Colossians #1: Col 1:1-5

 


Colossians #1: Col 1:1-5

It has been a while since we have studied a book in the Bible together, as we start this New Year, we’re going to explore the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians. Be encouraged to read through the four short chapters in the letter at least once a week to let the Word of God richly dwell within.  Colossae was located in modern day Turkey, it was a hub of commerce, on a major trade route, famous for it manufacturing of a dark red wool called colossinum.  Colossae was eventually overshadowed by two neighboring citied, Laodicea and Hierapolis.  By 400 AD the city was no more.  Paul wrote this letter in 60AD while he was a under house arrest in Rome

 

 


 As with all of Paul’s letters he writes to encourage the saints and correct false teaching.  With a letter we have the answer to the question but we don’t have the question.  Kinda like Jeopoardy. Paul doesn’t directly address the false teachings but we can infer what those issues were, his original readers certainily understood.  The suspect false teachings deal with keeping Jewish traditions, asceticism, angel worship, discounting Jesus status, the secret knowledge involved some form of gnosticism, and reliance on human wisdom and traditions.  So Paul’s primary reason for writing is to combat heresy and call the folks in this congregation back to living a holy life.

 Paul did not start the church in Colossae.  A convert of Paul’s by the name of Epaphras was the church planter. Again the inference is that Epaphras visited Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome and brought Paul news of the challenges facing the congregation.  You can expect that the issues dealt with in the letter a couple of millennia ago are still relevant today.  Let’s begin our exploration.

 Col 1:1-5 (MSG)

I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God's master plan. Together with my friend Timothy, 2 I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!

 3 Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! 4 We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. 5 The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.

 Paul reminds his readers of his apostleship. A onetime persecutor of the faith, he has an encounter with a risen Jesus and that encounter totally changed his life, from persecutor to proclaimer.  He is thoroughly convinced that Jesus assigned him that task of presenting God’s master plan to the world.  Most likely as with his letter to the Galatians there were those who tried to discredit Paul by saying his ministry was not legitimate.

 God’s master plan, the one that supersedes the faith that Paul grew up and excelled in, was that the sacrificial death of Jesus made atonement for sin that everyone who so desired could be reconciled to God through faith.  The religious system that Paul was enmeshed with was based on works righteousness. In order to be right with God one had to keep the Law.   Paul rejected this idea and taught that it is not what we do that puts us in right standing with God, but rather what God has done for us in Jesus that reconciles our relationship to Him.

 If you’ve been trying to be a good person, doing good things, following the rules of the congregation you attend thinking that these behaviors make you acceptable to God, that these good works are the ticket to heaven, you’re mistaken.

 Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…

Salvation is not earned it is a gift. The gift has been given. To take possession of the gift requires an acknowledgement of the sin in your life.  Sin separates, it deters, damages, and even destroys healthy relationships.  The result of sin is self-rule.  That may sound good, “self-rule,” but it is an autonomy without wisdom, without guidance. “Self-rule” is life by trial and error.  Consider the relationships in your life.  Everything rises and falls on relationships.  Are there relationships that are messed up, estranged, where once two walked together, now they won’t even make eye contact?  If so, this is an example of sin.  Sin is falling to do for others how you yourself want to be treated. Sin makes us self-centered, we do what we want, when we want, and it doesn’t matter what happens as long as we get what we want.  To take possession of God’s gift, you have to see this sin in your life and reject it. 

 1 John 1:9 (MSG)

“…if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”

 The way you receive God’s gift is by believing that Jesus took upon Himself all the hurt sin has caused, the hurt that you caused, the evil that you did, the good you failed to do and made an atonement.  Jesus took your place, took what you deserved upon Himself, so that you can be forgiven.

 2 Corinthians 5:21 (MSG)

In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

God’s master plan does not stop with you acknowledgement and belief.  You must make a commitment.  You must bend the knee to God will, God’s way, God’s leadership.  This commitment involves you surrendering your “self-rule” in exchange for God’s rule.  This commitment is life-long as you learn how to live for Jesus who gave His life for you. You are committing yourself to be a disciple of Jesus.

 Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

[Jesus said:] "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

 Acknowledge your sin that has separated you from right relationships, Believe that Jesus can forgive you of your sin and reconcile your relationships, Commit your life to discipleship and then ask God to save you.

Acts 2:21 (NIV)

“…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved…”

 This is God master plan for humanity; reconciliation of estranged relationships, your relationship to God, to others, with yourself, and the earth made right. Paul is spreading this good news everywhere he goes.

With Paul at this time is his young protégé Timothy.  There is a lesson within the lesson, Christians don’t go it alone.  Do you have spiritual partner?  Is there another believer in your life that you can confide in?  One who encourages you in your commitment to follow Jesus?  If you do not, ask God to bring such a person in your life.  Two are stronger than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9).  Paul needed faithful companions to do all that God empowered him to do.  So do you.

 Paul’s greeting extends a blessing, that his readers would posses every good thing that God bestows upon those who believe.  Those good things include your salvation, your transformation into the person God created you to be (2 Corinthians 3:18) we call that sanctification, and living your life to the full (John 10:10).  Those good things include a task with the power to accomplish what God has called you to do. Those good things include a community, a family, to thrive in. Those good things include being an overcomer, you see God doesn’t remove obstacles from your path God makes ways for you to conquer those obstacles. No easy street, no rose gardens, but an epic adventure to be lived. Those are just some of the good things God bestows. Paul wants his readers to have these good things, his letter contains guidelines for living in these good things.

 Paul praises the congregation for their demonstrated love. Love is the foundation of God’s master plan.  “Love, love, love, love is all you need” a lyric so close to the truth.  Love comes in many forms.  One form is obedience to God desires for your life, it’s bending your knee to God. One form is meeting the need of another at the cost of a personal sacrifice it’s keeping that commitment you made.  Another form is being a good steward, manager, caregiver, for the material blessings that you have access to.  Another form of love is partnering with God in self-surrender to grow spiritually deep, to grow spiritually up, and to grow spiritual fruit. In Colossae there is such a community of people.  That encourages us to be such a community, a people who love not just each other, but the stranger, outsider, the marginalized, the disenfranchised.  Yes, even those who don’t share our opinions or practices, our values or common sense. It is love that saved you from a dead end way of life, it is love that renewed you to live life to the full, it is love that is to overflow out of your life to all others.  God has put this love in your heart, you must choose to let it out.

 Paul commends the congregation for their love especially towards all Christians.  Hey, have you ever meet any Christians?  Some of them are hard to love.  Yet we are empowered to lift burdens even as we carry our own loads, yet we are empowered with long suffering enabling us to put up with all kinds of immature shenanigans.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being we only love the folks we know well and 10 being we embrace every one that comes through our doors, where would you score our congregation? How do you think that visitor might rate you?

 Love is getting alongside all kinds of people and letting them see Christ through you.  Open arms, open hearts, open lives are inviting. Are you inviting?

 Paul continues his prayer in verse 5 “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.”  Part of living God’s master plan is learning how to live your life to the full.  Part of living life to the full is living with meaning and purpose.  What’s your purpose in God’s master plan?  For me it’s to preach and teach the plan.  How about you?   When 2011 hit, I felt that I should quit preaching and teaching, but what kept me true to my task was hope.  Hope that came from experiencing God as good, God as faithful, God as trustworthy and what was hoped for, one day, even if I have to wait for a heavenly day, everything being made alright in Christ.  Hope comes from faith and confident trust in God.  Even when my trust waivered; God did not let go.  I was kept on course.   Hope in God gave me power to cope.  What about you?  Do you know what your part is in God’s master plan? That’s where you’ll find your meaning and purpose, your passion, which will keep you keeping on in the most difficult of circumstances because you expect to be an overcomer.  Just on the other side of the storm there is a future. Hope keeps you on course towards the best things.

We’ve learned to be a participant in God’s master plan we must surrender self-rule.  We must bend the knee by acknowledging, believing, committing and asking.  One doesn’t earn God’s salvation, God gives salvation to those who ask. 

 We’ve learned that we need a faithful companion. The spiritual journey is no a solo journey.  You need spiritual friends, who help, who encourage, who labor with you. Be that spiritual friend.  Find that spiritual friend.

 We’ve learned that love is the foundation of God’s master plan and love is to be the distinguishing characteristic of every participant in God’s plan. 

 We’ve learned that hope in the glorious ending of God’s master plan keeps us keeping on. 


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