Summary: This is the first in a series on the Book of Colossians. It deals with how th reality of Christ’s supremacy in all things defines the growth of Christians’ faith.
The Supremacy of Christ
The Nature of Christian Growth
Text: Colossians 1:1-8
Illustration: A Good Kid Gone Bad. He was basically a good kid. He came from an ordinary family and had a good mom and dad. He went to church every Sunday and never seemed to be out of the ordinary. So, when he began to get into a little trouble at school, everyone just chalked it off to him just being a kid. After all, every kid gets into trouble every now and then. As the trouble began to be more frequent and more troubling, no one seemed to be concerned. He was a good kid, just testing the waters or spreading his wings a little bit. He had a good raising. So, he was a good kid. When he was arrested for burglary and assault & battery, everyone was shocked. How could this have happened? they asked. He was such a good kid. Now, he is just another example of a good kid gone bad.
This story is very similar to the story of the church at Colossae.
Background: Paul wrote the book around 61-63 A.D. from prison in Rome (Acts 28:30, 31 - For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.). He is writing in response to word he has gotten from Epaphras (the apparent founder of the church and a student of Paul.) Predominantly Gentile church with a history of multiple pagan gods. Influenced by Greek culture, manners, various forms of paganism. Seems to at the least be a threat of straying by false teachers.
Growth to Christian Maturity is characterized by:
II. A Celebrated Faith (v. 4) – we have heard of your faith – a reputation for faith
A. Faith was present – (Hebrews 11:1) faith is assurance
Quote: John MacArthur – Faith means to be persuaded that something is true and to trust in it. Biblical faith is not a “leap in the dark.” It is based on fact and grounded in evidence, both from Scripture and from the testimony of those who have gone before us.
It is easier to believe the truth of the gospel than the lies against it.
Genuine faith does not exist in a vacuum but will result in a changed life.
B. It is an active faith - The construction suggests it is the practice of faith that is intended, not just the presence of it.
C. It is “in Christ” – it denotes not the object to which their faith is directed, but the sphere in which “faith” lives or operates.
Illustration: Inside out vs. outside in. Many Christians seek to change their lives from the outside in. The thinking is that if we behave in a certain way we will eventually be changed on the inside to what we are seeking to become. The reality is we arechnaged from the inside out. What we are on the inside determines our behavior and actions. In order for our lives to be changed, our hearts must be changed. When our hearts are changed, then our lives will be changed. It is from the inside out.
Application: TV Show “Profiler” Profile Christ – seek to know the way He thinks in order to begin thinking like Him.
Illustration: Scratched on the walls of one of the Nazi prison camps were the words, “I believe in the sun even when it does not shine. I believe in love even when it is not expressed. And I believe in God even when He is silent.”
heir faith expressed itself in”
III. A Love for the Saints (v. 4)
A. True love is grounded in faith
Faith in God and love for God’s people always go together
1 John 3:23 - And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
Vertical faith precedes horizontal love, because love is the outworking of faith.
Galatians 5:6 - For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
B. Their reputation of love preceded them –
John 13:34 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
The love of the church was known broadly. It was heralded before them. Their love was known before they were known.
Illustration: A minister was speaking about all the things money can’t buy. “Money can’t buy happiness, it can’t buy laughter and money can’t buy love” he told the congregation. Driving his point home he said, “What would you do if I offered you $1,000 not to love your mother and father?” A hush fell over the congregation. Finally a small voice near the front, raised an important question, “How much would you give me not to love my big sister?”