Colossians #9: Colossians 2: 11-12

 


Colossians #9:  Colossians 2: 11-12

 In our lesson, we are going to examine just 2 verses of scripture.  We are studying the book of Colossians, this is our 9th exploration.  Paul will again be correcting misleading thoughts.  To the Gnostics, those “believers” who reshaped the gospel to fit the culture, turning it into no gospel at all, we will have to add another group.  This group we can call Judaizers.  The Judaizers were those “believers” who taught that in addition to faith in Christ you had to keep the Jewish law.  One of the cool things about the Law of Judaism is its morality, its guidelines in how to live your life in right relationship to God and others. The order to society it offered was attractive to the Greco-Roman world in which morality was in short supply.  Kind of like today.  There must have been some kind of synergy between Gnosticism and Judaism that was attractive because Paul is redirecting the congregation to the truth of the gospel, the Message, the good news.  We are going to refer to the authors of this synergy of confusion simply as the false teachers.

 Here’s the good news.  You can be redeemed, reconciled, and remade through faith in Jesus.  Faith allows you to appropriate the accomplishments of Jesus and make them your very own.  Faith is trust in action, you trust the promise of God that He in Jesus has made it possible for you to enter into a right relationship with Him.  This trust motivates you to surrender self-rule for God’s rule.  You bend your knee to the authority of God, making Him your master, placing yourself as the servant.  Paul gives us a cultural word picture when he calls himself a slave to Christ (Romans 1:1).  Becoming a slave doesn’t sound like a good thing, but God has turned the world upside down, so much so, that it is only by becoming a slave to Jesus that we are free and empowered to live our lives to the full.  If this is something missing in your life and you want it, ask God for it.  God will speak to you, it most likely won’t be an audible voice, or some sign, or wonder, but you will know God visited with you and invited you into His Kingdom.  If you act on that invitation, please let me know.  I want to encourage you in your new life in Christ.

 Paul again is correcting errors. He wrote:

 Colossians 2:11-12 (MSG)

Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It's not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you're already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it's an initiation ritual you're after, you've already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ.

 The fullness of Jesus includes access to the Kingdom in which we find fellowship with God.  The fullness of Jesus includes forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, and empowerment to become the person God created you to be; to live your life to the full, making a difference in this world by being a blessing to others. The fullness of Jesus includes the resurrection and life eternal, you share in the overcoming glory of Christ. 

 There is no need for special knowledge or religious rituals.  It is not by secret knowledge, nor knowing the right passwords, nor is it by good works, nor by performing the right rituals; you enter into the fullness of Jesus by invitation.  The outsider is invited in, the stranger is welcomed. 

 Luke 14:21 & Ephesians 2:8 (MSG)

“'Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.'”  “Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish!”

 When you receive an invitation you accept it or reject it.  You enter into the fullness of Jesus by accepting the invitation.  You decide to enter in and when you do you become part of the community of faith, the one body that is being saved of which Christ is the head.

Paul refutes the false teachers.  Everything you need to be saved has already been done for you.  All you have to do is accept the invitation.  Once you’re in, then there are things to be done.  

You already know about the teachings of the Gnostics, secret knowledge is needed to escape the prison of the material world.  Now the Judaizers, taught that not only did you have to have faith in Jesus you needed to follow the Law. The biggest indicator that you were following the Law was to undergo the religious ritual of circumcision.  Kids if you don’t know what circumcision is google it at home. 

 Paul will also write a letter to the Christians in Rome addressing the issue of circumcision.

 Romans 2:25-29 (MSG)

Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God's law. But if you don't, it's worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God's ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God's law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don't you see: It's not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It's the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.

 So the important thing to understand here is that circumcision was the outward mark that indicated you made the entrance into the community.  Paul says no, instead if you are looking for a circumcision it needs to be a circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29)

. Paul is addressing motivations and loyalties of the heart and the mark of God on your heart is demonstrated in your love.  Obedience to God’s commands and serving to meet the needs of others are observable demonstrations of love in your heart. This is what in part is meant by bending your knee to God, you become a doer of love.

 If you do a study of the word circumcision you’ll find that the prophets entreat a circumcision of lips (Exodus 6:12), of the ear (Jeremiah 6:10), and heart (Lev 26:41; Eze 44:7, 9; Deut 30:6).  This is a total change in behavior empowering you to join Him in His work.  It is what you do that marks you as a dedicated servant of God.

No secrets, no rituals, no heroic acts of righteousness, what Jesus has already done is sufficient.  For you, Jesus has destroyed the power of sin.  The power of sin is in its ability to keep you separated from God, from others, from your very self.  The power of sin is like the bars on a jail cell, that keep you locked away, separated, apart, and alone.

 1 John 2:2 (MSG)

When [Jesus] served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world's.

We devise our plans to escape, but those attempts always fail.  Jesus has opened the cell door and invites you to walk out of estrangement and into reconciliation in which you can experience a right relationship with God, Others, Self, and the Earth.

 If you need some sort of outward sign of your admission into the kingdom of God, it's baptism.  To become part of the Church a person testified to their faith by public baptism.  When we perform the ritual today its roots are back to Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River.  We enter the water, symbolizing turning our back on our old way of life, symbolizing repentance, symbolizing walking out of our prison cell.  We are immersed in the water, symbolizing our acceptance of Christ’s death as our own, symbolizing our death to sin, symbolizing our identification with Jesus.  We are raised from underneath the water, symbolizing our resurrection, symbolizing being born again, symbolizing being made new.  We leave the water symbolizing that we are set free, that we have vowed to live a new way, Jesus’ way, a disciple of the Lord and a citizen of the Kingdom.  Baptism is a reenactment of the Gospel. Paul would have us know that it is not the ritual that saves, it’s Jesus that saves, a matter of the heart that overflows into the conduct of one’s life. The ritual is meaningless if it is not the result of faith in Jesus.

 

Here are five truths for you to consider

 1. Faith allows you to appropriate the accomplishments of Jesus and make them your very own. 

2. Everything you need to be saved has already been done for you.

3. God desires a circumcision of the heart that results in you being a lover.

4. Jesus has opened the cell door and invites you to walk out of estrangement and into reconciliation

 5. Any ritual is meaningless if it is not the result of faith in Jesus.

 

Here are 3 things to consider:

If you have never accepted Jesus' invitation and walked out of your prison cell, today is a great day to do so. 

 If there is no fruit from your faith, you have to discover why this is so.  It might be because you need a circumcision of the heart.  Check out Ezekiel 36:26.

 If you are a believer and never have been baptized, participate in the ritual out of a heart of obedience. 


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