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Archive for July, 2019

Famous Faith

July 31st, 2019

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints— the faith and love proceeding from the hope stored up for you in heaven, about which you have already heard in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Colossians 1:3-6a BSB)

What is your church known for? Its size? Its music? Its preacher? Its architecture? Or for its faith, compassion, and service? 

The church in Colossae was known for its faith, and secondly for its love. What a remarkable thing to note! Too often we are more interested in the reputation of a church among the spiritually-weak and faith-impoverished among us. We want to be part of a church that impresses the wrong people on a grand human scale, rather than part of a church that impresses God and the right people on a spiritual scale.

Our Destination Changes the Nature of our Journey

The Colossians were known for their faith and love because God had born a witness in their hearts through the Gospel of the hope laid up for them. They had a destination in their lives – both individually and corporately — and that fact altered their thoughts, choices, values, relationships, and daily lives. It was the hope of grace, that in Christ Jesus we are forgiven fully, set free and restored to our original purpose as God’s creations.

This eternal hope that God had planted in their hearts gave them faith in daily life. They believed God and their faith opened up the flood gates of heavenly blessings. Faith is not faith in ourselves, in our character, or in our determination. Faith is faith in God and in His character and in His determination. It is the steady and constant confidence that God is, that He will fulfill His promises, that He will bless those who search Him, those who respond to His callings.

Faith led to love. They loved God for His faithfulness to His Word, and, thereby, they loved who He loved and what He loved. God loves His Word and God loves His people. God loves to show Himself true to His Word and faithful to His promises to His people. 

Blinded by Love and Faith, not Money and Power

We have to also note the culture they were saved from. Later in the epistle Paul reminded them: “Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). They came from where we all come from, for this is what the world is. 

The rejection of the world’s priorities, of its values and its promises, was possible because the Gospel was superior in its power to transform their hearts. Our actions are not transformed until our hearts are, and that is where God does His greatest work. 

I once listened to a woman try to explain why she was a Christian – it was a rather circuitous reasoning that was not making a lot of sense to me, but I suspected either she was not a Christian at all, or she had a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Basically her hope was still all in the world’s values and its system. She wanted a successful business, the respect of worldly people, and the fulfilment of her ambitions, but she thought that if she “feigned” love to God (she did not use that word, but I could draw no other conclusion as to what she meant other than trying to fool God by pretending to love him) that He would bless her. 

This was NOT the faith of the Colossians. Theirs was real, and centered in God. They had ceased to be concerned about getting God to do what they wanted Him to do, and instead altered their thinking, by the power of God at work in them, to make sure their lives pleased Him first, second, and last.

This is liberating — the freedom from worldly lusts and pride that the Gospel brings, the desire to please Christ and Him only — and it is the only true freedom that the human soul shall ever enjoy. 

Have you been liberated by the Gospel? Has God set you free from the world’s fallen values? Have Godly hope and your ultimate destination changed the nature of your journey on earth? Are you known for your faith and love?  

Colossians

Introduction to Colossians, Part 3

July 30th, 2019

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (Colossians 1:2)

The third thing that we notice in this introduction into the letter to the Colossians, was that Paul had the utmost respect for the recipients of the letter. He respected them and esteemed them because of the work that Christ had begun in them. And he felt this way “because of the hope laid up for [them] in heaven” (Col. 1:5). 

The Colossians themselves were made up of the normal stock of the First Century Mediterranean world. His confidence for them did not come from themselves in themselves alone mostly, or even at all, nor from the fine work of a fine young man named Epaphras who had taken the gospel to them. Neither was it invested in his own prowess as an apostle and church builder and disciple maker. 

He knew that fine men and women had invested their lives in them, but neither did he rest in their work alone. His confidence was in God and he knew that once God saved a man He would never let him go. He would strengthen him no matter the cost, and transform him into someone Christlike. What he did not complete here he would complete in heaven.

He stated matter of factly that God powerfully worked in him (Col. 1:29), and that he sought not to serve in his own strength but in the constantly and limitless strength of God. This truth was foundational to his understanding of his mission — both in its goal and in its nature. For God and by God and through God was his understanding of all that he undertook.

Paul did not write to “get something off of his chest.” But to fulfill God’s plan for him and for the Colossians. Here is another element of character and an example for us to follow as well. We serve the Lord in whatever ways He has given us for His purposes, and not for our own. And God’s purposes are often best expressed in the simple idea of building up our brother and sister in Christ. So the words of Paul — “grace to you and peace from God our Father” — were sincere and not a mere expression. 

Follow God’s leading. Bless others. Work with others. And in so doing you and I will fulfill God’s plan for our lives.

 

Colossians, Uncategorized