< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: December 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Colossians 3:5-9

Colossians 3:5-9 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

This is where Paul’s letter turns. He always starts out with theology and then goes on to practical demands on a Christian. A clear statement of what we are to do.

We are basically told in this section to get rid of anything that makes us self-centered, or keeps us from doing the will of God. This is done often in the New Testament in no uncertain terms. Remember Jesus saying, “If an eye causes you to sin – pluck it out!”

Something interesting I read: Paul lists the earthly vices in 2 series of 5 and we’ll see in verse 12 he lists our good deeds in another series of 5. Apparently this is derived from an old Iranian religion that listed a person’s good and bad deeds in fives. The first 5 listed go from outward acts to inward attitudes, kind of like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

The reason covetousness is idolatry is that it sets our affections on earthly things, rather then on God and Christ. The 2nd list has to do with social attitudes. Attitudes that destroy loving social relationships.

Especially notice the reference to language: slander and foul talk with the mouth. Jesus and early church leaders placed a high premium on simple, truthful, edifying speech. (Matthew 5:33-37), (Ephesians 4:29), (James 5:12)

Someone wrote, “words are the self in extension; by them others can experience for good or ill what we are really like inside.” Our mothers were right when they said, “Before you say anything, ask: “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

After Paul lists the vices he writes, “upon all such things the wrath of God must fall.” This wrath of God is simply the rule of the universe. That a man will reap what he sows and no one ever escapes the consequences of his sin.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Colossians 3:1-4

Colossians 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Up to this point the supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ has been asserted as a counter to what the false teachers were teaching. Now we get in to how this belief affects the Christian’s everyday life in this world. Where it says set your minds on things above (some Bible versions say “seek the things that are above”) suggests continuous effort. Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that Christians are citizens of heaven, now living for a while on earth. Colossians 1:5 and 12 tells us that we are awaiting our heavenly inheritance.

So we need to keep a steady eye on our destiny. We should live by the standards of the place where we already belong and await the full realization and manifestation of what we will be after the coming of Christ.

To set your minds on things above means to look at life from God’s perspective and to seek what He desires. This doesn’t mean we withdraw ourselves from earth and earthly activities because we’ll see in the next verses that Paul lays down a series of ethical principles and normal relationships he expects Christians to have. But, there’s a difference now: Christians look at things against the background of eternity. We don’t live as though the world is all that matters. This gives us a new set of values and a new way of judging things. Certain things the world thinks are important, we no longer worry about.

We go on doing the work of the world and using the things of the world, but we use them in a new way:

Giving is more important then getting

Serving is more important then ruling

Forgiving is more important then avenging

Our standards of values are God’s values, not man’s. When Paul says your life is “hidden in Christ” – the Greeks commonly spoke of being hidden in the earth when a man was dead and buried. So this relates to a Christian’s old life being dead and buried. It’s a spiritual death, so instead of being hidden in the earth, we are hidden in Christ.

Another phrase here: Paul calls Jesus “Christ our life.” In Philippians 1:21 he said, “Christ means life to me.” And in Galatians 2:20 he said, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

To Paul, Jesus Christ is not only the most important thing in life, He is life itself. Sometimes we say, “Music is my life” or “My kids are my life” or “He lives for his job”. And we mean this is what that person finds meaning in. For Christians, what we find meaning in, is Christ. A commentator wrote, “The reason a Christian can and does set his mind and heart and affections on the things above is because he judges everything in the light of the cross.” In the light of that cross, the world’s activities are seen in their true value. In the light of that cross he sees that love is the only kingliness and service the only royalty.”

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Colossians 2:16-23

Colossians 2:16-23 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Our worship practice and traditions can bring us closer to God, but we should never criticize fellow Christians whose traditions or ceremonies differ from ours. More important then how we worship, is that we worship and whom we worship: Christ. Man-made religions focus on man’s efforts. Christianity focuses on Christ’s work.

Jesus Himself said it made no difference what a man ate or drank. (Matthew 15:10-20) Paul said in different words what Jesus did, “things that will perish as they are used.” Food and drink are so unimportant that they are destined for decomposition and decay as soon as they are eaten.

Often rituals will lead to a false humility, which is really just pride. A man who does all this runs the risk of puffing himself up and looking down on people. We should never look down on anyone. Paul says elsewhere in the Bible that we are saved by grace lest we have reason to boast.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Colossians 2:13-15

Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Paul tells the believers they were made alive together with him. His emphasis on the resurrection of believers as an accomplished fact is important. “having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands” This bond was an IOU. And an IOU is issued in a debtor’s own handwriting to a creditor acknowledging a debt.

Sinners have broken God’s law and are in debt to God. And they know it. (Deuteronomy 27:14-26)

There was also a Jewish prayer, “Our Father, our king, in your great mercy cancel all our debts.”

Even the gentiles, who didn’t have the law or the written word, knew in their hearts, in their conscience, that they were wrong. (Romans 2:14-15)

Men were in debt to God because of sin and men knew it. But, then comes the next part of the verse. God blotted out, or wiped out that indictment. And amazingly He does it in such a way, it’s as if it had never been. There’s not a trace left!

Paul goes on: God took the indictment and nailed it to the cross of Christ. In the ancient world when a law or a decree or an ordinance was canceled it was fastened on a board by a nail.

Christ’s death changed us from being sinners to being sons of God. It gave us a new, clean, unblemished life. Paul goes on to say, Jesus disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them. When a Roman general defeated an army he would march them through the streets in pubic humility behind his own victorious army. Paul is thinking of Jesus as a triumphant conqueror, enjoying a kind of cosmic triumph and in His triumphant procession are the powers of evil, beaten for everyone to see. Sin is forgiven, evil is conquered.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Colossians 2:11-12

Colossians 2:11-12 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Circumcision and baptism. These are mentioned a lot in the book of Galatians. Jewish males were circumcised as a sign of the Jewish covenant with God. There were 2 schools of thought the Jews had about this: there were the people who felt that good or bad, as long as he was an Israelite and circumcised, he was right with the Lord.
And there were the more scholarly thinkers, the great spiritual leaders and prophets who insisted that circumcision was only the outward mark of a man who was inwardly dedicated to God. What was really cut off in the circumcision was anything outside the will of God.

Paul says, any priest can cut a man’s body, but only Jesus Christ can bring about spiritual circumcision. And he says this happens now at baptism. Remember, back then, adults were baptized; they made a conscious and willing decision to dedicate their lives to God. In a Jewish baptism all the man’s body had to touch water and in Paul’s day, baptism of new Christians was total immersion. The idea was as the waters closed over a man’s head, he died. As he rose from the cleansing water, he rose to new life. His old life was dead and gone.

Baptism parallels the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. My application Bible says that remembering, “that our old sinful life is dead and buried with Christ gives a powerful motive to resist sin.” Not wanting the desires of our past to come back to power again, we can consciously choose to treat our desires as if they are dead. Many people think of Christian baptism as the counterpart and replacement of Jewish circumcision. The outward sign of our inward belief.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Colossians 2:8-10

Colossians 2:8-10 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Philosophy. This was a term back then widely used for almost any kind of religious thought and jargon claiming special knowledge of the universe and human kind’s place in it. My application Bible says, Paul isn’t condemning philosophy, in a way he himself was a philosopher. He was condemning any teaching that credits humanity, not Christ, with being the answer to life’s meaning. For Paul, it is amazing and tragic that men who had been ransomed and redeemed and freed would even consider submitting themselves to this slavery.

Where it says, “according to the elemental spirits of the universe” he’s talking about astrology. A lot of people today take it pretty seriously. We all know what our sign is, there are people who read their horoscope daily, but back then astrology was the Queen of science.

There were rulers who wouldn’t make any kind of plan without consulting the stars.
Men and women really believed that their lives were influenced by the stars. If you were born under a fortunate star, all was well. If you were born under an unlucky star, then don’t bother looking for happiness. Men felt they couldn’t affect an outcome of something if it “wasn’t in the stars.”

Apparently, the Gnostics were saying there might be a way out, if you knew the right password or secret teaching. Again, Paul says, Christ holds the power over the whole universe and you can’t believe both that and the influence of the stars.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Colossians 2:2-7

Colossians 2:2-7 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Paul prayed that the church would be filled with courage so it could cope with any situation. And he prayed that the members would be knit together in love. Love is the most important thing in a Christian’s life. Love of God, love of fellowman. Like the song says, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Paul prays that the church is equipped for every kind of wisdom. The power to grasp the truth when we see it, the knowledge of what action to take in any situation. Paul says all this wisdom is hidden in Christ.

Remember the Gnostics believed you needed some secret knowledge. When Paul says the real knowledge is in Christ he means it’s open to all men everywhere. The truth of Christianity is not a secret which is hidden: it is a secret which is revealed.

Where is says, “you received Christ Jesus as Lord” – that’s the beginning of your relationship with Him. So live in Him! Everyday we are to be aware of His presence and guiding. “Rooted and built up in Him”. This is like the roots of a plant, the roots being the nourishment to the plant to help it grow. They also secure it in the ground to keep it strong.

“Abounding in thanksgiving”. We’re to tell in words and show in life our gratitude to God for all He has done for us.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Colossians 2:1

Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.

Remember, Paul is in prison. He’s facing condemnation and almost certainly a death sentence. It would have been easy for him to turn from the truth, to deny Christ, for his own safety. If he had done that, think what it would have done to the young Christian church. It would have destroyed it. So his struggle wasn’t just for himself, but for all believers, to hold firm. He was a leader in the church. People were watching him.

We can apply this to our lives because people are watching us too. Our actions can always help or harm someone else’s faith.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Colossians 1:24-29

Colossians 1:24-29 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Christ died for His church.

Anyone who is working to further the church’s purpose - to grow the church - shares in Christ’s work. And that work usually involves suffering and pain and sacrifice. But Paul ways this is a privilege and honor.

The news that was kept secret until then was that the gospel (salvation through Christ) was not just for the Jews, but for all men everywhere. Paul’s job was to take Christ to “every man.” If it wasn’t for Paul, Christianity might have been just a sort of new Judaism.

Peter, James and John were pretty much only teaching the former Jews. We can apply this passage to our lives by thinking about how we are going to spread His message.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Colossians 1:15-23

Colossians 1:15-23 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

These are majestic verses. This is probably the most important passage in Colossians. It directly answers the false teachers who were saying Christ was just one of many spirits who comprised God’s fullness, like angels, and that all had to be worshipped and appeased.

Paul says Christ is the unique manifestation of God. An image in the New Testament is a true representation of the original. (Genesis 1:26-27) We were meant to be in His image too. When we look at Jesus, we not only see what God is like, we see what we were meant to be like too!

Verse 19 says, “In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” We see all of God in Him. There is nothing left out. (John 14:9)

These verses also remind us that Jesus came to earth to reconcile us to God. We need to remember that that reconciliation came from God. God’s attitude toward man was and is – always love. He was always reaching down to us and God sent Jesus because He loved us. (John 3:16)

Sometimes I think there’s an impression that we have this wrathful God up there and Jesus did something to keep us from His wrath. Kind of Good Cop, Bad Cop. But, it’s very important for us to know and think about the fact that God already loved us so much He sent His Son to die for us. He created the Garden of Eden and wanted to walk there and talk to His children, He sent prophets; He came to earth again during the Exodus and dwelt in the Holy of Holies. He was always the one reaching out to us. The cross is the final proof that there is no length to which the love of God will refuse to go, to win our hearts.

Note Paul says, not only man is being reconciled to God, but earth. In Romans 8:22 it says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning to travail.” The earth is not what God meant for it to be either, but we are promised a new earth when Christ comes back. Also in this verse Paul says God is reconciling the Heavens to Himself. I’ve read several different thoughts about this, from just that heavens and the earth is kind of an all-encompassing phrase. To the fact that Satan was a fallen angel and that will all be reconciled in the end. I had a thought when reading this, that the angels kind of watch with interest everything going on. They know of course one of their own had fallen and is in combat with God and it’s a cosmic or spiritual battle that will be reconciled.

We see next that the aim of this reconciliation is holiness. Christ did all this to present us to God, unblemished. This means we have an obligation to be worthy of His great love.

There was at this time a group called Gnostics and this loosely means “the intelligent ones”. They thought Christianity was too simple and wanted to turn it into a philosophy. The Gnostics believed that all matter was evil and all spirit good, so God would not have come to earth, which is matter and therefore evil, as a human.

Paul said He did.

They believed that He didn’t create the world because He didn’t create evil. Paul said that Jesus, who is God in flesh, created the heavens and the earth.
They thought that since a good God would have nothing to do with evil He put forth all kinds of layers between the world and Himself: like spirits and angels. In fact both the Gnostics and the Jews had a highly developed and elaborate system of angels.
The Gnostics thought there were seven heavens between God and us. Thrones, lordships, powers and authorities were different grades of angels. Paul dismisses all this. He says Jesus wasn’t one of these spirits or levels. He created angels and everything else too.

And it was for Him that all things were created. Everything was created to be His and to give Him glory. The world was created that we might ultimately belong to Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:10-11)

So Jesus created the beginning. He is the goal of creation in the end and he holds the world together in between. This saying means that all scientific laws, like gravity, are divine laws.

The Gnostics also refused to see Christ as the only way to salvation, saying that people could find God through some special and secret knowledge. Paul said Christ is the only way. He is the first-born of all creation and has all the authority of the first born. First born here doesn’t just mean He is God’s first Son. It was a common title of honor. Israel as a nation is the first-born Son of God. (Exodus 4:22)
This means Israel was the chosen, the most honored and favored child of God.
Also firstborn is the title of the Messiah. (Psalms 89:27) So when Paul wrote that Christ was the first born of all creation, it meant the highest honor which creation holds belongs to Him.

And when he said Christ is the first-born from among the dead, this is central to Christianity: His resurrection means everything to us! Because He lives, we know we will too.

Paul also says here that Jesus is the head of the church. He is the guiding, directing, dominating spirit of the church. Just like our bodies can’t do anything without our heads – every word and action of the church must be governed and directed by Him. We are the instruments through which Christ works.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Colossians 1: 12-14

Colossians 1: 12-14 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In Acts 26:18 Paul told Agrippa his (Paul’s) task. ”To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

The first privilege given to Gentiles is a share in the inheritance of the chosen people of God. The 2nd is being delivered from darkness to the kingdom of Christ. Back in those days, when one country defeated another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer the whole thing to another place. The people of the Northern kingdom were taken to Assyria and the people of Jerusalem and the Southern kingdom were taken to Babylon. So Paul is using this common knowledge and saying that God has transferred the Christian into His own kingdom. And it was not only a transfer, but also a rescue. He delivers us from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, condemnation to forgiveness and the power of Satan to the power of God.

One commentator wrote that “man in his sin deserves nothing but condemnation of God, but that through the work of Jesus Christ, he discovers the love of God, the forgiveness of God and he knows he is no longer a condemned criminal at God’s judgment seat, but a lost son for whom the way home is always open.”

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Colossians 1:9-11

Colossians 1:9-11 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.

Basically this prayer asks for the discernment of God’s will and then the power to perform that will. The great object of prayer is to know the will of God. Ever growing knowledge. It’s not so much making God listen to us, but making ourselves listen to Him. Not trying to persuade God to do what we want Him to do, but trying to find out what He wants us to do. Remember Jesus said, “pray Thy will be done” not “Thy will be changed.”

Paul is not only praying for their knowledge and understanding, but that they be able to apply it to their lives. We shouldn’t just know about Christianity, but apply it and live it daily. Paul prays that Christians conduct themselves in such ways that please God. Prayer is practical. Prayer and action go hand in hand. We don’t go into a room to pray and escape life; we pray to be better able to meet life. And we need God’s power to live this way. A commentator wrote, “The great problem in life is not to know what to do, but to do it.” Through prayer, God not only tells us His will, but He enables us to do His will.

In verse 11 Paul prays for their endurance, patience and joy. In some Bibles endurance is fortitude. And the Greek word Paul used for this was hupomone. It didn’t mean just the ability to bear what was happening to them and turn it into glory. It was a spirit no circumstance in life could ever defeat. It meant to deal triumphantly with anything life could do to them.

The Greek word he used for patience was Makrothumia and it meant never to lose patience with man or hope in man. To not let whatever happened to him cause bitterness in him. That another person’s unloveliness wouldn’t change your ability to love them.

So, fortitude – no situation could defeat his strength. Patience – no person could defeat his love. Paul prays for a spirit that would never despair or grow hopeless about any situation or person. A Christian’s fortitude and patience must be indestructible. And finally – joy – it’s not a grim struggle, we should have a sunny attitude towards life, and joy in all circumstances.

So this is a great format for praying for ourselves or someone else. We can pray:

1. That God’s will be understood
2. That spiritual wisdom is gained
3. That God is pleased and honored with our actions
4. That we bear good fruit
5. That we are filled with God’s strength
6. That we have great endurance and patience
7. That we are full of Christian joy

And we’ll see in the next section, that we give thanks always.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Colossians 1:2-8

Colossians 1:2-8 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Verse 2 is interesting. Paul calls them saints and faithful brethren in Christ. In earlier letters Paul addressed his letters to the church in a region: “To the church of the Thessalonians” “To the church of God which is at Corinth” “To the churches of Galatia.” But, later in his life, he came more and more to see that what matters is individual people. The church is made up of individuals. So starting with Romans he changes his greetings. “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints.” In Ephesians he wrote, “To the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” And here: “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae.”

When he says they are in Christ at Colossai, it’s important to realize, Christians move in 2 different spheres. They are in a place – a town – a society – but also in Christ. So while a Christian lives in the world and takes the duties and relationships of the world seriously, fulfilling any obligations he has, above and beyond that, he is in Christ. So his outward circumstances make little difference to his peace and happiness. Things change, but Christ doesn’t.

2 things Paul says he is thankful for are that he has heard that the Colossians were showing faith in Christ and living for their fellowman. He also mentions their hope and these 3 things are the 3 main emphasis of Christianity: faith, hope and love.

“Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” We live a life of faith, loving and serving others, because we are sure of heaven and all that means. We know that in spite of the world’s ways and standards, God’s way of love will have the last word. God’s way is the best way.

One commentator wrote, “The only happiness, the only peace, the only joy, the only true and lasting reward are to be found in the way of God. The Christian hope is the certainty that it is better to stake one’s life on God, than to believe the world.”

Verses 6-8 kind of summarizes what the gospel is and does:

1. The gospel is first – a gospel – which means good news. It is good news that we have a right relationship with God.
2. The gospel is truth
3. The gospel is universal, it is for the world. Nothing in the world equals out men like Christianity.
4. The gospel is productive. It bears fruit and increases. It has been shown over and over that it changes people’s lives.The gospel is humanly transmitted. It was Epaphras who brought it to the Colossians. God uses a human channel. And this is where we come in. This knowledge we have, comes with an obligation to share it. We have often heard and said, “Jesus needs us to be His hands and feet and lips.”

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Colossians 1:1

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

Paul starts his letters in different way to different churches. Here he says he’s an apostle, a chosen ambassador of God. He was stressing to a church that didn’t know him personally that God had chosen him for his task. One commentator wrote that in this one sentence was the whole doctrine of grace. In John 15:16 Jesus said, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Background to the book of Colossians

This letter was written by Paul to combat a heresy being taught at Colossae. According to a new teaching, Christianity was imperfect. The heretics proposed to “improve it” by introducing a new philosophy, angel worship and mysterious rites – many of which were borrowed from paganism. All of this wasn’t epidemic yet, but Paul wanted to nip it in the bud.

His main purpose here is to show believers they have everything they need in Christ and that because Christ is the exact likeness of God, when we learn what He is like, we see what we need to become.

It is generally believed that Paul was in Rome in prison awaiting trial when he wrote this. And remember, Roman imprisonment was house arrest, not a jail cell. He was free to write and he had visitors. The prison letters written during this time were: Colossians, Philippians, Philemon and Ephesians. And the time was probably around A.D. 60.

This was not one of the churches Paul founded or even visited. The church was probably founded by Epaphras who, though a Colossian, was converted by Paul in Ephesus. Paul was in Ephesus for three years and we see in Acts 19:10 that the whole region heard the word of the Lord during that time.

According to Philemon 23 Epaphras was in prison with Paul at the time of this letter.

Colossae was about 100 miles east of Ephesus in the Lycus River Valley of Central Asia Minor. It was a somewhat prosperous city at one time and a wool working and cloth dyeing center. Today, there is not a stone to show where Colossae stood. Its site is guessed at by 2 other cities Laodicaea and Hierapolis that were in the same valley.

A lot of Jews had settled in this area. Many years before, Antiochus the Great had transported 2000 Jewish families from Babylon and Mesopotamia to this region. They had settled here and prospered and more of their families from Palestine joined them, They think the Jewish population at this time was about 50,000 because in A.D. 62 the Roman governor at the time wanted to stop all the money leaving the region for the Jerusalem temple tax and the amount of gold he seized would represent temple tax for no fewer than 11,000 men. Remember women and children didn’t have to pay the tax.

We’ll see in this letter that no greater claims about Christ’s supremacy and total adequacy were made in the Bible and Paul goes out of his way to stress the part Jesus played in creation. But, at the same time, Paul stresses the real humanity of Jesus Christ. For all His deity He really was human flesh and blood.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Advent started today and our church had a beautiful service. At the end our minister told us the world was in the Merry Christmas mode, but for the church - “not yet.” We are in the waiting mode. In the season of Advent, anticipating Christ’s coming.

Here’s what our bulletin said about lighting the first advent candle today.

So today we light the first candle of Advent. The candle of Hope. This candle glows with a radiant faith in God; out of that faith grows hope. The light of hope shone in the Bethlehem star and shines upon us today in spite of insecurity, poverty, disease and conflict. The light chases away despair and doubt and reminds us of God’s good purposes for the world.

Prayer: O God, as we enter the Advent season, show us how we can prepare ourselves for the coming of Christmas. Open our minds and our hearts that we might receive the loving spirit of Christ. As his spirit fills our lives, help us to live so that we will serve as reminders of hope that He brings. Amen.

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