Summary: Colossians speaks of "the mystery" that has been revealed to us. What is this mystery and what can it mean to us?
OPEN: One of the greatest scientists of our time was Albert Einstein. He was a man who was so focused on his scientific theories. He was so focused, he often neglected even the simplest things of life, such as personal appearance (as evidenced by his hair).
One time, Albert Einstein was taking a train out of town for a speaking engagement. As he sat in his seat engrossed in his work, the conductor stopped by to punch his ticket. Looking up in shock, Einstein realized he didn’t know what he had done with his ticket. Frantically, he began to search his coat pockets, and then his briefcase.
Gently, the conductor said, "We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought ticket. Don’t worry about it."
But, as the conductor moved along, he looked back to see Einstein on his hands and knees searching under the seats for his ticket. The conductor walked back, "Dr. Einstein, please, don’t worry about it. I know who you are."
Exasperated, Einstein looked up and said, "I, too, know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going."
APPLY: The Christians at Colossae had gotten to the point that they weren’t sure where they were going either.
Somebody had begun to convince them that they weren’t going to heaven like they tho’t.
Somebody had slipped into their midst and begun to tell them they weren’t acceptable to God
Somebody was confusing them so much that they weren’t even sure what was expected of them anymore
They had gotten to the point where they not only didn’t know where they were going…
They weren’t even sure WHO they were.
I. To understand what was going on here, it helps to realize that back in the days of this letter - behind the scenes - there was a spiritual battle taking place
You see, the congregation at Colossae was composed of Gentile believers. A Gentile was anyone who was not of Jewish descent. (I asked the audience how many of them had “Jewish blood” in their veins? No one raised their hands. “Well, then – you are all Gentiles”)
Gentiles had always been despised by God’s people. The Jews referred to them as dogs, and perhaps had even worse names for them. Jews refused to spend any time with them if they could avoid it. Jews wouldn’t eat with them, work for them, play with them. If a Jew purchased anything from a Gentile, the product was washed to cleanse it the filth of those who had no part in God’s covenant.
So when the church 1st got started… it is no surprise that there were no Gentiles in the church. However, after the church had established itself in Jerusalem, God gave the Apostle Peter a vision indicating that (the once hated Gentiles) were now acceptable in His sight to receive salvation. And then God sent him to the household of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius - to preach the Gospel to him and his family.
Along with Peter, there came 6 Jewish Christians. And these Jewish believers had every intention of circumcising these Gentile dogs before they ever let them be baptized. However, God had something else in mind
Back in those days, the normal process of salvation was as it is now: belief, repentance, confession and baptism in to Christ. THEN, after you’d had the Holy Spirit living within you,
…an Apostle might lay hands on you so that you could receive a special “gift” from God…like tongues or prophecy.
However, this time, God short circuited the process.
Before Cornelius & household could express their belief in Christ
Before they could declare they wanted to repent of their sins
Before they could confess Jesus as their Lord
And before they could be baptized into Christ…
… God bore witness to them (Acts 15:8) that they were acceptable just as they were - no circumcision required.
These uncircumcised, unbaptized Gentiles began to speak in tongues & glorify God. At that point, Peter turned to the Jews that were with him and asked: "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?…” Acts 10:47
Why ask the question? Because that was exactly what the Jewish believers intended to do. They weren’t about to allow Gentile dogs to enter the waters of baptism uncircumcised. However, once God had born witness that He had accepted them as they were… no one dared say “no” to their baptism.
II. However, there were a number of Jews in the church that refused to accept this
They would visit Gentile church, after Gentile church, and demand Gentiles become Jews before they could become Christians. And a group of these “circumcisers” had just hit town in Colossae. Their message was basically this:
UNLESS you are physically circumcised… and