Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007 Colossians 1:19-23

Sunday, September 2, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:19-23 (New King James Version)
[19] For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, [20] and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. [21] And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled [22] in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Initial Reflection on the Text
A major theme of this passage is reconciliation, specifically between God and man through Christ. The means of reconciliation is the "blood of His cross" (v.20). At the heart of what reconciliation brings is "peace." This truth brings a great encouragement to me. When I became a believer, I did not understand fully this concept of reconciliation; however, I did understand the effect of reconciliation, there was an overwhelming sense of "peace" with God. This peace with God allowed me to be at peace with myself and others. When our vertical relationship with God is right (reconciliation), the inner and horizontal relationships are set right – there is "peace."

Paul states that Christ will "reconcile all things to Himself" (v.19). Some may see in this statement a support for universalism, the teaching that all people will eventually be reconciled to God. What is the scope of God’s reconciliation? The context of the passage is going to be helpful in understanding this phrase.

The goal or outworking of reconciliation is that the believer show forth a life that reflects God’s character, "holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight" (v.22). This transformed existence that forms the believer’s walk seems to be conditioned upon our obedience to living out the Gospel, "if indeed you continue in the faith" (v.23). Here again, as we have seen before in Colossians, is the tension at work between the sovereignty of God and the freedom of God’s creation.

It's not surprising that this passage of Scripture concludes with the phrase, "the hope of the Gospel" (v.23). What an incredible hope there is knowing that God reconciles us to Himself! This "hope of the Gospel," this grace of God in Christ, is the hope of our world.

What is God showing you? Your observations and insights into this week's passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Colossians 1:15-18

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:15-18 (New King James Version)
[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. [17] And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. [18] And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Initial Reflection on the Text
This passage is interesting in light of the background of the problem at Colosse. The errorists in the church were implying that Jesus was less than deity. Here, Paul affirms that Jesus is not only God but that He is the agent of creation! Rather than God creating the world through a series of emanations (offshoots of deity each one being a little less god), Paul affirms that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (my emphasis). Paul is emphatically declaring that Jesus is the one and only emanation from God (to borrow from the language of the Gnostics), but more than that, He is completely all that God is!

The practical application of all of this is found in verse 18. Jesus, by virtue that He is the creator God, is the "head of the body, the church." Furthermore, because He is the head, in all things He is to have the preeminence (i.e., He is to be first, He is to be in charge). The body (the church) at Colosse was in danger of being a body that was out of control. Jesus was not being denied but He was being dethroned from His rightful place as "the head of the body."

Does Jesus have the preeminence in the body of Christ today? Are there areas in the body of Christ that are off limits to Him? What about our lives? Does Jesus have His rightful place in your life? In my life? What would be different in my life if Jesus was in charge? Is Jesus our co-pilot? Or the pilot of our lives?

Your observations and insights into this week's passage are welcomed and encouraged. I hope to hear from you this week.
For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007 Colossians 1:9-14

Sunday, August 19, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:9-14 (New International Version)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Some of My Initial Thoughts on the Text
1. Paul continues with the theme of prayer for the Colossians in this passage. He prays for some things that all of us need as believers if we are to experience God's full and meaningful life. What are some of the themes for prayer that Paul touches on?
He prays that they will be filled with the "knowledge" of God’s will.
He prays that they will live a life filled with God’s "power."

2. Why is it essential to be filled with God’s will and power? How does this lead to God's abundant life? Could you use a fresh filling of the knowledge of God and His mighty power? I know I could!

3. What is the result of being filled with God’s will and power?
We live a life that pleases God.
We bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
We have "great endurance and patience."
We have joy which is expressed in thanksgiving to the Father for the salvation that the Son has provided.

4. Two times in this passage, Paul uses the word "knowledge." The Gnostic teachers believed that salvation came through a secret knowledge available only to the few. According to Paul, what is the nature of true knowledge? How would the fulfillment of this prayer enable us as believers to walk in the knowledge of the Lord?

5. According to verse 13, believers have been rescued "from the dominion of darkness and brought . . . into the kingdom of the Son." Has there ever been a time in your life when you were rescued from some difficult or even tragic situation? How did you feel when you were rescued? Relieved? Joyful? Thankful? How can focusing on what Christ has done for us increase our sense of gratitude and joy in our every day lives?

Your observations and insights into the text are welcomed and encouraged. I hope to hear from you this week!
For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Living the Mystery, A Study of the Epistle to the Colossians

Beginning Sunday, August 12, 2007, I will begin a series of messages from the wonderful little Epistle to the Colossians. You might be wondering why I have chosen the series title, "Living the Mystery." It really is a play on the theological concept of mystery. Let me explain. The church at Colosse faced threats from within the church. This is what prompted Paul to write the letter in the first place. Epaphras, who founded the church at Colosse, reported to Paul some disturbing news about the presence of heretical (non-biblical) teachings at Colosse.

What was this heresy at Colosse that threatened the church? It was a syncretistic movement combining Jewish, pagan, and Christian elements. The pagan element was a form of what most scholars call "incipient Gnosticism," a complex system of myths and Greek philosophy that absorbed the various religions with which it came into contact. One of the tenets of Gnosticism was the belief that salvation was obtained through knowledge apprehended by mystical experience. This knowledge came only to the initiated; thus, salvation was available only to those who understood the "mystery."

However, Paul reaffirms the faith of the Colossians by reminding them that the "mystery" of the Gospel is revealed in Jesus Christ and in Him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (2:3). We might say that believers have been initiated into the "mystery," the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. Believers are "Living the Mystery." There is also an element of belief that is an unfolding revelation to believers. That is, as we walk with Christ and understand our completeness in Him, we discover the wonderful "treasures and wisdom" that the Father has granted to us in Christ.

Each week I will post the sermon text(s) for each Sunday's message. Your comments and insights into the passages are encouraged and welcomed. It is my hope that this will be an ongoing dialogue that will help us all "Live the Mystery" of the Gospel. I hope to hear from you soon.

This Week's Text:
Sunday, August 12, 2007 -- Colossians 1:3-8.

For His Glory!

Pastor Joe