Summary: The key to the faith-filled, love-filled life is to daily cultivate our awareness of and our joy in the hope laid up for us in heaven.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 1. Today we are going to begin a preaching series on this book of the Bible that we will finish in November. The preaching schedule was handed out and emailed out if you need another copy of it you can get it from the table in the back of the sanctuary. I will be preaching the majority of the sermons. Pastor Simpkins will be preaching five of them and the first of which is next week. I personally am looking forward to that.
Let me take a few moments to explain why. I have learned from both my teachers and from the experience of the last 21 years that God’s people are greatly benefited from going through a book of the Bible from start to finish. There is a place for teaching on individual topics. But something unique happens when we go through a whole book together and get the bigger picture of what God has to say to us in the order that he says it in his word. We see not only what the Bible teaches but what it emphasizes and doesn’t emphasize; what is a priority and what is secondary, and how different teachings fit together and balance each other. We deal with topics we might otherwise avoid. And above all, we see how everything in Scripture ultimately points to Jesus Christ.
This letter to the Colossians points to Jesus Christ. Let me read verses 1-2 to introduce it and then give an overview of what the letter teaches us.
READ COLOSSIANS 1:1-8
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
This is a letter from the apostle Paul, a servant called by God to plant and care for local churches. He wrote it to a church of faithful believers – the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae. This isn’t a church that Paul planted. He only knows how they are doing through the testimony of others, particularly a man named Ephaphrus who pastors the church. And how they are doing is fairly well – there is much to be thankful for – but there is one particular threat to their faith. There are some people who are spreading false teaching, spreading what Paul calls “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition …and not according to Christ (2:8).” We will deal with that false teaching on Sunday 16 August.
In the process of countering this false teaching, Paul lays out what is according to Christ, and how it affects all of life. For the first 1 ½ chapters, he lays out the true gospel hope, what he calls “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Then he shows how this hope of glory is the power to slay sin in our lives and to put on the character of Christ, and he tells us how it affects our every relationship – with God, with the church, with family members, employers, and with unbelievers. It is a letter that leads us to Jesus Christ and his glory and shows us how that makes a difference in all of life. And I am eager to preach this good news from Colossians.
“There’s no place like home!” This claim echoes on the pages of the finest literature. Is anybody here homesick? Is anybody here counting down the days until you’re finally home? My roommate has a spreadsheet that counts down the remaining time until he leaves by the numbers of months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. I have a feeling that he is not the only one a little preoccupied with leaving here and being home again. I know that there are some of you that are counting down your time here until you’ll be there. Every person to one degree or another has a longing for home.
I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll begin with the bad news. You and I long for better days, especially when we’re here in the desert but even at least occasionally when we are at a place we call home. We somehow know that our world is less than it was made to be. And we hope that it will one day be set right again. In short, we yearn for the goodness that was “before the fall.” Why do we find it so difficult to accept the world as it is? Are we merely discontent, or is something more profound at work in our hearts? C.S. Lewis believed that our desire for something better is a gift, a way of reminding us of what it is we lost and what it is we hope to regain.