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A sermon on practical Christian living from Colossians 3 November 1, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Warfare.
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How to be Heavenly-Minded and Still be of Earthly Good
Colossians 3:1-17

Have you ever heard the phrase, “His head is in the clouds”? If you have, then you know this is not a compliment. It means that someone is impractical and does not know how to live practically in this world. Another way of saying this is that someone “is so heavenly-minded that they are of no earthly good.” I have been asked by believers, if it is possible to be too focused on heaven. Now that may be code for how do I live for Christ without being obvious. That, of course, is impossible. There is, however, a legitimate concern that we all should have. How should my spiritual reality positively affect my life here on earth?

We saw last week that the keeping of rules and regulations does not necessarily mean that one is living a spiritual reality, that is, that one is heavenly minded. Instead it may mean that one is living an earthly, fleshly reality with religious trappings. Obeying the rules and regulations of a religious group, even one that is true to the Scriptures as we are here at Grace Bible Church does not make us heavenly-minded anymore than wearing a Stetson would make us Texans.

I. You see, in order to be heavenly-minded, we must have an eternal perspective that becomes visible only out of our position in Christ (vs. 1-4). No doubt, you realize that your physical position determines what you can see. Back in August, I flew into Detroit from Philadelphia. My flight was delayed and I ended up flying fairly late at night. I had a window seat on the right side of the plane. As we flew south of Cleveland, I saw the most amazing sight. We were flying south of a huge thunderstorm that was over Lake Erie. You could not hear the thunder but you could see the clouds filled with lightning. If we had been flying through that thunderstorm, it might well have been a terrifying experience but because from where I was sitting, there was no turbulence the thunderstorm not only was not terrifying to me but gave me a sense of confidence that the person or persons who determined the route that we were flying were highly competent. You see, your physical position affects your perspective physically as well as psychologically. Spiritually this is also true. The reality of our relationship to Christ is what gives us an eternal perspective and allows us to be heavenly-minded.

a. Our present reality is connected to the resurrection and ascension of Christ (vs. 1-3). We talked about our present reality last week. When we put our faith and trust in Christ, it is as though we died with Him (after all, it is our sin that put Him to death), were buried with Him, and rose again with Him. This, of course, is what baptism symbolizes. “We are buried with Him in baptism, raised to walk in new life through Christ Jesus.” In that statement there is a commitment that is described with two words in Colossians 1:1-2.

1. The first word, in verse one, is “seek.” Jesus said according to Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” Since I am a new creature in Christ Jesus, I am committed to seeking those things that are associated with Christ, specifically with a Christ who is sitting at the right hand of God. You see, Jesus is ruler of this universe and my life is to be given to seeking those things that are associated with His eternal reign. His kingdom has priority, His righteousness has priority. That is one reason why I am a part of a church, because it is through His church, His people that His kingdom is advanced.

2. There is another word, actually a phrase, found in verse two, “set your mind.” That is, exercise your mind. Think on heavenly things, taking great interest in them. Think on God’s Word with the intention to obey it. Why? The reason is this, you are dead to sin and resurrected with Christ. Although outwardly you may look no different than before your salvation, your reality is different and you need to think about the things that belong to your new reality. A believer in Christ who is raised in Christ Jesus and yet is focused on this world is trying to live a fantasy, trying to exist in a spiritual “Land of Make-Believe.”

b. Our future reality is connected to the return of Christ (vs. 4, 6).
 Although we may at the present look no different physically than the unbeliever, there is coming a day, according to verse 4 when we will appear with Jesus Christ in glory. 1 John 3:2 puts it this way, “…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” When Christ returns, our present reality will be unleashed and we shall, as believers in Christ, enjoy the glory for which God saved, the glory which we will share with Jesus Christ, the one who saved us from our sin.

 Let me remind you of the alternative in verse 6, “…the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” When Christ returns, it will be a time of glory for believers but for those who have not put their faith in Christ, it will be a time of angry judgment. God is not unemotional when He judges men for their sin anymore than He is dispassionate when He glorifies His children for all eternity. God hates sin and He will judge each man’s sin either through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ or through His endless wrath on the sinner.

II. Now this is our spiritual reality. The past two chapters have been largely given to describing how that we through faith in Christ are dead to sin, buried with Him in baptism, raised to walk in new life in Christ Jesus, serving our heavenly King Jesus and His heavenly kingdom, looking forward to the day of His coming when we will be glorified with Him for all eternity. What, however, does that mean for us practically? When we go to work or to school tomorrow, when we go home this afternoon, when the stresses and temptations of this world start to press down on us, how do we remain heavenly-minded? The answer is this: to be heavenly-minded, we must spiritually and mentally execute the members of our fleshly being (vs. 5-7).

a. Our fleshly being still wants to satisfy itself (vs. 5). The first four items in this list deal with sexual sins. Certainly this is a problem in our society. The problem begins, however, not on the TV or the computer but begins in our sinful flesh. Paul says, take drastic action. This takes constant and conscious effort. It means not watching certain forms of entertainment. It means not spending time with certain people. It means putting your computer in a place where everyone has access so that you cannot hide any sin in which you may be tempted to indulge. It means learning to dress in a way that is not an invitation to the evil thoughts and intentions of others. It means memorizing Scripture and praying much and studying much Scripture and, if your married, focusing on your spouse more intensively. Why go to such lengths? Because our fleshly being still wants to satisfy itself.

Now the first four items may not be a temptation for you but there are few of us who do not look at others and long for what they have. That is what covetousness is. Paul says, “That is idolatry.” When I look at what others have and long for it instead of longing for the heavenly things of Christ, I am no better than the tribesman who sacrifices to a rock or a tree. I am an idolator.

b. As we have seen, the satisfaction of the fleshly being is one of the reasons for God’s anger with unbelieving men (vs. 6). Why then would I want to engage in behaviors which make God angry?

c. We are capable in our new life in Christ, our resurrected life, of rejecting our old life (compare vs. 3-4 to vs. 5a & 7). That does not mean it is easy. That is why Paul uses the word “execute”, that is, “put to death” your sinful flesh. It takes drastic action but in Christ it is possible.

III. To be heavenly-minded, we must spiritually clothe ourselves according to our spiritual reality (vs. 8-17). Paul talks here of our earlier “dead” life and compares it to our new “resurrected” life as two suits of clothes. Only one of those is appropriate to our spiritual reality. If the clothes make the man, then we need to pay attention to what we should and should not wear spiritually.

a. Our spiritual reality is a new man (vs. 9b-11). In these verses, Paul describes a spiritual exchange. When I go to the store, I make an exchange. Let’s say that I take a can of beans off the shelves, take it to the cashier who tells me how much the item costs, and then give the cashier some money. Once that exchange takes place, that can of beans is mine. The store cannot say put it back on the shelves. I have a receipt that shows that I exchanged a certain amount of money for that can of beans. The money now belongs to the store owners and the can of beans is mine. When we put our faith in Christ, we exchange our old man and his destructive behaviors (verse 9b) and the destructive words that come out of his mouth (verse 11a) for a new man constantly renewed in the knowledge of God (vs. 10) and unified with the body of Christ (vs. 11b).

b. Our old man is characterized by destructive behavioral sins (vs. 8-9a). Look at this list of sins. They are all verbal and they are all against mankind. Even the “blasphemy” here is not talking about using God’s name in vain but rather “blaspheming,” that is, slandering other people. Paul is saying, the heavenly-minded person will take those things off and put them away.

c. Our new man, however, is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit (vs. 12-17). Not every fruit of the Spirit is listed here in these verses but most of them are, specifically those fruit that deal with the words of our mouth and the relationships we have with other believers. If I could summarize these verses and the commands in them, I would say it this way, “Let your relationship to Christ keep your relationship to the body of Christ God-glorifying!” Let me repeat that. It is so important. “Let your relationship to Christ keep your relationship to the body of Christ God-glorifying!”

1. According to verses 12-15, believers are to forgive with the type of forgiveness and under the same conditions with which Christ has forgiven us. Let me illustrate using the first part of verse 13. Paul says there are ways in which we put on the characteristics of verse 12. Endure one another and forgive one another. To endure means to put up with, not to say anything, let it go, it isn’t important, forget about it. Most of us are willing to do that up to a certain point. We will put up with anything except… Most of you have said something like that and it may be that whatever you fill the blank with is an indication of what condition you are not like Jesus Christ. Forgiving, however, goes a step further. It involves action, it involves confrontation, it involves saying something but it also involves showing mercy, giving someone forgiveness that they do not deserve, it involves putting someone else’s needs before your own, it involves being a peacemaker, it involves pain, it involves tears of grief. That is, by the way, how Jesus assuages the wrath of God, by providing through His death, forgiveness. An act on confronting sin and its penalty head on but showing mercy to the sinner who needs peace with God. It cost Christ (1:24). He suffered much but that was the price necessary for my salvation and forgiveness and He paid it thankfully. In the same way that is the price I must pay if I am going to be heavenly-minded and of earthly good and use to the cause of Christ.

2. In verses 16-17, Paul sums up how this is possible. By the knowledge of Christ that makes us, as a body, focused on Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:17a says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Commit yourself to saying this verse everyday this week to yourself. Write on the back of the outline insert during the week, ways in which you have a choice between doing or saying something in the name of the Lord Jesus and following the ways of the body of sin.

What is your future? Is it glory or wrath? Is it forgiveness or damnation? Is it the old man or the new man? Jesus is the way to glory and forgiveness. Will you trust Him as your Lord and Savior today?

Heed this Warning and You will Grow in Christ (a sermon from Colossians 2) October 28, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Crucifixion, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Growth.
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(This is the 4th in a seven part sermon series from Colossians, preached earlier this fall at Grace Bible Church.)

Heed This Warning and You Will Grow in Christ
Colossians 2:4-23 (with 1:28)

Last week, in looking at Colossians 1:28, I mentioned that warning was an essential part of the ministry of the gospel if we are to present one another complete, that is, perfect or mature in Christ Jesus. In the passage we are looking at today, Paul is doing just that.

Last week I used the example of finishing the game. This week, I would like us to think of growing a pear. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter picked a couple of pears off of a pear tree. One was a nice-sized pear. The other was a little bit smaller. They were both hard as rocks, so we set the on the window sill to ripen. After a while I picked up the larger one and felt that it was soft. When I bit into that pear, I found it to be perfect. It was as juicy and as sweet as any pear that I have ever eaten. About a week later, I did the same with the smaller one. It had finally become complete, ripened to perfection. It had passed the taste test which is the only test that matters when you are eating pears.

If we are to grow in Christ, to ripen spiritually, there are various things that we might do but one thing that is important is to heed the warnings of this passage.

Now there are different types of warnings but often in a warning a command is implied if not directly given. In this passage Paul gave the Colossian believers three commands that if listened to and obeyed would enable the believers to become mature in Christ.

I. We should continue to walk according to our faith in Christ (vs. 4-7). Paul began his letter by commending them for walking according to their faith in Christ. He does this again in verse 5. Then he prayed that they would continue to walk according to their faith in Christ. Last week we saw that he sacrificed himself so that they would continue to walk according to their faith in Christ. Paul obviously felt it was essential for them to walk according to their faith in Christ.

a. Such a walk is our defense against deceit (vs. 4 and 6). The main tool of the devil and his allies is deceit. From the garden of Eden until now, the devil has dealt in deceit. He uses persuasive words. They sound logical, spiritual, moral, helpful but they are damning, fleshly, rebellion against God. Our defense against Satan’s deceit is walking according to our faith in Christ. In other words, the reality of your faith is what will keep you from following Satan.

b. Our defense against deceit is built on a steadfast faith (vs. 5-7). I emphasize the word “steadfast” because it is a biblical emphasis.
I came across a wonderful example of this a few days ago. My family and I had the opportunity to meet Pastor Robert Grimwood and his wife, Judy a few days ago. We were discussing youth work. He mentioned to me how that he had grown up in a church that had sixty-five young people in its youth group. He also recounted how that the first church in which he served as youth minister had a youth group of seventeen or eighteen kids. He mentioned all the events and things that the larger youth group had and then how in this smaller youth group, although they had events typical for a youth group, he focused on discipling those kids, especially those who were serious about their faith in Christ. In both cases we are talking about people who were in their teens well over thirty years ago. At a recent reunion of the larger youth group, of those attending only six were still in church. Of the smaller youth group that had focused on building a steadfast faith, all but one was still attending church.

Paul and the other believers realized that faith in Christ is more than an instantaneous decision. There is a point at which one puts their faith in Christ but that faith is to be cultivated, built upon, and confirmed in its reality (vs. 7). It is essential for several reasons. First, it keeps true believers from becoming confused and deceived. This is the matter that Paul, I believe, is directly addressing. Secondly, it helps bring those whose faith is not real to the understanding that their faith is not true faith. I do not try to make people doubt their salvation through psychological or theological tricks but I do want every one of you to be certain of the reality of our faith. That is especially important in our children’s, youth, and young adult but it is important for every age group. It is a matter of eternity.

II. In the second command that Paul gives to the Colossians, we find the specific reason why we should walk according to our faith in Christ. There is the danger of spiritual kidnapping (verse 8). The NKJV translates the word “cheat” but the context of Colossians 1 and 2 brings to mind a much stronger image. We were once according to 1:13 “…delivered… from the power of darkness and conveyed… into the kingdom of the love of His Son,” but there is a danger. We need to take heed to that danger, the danger of spiritual kidnapping (vs. 8-15).

a. The main reason this is a danger is because we are still surrounded by our old ways, the ways of the world (vs. 8). The philosophy of this world continues to promise much. The promises are empty, they are deceitful but they are all around us. They are not lawless, humanly speaking. They seem orderly. They appeal to humankind because they derive from the brilliance of the human heart but they are empty and they are deceitful. The biggest problem with them, however, is this: they are not according to Christ. Any system of belief without Christ is empty and deceitful. Now Paul is addressing religious systems of belief in this passage but this is true of all systems of belief: political, psychological, scientific, educational, and economical belief systems, regardless of where they fall on their spectrum are all empty and deceitful if Christ is taken out of the equation.

b. We can, however, successfully resist the empty and deceitful promises of the world because we are no longer captive to our sinful body. We were captive to our sinful body (vs. 11-14).

First, we are spiritually crucified, buried, and resurrected with Christ through faith in the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. You see, when we receive eternal life through Christ, it is not talking just about never ending life. We now have eternal life. My old spiritual deadness exists no more. It no longer has a hold on me. I do not have to live according to my former sinful flesh but now through Christ have spiritual life that enables me to fight against all the evil influences around me. That is one of the reasons that the symbol of baptism is so important. It is a powerful statement of a new reality.

I understand that there are some young people who desire to be baptized. I am thrilled to hear that and would like you to speak to me about that desire. Let me explain that one of the things that you are doing when you are baptized is making a statement about yourself. You are saying, “I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.” Now don’t misunderstand. You are not saying you are sinless in your everyday life. None of us can in reality make that statement but every believer in Christ can say, I do not have to sin because I have put my faith in Christ and I am now a new creature.

Secondly, you need to understand what it is that Jesus did on that cross that makes this new creature reality possible. He died for your sin so that you might be forgiven. The picture here is of your sins being paid for on the cross by Christ Jesus.

c. Now there is a second reason why we can resist the influence of this world. We are no longer captive to the forces of evil (compare vs. 15 to vs. 9-10). The picture in verse 15 is of a triumphal return from battle by a Caesar who is leading a parade made up of political dignitaries, sacrificial animals, soldiers in the army, and the captive generals. These generals were to be led to the center of the city and executed. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was not only the victory of Christ over the forces of evil but also the public humiliation of them. These forces beginning with Satan himself do not have any power any more over the believer in Christ because now we are complete in Him, the ruler over every principality and power (verses 9-10).

III. If then we are free from the power of our sinful body and from any evil power, Paul commands, do not then let your old ways, the ways of the world, enslave you again to your sinful body (vs. 16-23).

a. Our old ways through religious regulations try to condemn us and again enslave us (vs. 16-17). This is what religious moralism does. The Mormons with their rules and regulations do this. The Watchtower Society, Orthodox Judaism, and traditional Islam are just a few examples who regulate food and drink and the celebration of holidays. They think that they are freeing themselves from their sinful flesh when actually they are tightening the shackles tighter. The problem is not what they forbid and what they allow. The problem is they lack substance, they lack Christ. Without Christ even the Ten Commandments simply condemn and enslave. It is only through the substance, Jesus Christ that we can be freed from sin, from its penalty, and from our sinful flesh.

b. These old ways lead to following inferior men and beings rather than our Head, Jesus Christ with the result that any professing believer is spiritually kidnapped, their reward is stolen from them (vs. 18-19). It appears that there were some who were teaching the ceremonial reverence of angels, perhaps similar to that of Roman Catholicism’s praying to and honoring of the saints or of some of the Oriental religions burning of candles to their dead ancestors. Paul warns that even in outward ceremony, regardless of how religious and sincere it might be, to depart from sole allegiance to Christ is spiritually dangerous. Why? Because only in Christ is the nourishment and unity available in which we can grow individually and as a body.

c. That is why our new life in Christ rejects religious regulations that do not come from our faith in Christ (vs. 20-23). What Paul is saying here is not, do what you want, it does not matter. No, he is saying, if you keep the rules regarding the physical and do not have spiritual life, you will remain in bondage spiritually. So why do it?

People sometimes ask me, can a believer remain in a false religion after they are saved? The question is best asked, “Why do it?” People in false religions are enslaved to their flesh. One does not release people from slavery by becoming a slave. One shows them the key to their chains, the way of escape. The true believers who stays in a false religion ends up stunted spiritually because he or she has cut themselves off from the only source of life, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, walking according to the new life that He provided for us through His death, burial, and resurrection.

We need to take this warning as individuals but we also need to heed this warning as a body. What is going to be our priority? Are we going to teach Christ and walk according to the new life He has given us? If we do, then our children are more likely to stay faithful to Christ and we are going to love one another and live in a Christ honoring way. It all begins with rejecting this world’s philosophy, even that of the religious world, and living dead to sin. Will you commit yourself to obeying these commands?

Taking Our Turn at the Plate from Colossians 1:23-2:3 October 4, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Body of Christ, Colossians, Crucifixion, Religion, Sermons, Suffering.
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Taking Our Turn at the Plate
Colossians 1:23-2:3

As we began our study of Colossians, we found that Paul was praying specifically for the believers in Colosse that the Lord would increase their knowledge of His Father’s will. He knew that they must understand their calling in Christ if they are going to live in this world in a way that is pleasing to God.

After his prayer, he then explained in detail the Father’s plan:

1. His Son would create the universe.
2. Sin would corrupt the universe, especially and specifically mankind.
3. But Jesus would reconcile men to Himself through His death on the cross;
4. …then through His resurrection He gives life to His people, the church.
5. Finally, Paul explained that faith in Christ is necessary to entry into the body of Christ. We find in verses 23b that Paul’s life was given to bringing men and women to faith through the gospel of Christ.

That is what Paul is speaking of in verse 24 when he says, “I…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” He means it is time to take his turn at bat (verse 24). You see, Paul wrote this epistle from a prison cell. He was suffering bodily in prison but he did not consider this as unusual. After all, Christ suffered death for our sake. Why should it then be thought unusual for a follower of Christ to also suffer for the body of Christ?

What might be consider unusual is that Paul rejoiced in his physical suffering. He said, “In this prison in suffer but I rejoice.” Was Paul nuts? How can he rejoice in suffering? I think his short answer would be, “My suffering is purposeful.”

Now in this, Paul was also like Christ. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “…Jesus…for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” The point of both Hebrews 12 and of this verse in Colossians is that Christ’s suffering had a purpose and because it had a purpose, there was joy even with suffering.

I. We, like Paul, can also rejoice in physical suffering if it results from a spiritual purpose (1:23-27). There are many possible purposes for suffering. Sometimes it causes us to grow in our faith. That is actually the point of Hebrews 12. Suffering can come because God wants to be glorified. When Jesus was asked about the man born blind, He said this man did not sin nor did his parents’ sin but this blindness is to the glory of God. He then healed them man as a sign that He was the Messiah. There are situations where sin is obviously to blame for suffering and there is suffering that goes beyond any explanation. That was Job’s situation. But Paul’s suffering was different. His suffering was the result of his spiritual purpose.

Have you ever asked yourself this question, what in life is worth dying for? How would you answer that question? If we were to go through the congregation this morning, we would have a limited number of answers. God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, family, country, these are the things that would be mentioned most often. Would you mention the church, the body of Christ, the people for whom Jesus Christ died? Paul would have the church right at the top of his list.

I realize that this is first of all applicable to those of us who are preachers and leaders and teachers. I, as pastor, must be willing to suffer for the sake of God’s people. The deacons also bear that same responsibility. The Sunday School teachers, the nursery workers, the Kid’s Klub leaders on Wednesday night, and the pre-school nursery workers all bear this stewardship, this responsibility in a specific way.

A. Yet, the spiritual purpose of every believer, like Christ’s, should be centered on His people, on His body, on His church (1:24-25a). Let me give you some bibilical reasons. (1) The Great Commission and the promises of the Holy Spirit’s power in witnessing and the presence of God wherever we go are given to all of us for the purpose of building Christ’s church. (2) It is the church that is given the responsibility in the book of Hebrews to pay attention to the faith of fellow believers to see if there is something lacking and a need for help in the lives of another believer. (3) It is the church that is given spiritual gifts for the purpose of edifying and building one another up. So all of us, like Christ should center on His people, on His church.

B. Our method is to fully reveal the mystery of Christ (1:25b-27). This is why the passage we looked at last week is so important. Everyone of us needs to understand what God is doing in this world so that we can do our part in sharing the gospel with the unsaved and in building and encouraging one another in the faith. We need to understand this mystery that Jesus is the divine Creator but that sin has damaged His creation. He came to the world as a man to die for our sin and to give His church, His people life through His resurrection but we can only access forgiveness of sin and eternal life through faith in Christ. This mystery is the gospel of Christ. The riches and the hope of glory that Paul writes about in this epistle is Christ, our Creator and our Lord and Savior. This gospel is a called a mystery because it was not fully revealed until Christ came.

Now you might ask, “How can I do this?” I am not a teacher like Paul. Let me give you a simple plan of action. Tell people you are a Christian. They will expect more of you but they need to know that you are a Christian and that you are not ashamed of being a Christian. They need to be watching you, scrutinizing your life. Secondly, invite them to church, to Sunday School, to Great Night services, to anything that you might think is appropriate for them. Then tell them why you became a Christian. If it was fear of hell that drove you to Christ, tell it. If it was the guilt of sin, tell it. If it was frustration with the emptiness of your life, tell it. Whatever or whoever it was that motivated you to trust Christ, let people know about it. Then tell them the mystery of Christ. Tell them that Jesus came to save them from sin and give them new life through His death and resurrection. Finally, invite them to put their faith in Christ alone.

Is it possible that some will not like it? Absolutely! May there be some unforeseen consequences for you? Yes! But the bringing of people into the family of Christ is the greatest task in the world. It is why Jesus suffered and died, to bring people to himself.

II. Not only is it worth any suffering that we might experience, we can, like Paul, continue despite exhaustion (1:28-29). Paul makes it clear that the life of a believer focused on the Body of Christ is not easy but that its purpose is makes the weariness worth while.

A. Our purpose is the presentation of completed believers (vs. 28b). Let me explain what I mean. A game is complete when the game is won. That is what the word “perfect” here means, complete. In baseball a complete game is when a pitcher goes from start to finish. Paul says that his goal is, and certainly this should be our goal also, that every believer to whom we minister should finish the game. We are not responsible to win the game; that is Christ’s responsibility; we are, however, responsible to finish.

B. Our method is public proclaim Christ through warnings and wise teaching (vs. 28a). Now every believer is responsible for his or her own growth in Christ but we as fellow believers can help them to complete the game. Although only the pitcher can throw to the batter, he has fielders behind him and bench players and coaches, all there to help the pitcher to win the game. In the same way, we are responsible to help. Some things we can do personally, others we can do as a church. Verse 28 describes for us what we as a church should do. We need to warn one another and teach one another of the truth of Jesus Christ. That is the one truth that Satan cannot stand, that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Redeemer of all who trust in Him. We must warn against those who deny this truth and teach the truth of Christ as the Scriptures teach it.

III. This responsibility to spread the gospel and faithfully proclaim the truth of Christ, however, extends beyond the walls of Grace Bible Church and even beyond the Lansing area. We can even struggle hard and should struggle hard for saints unknown to us (2:1-3). Now there are many ways that we can do this. One of the key ways is by sending out missionaries. Paul mentions two specific purposes of such work.

A. Our purposes are brotherly love and full confidence in Christ (2:2-3). If we are a family in Christ, one body, then it is imperative that we promote true brotherly love. That is why we support missionaries who plant churches and baptize believers. That is why we support missionaries who are faithful to teach the truth of Christ because it is that truth that promotes love among the brethren and that gives us confidence as we look forward to our eternal future.

These are not just nice things to have but these are characteristics that result from a full knowledge of the gospel of Christ. Paul was thankful that these things were true of the Colossians and he desired that they would be true of all believers. He knew, however, that brotherly love and a confident faith did not just happen but were rooted and grounded in the truth concerning Jesus Christ.

B. Our method is to come to their aid, to encourage them (2:2a). Again there are various ways to encourage one another but Paul is talking about encouraging people who we do not know and perhaps will never meet in this life. He says, I pray for them, I write to them, if there is anything more that they need, whatever it may be, I will strive, I will struggle, I will make it a priority, to meet that need of encouragement.

As you can see, this is a team effort and everyone one of us is in the game. Are you going to follow the example of Christ and of Paul and give yourself to spreading the gospel and encouraging those who believe in the truth of Christ and helping them to complete their game? Are you going to witness and pray and give and warn and teach or enable others to teach the truth of Christ? We only have one life in which to do these things. Let us give our life to Christ as He would have us to, by giving our life to His Body, to His Church.

Paul’s Example in Colossians for Us as We Pray for Other Believers September 26, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Prayer, Religion, Sermons.
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This prayer was a pastoral prayer. Paul was not the pastor of the Colossian church. He did not know most of the believers in the church. He had never been among them (Colossians 2:1). Yet he thanks God for specific working in their live and prays for them in very specific ways.

I cannot often identify myself closely with Paul but as I begin today as pastor of the Grace Bible Church, I find that… although I know most of you superficially because there has been a lack of opportunity and none of you outside of my family do I know well …I find that Paul’s example serves me well and I trust that you will indulge me copying him. In fact, I hope that, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will join with me in copying Paul.

1. I am thankful for your initial response to the gospel (verses 3-7). I am glad that you are saved. I am thrilled that God has called each of you who are saints and faithful brethren (verse 2) (and if you have trusted Christ, you are both) to be a part of this organism we call the Body of Christ, to be born into this community we call the Family of God.

A. You have responded with a confident (hope) faith (verses 4a, 5-6). It is important to notice that they responded to the truthful word of the gospel of grace. The Colossians had heard the good news of Jesus Christ. They had heard the God had shown grace to humankind through Jesus Christ. The question is not if they would respond. The question is, would they respond in faith or in rejecting Jesus Christ. Those are the only two responses once you have heard the truth. Once you know the good news, you must either believe it totally or on some level reject. Some try to pick and choose what they would like to believe but that is not an alternative. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

I am thankful that you have responded to this truth, that is what faith is, responding to that which you are confident is true. This confidence is described as a hope laid up in heaven. This is important. It may not seem like faith in Christ is worth very much in this world but He is our hope for the future. That is what Paul tells us in verse 27. Christ living in me is my hope in glory. I have no confidence in my flesh, it will die. I have no confidence in my friends and family. They also will die. I have no confidence in my wealth. I cannot take it with me and it is easily lost. It must be hoarded or perhaps invested with risk in order to be kept. I have no confidence in my talents, they will fade. I have no confidence in my legacy. The libraries are full of forgotten legacies. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” “My hope in the Lord, who gave Himself for me; and paid the price for all my sin on Calvary.”

Why am I thankful? Because we share that hope, we share that faith, that confidence in Christ, we are faithful brethren, that is brothers and sisters through faith in Christ.

B. You have responded with love for other believers (verses 4b, 6a, 8). This may seem a strange reason to be thankful but there are a couple of reasons why Paul expressed this as a specific reason for thanksgiving. Paul knew what churches were like that did not love each other. Paul had spent much time trying to eliminate the divisions that had caused such chaos in the Corinthian church. About the time of this letter, we know that Paul was addressing through other letters like Philippians and Ephesians the disunity that often comes into churches. Certainly, a love for the saints by the Colossians was a reason for thanksgiving.

I think though that there is another reason why Paul was thankful for their love for each other. The first fruit and the most important effect of the gospel in the life of a believer is the love it produces in that believer for other believers. Jesus said to His disciples in John 13 that the mutual love between believers would be proof to the world that they were truly His disciples. Colossians 1:6 mentions that the gospel produces fruit and verse 8 indicates that the fruit is their love in the Spirit. Paul teaches in Romans 5:5 that the love of God is poured out into the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. Peter also indicates in 1 Peter 1:22 that love for other believers is directly related to obedience to the gospel of Christ.

Paul heard that these people loved each other and loved other believers and immediately thought, “Yes, these are true believers.” No doubtful statements like he made to the Corinthians when he twice asks, “Are you not carnal?” Are you not behaving like mere men, giving yourselves up to your animal appetites, biting and slashing at each other. That is not the way of true believers in Christ.

When I was a teenager, I helped my uncle out on his hog farm. He had a long farrowing house with room for around twenty sows and their litters. After the little pigs would get to a certain age, I would hold the little pigs for him while he snipped off their tails and then put medicine on them to prevent infection. He said that if you did not do that, they would nip at each others tails and that the wounds would get infected and the piglets would die. You see, that is the only way to stop them, cut off their tails.

But a believer in Christ has the love of God poured out into his heart through the Spirit of God and will restrain himself from nipping at his brother and sister in Christ. Instead he or she will show love to their siblings in Christ. This thrilled Paul to hear because he knew through their love that they were true believer. We need to thrill also when someone shows through their love for other believers the reality of their faith.

2. I am praying for abundance in your lives (verses 9-12). Paul was not just being thankful but he was also praying for these believers who he did not know. He was just asking for the Lord to bless them but to abundantly bless them because they needed the abundant blessing of God on their lives.

A. You need an abundant knowledge of God’s will (verse 9). Abundant blessings are not careers and money and health and family. Those are good to have but a believer in Christ might have to get along without them. A believer in Christ though cannot get along without an abundant knowledge of God’s will.

We are going to talk about this in detail in the weeks to come but I want you to know right know what God’s will is that you need to intimately know. It is found in verses 19-22. It is God’s will that you be reconciled to Him through the death of Christ so that you might be presented blameless before God. That is what you should live for, yearn for, and learn for. That must take priority above all things, to understand fully what it means to be a trophy of His grace, a part of His beautiful bride. God wants more than to save you from hell and take you to heaven, He wants to present you for all eternity as the culmination of His work, the product of the death of His Son.

B. You need a walk worthy of that abundance (verses 10-12). It is good to look forward to such a glorious eternity but God expects us to live that reality now, to live in a manner that fits our eternal destiny. Now how do you do this?

1. You continue your walk in Christ as you began it (verse 10).

A. You are constantly producing good works (verse 10a). Just keep loving your brethren and as your love your brethren, you will begin to produce the joy and the peace and the longsuffering and the humility and all the other things that a walk with God should produce, yea, must produce. You are fruitful.

B. You are constantly responding to the knowledge of God’s will (verse 10b). The knowledge of God’s will is like combustion in a gasoline engine. If you put the right mix of gasoline and air and spark in that engine, it will drive that engine and the more you increase that mix the faster that engine is driven and the faster the vehicle will drive. Knowing God’s eternal purposes, God’s will, will drive you to love other believers and experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life and the more that knowledge increases, the more your love for your brethren will increase. The formula is actually simple but too many of us try to push the car to higher speeds without any combustion in the engine. It just will not work. The best you can do to reach high speeds is push the car off a cliff but that really is not the same as driving a car.

2. You continue your walk in Christ through strength from God, especially during the difficult days (verse 11). There are days when even love for your brethren in Christ taxes your spiritual strength. There are days when our knowledge of God’s will and our wonderful, future in Christ do not move us. There are days when our circumstances and the people around us seem unbearable and we want to strike out at them. On those days, we need God’s power. Paul understood that these people were no better than the factions in Corinth or the ladies in Philippi who could not get along. He knew that they needed help and that help can only come from God.

3. You continue your walk in Christ confidently thankful in the knowledge that your hope is made certain by the Father (verse 12). How do I know that Christ will strengthen me in my walk? How do I know that a more intimate knowledge of God’s purposes will cause me to produce the fruits of love and patience and longsuffering with joy? How can I be confident that God will answer my prayer and cause you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and in the love for your brethren and in the power of His might? Because that is His plan and has always been His plan.

God never intended for believers, as individuals or as a body to struggle in mediocrity. He wants us in our spiritual passing gear. That is how we should pray for each other, that these three elements: knowledge, love, and power. The power is available, the knowledge is to be gained, and the love is to be practiced. Let us become together a church whose prayer requests daily go beyond the common needs that we have and ask God to make us a people worthy of His will.

Jesus the Creator October 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Creation, Hebrews, Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although it is never directly stated in the Old Testament, the New makes it clear that Jesus was and is the creator. The verses below mention this. Naturally, one should look at the context to make sure that I am not just pulling proof texts out to prove my position but that this is actually what the text says.

John 1:3, 10: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Eph 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

Col 1:16-17 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. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Heb 1:2-3 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Heb 1:10 And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

Heb 3:3-4 For this One [the context is speaking of Jesus] has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

Re 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Look at Hierapolis now August 4, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Archaeology, Colossians, Laodicea, Seven Churches of Revelation, Turkey.
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This city is mentioned in the book of Colossians which we are now studying in Sunday School. It was near Colossee and Laodicea. This was written by an architectural student in Istanbul.