Saturday, August 20, 2022

TRUTH EXALTED


Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we studied Paul’s Epistle to Philemon last week, we were aware of the personal nature of Paul’s message to the Church Leader in Colossae. Tychicus, a faithful brother, delivered the letter to Philemon from Paul who was imprisoned in Rome. Tychicus’ delivery also included more general letters to the churches: Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians as well. These four are known as “The Prison Letters.” Though far less personal than the Philemon letter, Colossians, and all of Paul’s other Church Epistles are indicative of Paul’s encouragement to the churches as he teaches and corrects some doctrinal errors he learned of as he traveled, and from his visitors in Rome, and from Epaphras, another faithful brother who was imprisoned with him.

Having been born in Tarsus in Asia, Paul had some familiarity with the beliefs of pagan neighbors. As Paul moved closer to Jerusalem, the geographical center of Judaism, he was able to identify pagan doctrines local to Asian gods that were absent from Jerusalem’s “purer Judaic doctrines.” And upon his conversion to Christ, he could see error that had crept into the churches too.

This is true as Christianity spread around the world; the worship of local deities will always tend to creep into churches that spring up wherever Christianity is introduced. If you ever wondered why there are so many Christian denominations, this is at least part of the reason, for local religious beliefs have deep roots. The old saying, “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” is appropriate to today’s Church also. False doctrines are one of Satan’s favorite ways to corrupt truth, and it happens almost seamlessly because the people are already familiar with the error, and they’re comfortable with it.

In the case of the Colossian church, Paul will be addressing a false mysticism that had crept into the church, and the error of Alexandrian Asceticism as well. But for this first chapter of Colossians, Paul affirms the foundations of faith that he and they hold in common: a bridge upon which he can teach them truth. The chapter is in three parts: Paul introduces himself to the church, he solidifies his Christian kinship with them, and finally, an exaltation of Christ as Creator, Redeemer, and Indweller of every true Believer.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14

Today's Audio Message:
Colossians 1:1-29 - "Truth Exalted"

Summary/Notes:

As we begin a new study from Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, we pray the Holy Spirit open our understanding, and teach us the revealed truth of Who Jesus is, and what He has done for us.

There is so much here in this first chapter. The passage is so full that we cannot deal with all the points raised, but we would not be wrong in saying that the great theme throughout is CHRIST.  Pastor Bob encourages those who are listening to this audio message, to take time in your own personal study to dig deeper.

Pastor Bob entitled this message, “Truth Exalted.”  That truth being that Jesus Christ is God.  
The Colossian church experienced numerous attacks from false teachers, and that continues today.  The way to combat the heresy is by proclaiming Jesus Christ and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection. 

In Colossians 1:15–20, Paul wrote one of the most profound summaries of who Christ is and what He accomplished. In doing so, he crushed the arguments of the false teachers, and gave the Colossian Christians, and us, even more reason to worship and exalt Jesus Christ as God.

In chapter 1, Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He understands that there is a certain false system of doctrine being propagated at Colossae, and he understands that because Epaphras has visited him. Epaphras, undoubtedly is one of the pastors of the Colossian church and perhaps its founder, has come to visit the apostle, Paul.

The church in Colossae was under attack by false teachers who had come in and were propagating heresy amongst the believers. One such heresy relates to the deity of Jesus Christ, they were denigrating His deity, saying that Christ is not actually God; that He is not sufficient for salvation; that in addition to Christ, they must include the worship of other spirits. That there was knowledge beyond Him. That Jesus was a great spiritual master, but not the Savior of the world. Christianity to them (and to many today) was narrow minded thinking, and that one must include the mixed bag of paganism, false religions and human philosophies in order to ascend to higher spirituality. Haven’t we all seen the same lies creeping into the church today with New Age teachers and Eastern Mysticism, amongst other many other false claims. These particular heresies later developed into what we know as Gnosticism, the attack was at the deity of Christ and His total sufficiency as Savior.

Paul addresses these issues head-on, so that no believer should ever be ignorant of who Jesus is, and what He has done for us. The truth is that the Christian faith stands alone, it cannot be mixed with any other ideology, philosophy, religion or practice. Jesus + anything else = deception. It is Christ and Christ alone, there is no other.

The first half of the Book of Colossians is one of the most profound studies of the Person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. A Biblical understanding of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation. Cults and world religions may claim to believe in Jesus Christ, but the problem is that they do not believe the Jesus of the Bible, but rather a false representation of Jesus. Paul sets the record straight!

The second half of the book addresses every aspect of the Christian life, our conduct, our friends and even our speech.

As we begin chapter 1, Paul begins with his customary salutation followed by an expression of thanksgiving and prayer. He prays that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, strengthened by God’s glorious power, and to be thankful to be partakers of the saint’s inheritance, being delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, where there is redemption and forgiveness of sins.

Paul then broaches the theme of this epistle, which is the preeminence and all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Lastly the chapter ends with Paul’s description of his ministry, and his goal to diligently preach Christ to every man, and to present every man perfect in Christ.

Of all the statements in the Bible, in the Word of God about God becoming man, none is more significant than the one in Colossians 1:15, for here we have the identification of the Son as God very, very clearly.

Jesus, “The Son” in Colossians 1:13, is the “who” in verse 15. Who is:
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by Him were all things created, that are in that 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 (or hold together). 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. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.”  - Colossians 1:15-19
If we are to understand anything at all about the Christian faith, we must understand this vital statement. The Christian faith centers around who our Lord Jesus Christ really is, the work that He alone accomplished for us, and the future He holds for us.

Paul presents for us an ageless, and timeless eternal Savior - that’s who Jesus Christ is. He alone is the solution to the dilemma of mankind throughout the ages. Science has nothing on the architect and Creator of life. He alone is the sustainer of the universe.

In this chapter we will see Jesus in relation to God, in relation to the universe, in relation to the unseen world, and in relation to the church, and Christ as pre-eminent. We will see the uniqueness of His being and the descriptive names given to Christ.  He is the image; the First-born; the Creator; and the Head of the Church. We can also clearly see the result of His finish work: Redemption and Reconciliation.

Paul makes clear that Jesus is God. He is God in the flesh. God who is invisible became visible in Christ. In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead. Christ is eternal. He created everything (verse 16). Jesus Christ is the only perfect representation of God. No other! Nothing other! No other religion, deity, philosophy or human invention will ever represent God truthfully, because Jesus is the only perfect representation. He alone is the image of God. He is God revealed in the world. 

If you want to know what God is like - look at Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  - John 14:6







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