Colossians 1 B: What We Believe
Paul is dealing with false teaching in the early church in Colossae. This heresy involved: worship of angels, food taboos, and observance of feasts, new moons, circumcision and special knowledge. The movement which plagued the early church and still does today was influenced by a group known as Gnostics. This comes from the Greek word- gnosis, meaning knowledge.
The Gnostics separated matter from thought. They considered matter as evil and thought or knowledge as the ultimate for salvation. This is why they did not want to attribute humanity to Jesus Christ, since humanity being material, to them was evil. They believed the actual body of Christ only appeared material, but in reality was not.
To them, all the secrets of God were in the mind. The result developed two divergent directions: one group stressed self- discipline and complete denial of sexual and other bodily appetites; others believe since the body and spirit were separate they could indulge in unrestrained indulgence. We will see how Paul refutes these sects and false teaching. He will stress that spirituality is not achieved by self-efforts, but by putting on Christ.
Now let’s go back to the end of Paul’s prayer and pick up in verse 12: “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 (delivered, KJV) us from the dominion (power-KJV) of darkness and brought (translated-KJV) us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of our sins.
Our greatest problem is sin. The wages of sin is death and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Sinners need a savior for we cannot save ourselves. In these verses Paul reveals four saving actions of Christ on our behalf.
Christ our Savior and Redeemer
- He delivered us (.KJV) He has rescued us. (NIV) The word ‘ rescue’ used in the NIV paints a picture of a drowning man being rescued; or a fireman rescuing one from a burning fire. We could not deliver or rescue ourselves from our sins. AA taught me I was powerless over alcohol and needed a higher power to deliver me from that which I could not deliver myself. You and I were in danger of spending eternity apart from God. God’s judgment was hanging over our heads like a sword. But we also were delivered from something else: the authority of Satan and the power of darkness.
- He brought us into the kingdom of His Son. The KJV uses the word ‘translated’ for brought. This word translated was used to describe the deportation of a population from one country to another. In ancient times the victor would take the captives, the defeated people back to their kingdom and use them as slaves. (Think Daniel in Babylon). God brings us out of darkness in order to bring us into His kingdom of light. God delivered the nation of Israel out of Egypt in order to bring them into the Promised Land. God takes us out of darkness to take us into light. Out of Egypt into the promised land- to be taken out and not go in is not God’s plan. Wandering in the wilderness of carnality if missing out on the promises of God.
- He has forgiven us. Redemption and forgiveness go together. Our sin debt has been cancelled. All our sins- past, present and future are under the blood. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. ( Romans 8) He breaks the power of cancelled sin and the enemy has nothing to accuse you of or indict you. Grace. We did not deserve to be forgiven, nor can we earn forgiveness. We now can enjoy fellowship with God. We can enjoy His grace, mercy and love. We can seek to do our Father’s will. Forgiveness of all our sins is not an excuse to sin; rather it is an encouragement to obey the Lord, whom we love. We also are to forgive others because we have been forgiven. To not forgive someone else will in effect – imprison us.
- Paul is making it clear only Jesus Christ can redeem us; forgive us of all our sins, and transfer us from the kingdom of the devil’s darkness into His kingdom of light. It is an act of His Amazing Grace through the shed blood of the Lamb of God. When we have posted the blood of the Lord Jesus over the doorposts of our hearts, the angel of death will pass over us and we will be transferred out the darkness into the light as surely as the Israelites were delivered from the captivity and slavery of Egypt into the Promised Land. This was not a ransom paid to the devil, this was payment demanded by a Holy God. The blood which paid and covered our sins was for God.
Christ is the Creator.
- Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God and the ‘first born’ over all creation. God is Spirit and therefore invisible. Jesus Christ is the image of God, he is the likeness of God. This why he told Phillip, ‘if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ The term ‘first born’ or ‘first begotten’ does NOT MEAN JESUS WAS CREATED. God the Son always existed, as part of the Triune Godhead, first mentioned in Genesis when the Creator said: “Let us make man in our image.” The term first born refers to a position of the first born being the heir and lord over all things of his father. It is a rank or title signifying one of first importance. God is three persons in one, with each person (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) being equal but having different responsibilities.
- He created all things. Genesis 1 is the account of creation. It is God the Son who creates all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Thrones, powers, rulers and authorities- He is over all things. John tells us the same thing in John 1 when he states: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. ( John 1:1) He also tells us He, God the Son created all things and without Him nothing was made. Then John connects the Creator to Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ( John 1: 14) No wonder the wind and waves obey Him; fish come at his command, and trees wither at his cursing of them. Disease flees, death reverses itself, for He is Master of all. He is over all things.
- All things were not only created by Him, but for Him also. The Lord Jesus, the God-Man planned creation. He produced it. He uses it for his own purpose and pleasure. This teaching refutes the Gnostic teaching that all of the material world is evil. God uses even those who hate Him and do not recognize Him for His glory and to accomplish His purpose. His sovereignty and overruling providence accomplish His will in spite of what appears to be adverse circumstances from Joseph’s imprisonment to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.
- He holds all things together. ( By Him, all things consist,KJV) What keeps us upright living on this globe or round ball twirling about in space? Science could talk about centrifugal force and gravity. But who created these? No answer. I have an answer: God created all things. This is my Father’s World!
Christ is the Head of the Church.
The church is referred to in the Bible as the bride of Christ and this is one image to help us understand the church. But the description of the church as the body and Christ as the head is one of the most important truths we need to understand. By the church we are referring to all true believers, regardless of denominations. When one gets saved, we are baptized into the body. This is not the water baptism we celebrate in the Baptist church, this is a once and forever happening that occurs at the instant a person believes in Jesus Christ. “ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given one Spirit to drink.” We were spiritually baptized regenerated by the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, we have dwelling within us the Holy Spirit so that our lives may overflow with the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus Christ is the founder of the church which is His body.
Again Paul uses the term ‘first born.’ “He is the beginning and the first born from among the dead that in everything he might have supremacy.” Now Jesus Christ was not the first person to be resurrected from the dead. But he was the first to be resurrected to never die again and receive a glorified body. Again the term means the resurrected Lord has the position of being creator- He is the beginning of creation. Creation begins with Him, because of his position as the First Born, does not refer to God the Son being created or born; he was and is pre-existent. He always existed. First Born is a title or position which refers His authority over all- He is Lord over all. He is the beginning and the end. He is the author of our faith. He is the beginning of all things and all things are created by Him and for Him as the rightful heir, the first born. The church was created from the side of the Lord Jesus just as Adam’s bride, Eve, came from his side.
Does this make sense to you? Do not think of this term meaning Jesus was born- He is preexistent- He is uncreated, He is eternal God. What the term meant in Biblical times was the ‘first born’ had a role of supremacy and was lord over what the father owned. He not only is Lord over all- He created all and everything had its beginning in Him. He is all in all and overall. He is the cause of all creation including the church.
All fullness dwells in Him, the Lord Jesus.
We are accepted in the beloved according to Ephesians 1: 6. God the Father spoke from heaven at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3) Now we read here: “ For God the Father was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him( Jesus) 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.’
Fullness refers to the sum total all divine power and attributes now dwelling in the Lord Jesus. Jesus was always fully God and fully man- but had limited his powers of God in order to achieve the mission for which he was sent from heaven to accomplish. The word dwell means to abide, or reside. This particular form of the verb means to be at home permanently. This is important truth. Because Jesus Christ is God, He is able to do what no man could ever do; reconcile lost sinners to a Holy God.
The words, reconcile and peace speak of war. The natural man and his natural mind are at war with God. (Romans 8:7) The natural man does not understand spiritual truths. (I Cor. 2) The natural man may be sincere, religious, and even moral; but he/she is still at war with God. How can a Holy God ever be reconciled with sinful man? Can God lower his standards? No. God must be true and consistent to Himself and His Holy Law.
Natural man can do nothing to reconcile himself to God, for he is dead in sin and trespasses. It is in Christ we are reconciled to God.
God took the initiative. God sent his only son into the world, born of a virgin without sinful blood. He became flesh. But his incarnation did not save us. Nor did the example of his life, perfect as it was, nor was it his teachings and healings. It was through his death that peace was made available between God and man. For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. He made peace through the blood of the cross.
This reconciliation is complete. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Our sins were cancelled on the cross.
Jesus Christ has taken care of ALL THINGS. All things were created by Him and for Him. He existed before all things and today He holds all things together. He has reconciled all things through the cross.
Therefore all we need is Jesus Christ. In Him, we have all the fullness of God. No need to add anything to that. To add anything to that would take away from His glory.
We cannot serve two masters- for we will love one and despise the other. Where our treasure is- our hearts will be also. A carnal Christian has a divided heart, a divided mind. This is why God commanded we love Him with all our heart- all our mind, our soul and strength. We are to have no other Gods before- no other gods- period! False teachers and the fallen world we live in offers many enticements which would challenge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and want to share or even dethrone Him from the heart of a believer with lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or pride of life. For the natural man- their god is their appetites. Satisfying their lust and selfish pride.
Jesus Christ is Savior, Creator and Head of the Church. He is the Beloved of the Father and His exact image. He is eternal God.
He deserves the position of preeminence in your life. Let no other person or thing challenge His Lordship. Since He is Lord over all things He can be trusted not only to save us, but protect us, and provide for us. When you get to know a person really well, your description becomes fuller and richer than those of people who are only acquaintances.
God has initiated a relationship with us. He wants, longs for you to know Him as He really is.
I have come to believe the most important thing in this world and in my life is thinking clearly and rightly about God, the Father, God, the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is why His word is so important to me. Tozer was right when he said: ‘What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”
Here are five steps from the book “God as He Longs for You to Know Him” in knowing God as He longs for you to know Him:
- The first step of seeking God is to accept, learn, treasure and store up His Word.
- Step two involves submission and a teachable spirit, a burning desire to be taught by God. (The soul was placed in us by God to have His word deposited there. Engrafted with meekness (James 1) – meekness means a teachable spirit.
- Then you must develop a passionate prayer life. Earnestly pleading with Him for understanding. Spending extended time with just Him. Fasting as you seek His face.
- Make your quest for God a priority each day. Determine to meet with Him before breakfast, work and your daily duties. Seek after Him like buried treasure.
- Step five provides us with the motivation for a lifetime. If we seek Him with all our heart, we will experience God and see Him as He longs for us to see Him.
I am going to take some time to talk about seven attributes of God because God created us for closeness, for love and friendship. His word tells me about Him. In His Word, God tells me about His love for me and in prayer I tell Him about my love and thoughts for Him. Are you experiencing this? Do you long to experience this?
Let us explore the following attributes:
*The Goodness of God. * The Sovereignty of God. *The Holiness of God. *The Wisdom of God. * The Justice of God. *The Love of God*The Faithfulness of God.
I will select one or more each week in our study of Colossians.
For this week’s lesson I have selected God’s faithfulness. My text for this attribute comes from Lamentations, as Jeremiah starts out in Lamentations 3 with these verses from a version of the Bible called The Message: “I am the man who has seen trouble; trouble coming from the lash of God’s anger. He took me by my hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. Yes, He has given me the back of His hand over and over again.” He goes on with all his troubles for nineteen verses- and in verse 20 he states: “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, and the poison I have swallowed. I remember it all- oh, how well I remember the feeling of hitting the bottom.”
Then watch what happens next: “But there is one thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope. God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They are created new every morning, how great is your Faithfulness!”
We all depend on something or someone to help us and hold us up inside. When that someone or something comes through, we experience peace, gratitude, satisfaction and optimism about the future. But when that something or someone does not come through we sense anxiety, confusion, defeat and despair. Hope is like oxygen to our souls – we need it to keep going.
We need someone we can trust absolutely to look over us and look out for us. God’s faithfulness offers hopes for everyone no matter how bad things get or look. In fact the secret to living a life of contentment and peace is finding someone who will come through for us 100% of the time! God is faithful to his promises, to His word, to his people and to his character. You can depend on Him 100% of the time. Read Psalm 145:13-19. This is why we sing: Remember your promises, God, remember your people! Oh God!!
God’s Word accomplishes what is was sent forth to accomplish ‘like the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth, and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so does my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return empty but accomplish that for which I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it forth.”(Isaiah 55) When we take God’s Word in and absorb it like the soil absorbs the rain, let it soak our souls- we can count on God’s faithfulness it will bring forth good results.
He is faithful always, even when we are not. Bring our pains, problems, fear and failures to Jesus each day. Jesus invites us to come to him all who are weary and burdened. Take his yoke upon us and learn from Him and He will give us rest.
It is a promise. And he is a promise keeper, because great is his faithfulness. Put your hope and future in the One who will never, never let you down.
“Yet this will I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS! I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” (Lam.3:21-24