The Family Memo: August 10, 2017
Info: upcoming events
M3: Journey of Faith – Children’s Membership Class
August 6-27 @ 5-6pm, Room 308.
M2: Faith Commitment – Parent of 2 yr olds/1st grade Bibles
August 27 @ 9:15 AM, Room 322
- Global Missions Conference – September 10-13
- Good News Club Restart – September 12
- G31: Missions – September 10 – November 19
- Church-wide Picnic – October 1
- Thanksgiving Service Project – November 18
- Student Christmas Party – December 9
- Senior Retreat – 1/20/2018
- Disciple Now – 2/16-18-2018
Believing in an Unbelieving World
Jesus as the exalted Christ: Colossians 1:3-23
Do you see Jesus as elevated or familiar, simply as a friend, or as the treasure of greatest value in your life?
The first thing Paul does in this encouragement is to give them a picture of Jesus and the exalted Messiah. He will do this through two prayers, with which we ought to be familiar, and a poem, which is theologically foundational in its content.
Exalted, passive participle; Raised to a lofty hight; elevated; honored with office or rank; extolled; magnified; refined; dignified; sublime.
I. 2 Prayers:
A. Prayer of thankfulness for their faithfulness; (3-8)
Paul displays pastoral care by expressing that he always thanks God for the Colossians when he prays for them. Even as he lifts up the Colossians, and is thankful for their growth and spiritual health, his focus and attention is on Christ.
We see this in the names and titles he uses in directing his prayer toward God;
We see this also in that his prayer is one of thankfulness to God for His work in their lives;
The first cause of Paul’s prayer is the hearing of their faith in Christ, and his thanksgiving to God sees their faith as a gift from God.
The second cause of his thanksgiving is their love for all the saints, and his thanksgiving sees their love a gift of the Spirit.
It is striking that this faith and love is apparently grounded in their eternal hope.
Paul points out that this is the gospel the learned from their pastor, Epaphras.
We see that this prayer of thanksgiving is from and through and to Christ, as the root of their identity together and their most excellent treasure.
B. Prayer for their growth in spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; (9-12)
Even as Paul commends them for their faithfulness, in his thanksgiving to God, he prays that they will continue to grow spiritually by knowing God’s will and how to live it out.
“He would not have them ignorant. He knew that spiritual ignorance is the constant source of error, instability, and sorrow; and therefore he desired that they might be soundly taught in the things of God.” C.H. Spurgeon
It is foolish to try to serve God without knowing His will. (Romans 12:1-2) This knowledge comes by the work of the Spirit, applying it to outlives in a way that works it out in us in wisdom, or right application of truth.
From this right application of truth comes a spiritual understanding of God, the things of God, ourselves in relation to Him and to the world. This understanding ought to result in a manner of life that is of the same character of the Jesus. This character of life is pleasing to Christ;
It bears spiritual fruit in every good work –
It continues to grow in the knowledge of God –
It is strengthened with the power of his glorious might –
It gives thanks to God –
II. A Poem: (13-23)
Paul writes a poem, about the crucified and exalted Jesus, to help the Colossians to grow in all these ways.
A. Jesus is the true image of God, as author and king of creation.
It is the Father who has delivered us, in Christ, from the domain of darkness, in to the kingdom of Christ.
He did this by the work of redemption, the price for our release was paid by the blood of Jesus, gaining for us the removal of our sins from us, so that they are no longer barriers that separate us from God.
We gain this as an inheritance, so that everything we have and everything we are now belongs to Christ. The exalted Christ is our deliverer and redeemer, transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, so that the kingdom of Satan no longer has dominion over us.
Image (eikon) expressed two ideas;
Likeness, as in the image on a coin or the reflection in a mirror.
Manifestation, with the sense that God is fully revealed in Jesus.
“He mounts up higher in discoursing as to the glory of Christ. He calls him the image of the invisible God, meaning by this, that it is in him alone that God, who is otherwise invisible, is manifested to us, in accordance with what is said in John 1:18, No man hath ever seen God: the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath himself manifested him to us.” J. Calvin
Firstborn can describe either priority in time or supremacy in rank. Jesus is the image of the Father and the mediator of creation.
B. How Jesus is the head of a new creation, a new body.
Jesus is the head of a new humanity, describing Jesus’ relationship to the church; source of the church, as we refer to the head of a river. As the source of the Church, His eternal life is a prototype for His people.
Christ is preeminent in all things because in Him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. God was pleased to dwell fully in Jesus, and was pleased to reconcile all things to himself through Jesus.
Jesus’ atoning work is full and broad; all aspects of creation being reconciled through Jesus, every tongue and tribe and nation, angels and creation itself groaning for redemption as a new heaven and new earth.
We don’t make our own peace with God, but Jesus made peace for us through His work on the cross. Jesus’ blood saves us as a payment, or atonement, for our sins. It is in that sense that it covers those who believe, therefore, also reconciling us to one another.
Here Paul goes back to our former state as alienated; this transfer of ownership, from Creator God to Satan and self, because of sin, has affected us in both mind and behavior. However, now we have beed reconciled, or made right, as partakers of his body by his substitutionary death. As a result, we are members of His one Body, presented before Him in perfection. We must make sure that we are members of His body by faith, by continuing to look to Christ alone as the source of our salvation.
God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints, and has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
So this passage is a confession of praise concerning the preeminence of Jesus as God’s Son, the Christ, and His role in creation and redemption and the fullness of the image of God, and the head of all things, even the church. It is in Jesus that God’s glorious temple presence dwells, and through Him (death and resurrection) that God reconciles himself to humanity and all of creation.
Therefore, a true desire to be saved means a desire to be made holy, blameless and irreproachable, not merely a desire to escape the fires of hell on our own terms. Those truly reconciled must truly persevere in the truth of the gospel.
It is important for Christians to continue in godly conduct, but we are not saved by our godly conduct. So it is even more important for Christians to continue in the truth of the gospel, because we are saved by grace through faith.
“If the gospel teaches the final perseverance of the saints, it teaches at the same time that the saints are those who finally persevere – in Christ. Continuance is the test of reality.” F.F. Bruce