Saturday, September 10, 2022

Vindicated



Bobservations' Column

Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Bible states that a blood sacrifice was required to atone for sins. The precedent was established in Genesis 3 and 4. Whether it was a sacrifice for the people, the Priests, or for an individual, bulls, goats, sheep, and even doves were sacrificed regularly on the Temple’s altar. Stipulations were always to be met in order for sins to be atoned, and each ritual of the sacrifice was important.

When it comes to Christ Jesus, the highest of the High was sacrificed once and for all, for all sin, for all time. And interestingly, in Revelation 2, we find the letter of John to the Church at Pergamum. This is where the name of our Church has come from. A white stone is given to all those who overcome (sin and the world).

The white stone is indicative of a magistrate casting a vote of “innocent” after hearing the evidence of the allegations, or charges against an accused. There is much more to the verse, but our Great High Priest, Jesus, has been given authority by The Father to judge the earth and all upon it.

For everyone and anyone who believes in the Lordship of Christ, and that He rose from the dead, they will hear our High Judge proclaim “innocent” for all their sins; innocent, because Christ Himself paid the price for us.

The Bible declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and Jesus’ sacrifice has paid our debt, the debt of every sinner that believes on Jesus Christ. The Bible follows up with Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” THIS is one of the messages of the Gospel: Sin & Death vs. Eternal Life through Jesus Christ.

Every individual that has ever lived, or that’s alive now, or that will live on this earth in the future has had, does have, or will have a decision to make. It is a matter of life and death for each one! And the decision is really simple. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or suffer torment for eternity. The black and white print in our Bibles is indicative of the simple black and white choice that each of us must make. It’s a life, or death situation.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” -  John 3:16 


Today's Audio Message:

Colossians 2:14-23 - "Vindication"

 Summary/Notes:

Today we will be finishing our study in Colossians 2.  Pastor Bob titled this morning's messaged, "Vindicated."  We often think of our justification as linked to Jesus’s death on our behalf. But it’s more proper to think of it as linked to his resurrection on our behalf. To be vindicated is to be justified—to be declared righteous. In Christ, we are justified because he is justified through his being raised from the dead. Paul says, But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.(Romans 4:24–25). When we are united to Christ by faith, his justification becomes our own. We are vindicated in him.

Paul has been confronting the false teachings that had crept into the Colossian church. The Colossians were faced with a barrage of false teachers who insisted on all sorts of particular observances. False teachers offered a syncretism of pagan philosophy, Jewish legalism, mysticism, and asceticism. Paul wrote the Colossians to refute these false teachings and to present the Absolute Sufficiency of Jesus Christ for Salvation and Sanctification. 

In Colossians 2:8–23, Paul specifically mounts a frontal attack on the Colossian heresy. He has already dealt with philosophy (2:8–10) and presented Christ’s sufficiency (2:11–15).  Today we will continue on with Paul's refutation of the Colossian heresy by dealing with Legalism (Colossians 2:16–17); Mysticism (Colossians 2:18–19); and Asceticism (Colossians 2:20–23).

Christ Plus Legalism - Legalism is the religion of human achievement. It argues that spirituality is based on Christ plus human works. Paul was addressing legalistic people in the church who believed, in effect, that a personal, vital, deep relationship with Christ alone is not enough to satisfy God.  They had added rules and requirements governing the performance of certain duties that they thought were essential to spirituality.  They insisted that all the ceremonies - including circumcision, Sabbath observance, and dietary laws were to be maintained as standards of spirituality. Their legalism was in direct conflict with the teachings of Christ. Only the true cutting away of sin by salvation in Christ can make us right with God. When Christ came, the ceremonial elements of the law were set aside, because He was the fulfillment of all they foreshadowed. 

Believers are complete in Christ, who has provided complete salvation, forgiveness, and victory. Paul tells the Colossians, not to let anyone pass judgment or act as their judge.  Paul is warning them not to sacrifice their freedom in Christ for a set of manmade rules. Inasmuch as “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4), to become entangled again in a legalistic system is pointless and harmful.

The dietary laws, festivals, sacrifices, and Sabbath day worship were all things which as verse 17 indicates, are "a shadow of the things to come; but the body (substance) belongs to Christ." A shadow has no reality; the reality is what makes the shadow. Jesus is that reality.  He is the one to which the shadows pointed.

Note: For example, regarding food regulations, Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:41). There is no need for Christians to observe the Passover either, because “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). What justification could there be for demanding that Gentiles observe the Sabbath when God has granted them eternal rest (Hebrews 4:1–11)?

The old covenant observances pointed to a future reality that was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. True spirituality does not consist merely of keeping external rules, but of having an inner relationship with Jesus Christ.

Christ Plus Mysticism - Mysticism is the idea that direct knowledge of God or ultimate reality is achieved through personal, subjective intuition or experience apart from, or even contrary to, historical fact or objective divine revelation. It argues that spirituality is based on Christ plus some unique spiritual experience.  Mysticism is still very much alive today, and still using spiritual intimidation to demean the uninitiated.  Paul wrote the Colossian believers, that kind of mysticism is the product of a prideful and unspiritual mind. Those who embrace it have turned from their sufficiency in Christ.  They spin their views of God and spiritual truth out of their own self-authenticated, self-generated feelings, which become more important to them than the Bible. Don't be intimidated by them.  Heeding to these false teachers will have a serious impact on our spiritual growth. There is no "higher plane" - no surpassing experience.  Christ is all and all! In Him alone you are complete.

These false teachers are also engaged in the worship of the angels, thus denying the truth that there is “one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Note:  The Bible strictly forbids the worship of angels. “It is written,” Jesus told Satan, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10). When John tried to worship an angel, he was rebuked for doing so: “I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God’” (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). The angels themselves worship God (Isaiah 6:1–4).

In addition to practicing false humility and worshiping angels, the false teachers were taking their stand on visions they had seen. There is no need for extra-biblical revelation through visions, because “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2).

Paul tells the Colossians not to be intimidated by the false claims. Far from being the spiritual elite they thought themselves to be, they are puffed up with pride in their fleshly minds. These are guilty of gross spiritual pride and were devoid of the Holy Spirit.  They have gone beyond the teaching of Christ and not holding fast to the Head (Christ).  See Col. 1:18.  Spiritual growth comes from union with Christ, as Jesus described abiding in Him in John 15:4–5. These false teachers had become detached from Christ.  By losing focus on Christ and what He has done, the natural result was that these teachers would fall into error.

Christ Plus Asceticism - An ascetic is one who lives a life of rigorous self-denial as a means to earn forgiveness from God. It is motivated by pride rather than humility, and it is an attempt to accomplish in the energy of the flesh a right relationship with God, which can be brought about only by a divine transformation through faith in Jesus Christ.   Paul said we aren't in bondage to any religious systems that require some kind of abstinence to make us acceptable to God.  These teachings are deceptive and destructive. False standards of spirituality serve only to indulge the flesh.

Paul’s message to the Colossians is that we must hold fast to Christ's sufficiency, never adding to it or taking from it.   In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).  In Him dwells all the fullness of the deity in bodily form (2:9). And nothing can ever separate us from Him (Romans 8:35-39).  
We must hold fast to Christ, in whom we “have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10).  





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