Summary: Celebrate the wonder of your salvation!
Celebrate: “to demonstrate satisfaction in by festivities.” But you did not need a definition of celebration did you? All of us have been a part of some kind of celebration. It may have been an athletic accomplishment. It may have been an academic achievement. The state of Florida has been celebrating the outcome of a recent sporting event. By the time that game was over Monday evening confetti was flying, cheerleaders were crying, and coaches were sighing; all for an accomplishment that will be totally forgotten by most of society in just a few years.
We celebrate outstanding accomplishments. We celebrate memorable events. Why then, do we so often fail to celebrate the greatest accomplishment in human history; the greatest event in our individual lives? It is an accomplishment that did not occur on a gridiron, in a classroom, nor in a courtroom, but on a cross. It was an event that changed, not just the course of time, but the course of eternity. It was the accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ when He paid the penalty for our rebellion against God and purchased for us deliverance from our sin, and the assurance of a home in heaven. We may not drop confetti, launch balloons, or kill a fatted calf, but we ought to continuously celebrate the wonder of our salvation.
I encourage you to open your Bible to the New Testament letter of Colossians as we begin a series of messages I have entitled, “Is Christ Enough?” This was the nagging question confronting the church at Colossae. I want to begin our study in Colossians by laying down a
historical foundation for our study.(v.1-2) This letter was obviously penned by the apostle Paul.
He was writing from a Roman prison cell. While Paul was under house arrest, word came to him about a troublesome situation arising in the city of Colossae. This is the only one of the prison epistles penned to a church that Paul himself did not start. He had no direct involvement in the starting of this church in Colossae. In fact, there is no evidence Paul had ever been to the city of Colossae.
The recipient of the letter was obviously the church at Colossae. The city of Colossae had once been a prominent, prosperous city located near the fertile fields of the Lycus Valley. It had once been part of what was called the “Golden Triangle”, which included the cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossae had been known for its wool industry. Sheep grazed in the fertile pasture lands surrounding the town, and dyes were made from the nearby chalk deposits. Politicians and dignitaries often frequented the city streets. But the valley of Lycus was also known for its frequent earthquakes. Whether it was the result of one such earthquake cannot be clearly ascertained, but for some reason the Roman government rerouted the road system running through the region, bypassing Colossae altogether for the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.
The Romans made Laodicea a conventus; the capital of a district of twenty-five towns. Hierapolis was known for its hot mineral springs that many believed possessed healing powers. So for commercial interests one went to Laodicea. For luxury and pleasure, one went to Hierapolis; and Colossae was reduced to a “what used to be” town. Yet in this town composed of an odd mixture of Jews and Greeks, a church had been established. Its founder appears to have been a man named Epaphras.
But a strange new teaching had begun drifting across the city; the fallout of which was beginning to poison the purity of the gospel. The danger of this false teaching was so disturbing that Epaphras had made a 1300 mile journey to Rome to discuss it with Paul. It was a mutt philosophy, blending elements of what would later be known as gnosticism, with the elements of Judaistic legalism. It challenged the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of Christ. It called into question the entire created order of the universe. This is the concern Paul will be addressing in the Colossian letter. But rather than attacking the negative, Paul chooses to begin with the positive. He celebrates the wonderful work of God in the lives of these Colossians.
CELEBRATE YOUR SALVATION!
We are to celebrate the work of God in our lives. (v.3a)
We give thanks to God because our salvation was birthed in the heart of God. The rescuing work of the cross was carried out by Christ, but the redemptive plan of salvation was birthed in the heart of God Himself. John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Ephesians 2:4 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.” Every one of us in this room would be hopelessly, helplessly lost were it not for that glorious conjunction, “but God”. How grateful I am for those two simple words. I was hopelessly lost, “but God”. I was bound for an eternal hell, “but God”. I could not save myself, “but God”. How wonderful those two words ought to be to those of us who have experienced God’s mercy as it was moved by God’s love. God did not ask us to earn salvation. God did not ask us to prove our worth in order to be found suitable for salvation. Our salvation is God’s undeserved, unmerited favor offered to every one of us as a free gift.