The Book of Colossians #1

 

The Book of Colossians
Colossians 1:1-5a
 
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. Jesus claimed to be life. He also said, “I am come that you and I might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.” Jesus said, “If you really want to experience life and know how life works, then you come to me and receive that kind of life.
 
This message is being challenged in our day. There are some who are saying that Jesus is A life, but is not THE life. There are some who say that the Christian life is one way to live, but it is not the ONLY way to live. They say there are many approaches to God, many different ways to get to God, Jesus Christ is not the only way--he is just A way.
      
You are hearing several words today you may not have heard before. One of them is the word, pluralism. 
 
In one way pluralism is a good word in that there is room for diversity in our land. But as it is being used today, pluralism is the idea that all religions
are equally true. That it really doesn’t matter what you believe just as long as you are sincere about it. That your religion is just as valid and good as any other person’s religion. 
 
Pluralism.
      
Another word you are going to hear a lot about today is the word, syncretism. 
That word simply means that you and I can manufacture our own religion. You can take a little from this religion, take a little from that religion, find something you like in another religion, and put them all together. 
 
Syncretism. A little of this and a little of that. It is really a fancy word for hash.
      
 
 
You are hearing a lot today about pluralism and syncretism. Actually, this is not something that is new. It is something that goes all the way back to New Testament times.
 
 In the little fading town of Colosse, there were those who were basically saying the same things you and I are hearing said in the 21st Century culture in which we live.
 
Colosse was in an area that was completely covered up with paganism and heathenism and mysticism. There were teachers who had come to the believers in Colosse and were saying to them, Jesus is fine as far as he goes, but you need something more.
 
They claimed that they were the ones who had the information that could get you that something more. 
 
 
 
 
It’s kind of like they had knowledge in a bottle and they had the stopper and they were the only ones who could take off the stopper so you could get this knowledge that they had.
      
To this city of Colosse the Apostle Paul has written a letter and in this letter he
discusses how life works. He shows us what the Christian life is all about. He shows us the fullness of Jesus Christ and the completeness of life when you come to know Jesus as your personal Savior.
      
That’s what we are going to be talking about for several weeks. This evening I’m going to talk about how the Christian life works. What the Christian life is all about. I have a feeling that all of you really want to live life to its fullest. You want to understand the purpose and the meaning of life and how life can fit together and be meaningful and fulfilling. 
 
 
This is where Jesus comes in and this is where the Christian experience is an 
experience that brings to you exactly what you need.
 
The first 14 verses of this letter are verses of introduction. It’s the normal way
Paul would write, or other people in that day would write, also. If Paul were alive today he would write his letters in many interesting ways. Maybe he would put them on a fax machine and fax them out to people. 
 
The Apostle Paul would tell the story of the Lord by e-mail. He would use all kinds of methods. In those days they communicated primarily by letters and so this is what Paul does in these verses.
 
He tells us who he is--Paul. Timothy--his partner. Then in verse 2 and following he tells us who he is writing this letter to. 
 
In these opening verses we find what the Christian life is all about.
      
You find how the Christian life -
 
I. CONNECTS Life.
 
A lot of people don’t feel like they are connected to anything. A lot
of people feel that they are disconnected. When you come to Christ, life gets connected. 
 
In verse 2 he says,’ To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse.’
 
You are connected, first of all to
 
a new relation--the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.
 
Probably when you ran across that word, saint, it stopped you right there. 
 
 
 
You said, ’I don’t know about that, preacher. I try to do right, I’m a pretty good guy, but I don’t know that I qualify to be a saint.’
      
Most of us don’t really know what a saint is, do we? When the Bible says ’to the saints,’ what does the Bible mean? To whom is this being addressed? 
 
Someone might
say, ’Preacher, I know all about the Saints. They are a football team and they play down in New Orleans.’ That’s one group of saints.
      
Another group says, ’I know what a saint is. A saint is someone who lived a really good life and after they died, they were elevated by the pope to sainthood. Like St. Augustine or St. Aquinas.’
      
 
 
 
Somebody else says, ’I know what a saint is. A saint is somebody who lives a life above the way we normal live--a Mother Teresa, or someone like that. 
 
Actually the word saint is a word that is used in the Bible to describe every born again child of God.
      
You say, ’Preacher, a saint I aint.’ But the truth of the matter is that there are
only two kinds of people in the world. There are saints and there are aints. If you have received Jesus as your Savior, you are a saint. What does that mean?
      
The word itself really means a set apart one. ’To the set apart ones.’ Paul is not writing to the City Morgue in Colosse. He is not writing to the graveyard. He is writing to people who are alive. He is writing to people who have had a miraculous dynamic, life-
changing experience with the Lord Jesus Christ. 
      
 
In the Old Testament there were certain vessels that were used in the temple. 
 
These were set apart vessels. That’s the only way they could be used. You ladies have some special china. Not just anybody gets to eat with that china. It is reserved for special
occasions. It is different.
      
A saint is someone who has been set apart to God and for God. A set apart one. That’s what he’s talking about here. He’s talking about those who have been set apart from sin unto Jesus. Set apart from darkness unto light. Set apart from death unto life. 
You become a part of a family. 
      
We are a church--a congregation of believers. This is the Trinity Baptist Church of Ardmore, OK. If you are a born again believer and have affiliated with this local church, then you are a member of the saints here in this particular place. 
You are a part of the family of God. But you are a part of this local, baptized body of believers.
 
Let’s talk about the saints, the faithful brethren. It does not describe, necessarily, how you live. It describes your position in Christ. You have been set apart unto Jesus Christ. 
 
Here’s the good news: Those vessels in the Old Testament that were set apart
could never change. They were always the same. Now they were inanimate objects. 
 
But you and I, when we come to Christ, are living people. The Bible says that we can become what God has set us aside to become. It means we can be what God has declared that we
are in Jesus Christ.
      
The best way I know to describe it is to use the example of a football player. 
Here’s a guy whose position on the team is offensive guard. 
Through his skill and training and good coaching and experience, he gets better at his position. By position, he’s an
offensive guard, but as he continues to play the game and get better, he becomes more and more what a guard ought to be. 
 
His performance begins to live up to his position. That’s why the Bible says not only are we saints, but we are called to be saints. The Bible says we are called to live up to the level of the salvation that God has given us in the Lord Jesus. 
      
That’s how the Christian life works. It begins with a new relationship. We are set apart as saints unto Jesus. We are set apart as faithful brothers and sisters in the Lord. 
 
Our new relation.
 
Notice in verse 2 he also talks about
 
our new location. 
’we are the saints in Christ at Colosse.’ 
 
See those little prepositional phrases there. ’in Christ,’ ’at Colosse.’ 
 
These were people who lived in Colosse. It was a little town in Asia Minor about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It’s in what we call modern Turkey. It was one of triplet cities. Hieropolis is
one of them. Laodicea is the other. Then Colosse.
      
Paul has addressed this letter to the saints at Colosse. That was their geographical location. 
 
Now, you have a geographical location. The big majority of you in this service
today are located geographically at Ardmore. You live on 1234 Silk Stocking Lane, Ardmore, OK 73401. That’s your geographical location.
      
 
 
 
But the Bible also says you have a spiritual location. You are located not only geographically where you get your mail, but you are also located spiritually. Spiritually, there are only two addresses where people reside.
      
 
Turn to I Corinthians 15:22. ’For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ 
 
Did you notice the two address spiritually. Everybody is located in Adam by means of their physical birth. You become located spiritually in Christ by means of your spiritual birth. You are in Adam. That means you are born into the human family. 
 
But the Bible says it is also possible to be located ’in Christ.’ When you come to Jesus you get a brand new spiritual location. You are now located in Christ Jesus. You are in the atmosphere of Jesus Christ.
      
Birds live in the atmosphere of air. Fish live in the atmosphere of water. Trees
live in the atmosphere of soil. Saved people now live in the atmosphere of Jesus Christ. That’s a wonderful truth.
      
Notice this little phrase ’in Christ’ is one of the favorite phrases in the Bible. You will read it over and over again in the New Testament. 
 
Now scripturally speaking, location determines destination. ’In Adam, all die.’ That simply means that by means of our physical birth we are born into this world as sinners. You are a sinner because you choose to sin. You choose to sin because you have a sinful nature. 
 
When God created Adam and Eve He put them in the garden of Eden. God told them they could eat of all of the trees of the garden except one and in the day you eat thereof you will surely die.
      
 
Adam disobeyed God and when he did the Bible teaches that Adam fell. When
Adam fell the whole human race fell. That’s why when you and I are born, we are born with a sinful nature, knowing how to sin. Nobody has to teach you how to sin. You come into the world with all the equipment necessary to sin. It’s our
nature. 
 
Location determines destination. We are in Adam. We are born as sinners and that means that if we die in our physical conditions and in our spiritual condition as sinners, the Bible says the ’wages of sin is death.’ 
 
But oh, when you come to Jesus, you
are now located in Christ. ’in Christ all shall be made alive.’ When you come to Jesus who is the life, the Bible says that in Jesus Christ you now have life. Life now, life in the future. We have a new location.
      
 
Not only does location determine destination, it also determines your daily behavior. It has a lot to do with how you live on a daily basis. We are living in a sinful world. 
 
We are living in the atmosphere of a culture that is an ungodly culture. 
How, then is it possible for a Christian to live the way he ought to live in this kind of culture? 
 
Well, we are IN Christ Jesus. We are in a new spiritual location. In Jesus, there is every bit of the power we need to live the way God wants us to live. There is all of the strength that is
necessary for you to be what God wants you to be.
      
It’s kind of like a man marooned on an island and he wants to send a message out. He has some paper and some ink and he writes out a message. He wraps that message up and tosses it in the sea. He hopes somebody will find the message. 
You know what happens. It won’t be long until the ink dissolves and the paper disintegrates. That’s no
way to do it.
      
Let’s just suppose he writes out a message and then he gets a bottle and he puts that message in the bottle, seals the bottle and then puts it in the sea. Now, the message is in the sea, but the message is also sealed in the bottle. 
 
You and I are in the sea of this
sinful world in which we live. But we are now in Jesus Christ. Christ can give us the power to overcome sin. The power to be what we ought to be in the kind of world in which we live.
      
That’s how the Christian life connects us. We are saints, set apart to the Lord. We are in Jesus Christ. We have new potential, new opportunity.
 
 
 
Then we find out that the Christian life-
 
II. CHANGES Life.
      
People say, ’I’d like to give my life to Christ, but I’m not sure I can live it. I
would like to be a Christian, but I’m not going to come to Christ until I’m sure that I can live it. I have some real good news for you today. I’m going to show you what God has provided for you to help you live the way you want to live.
      
Look at this greeting in verse 2. ’Grace be unto you, and peace from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ 
 
Many of the letters you read in the New Testament will start just like that. It will say grace and peace. What do these words mean? Why are they in the Bible? They sound a little strange to us.
      
 
In those day they were very common words. For instance, if you were walking down the street in Athens, Greece, someone might walk up to you and say, ’Charis.’ 
 
You
would speak back to them and say, ’Charis.’ If any of you girls are named Karen, that’s where your name came from. It’s the word, grace. It was a word for greeting.
      
It was very common words used in those days. It was a word for greeting. Charis--grace.
      
If you were in Jerusalem walking down the street you might see one person walk up to another and say, ’Shalom.’ The other would say, ’Shalom.’ It is the Hebrew word for greeting. 
 
So, Paul has taken the Greek word for greeting and the Hebrew word for
greeting and he has put them together. ’Grace to you and peace..’
Paul has taken these common, ordinary words and he has elevated them and filled them with brand new meaning. 
 
That’s what Jesus does with a life. That’s why you can live the way God wants you to live. Jesus takes an ordinary life and elevates that life and
fills your life with brand new meaning. That’s what Jesus does in a life. Grace. Peace.
      
Grace is the word that describes God’s first approach to the human soul. Here’s the picture. We are sinners. We are sinking down in the ocean of sin. But God loves you and wants to save you. 
 
This word, grace, contains the very heart of God. Grace means God’s unmerited favor. It is that which caused God, who loves this world so very much, to send His very own and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. Grace is God reaching down to us in the ocean of sin. 
Grace is God reaching down to us in the muck and mire of sin. You and I are saved not because there is good in us, but because there is grace in God.
      
You don’t feel worthy to be saved? You are not worthy to be saved. I’m not
worthy to be saved. None of us are worthy to be saved. We are saved by the grace of God. 
 
Listen to Ephesians 2:8,9, ’For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’
      
Grace is God’s first touch of your heart. He saves you by His wonderful grace. 
But He doesn’t just save you by His grace, He provides for you the necessary grace that you need on a daily basis.
      
Look at II Corinthians 12:9. Now when these verses were written, Paul was having a real struggle in his life. Now Paul is saved by grace. Yet, Paul is going through a tough time. 
Any of you going through a tough time? ’Preacher, this has been a terrible week.’ Well, you ought to get saved! All of that would come to an end, right? 
 
Of course not. Paul was going through a tough time. It was physical. It was emotional. It was spiritual. He was having a hard time and he was praying to the Lord and nothing seemed to be happening.
      
Have you ever had that to happen? You have a problem and you are praying and you don’t seem to be getting an answer. Things don’t seem to be improving. Have you been there? Maybe this week?
      
In II Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says, ’And the Lord said to Paul, My grace is
sufficient for thee.’ 
 
I have good news for you, friend, that’s shouting ground.   It’s enough! That’s all you need. God’s grace. He’ll carry you through.
Would you like to have some of that grace? I’ll show you how to get it. 
 
Turn over to Hebrews 4:16. ’Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.’ 
 
Literally, it means grace to help in the nick of time. God’s grace will always come through. That’s why every day of
our lives we ought to come to the Lord and say, ’Lord, I don’t know what today brings, but I claim some grace. Give me some grace.’ Just when you need it, God’s grace will come through. 
 
You want grace? Only one place you can get it. Here’s where you get grace. Col. 1:6 says, ’the grace of God.’ God is the only one who can give you grace. God has a monopoly on grace. You have grace to save you. 
You have grace to help you in daily trials. It changes the picture.
      
 
Then, he uses the word, peace. You will notice these go together. These are twin sisters in the Bible. They are always together. Wherever Sister Grace shows up, Sister Peace comes along, too. 
 
You never find Sister Peace coming in first ahead of Sister Grace. It’s always grace, then peace, without fail in the scripture. 
 
That’s why a lot of people aren’t happy in life. They want to be happy, but you can’t be happy until first you’re holy. You can’t have God’s peace in your life until you experience God’s grace in
your life. People want to get by and make it through the day and deal with the problems and difficulties of their lives and they can’t do it because they’ve never experienced grace. 
Grace comes and then peace. God gives peace.
      
 
 
The word, peace, is Irene. It means to join together -- put together. God’s peace puts us together. Peace does not mean the absence of trouble. Peace doesn’t mean that you’ll never have any trouble. 
 
In fact, in Philipppians 4:7 Paul says, ’And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’ 
 
We lose our peace when our minds and hearts are torn apart. That’s what the
word, worry, means. Worry means to pull apart. Peace means to put back together. 
 
When Jesus comes into your life He starts putting you back together. Sin has blown you apart. Sin has torn you apart. Jesus puts you back together. Peace. Not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God. In other words, God is with you in your life. Peace.
      
 
When you come to Christ you are in Christ through life. You are also in Christ in death. That brings the incredible, unbelievable peace of God in your heart. 
 
Isn’t it good to know that when you get ready to die God’s grace will be right
there. When you get ready to die there’s peace in your heart. 
 
The Christian life works because it connects life. You are connected to the Father, you are connected to the
family. It also changes life. You have grace and peace. It also -
 
III. COMPLETES Life.
      
In verse 4, 5 and 6 there are three words that just jump out at you. Circle them in your Bible. He told them he was so thankful for them. Had been praying for them.
 
 
 
’Since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.’ 
 
Circle faith, love, and hope. 
 
Those three words summarize the basic ingredients that complete life. 
 
Psychologists tell us that three of the greatest needs people have are these. 1. Something to believe in. 2.
Someone to love or to love you. 3. Something to look forward to. 
 
If you don’t have those three things in your life, then something is missing. The Christian experience brings these three ingredients into your life and completes your life. When you come to Christ you now have a saving faith. Faith in Christ Jesus. Not just faith in faith. That’s where people miss it today. They just have faith in faith.
 
 
Doesn’t matter what you believe
just as long as you believe something.
      
You are on one of these tall buildings and there’s a fire. You have to get out. You look out of the window. 
      
Somebody says, ’Jump!’ You ask, ’Is there anything down there to catch me?’
      
They say, ’It doesn’t matter if there is anything here, as long as you believe it is, just go ahead and jump.’
      
No, not just faith in faith. Not just faith in doctrine. Just belief. Just to believe
anything. The question is -- is it true. Faith directed toward a person. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Saving faith.
 
That deals with the deeds of the past. We all have a past. The problem with a past is the sin and guilt of the past. The question is what can I do about
my sin and guilt? I have good news for you. 
Somebody has already done it for you. 
Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross. He bore your guilt.
      
Love. Supernatural love. ’The love you have toward all the saints.’ This is not
eros--sensual love. This is not philos--affection love. It’s agapa’--God’s love. 
 
It’s supernatural love. The Bible commands us as believers to love people. We get saved and we find out we can’t love folks. He says, ’all the saints.’ That means all of them. Even
the odd and ornery ones around.
 
God can teach you to love. In fact, He can provide it for you. Verse 8, ’Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.’ 
 
It gets better. ’The hope which is laid up for you.’ That cares for the doubts concerning the future. Hope for the future. What a terrible thing to live and have no hope. What a terrible thing to have nothing to look forward to. 
To grow old and wonder if you are going to have enough retirement money.
 
To wonder if you are going to be able to overcome cancer. How can you face death? To be young and have nothing to look forward to.
      
When you come to Jesus Christ He fills your life with eternal hope.
      
You are sitting here. You have a fatal disease. I am the doctor. I come to you and tell you there’s nothing you can do to live, but I have a miracle drug here. If you take this miracle drug you’ll get well. You would be a fool not to take an offer like that,
wouldn’t you?
 
       Without the Lord Jesus Christ life doesn’t make sense. Life is terminal. But when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ it is a cure which turns your life into something beautiful and meaningful.
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