Today we leave the darkness of the Roman Catholic Church and turn to the light and truth found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul was in prison when he wrote this. He had never been to Colossae, a city in what is now Turkey. However, the person who started the church, Epaphras, was concerned and went to Paul for help. Apparently, the young church was being tempted by cultural pressures to turn away from Jesus. Gee, that’s sounds familiar! Don’t Christians today face temptations from cultural pressures? Maybe we can learn something from this letter.
Colossians Chapter 1
Paul begins his letter with a greeting introducing himself and a prayer with praise for their faithfulness.
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
2 We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
7 You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. 8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.Colossians 1:1-14 NLT
Note the last 2 sentences here: “He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Let’s dig into some of these words…
Inheritance — we know what that is. It’s what’s given to us usually when when a parent or family member dies. It’s a gift — usually never earned.
Rescued — we were trapped in a world of sin and darkness and Jesus took us out of it and gave us a home in His Kingdom.
Purchased — Jesus paid the price for our slavery to sin. He set us free and forgave us!
Christ Is Supreme
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.Colossians 1:15-23 NLT
So, when we believe that Jesus died on the cross, paying the price for OUR sins, we are then in “His own presence,…holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” He wiped us clean!
Here comes the “but”! “You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.”
That reminded me of a line in the movie God’s Not Dead 2…
“I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God.”God’s Not Dead 2, Pure Flix
That, my friends, is what it means to stand firm on the truth. Unwavering. In the last part of chapter 1, Paul tells them what he’s been through…
24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.Colossians 1:24-29 NLT
Cultural pressures were tempting them to stray away from Jesus. We have the same problem still today! How many times do we refuse to do what Jesus says we should do, only because the world around us says to do something different?
When choosing how to live out their faith, many of the Colossian believers wanted to place Jesus next to the secular values they were comfortable with as another source of authority, instead of making Jesus the only source of authority in their lives.
For many of you, the Catholic church may be all you know as an authority on religion. If that’s the case, then you need to read the eye-opening series that I just wrote on Where the Roman Catholic Church Went Wrong. What Constantine did in the 300s is what is happening in today’s church. They are conforming to culture.
Choosing to follow Jesus alone is a big decision. Giving over authority of your life to Jesus is a big decision. It’s not like deciding what’s for dinner — to cook or get take out. It’s a life-changing decision.
But there’s Good News:
The decision to follow Jesus is difficult, and costly, but it bears fruit — Salvation!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!