Colossians 1: God’s Communication- Jesus (Main Central Teaching)

This entry is part [part not set] of 3 in the series Colossians - 1993 - Buck McCallum

Colossians 1: God’s Communication- Jesus (Main Central Teaching)

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The greeting is completely standard, “What’s going on?  I hope you’re doing well…”  One thing we may want to keep in mind about this letter is that Paul did not know these people.  The Church had been planted by another worker.  So these were strangers to Paul.  How would you write a letter to strangers?  What tone would you have?  Would you be direct and straightforward?  etc. etc.

What makes matters more interesting is that he seems to be writing the Colossians because of a falsehood in their Church.  There were some teaching false doctrine.  So Paul isn’t just writing a newsletter to let them know how the mission is going.  There is a little tension in the air.  He has to refute a doctrine, hoping they don’t just write him off in the process.  I think this takes a tremendous confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit.

I have noticed among older, experienced Xians a tendency to be more confident in the work of the H.S.  To give an example, there have been many times that my older brother Dennis has dropped one-line bombs on me that were very crucial.  I think of the time when we were reading a book about being a worker for the Lord.  The chapter we were discussing was on the topic of “the need to be a lover of all types of people.”  He simply said, “I wonder of you’re that way?”  I assured him that the book had been writen about me and there was nothing to worry about…  But both of us knew full well that I was a very exclusive person, still am to a lesser extent.  And that comment is absolutely unforgetable!  It continually comes to my mind in various situations.  Now I would have been tempted to handle things a little different.  When I am aware that someone has a problem with a certain area, my tendency is to give that person a huge book list, and a long sermon…

Well, Paul did write a letter.  But a letter this small, this mild (its a nice letter)… I think he needed to trust the Lord that these folks would really hear what he was saying.

“We give thanks.”  Paul says this about the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonicans, Timothy, and Philemon.  That’s eight groups/people.  If you figure that he prayed for more than “the Church at Colossae,” as some think that Philemon was from Colossae, then that makes his list longer.  And he says this was a continual thing.  Now I don’t know if he was exaggerating or what, but that list is longer than mine.  Most of the time, I don’t even have a list!  I used to keep one when I first came up here, but I quit.  This has inspired me.  I’m not going to be weird and start with a list of twenty to keep up with Paul.  I think I’ll begin with a list of one or two people, and gradually work up as I get out of myself bit by bit.

And Paul thanks God for their “Faith Hope and Love”  Here is a group of names we find together quite often.  Paul indicates that there is a connection between the three.  And I think we’ll take some time to figure that out.

First, we might observe that “without faith it is impossible to please God (Hb.11:6).”  And in another place Pauls says that “whatever is not of faith is sin (Ro. 14:23).”  So you might say that “faith” is very important.  Have we ever studied exactly what faith is in here?  Perhaps not.  Let’s review quickly, if that is possible.

To begin with, faith is always set in opposition to “works”.  For some verses on this we might look to Rom. 4:4,5.  Look how Paul contrasts these two ideas, as if they were two economies.  “If you work, you get what’s coming.”  If you punch the clock, you get the check.  Furthermore, if you don’t get paid, you’ll have a thing or two to say to that boss (like our employees).  Well… you can do that with God too.  He makes it plain enough in scripture, that if you want what you worked for, its yours.  But you may be surprised…

On the other hand, you can place your faith in God to give you what you didn’t work for, what you don’t deserve.  This is how we receive eternal life.  Clear enough?  Good.  (By the way, this contrast is rife throughout the scriptures.  I only gave you one instance, but I could have given many more).

Now let’s turn to James 2.  This passage gives us a little different perspective on the issue.  Look at verse 14, “What use is it…”  Look again at verse 17, “Even so, faith if it has no works is dead…”  Now were getting a totally opposite view on the faith/works issue.  Confused?  I hope so, I often am.

One of the most helpful passages for me has been Heb.11:1-6.  This is the passage where faith is defined most clearly in the Bible.  He begins by saying that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for..”  This is an exciting verse by itself.  He is saying that faith is like the smell of good food or something like that.  When you smell Rick baking a cake, you can tell that there is a source.  You may not be able to see the cake, but you can almost taste it by the smell.  There is an evidence of something you can’t see.  Faith is like that.

I had the fortunate experience of living in a house where my parents, were totally dedicated to the Lord.  They did everything for Christ.  Later, I got to know some other folks who were the same way.  Now when people do this, it makes you wonder.  I have never been an atheist.  When you see people give their life to the Lord this way, you either have to say they are nuts, dellusionary, self-deceived, etc.  Or you have to admit that there is something to it.  By the way, I confess that I am irreverant enough to say that my parents are nuts.  I’m waiting for senility to set in…  But their absolute sanity and wisdom had to be a result of their Christianity…

Faith is like this.  You can tell a God is there, even when you can’t see Him, because His people excercize faith.  This chapter goes on to show how people gave their lives for Him…

Note also verse 6, “..that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him..”  This explains it for me.  If you believe that He is there, and that He has a reward for those who seek Him, you will seek Him!  Its that simple.  Not really, all kinds of stuff gets in the way…

So we have faith.  Faith is indespensable.  Aren’t all these texts saying it is important?  But in I Cor. 13 Paul says that Love is greater than either faith or hope.  Maybe we can share some ideas on why this is and how this is.

Back in Colossians, Paul indicates that love is rooted in hope.  Hope is actually one of the causes of love.  This is an interesting relationship.  We see it demonstrated all the time.  For example, when we see someone who is intensly selfish, hoarding things, they see opportunities for advancement in people and things… You can be sure that this person has no concept of what God could do for him/her.  They genuinely feel that if they don’t look out for themselves, no one will.  But that is a lie.  The truth is that God does want to look out for us… This is hope. Sets you free to get into others..

Finally, Paul says in verse 6 that “the gospel” is constantly bearing fruit wherever it goes.  This is good news.  It is also something Paul does pretty consistently.  He reminds his readers of what is going on throughout the rest of the world.  That people are getting saved elsewhere.  This is really healthy.  The Church at Colossae had the same tendency the rest of us have.  We can begin to think that this here is the extent of God’s work.  He’s doing some things in the rest of the world that are really exciting.  I think that it is His will that every Christian begin to see His work in the whole world.  This is part of a whole perspective.

You see, we may think it is pretensious or “out of our league” to try and keep up with and even be involved with God’s work throughout the whole world.  God doesn’t see you that way.  Xians are actually the only folks who really understand what it is all about.  One of the best ways to get this kind of perspective is to read some books about the way God works in the world.  See Acts, Exodos, Genisis, Kings, Chronicles, Prophecy…

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