Colossians #4 Colossians 1: 21-23

 


Colossians #4  Colossians 1: 21-23

 Last time we affirmed that Jesus is so much more than the savior.  Jesus is creator, sustainer, the one who holds all things together, in Him all things find their purpose when He comes again everything will fit together as originally designed.  He is the living Lord, not a phantom, not a myth, fully God and fully human, knowable, present, empowering. This redeemer brings with him the promise of the resurrection, from death to life, first spiritually, then physically.  Do you know this Jesus?  Do you revere this Jesus?  He is worthy of your devotion, your fidelity, your service.  Bend your knee, surrender yourself to His rule, self-surrender is the way that allows Jesus to exalt you that you can live your life to the full, knowing both His peace and His power to do and to be incredibly more than you can even imagine.  Make the choice to follow Him, to learn of Him, to be devoted to Him.  Jesus rewards all who diligently seek Him, all who desire to get in sync with His heart, His purposes, His mission. Choose to be a citizen of His Kingdom, to be an instrument of reconciliation, a proclaimer of His good news. 

 In our 4th exploration of the letter, Paul wrote to the congregation in Colossae we are going to discover that everything that Jesus is you become the case study, the living example of being set free to live your lives to the full.  Paul will again proclaim the gospel and affirm that he teaches the same gospel to everyone.  Remember some situations and circumstances are addressed in this letter that we only have the answer or correction to, so we have to figure out what might be going on that elicited these responses from Paul.

 Regardless if you were a good person or a bad person, a blessing to others or a curse, sin separated you from the life God intended for you.  The result of a faithless life is death, a death that manifests in the deeds and outcomes of the life you are living now.  “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23 (NIV), “there is a way that seems right…, but in the end, it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 (NIV).  Broken promises, unrealized dreams, and desires, suffering, betrayal, pain, broken hearts, broken people, emotional darkness, depression, anxiety, fear, discontent within oneself, loneliness, are just some of the fruits of living in a sin-sick world.  This world was created to be a human paradise, but sin entered the human heart and we all live in the aftermath.  Some people because of their choices are sucked immediately into the hells of life. The arrogant others have their sins catch up to them: “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 (NLT).  The scripture attempts to wake us to our dire situation:

 Romans 3:23 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard

 If you have been a believer for a long time it may be hard to recall what your life was like before God acknowledged your faith in Jesus. As a disciple of Jesus, you’ve been redeemed.  Paul writes:

21 You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. 22 But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. 23 You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.

 You are God’s case study.  You represent concrete, contextual, proof of what God accomplishes in the life of those who bend their knee to Him.  You are an advertisement for God’s incredible power to transform a life. There are things that we are ashamed of, our private secrets, things we’d rather forget, yet these are the things you’ve been saved from.  In Celebrate recovery people transparently will introduce themselves as a Child of God who is overcoming some affliction, alcohol, drugs, dependencies, eating disorders, every kind of addiction, all the things that plague a human soul.  The lookback is to testify to the present transformation. Your overcoming looks in hope to a continual becoming of the person God always intended for you to be.  You are the case study.  Tell your story, what happened, what the results were, how God called you out and changed you and gave you a new lease on life. 

 1 Corinthian s 4:9 (MSG)

“It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater …”

 The incredible transformation from spiritual death to spiritual life, from a death sentence to life eternal, from chaos to order, is possible because Jesus gave Himself completely.  You were born in the kingdom of death but have been born again in the kingdom of life because Jesus died for you. You were alienated from God, you thought God an enemy, a killjoy if you thought of God at all, you lived in darkness chasing down dead end ways of living, but you found your way to God’s side, to light and love and joy, because of what Jesus accomplished upon the Cross.  “The old has gone the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).   The new you has been made whole and holy.  Jesus created a sacrificial interchange in which His spotless sacrifice by dying as a sin offering is somehow interchanged with you the blameworthy sinner and that atonement is transferred to you.  Now you are free from accusation, Jesus being right with God now becomes you being right with God.  As Jesus is Holy, set apart for God’s purposes, so now you too are made holy, God has a purpose for you, there are things that you are to do now that you are a disciple of Jesus.

 Ephesians 2:10 (MSG)

God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

 What work are you doing?  You haven’t been raised from spiritual rags to spiritual riches for your benefit.  Your new status as a whole and holy empowers you to be a blessing to others.  Not only do you grow deep, grow up and grow fruit, not only do you live your life to the full, but you also love on others by doing the good work God has empowered you to do.  If you are not involved in giving your life, sacrificing your life like Jesus for others, you should question your fealty, your loyalty, your commitment to God.  Put yourself to the test.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (MSG)

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

Forgiven, reconciled, put together, whole, and holy, Paul writes:  “You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted.”

There’s a warning here.  As a believer you can become distracted from your first love, you can be diverted from doing the good works God wants you to do.  If so you walk away from the gift God has given you in Christ.  Both the Kings James translation and the New International Version translate Paul’s word to read “if you continue in the faith.”  You can discontinue being in the faith simply by neglect. Paul himself didn’t want to mess up and disqualify himself from the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG)

I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it, and then missing out myself.

Behind the words, we can make an educated guess as to what some of the issues circulating in the Colossian congregation.  Though we don’t see it so much in the English translation we can see in the Greek a heavy emphasis on Jesus having a body (sarx vs soma).  This would be a correction to the Gnostic idea that Jesus didn’t have a body, that He wasn’t fully God and fully human, that He wasn’t even God.  That one has to continue in the faith is another refutation of Gnosticism that taught that all you needed was the secret knowledge to escape corruption and enter into a whole and holy state.  Once you’re in, you’re in, and nothing could change that.  Paul also reminds us that it is not some secret knowledge, it is Jesus' atonement that makes salvation possible.  Then we can surmise that some accused Paul of preaching a different message to different people to win favor.  Paul writes, no, the gospel I preach is the one I preach to everyone. This was one of the accusations that those who taught you had to keep the law as well as believe in Jesus to be saved that was leveled at Paul.  Paul also affirms that he is a messenger sent by Jesus himself, referring to himself as an apostle, a sent one.  We know that some called into question the authenticity of Paul’s calling.

 This is what would be wise to walk away from this teaching with: 

 1.  God has made you a case study in His mercy, grace, and power to transform.  A case study presents the evidence of what is true and correct.  You have to allow people to see what God has done in your life.

 Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 15 If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. 16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

2.  Salvation through faith in Jesus is not a one and done, it's one and started. You are expected to demonstrate your gratitude for so great a salvation, for Jesus dying for you, by your good works of love. Your good works of love allow you to continue in the faith. 

 John 15:1-4 (NIV)

Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you.


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