Summary: What does God expect of His church?
The book of Colossians shows that being connected through faith to Jesus Christ has totally changed our lives:
• We have a new hope.
• We have a new perspective on life.
• We have a new joy.
• We have a new family.
• We have a new way of living.
AUTHOR: The apostle Paul (1:1). Timothy is also mentioned in the opening verse, probably because he was Paul’s closest companion.
DATE: Around A.D. 60. Ephesians and Philemon probably were written around the same time.
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Prison (4:10, 18), probably in Rome. Colossians, along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon, are commonly called the prison epistles.
RECIPIENTS: The Church at Colosse (1:2). Paul had never visited Colosse. Apparently, the church was founded by Epaphras (1:7-8).
THEME: The absolute supremacy and sole sufficiency of Jesus.
[In this sermon series on Colossians, we will not be able, because of time, to fully cover every part of the book. But some of these areas will be addressed in our small group studies.]
I. Christians should be convinced of the TRUTH.
Is there such a thing as absolute truth? For example, is the Bible true and everything that disagrees with what it says false? Less and less people today think so. They say, “If Christianity works for you, that’s good, but don’t tell me that I have to believe what you believe.” It’s considered offensive and intolerant to tell someone of another religion that there is only one way to God. Many people—even people in the church—believe that Christianity is simply one of the many roads leading up the same mountain. But look at how Paul describes the gospel:
• “the word of truth, the gospel” (v. 5)
• “God’s grace in all its truth” (v. 6)
This is where we get the expression “the gospel truth.” “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32).
A. We must KNOW THE TRUTH before we can recognize what is false.
Those who are able to detect counterfeit bills learn everything they can about a genuine bill.
It was Paul’s desire and prayer that the Colossians know the truth because they were facing false teaching:
• “…fill you with the knowledge of his will” (v. 9)
• “…growing in the knowledge of God” (v. 10)
B. We must exercise LOVE and HUMILITY in proclaiming the truth.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
C. We must LIVE OUT CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES if we want people to listen to the truth.
“Don’t just tell me; show me!”
II. Christians should be filled with HOPE.
“We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven” (vv. 4-5).
In our culture, hope is a blind optimism without any foundation. Someone might say, “I hope the Leafs will win the Cup this year.” In the NT, hope refers to the confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises. Hope is not wishful thinking; it’s confidence.
The Greek word translated “stored up” carries the meaning of “to be reserved, to be set aside for someone.” The tense of the verb indicates that this hope has once and for all been reserved so that nothing can take it from us (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2, p. 109).
A. We should live as if this life is not all there is.
B. We should think of our amazing future when life doesn’t go exactly as planned.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
III. Christians should value PRAYER.
Let’s pretend that we were all given a survey this morning that asked the question, “Do you value prayer?” I’m guessing that most, if not all, of us would answer “Yes.” But what if the survey also asked, “How much time do you spend in prayer?” Would your answer to that question reveal that you really value prayer? If you really value your car, shouldn’t you use it? If you really value prayer, shouldn’t you pray?
A. We should pray REGULARLY.
“Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you” (v. 9).
We tend to pray only in emergencies—when we or others are in need, in trouble, or in difficult circumstances.
B. We should pray with PRAISE and THANKSGIVING.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you” (v. 3).