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The Gospel of the Lord
!! Its claim and demand
!!! Morning Worship, Lord’s Day 7th September 2008, 9.30 am (Communion)
© Rev D Rudi Schwartz[1]
!!! Bible Readings
Old Testament:                     Psalm 25
New Testament:                   Colossians 1:9-14
!!! Hymns~/Songs
Approach:                        “The heavens declare your glory”
Forgiveness of sins:        “Father, Lead me day by day”
3.   Thanksgiving:                  “Jesus, keep me near the cross”
The Table of the Lord:   “According to your gracious Word”
Response:                        “Onward Christian soldiers”
!!! Main Points
!!!!!! 1.       Introduction
!!!!!! 2.       The demand of the Gospel
!!!!!! 3.       Growing in the knowledge of the Gospel
!!!!!! 4.       Living a life worthy of the Gospel
!!!!!! 5.       Endurance for the sake of the Gospel
/6.       //Determination because of the Gospel/
/7.       //Joyful gratitude as result of the Gospel/
/8.       //Conclusion/
!!! Introduction
Brothers and sister in the Lord Jesus Christ,
The Olympic Games are still fresh in our minds.
We saw how the athletes competed, contended, won their medals, got on the rostrums, and listened to their National Anthems.
They hung their medals around their necks and showed them off at every opportunity.
The smiles no-one could wipe off their faces.
And rightly so:  the winners are the best in the world in their respective fields.
Out of the billions of people on the face of the earth, there is only one as good as the winner.
That is an achievement indeed.
But how does one won in the Olympic Games?
A few things are necessary, and it begins with commitment.
We heard about the years of preparation: special diets, special exercise regimes, hard work, denying themselves of the things that may impede on their performance.
They have this dream to be the best and to compete against the best.
They set their minds on it and nothing else counts.
But there are other things too.
They do well to follow the instructions of their coaches, and they must understand the rules of their sport.
They must compete according to those rules.
Imagine being fit, healthy, and committed, but being disqualified because one does not know the rules of the sport.
But there is something else:  all the hard work of preparation would be lost if the stamina and the energy would not take them to the last step of the race.
It’s no good to do everything right in the lead-up to the Games, only to give up a few yards from the winning post.
All these things put together make a good and successful athlete.
Last week we heard about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how He, by grace, qualifies us to be children of God: He conveys us out of darkness to light.
This we know because we have heard the Gospel of hope, which calls us effectually, and giving us hope and planting in us the love of God.
In short the Gospel of Jesus Christ turns our world upside down and makes new creatures of us.
But it puts us on a road of service:  we are called to not only be like the wannabe athlete who only dreams of the medal, but like the real one who puts everything on the line to attain the winning post and win the prize.
The demand of the Gospel
That’s why verse 9 of Colossians 1 begins with “/For this reason/”.
In other words, because of the grace shown to us in the Gospel of Christ calling us out of darkness to light, because we have a sure hope stored up in heaven, and because we love the Lord and fellow Christians, we must take the next step.
Just be careful not to understand the commitment to the race as a set of good works in order to be saved.
That’s not how it works.
The paragraph begins with “/For this reason/”.
In other words, since we are already saved by grace; since we are already conveyed into the dominion of light, and since we already received the hope in heaven, and since we already tasted the love of Christ and fellow-believers the Gospel of the Lord has a claim on the way we live as Christians.
What now?  “/For this reason/”.
I think what the Bible wants us to understand about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what we just said:  to hear it and accept is not enough; it is the sure starting point, but it can never be the point of arrival.
Paul continues his letter to the Colossians in verse 9 with “/For this reason I pray for you/”.
What did he pray for?
!!! Growing in the Knowledge of the Gospel
Firstly, that God would fill them with knowledge of his will by giving them spiritual wisdom and understanding.
They were already saved in the Lord.
They had already accepted the message of truth; they already had faith in Christ and they had already begun to love one another as family in the Lord.
But that’s not enough:  they had to be filled.
It is almost as if he said, /“You have become a church of God.
Now that’s great!
But there is so much more you need to learn and become.
I pray that God will continue to fill you up with the necessary things so that you can become a real body of believers.”/
It is as if Paul prays that God who began the filling up process when He called them will continue to do more and more in them so that they will know Him better.
Knowledge of God will not only serve them well as they worship and serve Him in obedience; it will serve as their guide and guard against attacks from those who would want to destroy the work of God in them.
How true is it for our day!
How many Christians are too satisfied to hear the message of Jesus Christ!
They are too easily satisfied.
They get the running shoes of salvation and admire it; they receive their athlete’s uniforms of being a Christian, but they never put it on.
They know they are elected on the team, but they never show up for practice.
There is no growth in the knowledge of the Lord.
They cannot stand against the onslaught of the devil and they cannot defend their faith.
There is no knowledge of the content of what they believe.
Too many churches have much to say about the psychological needs of people, while they hardly attempt to nurture the people of God with knowledge of the Gospel.
The result is an illiterate Church who only knows the words of sentimental choruses and songs without theological content.
The Gospel demands that we grow in our knowledge of the Gospel by careful and dedicated study of the Word and gaining wisdom and understanding of what really is important in the life of the church and our spiritual lives.
A life worthy of the Gospel
The Greek word in verse 10 describes Christian conduct /as a way of life/.
It describes a Christian mindset which gives birth to Christian conduct.
The live a worthy of the Lord is to /live/ a life which displays the Person of Christ.
We are of Him, saved by Him, called by Him, qualified by Him.
He is our Head, we are the members of his body, which is the church.
Once we lived in darkness, but by His grace, we are now called, we are qualified by Him to share in the inheritance of God.
We are led by the Spirit of Holiness.
So, somehow we need to reflect this life in Him.
This is what Paul now prays for the people:  /become what you are in Christ/.
Live holy lives worthy of Christ.
It does not mean that we must do certain things so that our works are worthy for Christ to accept; it doesn’t mean that we need to attain a certain standard of living as if we can become like Christ, living like He did.
It’s the other way round:  Christ’s life is worthy before God and those who love Christ and believe in Him are /in/ Him, and therefore they must conduct their lives so that it displays His holiness and righteousness.
The way in which this life in Christ is worthy before God is spelled out in the rest of the verse:  /Bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God/.
This is like a spiritual exercise regime for the soul:  it strengthens us to become spiritually fit, healthy and able to do God’s will.
!!! Endurance for the sake of the Gospel
Verse 11 continues to talk about the Christian life as a race of endurance.
A worthy Christian life, bearing fruit to the glory of God can stand the difficulties of the race; it does not run out of breath because it is spiritually unfit.
Too many Christians just can’t stand the strains and intensity of the race.
They give up and never complete the race.
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