it. Starting with verses 1 and 2:
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
First, we need to recognize here, that Paul was an Apostle of Jesus Christ BY the will of God. He was not an Apostle by his will, or by the will of man, nor was he sent out by men but rather the will of God. Next, he mentions that he is writing this to the saints and faithful brethren….These are to be understood as the same people. He is not making a distinction between the two but rather describing in a little further detail who the saints are by adding an attribute. Paul ends verse 2 with the words, “God our Father”. This of course pertaining to God as their Father through adoption, which Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 5 “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. So they are NOT sons in the ‘only begotten’ sense. I state this because of what I previously mentioned about the heresy of ordinary people (ie, anyone other than Christ), claiming that they are the Sons of God, in the blasphemous sense.
Verse 3
3We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Notice that he says to God, the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. This isn’t the same as in first Corinthians chapter 1 verse 2, or Galatians chapter 1 verse 3, or Philippians chapter 1 verse 2, where Paul writes “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
No, but rather here in Colossians Paul says, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now both of these of course are true, but the Apostle is here distinguishing that it is to the Father of Christ, the Eternal Father of the Eternal Son, who he has been praying to. This is a subtle change in words but the difference in meaning couldn’t be more significant. He is here proclaiming the divinity of Christ. We can see that Paul does this here because of the separation of this verse from the previous verse.
…… listen again for the distinction, starting with the second half of verse two and going into verse three: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father. “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.”
So the 1st part, “Peace from God our Father,
And then continuing in verse 3 for the second part, “We give thanks to God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He purposefully separated this from what he previously said. The separation of verse 2 and 3 is imperative. This God that they are praying to, is not just their God and Father, but the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson said it like this:
“We live in a day in which there is no clear doctrinal understanding of the Christian faith. If an individual should say to us “I believe in God”, we are inclined to say, “he must be a Christian”. He must believe in the kind of God that we believe in. But if you cannot attach to “I believe in God”, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, then there is insufficient evidence of the Christian standing of that person.” Close quote
Paul ends this verse stating that he is praying always for them. This is a significant thought. We can see in this letter that this church was willingly or unwillingly, to some degree at least, allowing sin enter into their teaching and doctrine, yet Paul is continually praying for them while giving thanksgiving.
How many of us are willing to do that? How many of us, when we see someone flirting with a false doctrine, are quick to fall on our knees to give continual thanks and to pray for them? Now it is true that we must correct, in love, other believers, when destructive heresies begin infiltrating their lives, or when there walks become stagnant or polluted, through whatever sin they may be entangled in…. That is Biblical and that is true. And Paul does that in this letter…. And many of us are willing to do THAT part….(oh how we love pointing out faults in other believers)…. But how many of us are willing to do the former? How many of us, love fellow Christians so much, as to look past where our brothers and sisters in the faith are falling short, and thank the Lord for the beauty of what HE HAS done, and continues to do, in their lives?
Charles Spurgeon captures this idea in his sermon on this topic:
“I am afraid we are more inclined to spy out their faults, and to suppose that we deplore them, than we are to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in them, and from the bottom of our hearts to give thanks to God for them.”
Verse 4
4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;
Notice first, that they gave thanks to God for the saints of the Colossian church’s faith in Jesus. This is important to point out because it is a popular thought that people chose to believe in Christ. But here, Paul clearly writes that they (meaning Paul and Timothy), continually give thanks to the Father because of the FAITH that the Colossians had in Christ. Why would Paul thank God for the faith that these saints had in Christ? If people choose to believe, then why would Paul thank God for their faith? This thought is far too common….. that one must make the decision to believe in Christ, as if they could, by their own choice and will, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The theme throughout all of Scripture is that faith is a gift from God. I won’t go through them all but to highlight a couple of verses. …….. we have of course, … Ephesians 2:8, where the Apostle Paul again states this truth “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Or again in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 2 where the author writes, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the AUTHOR and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And again, John reiterates this in John chapter 6 verse 65 where John, quoting the Lord Jesus, writes, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me (meaning the Lord Jesus Christ) unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Well, what does this mean? It means, you cannot come to the Son unless it has been granted by the Father……… Well, if you can believe in Christ by faith… by yourself, by your choice, and all you have to do to have Christ is have faith, which you can do by yourself, by your choice, then why does it have to be granted by the Father? By that thought process, You choose to have faith and so you believe, so you came to the son by yourself. So you chose Christ and now you are saved. This was all done by you. How then was it granted by the Father? It doesn’t make any sense……..Unless of course, it is God who gives each his measure of faith…. In other words, God gives the measure of faith (Romans 12:3), THEN you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ……It is all a gift of God. You contribute nothing……
I will stop there for the sake of time, but this is was is taught throughout all of Scripture.
I also want to make quick mention of the latter part of verse four where Paul continues his reasoning for his continual prayers and thanksgiving in which he did for these fellow brethren, which was because of their love for the saints.
Isn’t this beautiful?!!? His reasoning for his continual prayers and thanksgiving was because of the love these saints had for God’s people. It’s beautiful.
Verse 5
5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
By the grace of God, the Colossians had already heard the truth, it was preached to them by Epaphras, as we will see here in verse 7, they had heard the REAL Gospel, so Paul is encouraging them to remember what they had already been taught, and to not get caught up in these heretical ideas that were looking to snatch away the truth that they had already previously received.
……..And notice too, the word hope. This is hope, this is not a wish. This word HOPE comes from the Greek word El Peace (elpis), which literally means to anticipate with pleasure or to expect with complete confidence. So, this is not crossing your fingers and hoping that something will happen. This type of hope is the looking forward to, the hope of assurance. This word hope was used in Acts chapter 23 verse 6, where Paul, while speaking to the Sadducees and Pharisee’s says, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the HOPE and resurrection of the dead!” So it’s clear here as well, this is not a wishful thought, type of hope, but a hope of absolute confidence. It is concrete hope. It’s El Peace (elpis)
Verse 6
6which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
When the Apostle says that the Gospel has come in all the world, he means that it has come into the world of both the gentiles and Jews. He is not talking about all------------as to every single person without exception, but rather everyone without distinction. If we were to skip ahead to verse 23 we can see another example of this.
Colossians 1:23. “if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”
It is clear here that Paul does not mean the gospel had been proclaimed to every single thing under heaven, but rather is again alluding to the fact that the gospel message has been brought forth to not the Jews only, but also to the Gentiles. The Word of God, whether that is considered to be the Law alone, or whether you include the historical writings, poems slash wisdom books, and prophets., all.., prior to Christ was taught, read, and observed (with any significance), by the Jews only. That is now being contrasted by Paul, because this New Revelation of God, the one in which the Apostles are preaching, namely Jesus Christ, has now been taught not merely to the Jews alone, but to the rest of the world.
Let’s take a look at the final two verses in today’s text, verses 7 and 8:
7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,
8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.
Epaphras was a servant of the Lord Jesus and a fellow servant of the Apostles. He was the teacher of the church in Colossae. He evidently was a strong preacher of the Word by the way Paul describes him here. Paul was convinced that the church in Colossae had received accurate sermons by Epaphras as we have just read in verses five through seven. This is the same Epaphras mentioned in Philemon, who was Paul’s fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus. As we read here, we see that Epaphras informed the Apostle about the Colossians love for them, speaking of Paul and Timothy. Paul had previously written about their love for God, and for Christ and even for the saints, but now he acknowledges the love that they had for Paul. Paul mentions that the Colossians love was in the Spirit. What is meant by this is a love that is not carnal, or based on a physical relationship, for they had never met him physically, but rather a deeper love, that in which is the love of a divine connection, a love that believers share with other believers.
Isn’t this the sweetest type of love? ..............I have had conversations with my wife about how excited I am that I will be in heaven with you guys.
I would like to leave you with 3 points to consider if you are a Believer here today:
Point number 1: Though you are not an Apostle by the will of God, you are a saint by the will of God. It is not because of your will, but because of God’s will. So, Trust Him
Point number 2: Notice the greatness of the LORD, and what He has accomplished in the lives of His people. Do this in place of focusing on the shortcomings of other Believers. So, Honor Him
Point number 3: Pray continually for other believers. As Christians, we are called to pray and petition at all times in the Spirit, for all of the saints. So, love them.
I’m going to end with a quote from Dr. S Lewis Johnson:
“I have seen Christians 25 years old in the LORD, who have never learned this simple principle, Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture. And I have often seen, I’m sure that you have had the same experience, I have often seen sincere Christians who have not learned this lesson led astray by the quotation of Holy Scripture by heretical men. It is of the greatest significance to study the Word of God. If you are not willing to study the word of God, if you are not willing to make this Scripture which is before us today, your meat and your drink, you will be at the mercy of the satanic emissaries of heresy. Close quote
Let us pray…………………
Our Father……………
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