The Book of Colossians #18

 

Final Words
Colossians 4:16-18
 
Lest you have overlooked these three verses, you just don’t want to do that. God has something for us in these verses. There is always something good for us in God’s Word. I promise you these three verses have a special message for our hearts today. These are the final words.
       
I’m sure most of you at one time or another heard the radio programs of Paul Harvey. He had a newscast and has a very specific way of closing it. He would give the newscast and then pause for what seems to be an eternity and then he says, “Good day.” 
       
This is kind of the setting and the atmosphere of these concluding verses which Paul gives us in the book of Colossians. There’s an unusual twist. It’s normal in the way he closes his letters, but he gives a little different twist and there are some special blessings for us in these three verses.
       
In verse 16 he shares with us a special message. “When this letter is read...” 
 
Three times he makes reference to reading of the letters. Of course, we know that these letters now are a part of the Bible that you and I read. But the Bible had a place of vital importance in the local church in that day. Of course, it has a very important place in our day also.
       
 
 
In I Timothy 4:13 the Scripture says, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” 
 
So the public reading of Scripture is a very, very important part of the life of a fellowship. When we come to study the Scriptures together and we read God’s Word, there is power in God’s Word. There is power in the Scriptures. 
       
So, he says, “Give attention to reading and I want this letter to be read not only among you, but read it to the church of Laodicea.” 
 
Now the church at Laodicea was a church located in a city very near Colosse. We do not know a whole lot about that church, but it is interesting that Paul wants this letter read to them. In turn, he said, “I want you to read the letter from Laodicea.” 
 
We don’t know what that letter is. Some have speculated it may have been the book of Ephesians. Others have said it was the little book of Philemon. The fact of the matter is, we do not know. That letter has not been preserved for us. For some reason the Holy Spirit did not choose to put the letter to the Laodiceans in our Bible. 
 
So, there is a mystery here. There is also a message to us in that Paul specifically says, “I want you to take this letter addressed to the Colossians and have it read to the Laodiceans.” 
 
I. A Special MESSAGE.
       
Why is this true? What is the special message that God has for the Laodiceans? This is not the only specific word that is given to the Laodicean church. When you come to the letters of our Lord in the book of The Revelation, the letters of the seven churches, you recall that one of those letters was to the church of Laodicea. Thirty-five years after Paul wrote this letter, the Lord Jesus addresses a letter to the Laodicean church. It’s a very interesting comparison. 
 
There is evidence that the Laodicean church, at this particular time when Paul wrote, was an alive and an alert and an active church. But thirty-five years later when the Lord Jesus comes to write to the church at Laodicea there is no excitement, no enthusiasm, no evangelism in the church.
       
Look at The Book of The Revelation 3, the letter of the Lord Jesus to the church of Laodiceans. Begin with verse 14. 
 
Here is a picture of a church that has lost its fire. A church that is now lukewarm. A church that is in such a condition that the Lord Jesus says, “You make me sick at my stomach.”
       
Why did this church get into that situation? What were the circumstances that caused that church to become lukewarm and indifferent? 
 
I think the key is back in the book of Colossians where Paul says in this 16th verse, “I want you to have this letter read to the Laodiceans.” I think you have in the book of Colossians some truth that churches of all the ages, if they will apply it, will keep themselves from becoming lukewarm and indifferent. I personally believe that we are living, for the most part, in a Laodicean age of the church. 
 
I believe we are in the last church age before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t know when Jesus is going to come. We set no dates about it. But it is very clear to me as I read the Scriptures and look at circumstances and conditions in the world, in particular in the church world, that for the most part the church is in a Laodicean state.
 
What is there in Colossians that can keep a church from becoming like that? What is there in this letter that can keep you and me from becoming indifferent and cold and unconcerned in our personal Christian faith?
 
I want to quickly review and look at some things I think are pertinent to this issue. 
 
Look back at Colossians 1. There is a truth there which will keep us on fire, which will keep our hearts stirred for the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 
Beginning in verse 15 he talks about Christ being the Lord of creation. He specifically says that the Lord Jesus Christ is the creator of this universe. 
 
Look at verse 17
 
If Jesus is your Savior that means that the creator of this universe is your Savior. How can we be indifferent to that? How can we grow cold to that? That’s one of the most exciting and scintillating truths that can ever grip the mind of a human being: that the very God who created this universe is also our Savior and He has come into our hearts and changed our lives. He is the Lord of creation. 
       
 
That’s not all. In verse 18 it says He is the head of the body, the church. Lord of creation, also Lord of the church.
       
We thank God for beautiful music. We thank God for the preaching of the Word. We thank God for a marvelous fellowship in a church. But what is far more important than any of those aspects of the church is the presence and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in a church. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together He is in the midst of them. The Living Lord Jesus Christ is right here in this service. You can’t be indifferent to that. That’s exciting. You can’t be Laodicean when you believe that Jesus is Lord of His church and is involved in the activities of His church. 
 
He is Lord of creation. He is Lord of the Church. 
 
That’s not all.
       
Look at verse 27
 
Jesus is not only Lord of His Creation and Lord of His church, Jesus Christ is Lord of Christian. Christ is in you. When you invite Jesus Christ to be your personal Savior the Bible says in the person of the Holy Spirit He comes to dwell in your heart. He lives in your heart. 
 
Look back at verse 18, the last sentence. “That in all things He might have the preeminence.”
 
When Jesus Christ is preeminent in your life, when it dawns on you that Jesus Christ lives in you and you surrender total control of your life to Jesus Christ, you won’t be a Laodicean Christian. 
If Jesus is number one, if every day of your life Jesus Christ is absolutely first in your life you won’t be a Laodicean Christian. You won’t get cold. You won’t be half-hearted. You’ll be excited and enthused about the Lord. 
 
Paul said be sure this letter is read to the aodiceans. If they had heeded this letter then they wouldn’t have needed the letter Jesus sent to them 35 years later. So in a word, we could say the absolute supremacy of Jesus will keep you from being a Laodicean Christian.
       
Then notice also the sufficiency of Jesus will keep you enthused and on fire for the Lord.  
 
Go to the second chapter, third verse. 
 
That statement says specifically that all the treasures are in Jesus. All the wealth is in Jesus. All the riches are in Jesus. If they announced that they had discovered gold in Northern Ohio, there would be a mad rush to Northern Ohio. People would be trying to find the gold. People are searching everywhere trying to find the treasures of life. They are trying to find meaning and purpose in life. 
 
If you are a Christian you have already found the treasures. If you are a Christian you know where the gold is. It is in Jesus Christ.   Why wouldn’t we be excited about that? Why wouldn’t that keep us on fire for the Lord? I have found the treasures. I have hit the main vein. I found the source of it all. All the treasures are in Jesus.
       
 
 
Not only all the treasures but in the second chapter, verse 15 it says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it.” 
 
That is the cross. Now only are the riches and treasures in Jesus, but all the victory is in Jesus also. Jesus won the victory on the cross. Jesus won the battle on the cross. People battle temptation as we all do. People struggle for self esteem. People have all kinds of battles and temptations that they encounter. 
 
The good news for a Christian is that because of what Jesus did at the cross of Calvary, victory is provided for us. You and I can have victory in every circumstance. We can have victory over ever situation. All the victory is in Jesus.
       
One of these days I’m going to make it down to San Antonio and visit the Alamo. It’s story intrigues me. At the Alamo, two hundred thirty-two withstood a
Mexican army of 5,000 troops. They did it for days. Davy Crockett was there. The battle cry became, “Remember the Alamo.”
       
There was another battle one day but it came out a lot different than the Alamo. There was a battle at Calvary. One day all hell rode up at Calvary to do battle with our Lord Jesus Christ. When the dust settled on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” It means Jesus won the victory. It is finished. You and I don’t fight for victory as Christians, we fight from victory. Jesus has already won the victory, we just claim the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ.
       
 
Several years ago, Reader’s Digest told the story of an old Confederate soldier who came out of the Ozark Mountains. The Civil War had been over about 20 years, but he didn’t know it was over. After about 20 years he came out of the mountains and said, “I don’t care what General Lee says, I’m giving up.” 
 
The battle was already over and he didn’t know it. There are a lot of people today struggling in their own strength. They are battling in their own power, in their own ability. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I have victory for you. I paid the price at the cross of Calvary.” 
 
You can’t be indifferent about that. You can’t be unconcerned about that. You can’t be Laodicean when you remember that Jesus Christ on the cross won the victory for you and for me.
 
There’s another truth in this book that ought to keep you from ever being indifferent and unconcerned. it is the absolute Supervision of Christ.
 
Chapter 3:1
 
Set your affection on things above not on things of the earth. He is saying that Jesus Christ supervises.  
Jesus presides over everything. When Jesus died on the cross He was buried. Three days later the Bible says He arose again. Some days later the Lord Jesus Christ as ascended from the mount of Olives. The Bible says He ascended to the right hand of the Father and that Christ is now seated in heaven. He is Christ the Lord; He is the supervisor of all in heaven.
 
Since Jesus is risen and since He is sitting at the right hand of God, the Bible says to set your affection on things above and not on things of the earth. He is saying to get your mind on what Jesus has His mind on. It means to get your heart on what Jesus has His heart on.
       
Have you ever thought about what is the real heart beat of Jesus? What is it that Christ is really concerned about? He is concerned about the same thing that He was when He walked on this earth. In Luke 19:10 Jesus said, “The son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He is saying, “My heart is in the winning of the lost.”
       
I’ve been pastor of a church for 25 years, been preaching for 29 years. All through these years I’ve tried to keep the main thing the main thing. It’s easy to get off target. It’s easy to get off base. It’s easy to get into some side roads. Good roads, but side roads. 
 
So, I have constant bring myself back to the main issue. I’ll tell you what Christ in heaven is concerned about:  He is concerned about the lost. His heart aches for the lost. There is always that tendency for folks to say that all we talk about is evangelism. I know there are other things. I know there are ramifications of people coming to Christ and reaching people for Christ. I understand every bit of that. 
 
But there is that constant pull, that constant tendency to get us away from the main business. When you get away from the main business, that’s when the danger of Laodicea kicks in. 
 
When you get involved in other good things, but not the main thing, that’s when the tendency toward a Laodicean, lukewarm, indifferent spirit takes over.
 
The bottom line is this. When people die they are going to heaven or they are going to hell. I know we need to help people physically and meet physical needs. I know that we need to help emotionally and psychologically and meet those needs. But the church has one primary assignment that has to be absolutely number one in its priority and that’s telling people about Jesus Christ. 
 
Winning people to faith in the Lord. You let a church get off on anything else and it will become Laodicean. It can happen overnight. We have to keep the fire burning. Keep our hearts in what the heart of Jesus is in.
 
There was a continual fire burning in the temple of Vestal in ancient Rome. Vestal was the goddess of the hearth. There were Vestal virgins in that temple who were assigned the responsibility to keep that fire burning. Day and night they tended the fire to keep the fire burning. 
 
But if for whatever reason the fire went out, all public and private business ceased and was not resumed again until they got the fire burning again. 
 
Is the fire burning in your heart? Do you have a hot heart to see people come to Christ? Are you involved on a weekly basis in seeking to find those who need Jesus Christ as Savior? If not probably you are very near the outskirts of Laodicea land.
 
 
So, Paul says to have this letter read to the Laodiceans. I have a message for us as a church. It is the message that Paul shares right here in verse 16. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s resist the tendencies to discouragement, the tendencies to be indifferent, the tendencies to be cold in our faith and our zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ. Closing words. 
 
A special message.
 
II. A Special MINISTRY.
 
In verse 17 there is a personal word addressed to a man named Archippus. Maybe they called him Chip for short. We don’t know who he is. He is mentioned in verse 2 of the book of Philemon. Some people think he may have been the son of Philemon. But there is a personal word addressed by Paul to this man Archippus. 
 
It’s very simple, “Take heed to the ministry you have received in the Lord that you fulfill it.” 
 
That’s the message God has. He is saying, “Archippus, God has given you a ministry, be sure that you do it. Be sure that you carry it out.” He may have been a preacher. We don’t know. He may have been a minister of the gospel, called to preach. We don’t know. Evidently there was an assignment that he had been given. God had given him a ministry. “Take heed to the ministry you have received in the Lord...”
 
Sometimes we get the idea that just preachers are the only ones who are in the ministry. Really the Bible teaches that every Christian has a ministry. Someone asks, “Who are the ministers at Trinity Baptist Church? How many ministers do you have?” I say oh, we have over 1,000. The word ministry is where we get our word deacon. It means service. Take heed to the service. Take heed to the place of service that you have received in the Lord.
       
 
Somewhere, we began to believe that Christianity is a spectator sport. Lot of people think it is. “Let’s go to church and watch the show and see how they do today. See if the music is all right today. See if the preacher did good today.” 
 
For the most part football is a spectator sport. There you see 22 guys in need of rest being watched by 50,000 in need of exercise. But Christianity is not a spectator sport. We are all to be on the playing field. Every one of us.
 
Ephesians 4:11, “And he gave (that is, the Lord Jesus) some apostles, some prophets and some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.” Look at this. 
 
Keep in mind the punctuation and verse references are not part of the inspired Scripture. 
 
Who does the work of the ministry? The saints. It’s our job as preachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. You have a ministry. You have a place of service. “How do I find it, preacher?” Just find something that needs to be done and just start doing it. Just find a need somewhere. Just find something that could be done for the Lord. And start doing it. God will give you a ministry.
I love the story of Moses in the Old Testament. The Lord called Moses and said, “Moses, I’m sending you to Pharaoh.”
        Moses said, “Lord, who am I?”
        In the next sentence the Lord said, “I will send you.”
       
He is saying to Moses that it’s not who you are, it’s who I am. You don’t think you can serve Jesus? Yes, you can. The same Christ who saved you can give you the ability and the power to serve Him.
       
This is a sweet verse. An encouraging verse. I Timothy 1:12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry.” 
 
The Lord is the one who puts you in your place of service. The good news is that the same Lord Jesus who puts you in the ministry enables you to carry out that ministry. He’ll help you. Whatever God calls you to do, the Lord Jesus Christ will give you the ability and the power and the grace and the strength to do it.
       
“And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” You could put it this way--fill it full. Complete it. Keep at it. Don’t fail at the end. Don’t falter at the end. I like a paraphrase that was given this way. 
 
“God has called you into His service, Oh do not fail Him.” Wouldn’t it be terrible to come right to the end and falter and fail? If you stumble right at the end, that’s all people would ever remember. 
 
I pray so many times for God to help me to be faithful all the way. To help me finish well.
       
In Acts 20 the Apostle Paul said, “That I might finish my course with joy.” What a desire. Then you come to the last letter Paul wrote, II Timothy 4 and said, “I have finished my course. I’ve hung in there. I’ve gone all the way.
 
III. A Special MARK.
       
In verse 18 there’s a special mark that Paul puts on his letters. “The salutation by the hand of me Paul.” That is the token or mark of every letter. So I write. 
 
Paul had a secretary. Some of you have a ecretary. We know the name of his secretary from Romans 16:22 - Tertius. 
 
Paul had a secretary, Tertius, who would take down the dictation and then Paul would take the pen himself and give a special mark in his own handwriting to authenticate and prove that what he was writing was genuine.
       
He says in II Thes. 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with my own hand which is the token in every epistle so I write.” That was the distinguishing mark in his letters. Do you see the picture? 
 
Here’s Paul in prison and he has dictated his letter to his secretary, Tertius. Now Paul takes the pen and writes out this final word that authenticates his letter
and as he does, do you hear that chain bouncing across the page? He says, “Remember my bonds.”  
 
 
He’s not calling attention to himself asking to be pitied, but it is evident to us that here is a man who has earned a hearing because he has paid a price for his faith. He’s in prison. He was beaten. He was publicly embarrassed. He lost his worldly possessions. He suffered and died. He gave his life for his faith. What has it cost you and me lately to
be a Christian?   What price have we paid to be a Christian? 
       
He also had a mark on his life. “Grace be with you. Amen.” 
 
That’s how Paul begins and closes his letters. That’s his special mark--grace. That’s how the Christian life starts -- grace. That’s how it concludes -- grace. In fact, that’s really how it continues -- grace. Paul said one time, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” I can say Amen, Paul. By the grace of God I am what I am. By the grace of God you are what you are. Whatever you and I are we are there because of the grace of God.
 
Life can really boil down to three lessons:   Number one is that I can’t do anything to save myself. 
Lesson number two is that God doesn’t expect me to do anything to save myself. 
Lesson number three is that Jesus Christ has already done everything that needed to be done to save me. It’s all of grace.
       
A painter was getting ready to paint a picture of the prodigal son. He found a homeless guy and asked him to come to his studio for him to paint the picture. When the homeless guy got to the studio he had a bath and was spruced up a little bit. 
The painter said, “What in the world have you done?”
 
        He said, “Well, I thought if I was going to be in a picture I’d spruce myself up a little bit.”
       
The painter said, “Oh, no, I wanted you just as you are.”
 
You don’t spruce yourself up a little bit to come to Jesus. You come just as you are.   You can’t get better. You have to come just as you are.
 
                Just as I am without one plea,
                But that thy blood was shed for me.
                O, Lamb of God I come.
 
Wouldn’t you like to come to the Lord just like that. You don’t have to earn it. You just have to receive it. That’s all you have to do.
 
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