Summary: Through our salvation in Christ, we are made alive in Him. Through His death, we find our life. Not only are we made alive through Christ’s death, but we begin a new life in Him, thus making us "A-life" in Christ. The sermon explores what it means to
“A-Life” in Christ
Stephen H. Becker, M.Div.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
July 29, 2007
9th Sunday After Pentecost
Friends, you and I are alive and have “a-life” in Christ! In our reading today from Colossians, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Christians in the young Church there at Colossae, a Church that he helped plant through a man in Ephesus whose name was Epaphrus. Unfortunately this young Church had fallen into some practices that placed human doing and human wisdom up and above the absolute saving Grace of Jesus Christ. Paul writes this letter to the Colossians to address these false practices, this heresy, and through the letter, we today can learn so much about who we are, as Christians, who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. Though this letter written some 2,000 years ago, we also can learn from the great Apostle to the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul, when he teaches us of the absolute adequacy of Jesus as our Savior, as the Lamb of God who brings us life, compared to the emptiness we have on our own, in our own human wisdom. Just like the Colossians, we believers have also been set free from what sin has earned us, set free to be alive in Christ, set free to live “a-life” in Christ. So let’s open with prayer…
As Christians who are active in our Church here at St. Peter’s in Elk Grove, or for most Christians who are active in their Churches in America, we have the opportunity to be instructed in our Christian faith. We have the Bible that we can reference. We have our Lutheran Confessions. There are Bible studies and Bible colleges. The young Churches being established during that first century didn’t have these kinds of documents or these opportunities to look back and study our faith. And so as the young Church began to grow, it was often attacked by outsiders, or even by individuals within the Church, who wanted to insert their own teachings, their own human wisdom into the true Gospel given us to by Jesus, and recorded for us by His apostles. Here in Colossae we find just such an event.
The Good News of Jesus Christ had been carried to Colossae, but there were individuals there who were falsely teaching that Christians must still perform certain things, in addition to believing in Jesus, in order to receive salvation. For example, they were teaching that the Law of Moses still had to be followed, including what to eat and what not to eat; they were teaching circumcision, and teaching what can and cannot be touched in addition to believing in Jesus Christ as the Way to life. In reality, they were really teaching that Jesus’ mortal ministry, Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, His resurrection, and ultimately His ascension, are not sufficient to save us. So here in Colossians, Paul refutes these false teachings. He sets the record straight. And in order to do so, Paul teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He is God in the flesh, and that He is absolutely worthy and sufficient for our salvation. Here in Colossians Paul teaches that salvation is in Christ alone and through that salvation in Christ, we receive eternal life. Paul outlines for the Colossians what Luther did for us in the Reformation: explaining that we can put our complete faith in Jesus’ atonement for our sins, and that by completely trusting in Christ’s finished work of the cross, we leave behind our old lives of sin to begin a new life, ALIVE in Christ.
So let’s take a look at each of these verses and see what Paul is saying and how his words apply to you and me today. In verses six and seven, Paul says “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Paul is obviously talking to individuals who have already been taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, people who at least to a degree, began living Christian lives. And so living the life of a Christian, Paul tells us we should be overflowing with thankfulness, knowing that we have eternal life right now because of what Jesus has done for us. That’s interesting because remember Paul is refuting those who are saying “don’t do this and don’t do that.” In other words, Paul is saying that we don’t have follow certain rules in order to be saved because faith in Jesus brings us immediate salvation…immediate eternal life. We can be overflowing with thankfulness that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ, received through our faith, and so having that eternal life, we naturally will want to live a righteous, Christian life.