THE FULLNESS OF GOD’S PEOPLE IN CHRIST Colossians 2:11-15
Proposition: Since we can be complete in Christ with a full commitment to Him, there are certain benefits of a Christ-centered faith as we follow Him.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge God’s people to be experience the fullness of following the preeminence Christ and enjoying the benefits of a CHRIST-CENTERED FAITH..
Illus: Years ago, a teenage boy came to know Christ. His parents did not take him to church & the only way he could attend was to catch the church bus that came by his house to pick him up each Sunday. The young man accepted the Lord, & he tried to get his parents to attend, but every time he asked them, they refused. The pastor of the church went to the young man’s house, & also invited the parents to come, but they let him know they were not interested. Nothing could touch them, but this healthy looking, nice young man around 18 or 19 years old died an unexpected death one evening in his sleep. The first thing those parents did was to call their son’s pastor. When the pastor arrived, both parents sat crying with hearts so broken you could hear their crying out in the streets. They said to the pastor, ”What are we going to do?” The pastor said, “When it comes to bringing him back, there is nothing you can do. But if you ever hope to see him again, you have to go to where he is in heaven, & if you do not accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you will never see him again.” That night both parents came to know the Lord due to the death of their only son! They were able to experience the benefits of a Christ-centered faith due to the Christ-centered faith of their son.
Kent Hughes states: “As we take up Paul’s words in verses 11-15, we find him further elaborating upon how the Colossians’ fullness was accomplished in Christ. They participated in the events of the Cross—namely, Christ’s death, burial and resurrections. This was foundational in their fullness—and ours.” This shows us the benefits of a Christ-centered faith. The thought of Christ’s sufficiency is now stressed by the mention of things Christ has done. These have to do with spiritual cirumcision (vv. 11, 12), forgiveness of sins (vv. 13, 14) & victory over the forces of evil (v. 15).
The cry of the Gnostics was: “Christ is not the Creator, the carnation was not real and Christ was not enough.” Then there was the Judaizerss: “The Gentiles must be circumcised.” Paul shares the benefits of a Christ-centered faith. We do not need circumcision, but faith in Jesus Christ. Paul magnifies the unique-ness of Jesus as God’s Son. We enter into a new relationship, a new redemption by the death of Christ on the Cross. There is a reminder of the victory that we can experience due to the triumph of Christ when He died & rose again from the dead.
I. A NEW RELATIONSHIIP(vvs. 11-12) “In Him you were”-- We are people who know that Jesus died for us. In baptism we celebrate our crucified and risen Lord, our new identity, and our new name. After the Israelites were circumcised, Moses pointed out that what they really needed was a circumcision of their hearts by God. We are incorporated into His death on the cross as symbolized in our baptism.
1. The confusion (v. 11a) “circumcised with the circumcision”—
Circumcision was the typical rite of Judaism. It is a minor surgical operation in which the knife was applied to the flesh of the male child. Spiritually it signified death to the flesh, or a putting aside of the evil, corrupt, unregenerate nature of man. All through the history of Israel there had been two views of circumcision. There was the view of those who said that in itself it was enough to put a man right with God. It did not matter whether an Israelite was a good man or a bad man; all that mattered was that he was an Israelite and that he had been circumcised. But the great spiritual leaders of Israel and the great prophets took a very different view. They insisted that circumcision was only the outward mark of a man who was inwardly dedicated to God. Circumcision was, indeed, the badge of a person dedicated to God; but the dedication lay not in the cutting of the flesh but in the excision from his life of everything which was against the will of God.
2. The confidence (v. 11b) “by the circumcision of Christ”-- What the verse is teaching is this: The circumcision of Christ refers to His death on the cross of Calvary. The thought is that when the Lord Jesus died, the believer died also. He died to sin (Rom. 6:11), to the law, to self (Gal. 2:20) & to the world (Gal. 6:14). (This circumcision was “made without hands” in the sense that human hands can have no part in it by way of merit. Man cannot deserve or earn it. It is God’s work.)
3. The commitment (v. 12a) “buried with Him in baptism”— The burial proves that the old life is now a thing of the past. Paul teaches that we musty of the cross: The agony of the garden, the complete submission to the divine will, confession of Christ, crucifixion (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:5), death (Rom. 6:3), burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), rising with Christ (Rom. 6:5; Col. 2:12; Col. 3:1); nay, we must ascend and reign with Him (Eph. 2:4-6).
Albert Barnes states that a corpse is insensible. It sees not, hears not and feels not. The sound of music and the voice of friendship and of alarm, do not arouse it. The rose and the lily breathe forth their fragrance around it, but the corpse perceives it not. The world is busy and active around it, but it is unconscious of it all. It sees no beauty in the landscape; hears not the voice of a friend; looks not upon the glorious sun and stars; and is unaffected by the running stream and the rolling ocean. So with the sinner in regard to the spiritual and eternal world. He sees no beauty in religion; he hears not the call of God; he is unaffected by the dying love of the Savior; and he has no interest in eternal realities.
4. The confession (v. 12b) ”through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead”— Baptism, then, is not a magic rite, but an act of obedience in which we confess our faith and symbolize the essence of our spiritual experience. Faith is the instrumental cause of that experience and, apart from real faith, baptism is an empty, meaningless ceremony.
Illus: Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901) was noted as a moral and religious person. The following is an account of how Queen Victoria gained real assurance that she would go to Heaven. "One day, after an especially moving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, she asked her chaplain if one could be absolutely sure of Heaven. He told her he knew of no way to know. How tragic not to know! "News of this conversation reached the ears of a humble Gospel minister named John Townsend, who then wrote a letter to the queen. He told her that the Bible is clear that we can know for certain, for God does not want us to go through life with doubts. As proof, Townsend cited two Scripture verses. The first verse was John 3:16 and the second verse was Romans 10:9. The explanation of God’s simple plan of salvation impacted the queen. In her reply, Queen Victoria told Townsend that she now, "believed in the finished work of Christ for me and looked forward to meeting Townsend in Heaven."
II. A NEW REDEMPTION (vvs. 13-14) “He has made alive”— He speaks of the moral and spiritual state brought about by acts of transgression. The difference between a lost person and a saved person is the difference between death and life. The person who is lost in sin is described as being spiritually dead with no mere power over his life to overcome sin or to atone for it than a dead person. No person in his own strength can resurrect oneself. By dead Paul does not have in mind the mere physical condition, but rather the moral and spiritual state brought about by acts of transgression. This death is that of moral and spiritual lifelessness.
1. The assertion (v. 13a) “You were, being dead in your trespasses and uncircumcision of flesh”-- The Apostle Paul now makes the application of all this to the Colossians. Before their conversion, they had been dead in their trespasses. This means that because of their sins, they were spiritually dead toward God. It does not mean that their spirits were dead, but simply that there was no motion in their spirits toward God and there was nothing they could do to win God’s favor. Not only were they dead in sins, but also Paul speaks of the uncircumcision of their flesh. Uncircumcision is often used in the NT to describe the Gentiles. The Colossians had been Gentiles. Therefore, they had been in a position of distance from God, and had given full rein to the flesh with its lusts.
2. The affirmation (v. 13b) “(You)…He has made alive together with Him”-- But when they heard the gospel and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, they had been made alive together with Christ, and all their trespasses had been forgiven. In other words, what had really happened to the Colossians was that their whole lifestyle had been changed. Their history as sinners had come to an end, and now they were new creatures in Christ Jesus. They were living on the resurrection side. Therefore they should say “goodbye” to all that characterized them as men in the flesh.
3. The atonement (v. 13c) “having forgiven you all trespasses”. Forgiveness of sin--In Christ we have been forgiven because of Christ’s death on the cross. All of us have a personal debt toward God that must be repaid. The debt that we owe is a debt that we can never repay. You may hope that your good deeds may be enough to pay for all of your sins on the last day. Those good deeds are what you are supposed to do anyway. Isaiah says that even the "good deeds" we can point to are filthy rags in light of the holiness and purity of God Himself. The eternal torments of hell will not even begin to pay back the debt that we owe to God. Christ took the debt that we owe to God upon Himself, then mounted on the cross to receive the punishment that we deserve. He took upon Himself the penalty that we all deserve. The cross really paid all your debts. In Christ and in Christ alone, we have been forgiven and brought into fellowship with God.
4. The acknowledgement (v. 14) “Having wiped out the handwriting” - The Apostle Paul is thinking not only about the Ten Commandments, but also about the ceremonial law that was given to Israel. In the ceremonial law, there were all kinds of commandments with regard to holy days, foods, and other religious rituals--all a part of the prescribed religion of the Jews. They pointed forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus. He has forgiven your sins. Christ has wiped the slate clean of your sins and given you a fresh start.
1). Cancellation of debt "having wiped out"-- "Wiped out" is the Greek word exaleipho, which means: "to wipe off," like erasing a black-board. When Christ was nailed to the cross, the debt is forgiven for us once for all.
2). Cleansing "taken it out of the way"--Now guilt is gone. Satan black-mails & reminds us of our failure. God says: "Total cleansing means total for-giveness." Paul’s language very likely refers to an old practice of nailing the written evidence of a canceled debt in a public place as a notice to all that the creditor had no more claim on the debtor. When Jesus was crucified, the sign nailed to his cross con-tained the words "The King of the Jews." Paul boldly ignores the real superscription, & imagines the Law as nailed above the cross. Paul’s language here very likely refers to an ancient practice of nailing the written evidence of a canceled debt in a public place as a notice to all that the creditor had no more claim on the debtor.
Illus: David Dykes tells about this experience, On one of my trips to visit our partner city in China, I was walking downtown one afternoon. In front of one of the largest stores there were three men sitting on low stools, each with a sign on the sidewalk before them. A policeman was standing behind them. I asked my Chinese friend who those men were. He explained they were petty criminals, and as part of their punishment they had to sit in a public place with a sign listing their crime. One of the signs said, “Drunk driver.” The other said, “Thief.” Another said, “Drug user.” Christ has taken away all our sin as we fully trust Him.
III. A NEW REALIZATION (v. 15) “Having disarmed…triumphing over them”-- Paul is saying to those Colossians, "Don’t mess around with those aeons and intermediary spirits. They were all destroyed at the cross." When Jesus died, He spoiled the principalities and powers. He made a public demonstration over them and triumphed over them. Where was it that He broke Satan’s power? At the cross.
1. The concern (v. 15a) “Having disarmed principalities and powers”-- The basic analogy here is of a slave dealer who captures people with the intention of enslaving them. It is graphic. Some translators have struggled to convey this imagery vividly: “captured” (NEB), “carry you off” (Barclay), “don’t let anyone make a sucker of you” (The Cotton Patch Version). What seems like Christ’s defeat on the cross was actually His victory over sin, death, and Satan himself. We are offered newness of life. In the glorious resurrection, Christ triumphed.
2. The Conqueror (v. 15b) “He made a public spectacle”-- The picture Paul is painting here is one of Roman conquest. Those to whom he was writing would be familiar with this image. When the Roman army would return from a victorious campaign, they would enter the city in a triumphal procession. They would parade, displaying the treasures of their conquered foe. Those who had been captured in battle and who would become slaves would march in chains before the cheering crowd. The dignitaries that had been captured would be put on display.
3. A conquest (v. 15c) “triumphing over them in it”--Paul goes on to say, "triumphing over them in it." The words "triumphing over" mean to lead prisoners of war in a victory procession. This is the image Paul uses here for Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness. appearance, and rode on a horse that was worthy of admiration. The victorious military commander brought back not only the spoils of war but the prisoners & leaders of the subjugated nations to which he’d gone, openly displaying them before the multitudes before taking at least one of them - the leading figure - & having him executed to symbolize not only their subjugation, but the removal of the country’s authority to be replaced by Roman rule.
Illus: Doug Meeks was in Korea on a lecture tour when he was told that a local tailor could make a suit for him. Their work is internationally renowned. So Dr. Meeks went to a Korean tailor whose name happened to be Smitty Lee. After getting to know him a bit, Dr. Meeks asked how he happened to get that very non-Korean name. Smitty told him that many years ago he fought with the Americans during the Korean War. He became good friends with an American GI named Smitty. Often they shared the same foxhole. One day the enemy lobed a grenade into that foxhole. Smitty dove on top of it, surrendering his life to save his Korean buddy. “So,” said Smitty Lee, “I took the name of this man who died for me. I must live for him.”
CONCLUSION: In closing, remember:
1. Christ is the eternal Son of God. Make Him the center of
2. Christ is our Redeemer. He will redeem us.
3. Christ is our Conqueror. We have conquered. And we will
conquer. Let us enjoy the fullness we can experience as
followers of Jesus Christ.
Illus: L.E. Maxwell from Three Hills, Alberta, Canada told this story: During the Civil War, George Wyatt was drafted into a unit. This was an unfortunate day for Wyatt. For he had a lovely young bride and an infant that he might never see again if he went to war. It also would be impossible for her to care for the crops and farm. This was a great problem for Wyatt. He would have to go to war or face prison. For him, there seemed to be no other rational choice. Not long after the draft notice, an old friend of Wyatt’s, Richard Pratt, dropped by. Pratt was a hunter and had been an outdoors man all of his life. When Pratt arrived at the Wyatt’s home, he found a family broken in spirit. After hours of talking, shouting, pacing, crying, there was a deep silence. Pratt broke the utter stillness and said, ’I’ll take your place! I’ll go, and you can stay.’ Wyatt said, ’That’s impossible! My name is on the draft notice, I have to go. There is no way to get off that list.’ Wyatt thanked Pratt for the suggestion and asked him to forget it and spend the night in their home and use the daylight hours to do his business. They finally went to bed. However, sleep failed them all. The night was short. In a few hours, Wyatt got up without a word and went out into the morning moonlight to cut stove wood for cooking and warming the cold morning hours. His young bride began tending to their restless infant while their friend, Pratt, was alone in the living room, immersed in thought. Suddenly, a knock came at the door. Startled, Pratt said, ’I’ll get it!’ When he opened the door, the men asked, ’George Wyatt?’ ’Yes! What can I do for you?’ They explained their mission of taking every man on the list to the court house to sign in and get suited up for the Confederacy. With his hand on the door, blocking their entrance to the home, Pratt looked back and said, ’Bye, honey!’ He closed the door before she could answer, and Pratt left the farm house, with the men thinking he was Wyatt. At the court house, Pratt signed the usual papers under the name of George Wyatt and took Wyatt’s gun, clothes, and horse. After a briefing and bit of training, he went into battle and was killed at the siege of Vicksburg. He was buried on the battlefield. After the battles of Shiloh and Gettysburg, the conflict had grown more hopeless. The frantic draftsmen were going to every house and demanding that every man prepare to go to war. For it looked like Richmond might fall soon. They came to the farm house of George Wyatt. Wyatt met them at the door and asked, ‘What do you want?’ They said they were drafting every man that was alive. Wyatt smiled and told them, ’I have died.’ They asked what he meant. He told them that his friend, Pratt, had gone to the Court House and signed in as George Wyatt. Wyatt told them to go to the courthouse and check out their own records. He said, ’You’ll find that the Judge recorded my death and added to the record that I was buried on the field of battle, near Vicksburg.’ Wyatt took a big breath and said in a strong voice, ’You can not draft me because your judicial records say that I am dead.’ George Wyatt was never drafted and could not be sent to war. Wyatt was dead to the Confederacy just as you are dead to sin. The Confederacy had no authority over a dead man. Just as George Wyatt was freed from the Confederacy draft, the cross of Christ has freed us from the law of sin and death. We are forgiven and live because of Christ. (Gal. 2:20)
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