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Colossians
Colossians 1:19-29
Colossians 2:6-23
Colossians 3:5-25
Colossians 4:2-18

 

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Colossians 1:19-29

 

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovabeable in his sight:  if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of the mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

 

Jesus Christ Bore Full Responsibility For His Fallen Creation

 

“We are in Colossians, we had come as far as verse 17, beginning in verse 14, speaking of Christ it says, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:  who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by him, and for him:  and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (verses 14-17)  We had come that far [actually, you had come through verse 18, but that’s ok].  Paul addressing these Colossians, and this letter will go to Laodicea too.  Ah, culturally they were in a place where all kinds of spiritual beliefs would wash over them.  There was Arianism, there was Gnosticism, and the Gnosticism spoke to them and said that the material world was evil, that material things were evil.  So he’s going to say ‘No, he’s the Creator, the material world exists because of him.’  They, the Gnostics believe that there were eons, there were levels of spiritual beings between God and man, and that Jesus was one of those spiritual beings, you know, like the ascended masters and all this, you know, nutsy stuff today.  [See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/What%20is%20Arianism.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/whyorthodoxy.html]    And he’s going to say, ‘No, no, Christ is head over all of that material world.’  So he’s developing, saying ‘That Christ is eternal, Christ is God, Christ is Creator, Christ is sustainer,’  That’s how far we’ve come, ‘that he created, and now sustains, through him all things consist.’  We went through that, I encourage you to get the tape if you weren’t here last week, just the fact that the universe exists because Christ holds it together, the fact that there’s more power needed to hold it together than there is to watch it fly apart in a nuclear explosion.  And we came to the point where we said, ‘OK, everything is held together, everything consists because of him, he’s not just a Creator, but he’s a Sustainer.’  What does that mean when we think about the knuckles on the fist of the Roman soldiers that beat his face, as he held them together?  What does that mean when the spit flew in his face and he held that in material existence?  What did it mean when the thorns were piercing through his brow and he was holding them together?  What did it mean when the nails that went through his wrists where held together by the very one being crucified, to bear all of the pain, and the nerve endings in his own body held together.  That he came and created, and  when the fall of man entered into the creation, then he came and subjected himself to fallen man, bearing full responsibility, so that in his redemption, in his payment, as Creator, as Redeemer, as Sustainer, then he is justified that any could come to him and ask forgiveness.  He has completely bore the responsibility and paid for the sin of mankind, instead of blowing the whole thing up and going with Plan-B.  He actually came and submitted himself, as it were, to it, and bore the fall of it, the sin and the wickedness and the hatred, as he sustained it, he bore it.  Who can understand, who can go there?  Holy ground.  Very remarkable.

 

Christ Is Head Of The Church, Body of Christ

 

What Kills Churches?

 

Then Paul says, well he’s God, he’s Creator, he’s Sustainer, and because of that, verse 18, that’s where we’ve come, “And he is the head of the body, the church:  who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  Now, in the language here he makes this emphatic.  “He”, that’s emphatic, ‘he, himself, and no one else,’ that’s the idea, ‘He himself is the head of the body, which is the church.’  Now what he’s going to tell us is that he is the head of the old creation, and he is the head of the new creation.  He’s the head of the physical creation, he’s the head of the spiritual creation, which is the church, the body of believers.  [Comment:  He’s also the head of the creation of all things unseen, he created all the holy angels, all angelic beings, including all the angels that fell, rebelled with Lucifer, who became Satan.  As the Creator of the angelic realm, these verses, especially verse 16 disprove the Arian heresy which says Jesus is Michael the archangel, brother of Lucifer.]  And what an important thing for us to realize, and Paul is encouraging these Colossians not to be drawn aside to these other doctrines, saying, ‘No, Christ is the head of the Church, and every thing that is needed is in him.  There isn’t anything outside of him that anyone would ever need to seek, that’s a believer.’  And I think, you know, that’s when death enters a church system, and it seems like a no-brainer, when it’s cut off from the head.  I remember my uncle in New Jersey used to, when he used to cut off the heads of his chickens, and I was a kid, so I enjoyed that kind of thing once in a while [laughter], was kind of a wild experience.  It’s almost like they knew he was coming for them, because they’d all start screaming and jumping around, you know, ‘Oh no, he’s got that look on his face, he’s got the knife,’ or something.  But he would put them upside down and had this big funnel, the head would come through the bottom, and then he’d just go like that, you know.  Imagine that, just imagine that.  And of course then they’d flop out of the thing and run around for a little bit, without their heads.  Now they looked alive.  But I knew they weren’t.  They didn’t have a head.  [laughter]  There was still momentum, they ran for awhile and flopped around, and all sense of how to fly and how to move was gone, but they were in motion.  And a lot of the Church is like that, a synod’s running it, or a board’s running it, human energy is running it.  How much of the church, sadly, goes to Madison Avenue and asks how to organize things, bringing in Corporate heads, asking how to fine-tune the Church, instead of the pastors and the elders genuinely seeking the Lord, being on their knees, ‘Lord, it’s your Church, your flock, we’re under-shepherds, give us direction, speak to our hearts, let us resonate, Lord, with your heart in these things and days, with your plans.’  You can remember to pray always for myself, the pastors and the elders here, because there is always the danger of “the routine”, you know.  We have been serving together for a long time, some of us twenty years.  And again, Jesus will speak to this church of Laodicea within thirty years of this Epistle, and say, ‘Hey, you guys, think you’ve got it going on, you’re blind, poor, miserable, wretched and naked.  I wish you were hot, or cold, but you’re cooling, lukewarm.’  That’s quite an indictment.  And again, considering we’ve been here twenty years, that’s a letter Jesus could write to us ten years from now.  So, certainly we don’t want to be that.  But don’t just walk away saying, ‘That’s a bummer, hope our pastors don’t blow it, we’ll all be in trouble.’  No, no, look, it says here, it says “he is the head of the body, the church:  who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  So, he’s not just the head in our lives, he’s the head in your lives too.  Because even if we [the pastors there] seek the Lord, and you don’t, what good is that?  Imagine a shepherd with a whole flock of sheep that are dead.  ‘OK guys, let’s go this way.’  You see them all just laying there, flies buzzing around them.  I mean, look, it’s important for you guys not to be pew-potatoes too.  You guys have to hear from the Holy Spirit, you guys have to understand the time is short, the harvest is great, the labourers are few, and say ‘Lord, I want to spend myself, this life you’ve given me.  I want to spend it for those things that will endure, that will last into eternity.  So give me wisdom, Lord, show me, who you’ve made me, what you’ve given me, and Lord you’re able to redeem the past, even the time I’ve wasted, Lord.  Even sitting here this evening, Lord, I can make a fresh commitment, if my enabling is from you, you can restore the years that the locust have eaten away.  Lord I remember a time when I was completely on fire for you, and I loved Jesus and I witnessed to people all the time, and I was in the Bible all the time, and Lord I’ve grown cold.  But I know, Lord, you’re able, you’re a Creator, you’re a Sustainer, you’re the head of the Church, you’re able to take my life this evening and give me a fresh start, and rekindle the fire that’s in my heart.’  Again, not breaking a bruised reed, not quenching a smoking flax, but to take that smoking flax, and to blow life back into it, and bring it back to flame with his Holy Spirit, how we desire that.  How many times, all of us, over the years, have had to go back to him and say, ‘Lord, restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.’  But how beautiful it is that we can go right to him to do that.  You don’t have to call, you know, somebody said last week when we were down in the front talking to people, and they said, ‘See you next week Father,’ [he’s laughing].  Father Joe, with a Hawaiian shirt, I kind of…You know, it says when Jesus died on the cross, that the veil was torn from top to bottom, 80-foot high, from top to bottom, God tore that veil, so that every man can go to God.  And you don’t need Billy Graham or the pope or me or Mary or anybody in the mix, he wants to hear from you.  He died for you.  You’re his children.  And he’s the head of the Church [Body of Christ], walking in the midst of the Lampstands in the Book of Revelation, and how we should pray for that. 

 

Christ Is The Firstborn ‘Out From Among The Dead’

 

It says “he is the head of the body, the church:  who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  The prototokos, the firstborn from the dead, and it’s very interesting, it’s the firstborn out from among the dead, and it’s written in the sense that he is leading a new file, a new rank-and-file.  It’s a very interesting idea.  See, because the Jews believe in a resurrection.  You read about it in Job, you read about it in Daniel 12, you read about it in a number of places in the Old Testament.  But the Jews believe in a general resurrection, they believe that both the wicked and the righteous will all be raised together in a general resurrection.  [Comment: They get that from Ezekiel 37:1-14, which is the famous Valley of Dry Bones prophecy.  When taken literally, this prophecy predicts a huge general resurrection where all of the unsaved dead of Israel, both good and bad, are resurrected back to mortal life and given their chance for salvation (see and read verses 13-14).  Some denominations feel the Jews are not far from being totally correct on this one.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm for a look at some of these other interpretations.]  Remember Jesus is coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, and Peter, James and John are kind of walking behind him going, ‘Wow!  Did you see that!?  Imagine if we’d been awake, we’d have seen the whole thing.’  But they’re following him down from the Mount of Transfiguration, and Jesus says, ‘Don’t say anything to anybody until the Son of man is risen from the dead,’ and then it tells us in a note, they began to reason with one another what this rising from the dead should mean.  And the thing you don’t see there is that Jesus says ‘until the Son of man be risen out from among the dead.’  And that becomes a teaching in the New Testament, of a resurrection out from among the dead.  The New Testament is where it is developed that there is the resurrection of the just, and the resurrection of the unjust [this is also shown in Daniel 12:1-3, as well as in John 5:28-29, mirror image prophecies], there is a first resurrection and a second resurrection, that’s not chronological, it’s categories [it’s also chronological].  The first resurrection is a resurrection out from among the dead.  Jesus was the firstfruits of those who slept.  So in this he is the one who has begun this new file as it were, by rising out from among the dead.  Well I don’t know what to do with those who were raised in Matthew 27, when I see Matthew I’ll say, ‘You kept good records, you were a tax collector, you wrote that and said ‘Bye, thanks.’  About those who were raised in the Old City, came out from the graves after Christ was risen from the dead.  Were they raised temporarily, like Lazarus, just to freak people out?  It doesn’t tell us what happened there.  Lazarus was raised and died again, he wasn’t raised like Christ.  Widow of Nain’s son, raised and died again, Jairus’ daughter, raised and died again.  But Jesus started a new file of those who are raised out from among the dead and never die.  Now, at the Rapture of the Church, those who are in their graves will rise first, and we which are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds, that’s a resurrection out from among the dead.  [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm]  The two prophets outside of Jerusalem, Revelation chapter 11, they don’t die again, they’re raised after being dead for three days, and then they ascend, that’s part [the very first part] of the first resurrection, they’re raised out from among the dead.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm ] The Old Testament saints, raised after Christ returns, to inherit the Kingdom, raised out from among the dead, those who died in faith.  And then ultimately at the end of Millennium, those who are alive then, when the heavens and earth flee away, and the believers are transformed into, corruption putting on incorruption, those that are saved during the Millennium, transformed, and become part of the first resurrection.  But then it says, after heaven and earth flee away, the sea gives up the dead, all existence gives up the dead [i.e. “the unsaved dead”], and they’re gathered before Christ, and the books are opened, and they’re judged out of the things that are written in the books, that great white throne is a judgment unto damnation, and that is the second resurrection.  [Comment:  Different parts of the Body of Christ have differing beliefs about the second resurrection.  To read some of these, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]  The first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead, the second resurrection is the resurrection of the dead. 

 

Christ Has Reconciled Us, Unblameable, Unreproveable In His Sight

 

So here it says that Christ, you know, he’s the one that’s given us this hope, he’s God, he’s Creator, he’s Sustainer.  He’s the head of the Church, which is a new creation, a mystical body, and he is the beginning of that, the prototokos, he is the firstborn from among the dead, “that in all things he might have the preeminence.  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” (verses 18b-19)  And Paul uses a word that the Gnostics use for “fulness”, you know, slamming into this heresy in this day, that “fulness” is not what they say it is, ‘that it pleased God that all fulness should dwell in Christ.’  “And having made peace through the blood of the cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (verse 20)  Now over in verse 14, it says “we have redemption through his blood.”  Now here it’s saying ‘now we have peace through his blood, having made peace through the blood of his cross, “by him to reconcile all things unto himself;” reconcile is to bring back into the right relationship, “to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”  Because it tells us earlier, he created things visible and things invisible, and so forth.  “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (verse 21)  “hath he reconciled,” now I remember that, when I was enemies, I don’t know about you guys, before I was saved I loved to argue with Christians.  There probably wasn’t anything I enjoyed more than getting a Christian mad that was trying to witness to me.  Because I was under conviction, and any Christian who tried to witness to me was rubbing me the wrong way.  And I got a little bit of enjoyment out of aggravating maybe, you know.  So I understand when somebody does that to me.  But, “you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (verses 21-22)  Now, this is as good as it gets, “to present you”, that’s why he’s done all this, this is why God, the Creator, the Sustainer, the head of the Church, the one in whom all the fulness of God [the Father] dwells, he’s come and died and shed his blood, that in the death of his body, in the body of his flesh, through death, the reason for all of that, “to present you holy.”  Like the way that sounds?  Holy.  Do you get up in the morning and look in the mirror and think that way?  You probably get up in the morning and look in the mirror, your hair’s sticking up, and say ‘Holy cow, look at that.’  Just get the cow off of there, you know.  Holy Joe, I like the way that sounds.  Holy Frank, holy Jerry.  “To present us holy,” not glowing in the dark, not floating off the ground, separate, belonging to him.  Because we are in-Christ, we have to be holy.  Again, holiness, is simply this, there are two things that exist, in existence, that which is God, and that which is not God.  That’s all that exists, the Creator, and the creation.  That’s all that exists.  The Creator is God, the creation is Satan, angels, the universe, time, space, you and I, people.  That makes him separate.  The Creator is separate from his creation, God is separate from that which is not God, he is holy.  His love is holy, his grace is holy, the things that he extends to us are holy, they’re not measured on any barometer, we receive them by faith.  But because you and I are in Christ, now he will present us holy, now unto heaven he will present us faultless before his throne with exceeding joy, Jude says.  Holiness for you and I right now, it is a direction, it is toward him, practically. Being changed, from glory to glory, daily, more of our life given to him, not yet perfect, but growing in that direction.  That’s holiness for you and I in our walk.  Judicially, as far as the Father is concerned, we’re already holy.  He looks down and he sees us in-Christ, and all of that holiness already ascribed to us. [Comment:  He’s talking about “practical” sanctification.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/1st%20Corinthians.htm]  Though he died to present you holy, ok, “unblameable” I like that.  “unblameable” that means unaccused, we’re free from charges, there’s nothing that anybody can point to us and accuse us of.  So husbands, if you argue with your wife, just tell her ‘Look, read Colossians, I’m unblameable.’ [laughter]  I’m just kidding, just kidding.  “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.”  A beautiful phrase here, “in his sight”, which means “he looks down into us with pleasure.”  Imagine that.  You know, you wrestle with stuff today, you’re mad at somebody, ‘I’d just like to strangle this guy,’ and I’m in traffic, ‘Can’t believe he pulled the front of his car out in the street, I’d just like to chop that off, I wish I had a big truck with a giant hacker on the side, just teach him…’  In the mean time, because of what Christ has accomplished, God looks down into us with pleasure.  That’s what that word “in his sight” means.  ‘He wants to present us holy, unblameable, unreproveable, looking down into us with joy.’  You got to receive that by faith or you ain’t going to get it at all.  You gotta step out of the boat and walk on the water.  Because there is no logic to that.  It is divine.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News.  Here we are ‘holy, unblameable, unreproveable, pleasing the Father as he looks down into us.’  Let’s just get Raptured right now, where are we going from here?  ‘OK, Joe, I knew this would get worse.  That’s it, I knew there was a hitch somewhere.’ [i.e. there’s a condition for all this.  We have to be progressing in the direction of holiness, as he said, and according to what Paul says here, we have to continue in faith.]  “If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel,” the class condition [grammatically] is “since you continue.”  God gave us the New Testament wisely in the languages that would convey the ideas, and in the Greek there’s those three “if’s” there’s “if” and it is, which is basically the word “since.”  There’s “if” and it’s the kind of “if” we have, “if might be, if might be not.”  And then there’s “if” and it ain’t, “or if’n it’s not.”  This one is “if” and it is, it’s “since.”  Now let’s look at it again, ‘in the body of his flesh, through his death, to present you holy, unblameable, unreproveable in his sight, since you continue in the faith grounded and settled,’  That’s through Christ, “settled, strengthened” is the idea, “and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (verse 23)  So, encouraging the church not to move away from the incredible hope that they have in Christ, he says,

 

Do You Rejoice In Your Suffering For Other Christians?

 

“who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” (verse 24)  Paul, speaking of himself.  Now I’m not there.  Pray for me.  Are you there?  Do you rejoice in your suffering for other Christians?  I don’t even rejoice in my sufferings for my wife sometimes when she says ‘Would you take the trash out please?’  ‘Yes!  This is wonderful, I get to do this for my wife.’  Do you rejoice in your sufferings for others?  “and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”  Now look, this is not speaking of propitiation, there was no value in Paul’s suffering that needed to finish the suffering that Christ did on the cross that paid for sin.  We know that, because Jesus said ‘Tutelisti, “it’s finished, paid in full,” it was done there.  This is the word thelypsis and it’s never used anywhere in the New Testament in regards to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.  This word means “to be under pressure,” it means “to be troubled,” it means “to be distressed.”  And what Paul is saying is, ‘You know, I rejoice in my sufferings for you, that I may be able to fill up that which is behind the afflictions of Christ, Christ said ‘If they hated me, they’re going to hate you.  If they persecuted me they’re going to persecute you.’’  That doesn’t pay for sin because we’re persecuted for righteousness sake.  It does tell us in Peter’s Epistle that when that’s happening, and that when we’re giving testimony under difficult conditions, “the Spirit of glory rests upon us,” which is a remarkable idea.  Paul says, ‘I’m rejoicing that I have opportunity for the cause of Christ to put up with distress and difficulty for his Body’s sake, which is the Church.’  Now he’s going into great detail to talk about the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, and the love that Christ has for his people.  Because he’s going to present them holy, unblameable, unreproveable.  That the person who may bug you in the Body of Christ is somebody that God’s looking down into with joy, approving of.  And Paul knew that only too well.  You know the old Baravian cry, “Let the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his sufferings.”  As those first young Baravian men were headed off to a leper colony, their parents and some other people standing on the shore crying to them as they left on the boat, saying ‘If you go there, and you minister to those lepers and get contaminated, you’ll never be able to come back.’  And their cry back was “Let that Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his sufferings.”  In other words, look around you, this is why he died, it says it here, for us.  The payment was made in his flesh, for the people that are sitting around you.  And Paul said ‘I rejoice that I get to fill up some of the sufferings of Christ for the Body’s sake, for the Church, for the Bride.’  You know, I appreciate it when I travel somewhere, when the guys in the office call my wife and say “Is everything OK?”  Because, you know, when you go away, the hot-water heater blows up, the dog swallows a stick of dynamite, you know, something strange always happens, you know, lightning strikes the house.  So I really appreciate it when I’m somewhere if the guys take care of my bride.  And Paul says ‘I rejoice when I get to do this, to care for the Bride…’ 

 

What Is The Mystery Of The Ages?

 

“Wherefore I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;” (verse 25), in the sense of ‘to fully preach the Word of God.’  Paul says, ‘I am made a servant, according to the dispensation which God has given to me,’  in Galatians he says he was chosen from birth, he understood that God has always had his hand on him, that had come to light in his life and he realized that God has chosen him to preach the fulness of the Word of God, even the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:” (verse 26)  So, it’s a mystery, he’s using this terminology because of the Gnostics and all of the soup-pot of spiritual nonsense that was around Colossi, and much of it around us today, to say to them, ‘No, there’s a mystery, but it’s not a mystery kept from you, it’s a mystery that’s revealed to those that are initiated, to those that are brought into the fraternity of God, to the family of God, to the home of God, the Bride of Christ has been initiated into these things.’  So he’s going to say, even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:” now he’s going to tell us what it is, “to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (verse 27)  He’s the mystery, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  You have to back all the way up and take the running start to this, ‘The one whom by all things were created, the one who pre-existed before anything that existed was, the one who rules over things visible and invisible, because he’s created all those things, and all those things were created by him, all of those things were created for him, the one by whom everything consists, visible and invisible, angels and demons and this world, material and spiritual realms, other dimensions, he causes all of that to hold together, to consist, he’s the Creator, he’s the Sustainer, he’s the head of the Church,’ and Paul says, and the mystery of the ages is that he lives in you.’  I think that it was humbling that he was born in a stable, that he came into a manger [literally, a stone feeding trough], to some dark, dirty surroundings.  But that ain’t nothing, compared to the fact that he moved into this [pointing to his body, chest]…that his very Spirit, again, dwells in us (cf. John 14).  We sit alone, lift our head, and say ‘Abba, Father, Dad, Abba,’ how important, how beautiful, Christ in you, the hope of glory.  And that is all the enabling we need.  I tell you, and I still think ‘Why me?’  I look back to my graduating class, when I graduated from high school, 1968, and believe it or not I can still remember back that far.  I don’t know how long-lived that will be, but right now I can think back that far.  And I think there’s at least one of my fellow-graduates in my class that I’ve heard of that’s saved.  But I think, ‘Why me?  Why me?’  I mean, there was this one kid who was a goody-two-shoes then, I mean, we were crazy, and he had a briefcase and Cross Pen, that speaks of spiritual things.  He never did anything wrong.  He’s the nicest guy in the world.  In fact, I remember one time in the English class---don’t get any ideas, I was not saved yet---one time in English class we had this wonderful professor, he was brilliant, but was, you know.  And somebody took a board eraser and heaved it at him and hit him in the back.  I mean, you could just drive him crazy.  And he turned around and said ‘Who did that!?’  And the whole class yelled this kid’s name.  [laughter]  Just say “Jones”, I’ll protect the name of the innocent.  ‘Jones, did you do that?  Did you do that?’  And [Jones] he couldn’t see, he had these real thick glasses, you know, just one of those, and the kid sitting behind him said ‘YEAH’ (in this deep voice). He answered for him.  He said, ‘That’s it!  You get out of here,’ he got suspended, he was crying [laughter].  Hey, that was 11th grade, he shouldn’t have been crying then.  He needed to grow up.  [laughter]  It was before I was saved, but God was obviously teaching him a lesson [being facetious of course].  Why me?  Here I am.  Why me, Lord?  It’s not fate, like I was walking down the street one day and God dropped some salvation out of heaven and I just happened to walk under it and it hit me, if the guy in back of me would have walked faster it would have hit him.  No, it says that he’s chosen us.  ‘Of everybody you had to pick from, you chose me?’  He chose you, you’re sitting here this evening.  ‘Well I’m not saved.’  Well get saved tonight.  ‘What if I’m not chosen?’  Well you won’t get saved tonight.  ‘Well that’s not fair.’  Then get saved tonight,  [laughter] then you will be chosen.  I don’t know how that works.  I was a Hippie taking drugs and got saved.  You don’t want to bet your eternity on me, just trust me though, the Bible says you can get saved tonight, you can give your life to the One tonight.  You know, the world is full of cruel masters, isn’t it?  Drugs are a cruel master, and they take your life.  Alcohol is a cruel master, it takes your life.  Pornography and sex [wrong sex], a cruel master, never satisfied, takes life.  Gambling, power.  The pursuit of life is finding the right Master.  When you find the One who stooped down an unimaginable distance, made an incredible journey, the Creator, down into the pool of humanity to be brutalized, to sustain the world while it scourged him and crucified him, and to take the sin of the world upon himself, and then to have the Father’s wrath fired down upon all of that sin on him, to satisfy the Father’s wrath towards all of our sin, so that he could present us, holy, unblameable, unreproveable, looking down into us with joy---that’s the kind of Master you’re looking for, a Master who doesn’t take life, a Master who gives life.  Christ in you, the hope of glory, the mystery of the ages, remarkable.  “whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:”---so there’s preaching for the lost, teaching for the saved---“whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” (verses 28-29)  So, the cooperation of Paul, ‘Yes, it’s his grace, it’s his calling, it’s his dispensation that I should do this, and yet I’m agonizing, I’m striving to be in step with him according to his working which worketh in me mightily.

 

Colossians 2:1-6

 

“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words, for though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him…” (Colossians 2:1-6) 

 

“which worketh in me mightily.  For I would that ye know what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;”  Paul had never been to Laodicea, evidently he hadn’t been at this point to Colossi.  And he says ‘I’m labouring for you, longing for you,’ “that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”  You know, Paul is saying this, you have to understand, here’s a man who grew up religious, who was zealous.  We know from historical writings that Gamalial said he couldn’t keep Saul of Tarsus in books, he couldn’t provide enough reading material for him.  That in the school of the Pharisees in Jerusalem this young man had come from Tarsus and had excelled above his equals.  He was zealous.  He was filled with fire in fleshly energy, for the Law of Moses and for the Old Testament.  And when this new sect began called Christianity, he persecuted the Church, he hated it.  And when Steven was stoned, he stood there and he gave his consent.  Evidently he cast his vote, he was a member of the Sanhedrin.  Had he seen Christ crucified?  Had he been there when Christ was brought before the Counsel when Caiaphas was condemning him and challenging him?  He cast his vote, and they’re all gnashing their teeth because of the things that Steven said.  We know they went so deep into Saul’s heart, because many of the things he would preach after that come right out of Acts chapter 7 of the things that Steven said.  He was [later] in so much agreement with it.  In fact, when God appears to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, he [Jesus] says ‘Why are you kicking against the conviction, Saul?  Why are you fighting this loosing battle?’  And God saved him, and forgave him, and sent him to the nations to preach the love of God.  And Saul of Tarsus, Paul would say, he’s taken me, and he’s held me up to be an example of those who should hereafter believe on the grace of God.  Paul says, ‘That if he could save me, he could save anybody, because I was angry at Christianity, I hated Jesus Christ, I killed Christians, I destroyed Christian families, I did everything I could to stop any missionary endeavor of Christ being shared with the world, and I caused men and women at the point of a sword to blaspheme the name of Jesus.’  And he says, ‘And he saved me, he cleansed me, he gave me life, he set me free, he took the sword out of my hand and out of my heart.’  And he said, ‘I wish you could know how I travail over you, I labour over you, because now I know these other teachings are surrounding you, you’re listening to this other stuff.’   And he says, ‘I wish you’d know what great conflict or labour or fear or care I have for you and for them at Laodicea,’ “and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;” you know, he wishes he could be there to talk to them face to face. 

 

God Wants Believers To Be ‘Knit Together In Love’

 

“that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” (verse 2)  OK, first of all, that our hearts should be encouraged, being knit together in love, something that should be happening in the Body of Christ, knit together in love.  It’s not knit together in agreement, it’s not knit together because we all agree football is the greatest sport there is [Pastor Joe just likes to see grown men brutalizing each other], or fishing, or field hockey, knit together in love, because love is the thing that covers a multitude of sins.  What a wonderful thing it is, as he gathered us from the hedges and the byways, and he gathered us in, and he puts the solitary in flocks and he’s given us a family.  You know, I hear the talk of war, and I see everything that’s going on in the news, and one of the consolations I have in the middle of these days is, you know---is there going to be an anthrax attack, is there going to be a dirty bomb, is there going to be a nuke that goes off?---one of the consolations in all of that for me is that whatever comes, I’m going to get to go through it with you.  I can’t imagine being alone.  I can’t imagine being without God’s Word, I can’t imagine being without the Holy Spirit, I can’t imagine being without the Body of Christ in these days.  And we should then be encouraged, as the Body builds itself up in love.  That’s something that should take place.  Now look, Paul looks at that, because Paul’s willing to make any sacrifice for the Bride of Christ.  And we should be willing to do the same.  The problem is, the Body of Christ, Jesus said ‘Men will know that you are my disciples by the love you have one for another,’ that also creates an environment where wolves can come in, where other people can come in and take advantage of the Body of Christ, because here’s a place where we want to come and be open and be vulnerable.  And Paul’s going to talk about that as he goes on in this chapter, he’s going to give three warnings in verse 8, in verse 16, and verse 18, and in all three places he’s going to say ‘let no man do this to you.’  He says the Body is a place where we should be built up, in love.  “and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom [goes back to Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (verses 2b-3) Paul again slashing at the Gnostics.  He’s saying ‘Everything there is of wisdom and knowledge is hid in Christ.’  Very important.  It’s not hid in Christ from us, it’s hid in Christ for us.  Not hid in Christ from us.  We think that sometimes, don’t we?  ‘OK Lord, I want to know your will, I have to do this, I gotta fast for five days,’ and it’s like you’re playing clue with God or something, ‘You’re dropping a hint here,’ no, no, no, no, these treasures are hid in Christ for us, not hid in Christ from us.  God willing, longing, to have us experience the fulness of his blessing, of his assurance, of his care, of his love.  Paul’s saying to just look anywhere else is futile.

 

Don’t Let Anyone Beguile You

 

“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” (verse 4) And he’s going to give, and we won’t get to those this week, these three warnings.  “Beguile” means “to reason alongside.”  Very important as we move on, because he’s going to talk about legalism, he’s going to talk about Gnosticism, he’s going to talk about Holy Days and Sabbath days and all of these other things, that he says ‘I’m worried that someone might beguile you,’ in another place he says, ‘from the simplicity in Christ.’  Here he says “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”  And that word means “to reason alongside.”  So someone says to you ‘Oh yea, yea, sure, Jesus, yea, yea, of course.  But you know it’s Jesus and my book, which you can get for $14.95, on spiritual warfare, Jesus and my tapes, which you can get for $60, on what’s really going to happen in the last days, Jesus and penance, you’ve gotta crawl on your knees to a statue, Jesus and Mary, Jesus and triple tithe Sunday, we’re going to count to see if your money’s there, [chuckles], Jesus and polyester [laughter], Jesus and not taking the Bible so literal,’ I mean, we have the Jesus Seminar, professor Funk.  I don’t know who wants Funky theology, but professor Funk and the Jesus Seminar, he’s decided what things Jesus really said, and what things Jesus didn’t say, so it’s ‘Jesus, but of course, our higher learning, our higher criticism.’  You know, I always think, letting somebody named Funk determine your theology is like letting somebody named Leach into the houses of the rich and famous, I don’t know.  We have everything in Christ.  “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” That he reason alongside of the central thing, that he beguile you away from the comfort and assurance and riches and treasures and everything he’s just gone through that we have in Christ. 

 

Paul Takes Joy In Their Order

 

“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.” (verse 5)  I hope you guys appreciate the order that we have here.  Ah, I am Pentecostal, watch me drive sometime ( J ), you’ll see that.  Look, I believe the gifts are for today, I don’t mean to stumble anybody, I pray in tongues, I believe the gifts are for today.  People say to me, ‘Well you’re grieving the Spirit there, how come you don’t have people prophesying using tongues in services?’  You know, with this many people in one building, it would be a sideshow.  Every screwball for a hundred miles would be here, who wants an audience this big.  [To see what the Calvary Chapels believe about speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit, which is very balanced Biblically, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor12-14.htm.]  And if you’re offended because you don’t get to pray in church in tongues for half an hour [in public, in front of a huge audience, displaying your more than likely faked speaking in tongues], then you must not be praying the other six days, twenty-three and a half hours during the week, before the Lord in tongues.  There’s to be order here.  We want to worship together.  You know, if the band’s up here leading worship and all of a sudden somebody in the band decides they want to play another song while everybody else is playing ‘I love you Lord’ we got a problem.  Order, “let all things be done decently and in order,” it’s important to me.  Look, they gathered in Solomon’s Portico in the Book of Acts, and listened to the apostle’s doctrine.  That’s what we want to do here, the teaching of the Word.  When we do Communion, there’s a time when we ask people to pray or to stand if they want healing, you know, we want those times.  You know, it is a sensitive task to open a believer’s meeting, in a church this size [multiple thousands of believers meet there], and basically say, ‘Hey look, if you want to gather on Friday nights, this will be a time when we will make opportunity for the prophecy and the gift of tongues,’ but then somebody’s got to stand there with a few of the elders and govern all of that.  I just don’t have the time right now, I’m not opposed to that.  But, you know, order, I think that’s important.  You know, the phones, that’s order, your phones shouldn’t be ringing, you know, Paul didn’t even cover those things.  But your cell-phones shouldn’t be ringing during the service.  I mean, we could spend $20,000 and put up a perimeter so that nobody’s cell-phones or beepers would work, but why can’t we send that money to a missionary and just ask you to be Christians?  And look, I don’t want to embarrass anybody, if you finally get your uncle Sam in church who you’ve been praying for for 95 years and he comes and his cell-phone goes off, I understand, we don’t want to humiliate anybody.  But you know, you could please say to him in the parking lot, ‘Uncle Sam, would you please turn your cell-phone off.’  Ah, people walking around, during the service.  You know, if you have a bladder problem, sit in the back row.  You don’t have to fill out a resume, ‘Do you have a bladder problem?’  we’ll just tell you where to sit.  You know, if you sit in the front row and you have to keep getting up and leaving and coming back to the front row, that’s not order, it’s distracting.  No children in the sanctuary.  And believe me, we hear about that, ‘Would Jesus do that!?’  We said earlier here, Christ is the head of the Church, and the pastors and elders have prayed about it, and we feel like Jesus told us that the young children who would distract from the teaching of his Word shouldn’t be in the sanctuary.  So you need to ask him, we think that’s what he told us.  Because in the class rooms, we see children saved.  In the class room we’re able to communicate the truths of Christ to them on a level they can understand.  If you came here on Sunday and I had a graph up here, if I had to gear down the lessons so the five-year-olds could enjoy it, you wouldn’t be here very long, ‘OK, let’s all sing this, the B.I.B.L.E. that’s the book for me, get your cool-aid and your crackers and pass them out,’ [laughter].  Look, we’re here to study the Word, Paul hears of the order in Colossi, and I think it’s important.  Hey look, Corinth was out of order.  You know, God said he would give us the Holy Spirit, in Acts chapter 1, to be witnesses, ‘wait here until you are endued with power.’  Well in Corinth they had all the spiritual gifts going on, and they were suing one another, and they were famous for fornication, and they’re getting drunk at the Communion table [they didn’t keep Communion in the Corinthian church, they kept the early New Testament Christian Passover], and they’re saying ‘I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos,’ the church was filled with problems.  They were lousy witnesses.  They were all speaking in tongues, and using things out of order.  And Paul had to try to call them to order.  He says, ‘I’m glad to hear what’s going on in Colossi, in Laodicea, there’s order.’  “beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”  Paul is rejoicing in seeing that there’s order, he knew that there was teaching, and there was stedfastness in their faith in Christ. 

 

How Did You Come Into The Truth?

 

Then he’s going to say, yeah, let’s finish there, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” (verse 6)  As you received him.  How did you come?  You know, Paul says in Galatians 3, ‘Having begun in the Spirit, are you now going to be made perfect in the flesh?’  How did you come?  Jesus in Revelation 22:17 says, “And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  “freely”, that doesn’t mean without charge, it means “undeservedly.”  ‘Anybody whose thirsty, let him come and drink of Jesus Christ unworthily, come with your thirst and drink of what you don’t deserve.  Come to Christ and receive what you could never pay for on your own, never earn, never be worthy of, never deserve.  Come to Jesus Christ and receive his grace, and his love, and his power, his forgiveness, the reality of Christ in your life, that he might present you holy and unblameable, unreproveable, bringing joy to his heart, looking down into your life with pleasure.’  That’s the way we started.  I don’t know about you, remember, do you guys remember the first day you were saved?  I do.  I didn’t know the difference between an epistle and an apostle.  I didn’t know how many points Calvin had, and if I had heard he had five points I’d have thought he was a guy with stuff sticking off of him.  When I first got saved, all I knew was that Jesus loved me.  My mind was blown, I drove people out of their minds without knowing much more than that.  Tracts hidden in their shoes, in their lunch box, I was just on-fire.  It was so simple, my mind was blown because he loved me.  Paul was challenging these Colossians, ‘Don’t listen to this Gnosticism, don’t listen to this legalism, don’t listen to this…as you have received Christ, so walk ye in him.’…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Colossians 1:19-29 and 2:1-6 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

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