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In the dark? Look for The Son

            

             Paul wrote three epistles and one letter while held in bondage the first time in Rome. The first of the epistles we are looking at is Colossians. This epistle and Ephesians hold many of the same verses. As a matter of fact, I think the two share seventy plus identical verses. Let’s begin.

            The first three verses show Paul identifying himself and Timothy. Three and four address the church’s disposition concerning their faith and love for the saints. Take a look at verses five and six:

 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 6that 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.

 

            So the church is commended for their attitude and growth. Since the Christian church was new and by the way, today we face the same problem they did; false doctrines and teachers were and are ready to expound of everything but Christ at cross and the empty tomb.

            Verses seven and eight teach of Epaphras, the one who started the church and further declarations of their established belief in Christ. Verses nine through fourteen will be examined.

 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. 10And 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, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

            The above scripture is pretty easy to understand. Paul in I Thessalonians says to them to not cease praying. God’s people should pray. That’s a simple thought. When I wake in the morning, the first thought I have is “Why another day.” I’m kidding. The first words I silently declare is thanksgiving to God. I thank him for allowing me another day. I thank him for all the blessings I have, and I thank him for his shield of protection. After that, I pray for people that I know and for those who don’t know Christ. Paul is expressing his desire for these new Christians to grow in Grace by knowing God by studying the Word, Christ Jesus.

 

            The next part is a piece of scripture that truly misleads people that superficially glance at it. When a man was asked to explain who Jesus is, the man quoted this verse. That’s perfectly fine, but then the man incorrectly explained what the verse meant. Before diving into the verse, and the ones that follow, let me say what the verse doesn’t mean. God did not create/make Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For 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. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And 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. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and 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.    

            The Gospel of John begins with in the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. Before the beginning there was I Am. If you don’t know where this comes from, I’ll be brief. Moses when called of God to lead the Israelites out asked (paraphrased), “Who do I say sent me?” God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.   Here’s a quick list of some I Am statements from Christ.

John 6:51:"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;"

John 8:23: And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I AM from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

John 10:9: "I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

John 10:11: "I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

John 10:36: Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, "I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 15:1: "I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

            So, the line about first born over creation means that Jesus was before all things alongside the Father. Part of the Gospel message is spelled out in the closing verses above. The second half of the Gospel is the empty tomb. Verses twenty-one through twenty-three remind us of the Good News.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But 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— 23if 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.

            There are many people, Christians and non-believers that use verse twenty-three as a way to teach salvation is not permanent. Let’s look at two verses again.

22But 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— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

            Why would Paul say people have been made right with God by Christ’s sacrificial death and that they were free from accusation IF they continue in faith? Some argue that salvation is based on works. These people are wrong. How can I say that? The implication of verse twenty-three is that the true Christian’s faith will not waiver. In other words, the real Christian will continue to grow in Grace, know God, and will live a life that reflects Christ. Christ taught His disciples a parable about four kinds of dirt and how that is representative of people who hear the message. It’s located on this site under Christian Dirtbag.

            Chapter one concludes with Paul’s descriptions of working for the church and mentions the mystery of the ages. This refers to Christ as Messiah. The scriptures of old foretold the coming of the Lord, but until the reveal of Christ, it was unknown.

            Chapter two initially begins with Paul continuing to talk about his struggles for them with verse two meaning that he just wants to see them, the church flourish and grow again in their faith in Christ. Verses six through eight offer easy statements to follow.

 6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 8See 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.

            Easy Tinican paraphrase: You call Christ your savior right? Well, then act like it. Don’t follow every new idea, thought, or philosophy that says All is God, and it’s good.

            Let us look at verses nine through fifteen:

9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In 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, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

            Circumcision. Ouch, right guys? The very act is cutting off. We see verses nine and ten explain Jesus was fully God as well human (bodily form). Verse eleven says that through Christ, we are cut off in essence by putting off the sinful nature. Verse twelve elaborates on the baptism concept by saying we are buried with Christ and raised by faith in God. There are some that will shout but The Bible says you must have faith in Jesus, but here it says your faith in the power of God. I again redirect you to the I Am statements. I’ll give you one more that fires up the non-believer. They refute this statement perhaps more than any of scripture. Jesus spoke the words recorded as John 10:30. "I and the Father are one."

            The verses continue reiterating the point that before the cross, people were walking dad in sin (Thanks Eve and Adam). The sacrificial death, Christ’s payment in full of our sin debt cancelled out or rather fulfilled the written code (Mosaic Law). Let us take one more look at verse fifteen:

 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

            Ever wonder why so many pastors say that Christ at the cross defeated hell, death, and the grave? Why do we sing Victory in Jesus? The answer is simple and is stated above. The powers and authorities Paul speaks of were Romans or Jewish priests. He is talking about the Prince of the Air, Satan and his ilk. Christ’s death and resurrection were bridging the gap between God and his most precious creation, you.

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. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do 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. 19He 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.

            For those that don’t know, the Mosaic Law forbade certain foods. Jesus overrode that when He spoke to Peter in Acts 10:15. Christian brothers and sisters, we as His people should not get so worked up and focused on ceremonial rituals and other elements of Christian like (angel worship) that our eyes and hearts are no longer set on the cross and I’ll say that empty tomb. Entry into Heaven is not based on whether or not you drank a beer, wine, or had a BBQ sandwich. I’m not going to drink as a Deacon because I don’t ever want to be a stumbling block to any other younger, new believer. Plus I’ve witnessed the devastation excessive alcohol causes.  Verse nineteen should remind us all of that kid song about the knee bones connecting to what thigh bone? You get the idea. The Head is Christ, the body is the church and the phalanges are you and brotha and sista.    

 20Since 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: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such 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.

            Paul continues saying if they are one with Christ then they should not follow such man made ordinances that appear wise, but lack lasting countenance.

            Chapter three brings the Colossians and us some simple yet effective guidelines to live by.

 1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

            Isn’t that just a great feeling? As His, shouldn’t we look to Christ for everything instead of Oprah and Phil?

 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

            The scripture above is easy to understand, but difficult for most to follow. Shut up gossiping, don’t scream out in anger, don’t lie, and don’t cheat emotionally or physically on your spouse. Jesus taught that just looking with lust equals adultery. Do you remain silent when you hear an off color joke? Don’t. Speak up! We know that the Jews denied Jesus as the Christ, but they also wanted to deny salvation to the Gentiles regardless of the fact that prophecies of old foretold of their salvation as well. Verse eleven states this in that salvation is free to all. Many will use that line (Christ is all, and is in all) saying, “Jesus loves me so I can do what I want!” Jesus lovers them that is true, but the ones that love Jesus will keep His commandments. Wait. What? I thought you said earlier that the Christian is not under a to do list. Jesus says “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” What commandments? I say not just the ten, but all of them. Look at what is written in Galatians 6:2. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. In other words going along with what Paul has already written, the Christian soldier if you will, keeps his eyes on Jesus and continually seeks a deeper knowledge and relationship with Him.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

            As joint heirs to eternity with Christ we all are priests in the effect that as a Christian our job, our purpose is to spread the Good News, i.e. The Great Commission. We see verses thirteen and sixteen state this. In other words, we follow the leader.

18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Men, this doesn’t make you the ruler dictator, sitting on your butt while the wife does it all)

 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Yes, Dear and love your wife)

 20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Clan the room, amen)

 21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Don’t anger the children-teach them, lead them, love them)

 22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (Work hard even if the boss isn’t evaluating you)23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.

It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

            The final chapter begins with Paul reminding masters to be mindful of their servants because they too have a master, Jesus in Heaven. Paul asks for prayer from them in verses two through four. Verse five instructs the Christian to make the most of the time by speaking with those who do not know Christ as Lord. Verse six tells us to speak slowly and wisely. The final verses of this epistle detail individuals including Mark, who had previously abandoned Paul. I believe he did this so the folks would be more accepting of him. May we follow Paul’s words in regard to our Christian conduct in a secular world.