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Welcome to the Kingdom

Colossians 1:1-14
Pastor JB

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Hi GAMErs,

Today we begin the book of Colossians.  Since I was a 15, Colossians has been a special book to me as it contains one of my "life verses", which I'll share with you in the days to come. 

Here is some background on the book of Colossians to help us understand what's going on in this letter:

1. Colossians is a letter written by Paul in approximately 60 AD to a church located in the ancient city of Colosse, located in the heart of what is modern day Turkey.

2.  Paul had never met the church community at Colosse before (see Colossians 2:1).  The one who started the church was probably Epaphras (1:7), a student and disciple of Paul and a native of that area (4:12).  Although Paul had never met the church at Colosse, because of Epaphras his relationship to them was like that of a spiritual grandparent who had great concern for their well-being.

3. Colossians is one of Paul's four "prison letters" in that Paul wrote the letter of while he was in prison for preaching the Gospel, probably in Rome.  The other three prison letters are Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians. 

4. At the time when Paul wrote this letter, the church in Colosse was being affected by a philosophical movement that tried to combine Christian ideas with ideas from pagan religions, Judaism and Greek philosophy.  This is known as religious syncretism, combining different parts of different religions to create a new one.  The effect of this movement was to create a belief system that was foundationally different from the Christian faith.  Paul saw how this movement was threatening to take the Christians in Colosse away from their faith in Christ and into a hollow and deceptive philosophy.  So Paul writes this letter to emphasize how central and unique Jesus is and to steer them away from false teaching. 

The main message of Colossians is relevant for us today, especially when the mainstream media in Canada and around the world tends to preach a very superficial and self-centered form of faith that removes Christ and His cross from the picture.  As we can see below there are many powerful lessons we can learn from this book.  Let's get started!

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

On verse 1:  Paul would often begin his letters to churches with this phrase "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God". In other words, for Paul, being a church planter (an apostle) was not merely something he chose for himself. Rather, Paul had 100% confidence that it was God's will for his life. 

What can we learn from this?  When you know God's will for your life, it gives you confidence and direction.  Pray that God would fill you with the knowledge of His will for your life (see v9).

Colossians 1:2 (NIV)
2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

On verse 2:  At this time some Christians at Colosse were starting to veer away from their faith in Christ. Yet Paul calls them "holy and faithful".  Why? It's because Paul chose to see his fellow brothers and sisters with visionary eyes: eyes that saw them not just for who they are now but who they could become in Christ. When you're leading people, have a vision of who they can become and speak to them that way. 

Colossians 1:3 (NIV)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

On verse 3:  Typical Paul.  He always begins with thanks.  That's a great habit for us to learn too.  No matter how big the problem you need to address, always begin with thanks.  When you choose an attitude of gratitude, it helps you to see the situation you're in with the right perspective.

Colossians 1:4 (NIV)
4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints--

On verse 4:  Faith in Christ and love for people go hand in hand. If someone believes in Christ but does not love people well, especially other Christians, then that person's faith in Christ is either immature or nominal.

Colossians 1:5-6 (NIV)
5 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
6 that has come to you...

On verses 5-6:  Faith, hope and love.  It's a trio Paul talks about often in his letters.  Why believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Two reasons.  First, it's because it's true (it's "the word of truth", Paul says).  Second, it's because in the gospel of Christ we find a hope that is not just for this life but for eternity ("the hope that is stored up for you in heaven").  From that hope we find faith to help our relationship with God and love to help our relationships with people. Praise God!

Colossians 1:7-8 (NIV)
7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

On verses 7-8:  Here we get the first mention of Epaphras, a student of Paul who most likely started the church in Colosse.  To see Paul and Epaphras working together reminds us that building God's church is not a one man show, but requires a great team.  Decide to be a great team player who builds Christ's church in loving cooperation with others.

Colossians 1:9 (NIV)
9 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.

On verse 9:  Paul was clear on God's will for his life, but he also wanted the church in Colosse to be clear on God's will for them too.  That includes knowing the truth about who God is and what God wants.  So Paul and his team keep praying that God would fill the Christians in Colosse with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 

I pray the same for you.  May you not be in the dark about God's will, but may God fill you with spiritual wisdom and heavenly understanding about who God is and how you are to live this life in response to Him.  Are you in need of wisdom today?  Ask God.  Wisdom comes from Him (James 1:5).

Colossians 1:10a (NIV)
10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way...

On verses 10a:  Here Paul gives the reason why he prays so hard that the Christians in Colosse would know God's will. It's not just for knowledge's sake.  It's for a practical purpose: "that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way".  The reason God gives you wisdom and revelation is not just to entertain you or to tickle your hunger for knowledge.  Revelation is always for the purpose of transformation.  It's so that your life would be transformed and you would live in a way that pleases Him more and more.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NIV)
10 ...bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

On verses 10b-12:  What does a life that is worthy of God and that pleases Him look like? 4 traits:

- you're bearing fruit in the things you put your hand to (v10b)
- you're growing in your knowledge of who God is (v10b)
- you're getting stronger by God's power so that you have great endurance and patience (v11)
- you're joyfully giving thanks to God (v11-12).

May you live a life that is worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him.

Colossians 1:12-13 (NIV)
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

On verses 12-13:  We could not by our own effort earn the right to be part of God's kingdom.  As Paul writes in verse 13, we lived in "a dominion of darkness", captive to sin.  But through Jesus Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, the Father rescued us, called us "saints" (v12, i.e. holy ones) and brought us out of darkness into a kingdom of light.  Because of Jesus, you are no longer a sinner lost in the dark.  You are now a saint living in Christ's kingdom of light. 

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)
13 ...the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

On verses 13b-14:  What is redemption?  Redemption is the buying back of something that was lost.  That's what God did for us. We were lost in our sin, but God bought us back by paying the highest price when He sacrificed His only Son Jesus.  It is only in Jesus Christ through His shed blood that we can have redemption and be forgiven of our sins.  

Heavenly Father, thank You that it is because of Jesus and His shed blood that I am redeemed, bought back, and forgiven.  Thank You that because of Jesus I am no longer a sinner lost in the dark, but a saint living in the light.  I pray today for Your wisdom, that I would know Your will and please You with my life. I pray also for my church, that together You would use us to bring many more people into Your kingdom. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

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