Monday, July 27, 2020

The All Sufficient Christ

The "Colossian Heresy" = Christ is Good!!  BUT not sufficient!
Said you need Jesus plus some things, or minus some things.

Compare to today:  "I believe in Jesus ... but. ... (A) I also believe .... (add to)  or (B) but I don't believe ... (take away)!

Paul's Stance = CHRIST (alone) is Sufficient!!!

Col. 1:15-23 = goldmine of Christology.  (We will only have time to walk through and pick up surface gems.)  This is a prime text for a study of Christ!!

(1)  The visible image of the Invisible God!
this = Incarnation - John 1:1, 14, 14:9
This = an incredible claim!  Made the Jews really angry.
This = an incomprehensible doctrine!  - 1 Tim. 3:16
AND ... absolutely counters the Colossian Heresy!! - If this is true, it is not necessary that we understand it!

This is the basis for C.S. Lewis' - "Liar, Lunatic, Lord arguments"

(2)  The 1st. born ... over all creation!
This expresses both  (a) TIME - before all because is eternal
                               (b)  RANK - over all because is Lord
Matt. 28:18 - "all authority..."

(3)  The Creator ... of all things!!
Material & non- material.  beings & things, powers and authorities

"All things created ... (A) by Him - John 1:1-3
                                (B) for Him"
On one hand, for our enjoyment, pleasure, good....
However, it serves His purpose - to express love, to please, to create a safe and productive place
We're not the center of the universe.  He IS!

Point:  all creation serves His Purpose, His will, His intent

(4) Before all things = (A) He precedes all  (chronologically)
                                 (B)  he presides over all  (LORD)

Whatever Supernatural powers exist ... (A) He MADE them and (B) He is Lord over them.
Example:  His encounters with demons

(5)  The Sustainer  - "all things consist, cohere, hold together".  He is not just the creator, but the maintainer!
Question:  Why do we have a Cosmos?  instead of a Chaos?  - (it is ordered and functions exactly as is supposed to)  Heb. 1:3 a

(6)  The Head of the Church
The church is not our invention - Matt. 16:18  "I'll build my church"
Therefore, is not to be governed by Our rules!!!

(7)  The Beginning (of the church?)
already noted that He = 1st. in TIME and RANK
So here = origin and source of the (life of the) church.
ie:  it's founder and its fountain -- that which powers life into the church!!
(does the church continue to grow by man's ingenuity or Christ's Presence and Purpose?

(8)  The 1st. Born from the dead
Not the 1st to be restored to life - ex.  Elisha, Lazarus, etc.
But, the 1st. to OVERCOME DEATH!!!  to be permanently victorious.
These others died again.
vs. Col. 1:18 - "so that in Everything He might have the Supremacy"

Note:  1st. born is significant in that there will be others born ... to follow!!!  -1 Cor. 15:22-23

(9)  He is the God Man - Col. 1:19 - with Col. 2:9 - was human flesh!
ie.  the full nature of God ... resides in the Son!!  Phil. 2:6-7

He is
(10)  The Reconciler - Col. 1:20
Reconciliation indicates ... A)  A Rift between  (the fall)  and (B) A Restoration  - relationship mended, harmony restored
He fulfilled what was necessary for restoration.  Doesn't mean all will be saved.  Only those who accept Him and what He did.

Note:  "reconciler of ALL things"!!  Even Creation - Rom. 8:19-21
Note:  He reconciles .. BY making peace (what reconciliation IS)  Through His Blood  (death) ON the Cross (the time and place), (an event in history)
A physical event on a physical cross with a physical body!!!

Abbreviated Summary of:  Col. 1:21-23:
   Once you were alienated ...
   Now you are reconciled ...
   Through the death of His Physical body.

Col. 1:23 "This is the Gospel!!"

Is NO NEED to add to it ... ie:  works, spiritual guides, sacrifices, etc.

Is NO NEED to remove from it ... the cross, resurrection, blood, judgments, hell

Rom. 1:!6- "not ashamed ... 'because....."

Sunday, July 19, 2020

God's Will for His People

Last week = "Introduction to Colossians
Problem there = "Syncretism" (gospel plus a blending of other things)
This became known as "The Colossian Heresy" - which = an appearance of/flavor of Christianity, but is NOT Christianity!

BUT ... before addressing that issue, Paul offers praise, encouragement and instruction ... in

Relevance?  This = God's (general) will for all His people.  Therefore, for you and I as well!  This relevance carries over 2000 years.
Col. 1:1-14  (we don't if Paul ever visited Colosse.  He writes this letter when in prison in Rome awaiting execution).

God's Will  (His desire,intent) ... _ what He wants l. FOR you and 2. FROM you .. Includes...

I.  A Knowledge of His will - Col. 1:9  (a knowledge of what God thinks)
Colosse = perfect example.  due to (Syncretism / Colossian Heresy)
Contrast:  what I Think about God, with what God has revealed about Himself.
If God wants something for you, it is the best thing for you.

II.  A Worthy Lifestyle  - Col. 1:10 a
ie.  One that is "pleasing to the Lord", not one that is "pleasing to You"!!

To fulfill I and II requires:
    (1)  proper information - ot to know what God's will IS
    (2)  proper response  (to that information)
"The end of (Christian) knowledge is (Christian) conduct"
ie:  The outcome, intended result = proper lifestyle!!

So, God's will includes  I. A Knowledge of His will
                                   II.  A lifestyle that pleases Him

Now - (more specifically ... add....)

III. (that you) Bear fruit - Col. 1:10 b
definition:  external evidence of internal nature  Example:  a tree - you know what kind it is by the kind of fruit that it produces.

So.... Gal. 5:22-23 - natural outcome of being filled with the Holy Spirit
Contrast with Gal. 5:19-21 - fruit of a sinful nature

Note:  Vs. 10 "bearing fruit in every Good Work"  fruit = not just attitude but action
In other words - IF is a change inside, THEN should show outside  Matt. 7:15-20

IV.  Grow in the Knowledge of God - Col. 1:10 c
Question?  Wasn't that covered in verse 9?
Answer:  It's God's will that we (1) gain knowledge of Him AND (also) (2) GROW in Knowledge of Him!
This growth continues as long as you live and have mental faculties.

If Knowledge of God produces fruit, Then an increasing knowledge of God should equal More fruit!!

V.  Be Strengthened (with His power) - Col. 1:11
So you'll have (A)  great endurance
                      (B)  Patience

"Endurance" = the ability to bear up, see things through
"Patience" = the ability to bear up --- WITH PROPER ATTITUDE!!!

Is this possible?  Phil. 4:13 - this letter written when Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting execution

VI.  (Joyfully) Give Thanks - Col. 1:12-13
Because He has .. (A) qualified you to share  (grace)
                            (B) rescued (past tense) you from darkness
                            (C)  brought you into the Kingdom

In Summary:  taking this all together:
God's will for you includes:
(1)  Come to Christ - trust Him alone
(2)  gain a knowledge of His will - need to know what He wants of you
(3)  walk in a worthy manner
(4)  Bear fruit in every good work
(5)  grow in your knowledge of Him
(6)  Gain strength (for endurance and patience)
(7)  Give thanks (joyfully!)  it's for us, not for Him

Now, how are you doing?  What adjustments do you need to make?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Introduction to Colossians

Overview - Historical setting helps a lot with understanding the meaning of the letter.

The City = in Lycos Valley 10 miles from Laodocia; 100 miles East of Ephasus; 1000 miles east of Rome.  (it had been a major city but no longer a major city in Paul's day)

The church = no record of the origin of the church  (no mention in Acts)  only information = here and in Philemon (Philemon lived just outside of Colosse.  (we don't know if Paul ever visited Colosse, but he (now) knows about the church.  Col 1:1-2

The letter = by Paul during imprisonment 1000 miles away (Col. 4:18) - had his first imprisonment @ approximately AD 62.

The Story = Epaphras arrives in Rome with news of the church at Colosse.  (Col. 1:8)

On one hand good news!  The church is established and growing!
However, bad news = false teachers influencing the church!!

So Paul writes to the churches at Colosse and Ephesus and also a personal letter to the home of Philemon.
(3 letters total)  Col. 4:7-8
The letters delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus (Philemon's runaway slave who has gotten saved)
Col. 4:7-9, Philemon 10 -12, Eph. 6:21-22

The Purpose of the letter =
     A.  Acknowledge the church
     B.  praise and encourage the church
    C.  warn and instruct the church .... concerning.....

(heresy - very misleading and dangerous perversion of the Gospel teaching)
= a religion of syncretism = ie:  a combining or blending of various religious ideas to produce a New religion.
Here = Christ plus a number of other notions so = compromised
A modern day idea of Colossian heresy = New Age movement

Elements of Colossian Heresy included:

(1)  ritual observance - required ceremony, circumcision, observance of festivals & days;;; (from Judaism)

(2)  Asceticism - severe self discipline - deny's self of basic comforts; forbidden food, marriage

(3)  Mysticiasm - "worship of angels" ie:  spirit guides, familiar spirits, intermediaries - from pagan community
Strictly forbidden in Old Testament

(4)  (Salvation through) "Experiential" Knowledge --> example:  Gnostics - ie:  must go beyond head to feeling, experience"

(5)  Elitism = "we are the favored few" - contrast - "all equal at the foot of the cross" - John 3:16 - nothing secret in the gospel

(6)  Exclusivism - ie.  only those who are initiated into this mystical knowledge can find salvation.  Contrast "whosoever will may come"

All of these blended with the person and work of Christ.

Combining (blending) Judaism and Paganism and Christianity

So:  Colossian heresy did not DENY Christ,but it did DE-THRONE Him

In contrast, Paul presents Christ as having:
(1)  Absolute Supremacy  "HE IS LORD" period!!
(2)  Sole Sufficiency  "In Christ Alone - ALL mighty.

Col. 1:13-20, 2:3, 2:9-10

This will become known as Christian Orthodoxy.  (ie:  straight opinion, right thinking)

Thypical of Paul ... doesn't stop with proper doctrine.  He goes on to teach right action, proper behavior!

Col. 3:1
So..... Orthodoxy = right thinking
and ... ORTHOPRAXY = right acting, right lifestyle, right living.
Christianity is not just an intellectual thing.

So... where is your faith?  your confidence?

in THE bridge = designed, constructed, revealed BY GOD!

or in A Bridge - designed, constructed By man!

Colossians = (1) words for salvation  (initial introduction to Christ)
                 = (2)  words for living  (here, now, until)
                 = (3)  words for certainty  (future)

BUT - all that is found in Christ!!!  Col. 2:1-3

Sunday, July 5, 2020


Optimism vs Pessimism.  Addressed in the past.

In light of COVID and Racial tensions, etc.  seems reasonable to address again.
(some stats leading to the point of the message)

Are Americans Optimistic or Pessimistic?
(per research poll March 2019 before recent events:)
Generally, our nation as a whole:  56% said "at least somewhat optimistic about USA in 2050."

BUT, on specific issues:
60%  - USA will be less important in the world.
73% - gap between rich and poor will widen
65% - country will be more divided

Concerning our Political leaders' ability to handle these issues:
2% - not worried at all
10% - not too worried
39% - fairly worried
48 - very worried

A Jan. 2019 poll - 70% of Americans = dissatisfied with the way things are going.

5 polls last week conclude "our country is on the wrong track!"
(question:  how could it be otherwise with the left vs. right division?  ideologial split!

34% fairly worried about the nation's MORALS
43% very worrked about the nation's MORALS
= 77% total.  BUT no consensus on what constitutes right and wrong!

50% - "religion will lose importance over next 30 years."
44% - "family's standard of living will get worse"
60% - expect a terrorist attack worse than 911.
63% - expect national debt to increase
57% - expect a major world wide energy crisis
And the list goes on and on.....

AND YET - when are not asked about SPECIFICS ---
56% - 58% are at least "somewhat optimistic" about American's future

QUESTION:   What's this say?
Maybe -- "I'm not happy with the way things are going but I still have confidence in America" as a nation, generally.

So, again.... addressing the future of USA generally (not looking at specifics...)
we find (in another poll from Dec. 2019) 56% - 58% of Americans are optimistic about our future.

But NOW??  Post COVID, demonstrations, etc. 
(June 15th. survey)
19% = very optimistic
35% = somewhat optimistic
54% - Optimistic

On the other hand,
23% = somewhat pessimistic
11% - very pessimistic
34% - Pessimistic

(and 12% - "I don't know") - No real change!!

Another interesting slant:  poll end of 2018:
60% optimistic
37% pessimistic
 3% - unsure

When optimists were asked "what makes you optimistic?"  They spoke to their own personal lives!!
 looked inward - family, jobs, health, etc.   "Things are going well for ME!!"
So, on one hand, may have pessimistic view of the nation, but optimistic view for me and mine!

On the other side:
When Pessimists were asked "what fuels your pessimism?"  - "What gives you grave feelings?"

#1. Answer @ 64% - "Politics"    Ironically, same number upset by politics = uplifted by family!  
National level vs personal level.

#2. Answer on "what makes me pessimistic?" = "THE MEDIA"

So.... question:  IF you weren't focused on Politics and Media, then how would your outlook be????

Therefore, want to reduce anxiety???  - lay off Politics and Media.  It depresses.

Want to increase confidence?  focus on personal blessings.... family, community, etc. 
Or, in other words, "Count Your Blessings"

This is not to egnore, remain uninformed, crawl in a hole without telephone, TV, computer, etc.

DOES = re-focus, adjust focus, get proper focus.

We can give dozens of good reasons for pessimism or optimism.

However, for the Christian = a 3rd. option = "Quietism"

Definition - "Quietism" = calm, quiet uncertainty  (we don't know what's going to happen)
calm confusionunsettled certainty?

In other words, I AM informed, I am concerned, AND I am unccertain! 
BUT I am not anxious!  distressed!  worried!  disquieted!

(1)  The Psalmist's Quieting of the Soul - Psm. 42:1-6a, 9-11 - life is unsettling.  Doesn't mean ignoring the problem.

(2)  Habakkuk's dilemna.  Hab. 1:2-6, 12-13, 3:16-19a
No room here for optimism.  But is room for quiet acceptance.

(3)  Paul's admonishment:  Phil. 4:4-9 - written from Roman prision

Objection!!!  Than does not solve the problem!    or divert disaster! 

Answer = that's correct!!!  But note  John 14:27 - "not peace as the world give it"

So.... what then.... to do???

(1)  Focus (on God, on good things) - Phil. 4:8 (again) - there's a lot of good stuff going on.

(2)  Give Thanks - 1 Thess. 5:18 - develops optimism in the midst of bad

(3)  Pray  (our most Powerful weapon!!)  James 5:16b - If we spend as much time praying as we do groping and complaining, would have a major prayer thing going!

Example:  Daniel - Dan. 6:1-10 - He was informed and concerned
Question:  Was Daniel optimistic or pessimistic?
Answer:  Don't know.  But clearly he was a "Quietist"!!

(4)  Press on!! Do what you know you're supposed to do.

US has seen much worse!!!
-- Political atmosphere before and during the Revolutionary War.  (Benjamin Franklin's son was a TORY!!)
--- Social atmosphere during and immediately after Civil War.  (in which 750,000 Americans died in battle!!  plus wounded and maimed.  Left 37,000 widows, 90,000 orphans which was more than WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam combined!!
(plus economic devastation, political and social strife!! aftermath (reconstruction!)  Was bitterness, hatred, etc.  AND YET -.... it strengthened the Union!!

For the Christian - John 16:33 - Don't have to be optimistic or pessimistic, be a believer!

For the "not yet Christian" - you can have this!!!  John 1:10-13