Summary: The Series of Colossians, entitled "The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ" God gives His Church a New Identity. God gives His Church new resources.
The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 1
The People of God
January 25, 2015
We start a new series today in the book of Colossians, I have entitled “The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ,” as Paul sees Christ Supreme and Sufficient for the Christian life. As followers of Christ we desire to be more spiritual and grow in maturity and so there are a plethora of books and teachers out there who will give you steps or secrets to growth yet the majority of them never address those dark and deep crevices of the human heart that never seem to go away. That is the situation the Colossians church faced and there were false teaches who were happy to give them a superior way to be more spiritual. These false teachers were telling the church to observe special days and follow special practices to spiritual growth. This teaching was a mix of Judaism, folk religion, and pagan ideas in which they were squeezing Jesus into their own ideas making him less than supreme and sufficient for the christian life! I think many of us need to hear that today.
God Gives Gifted Leaders to Build His Church
Paul starts the letter by identifying himself as 'an apostle of Christ Jesus.' In the New Testament the word apostle is used three basic ways. First, in a generic sense as one sent out, like a missionary or representative, by the church for a special or specific purpose. Then the word is used in a semi technical sense of one with a particular and permanent commission by Christ or the local church. Then it is used in a technical sense, as it is used here, of the twelve apostles who were commissioned by Christ for a permanent and distinct leadership role in the universal church. So Paul has a unique ability to address the issues in the church even though he had never been there. He could speak with authority and unique insight which is why Epaphras, who planted the church and was the pastor of the church came to Paul looking for help. He also says he was 'an apostle by the will of God.' He did not choose to be an apostle, God ordained that he become an apostle, which he describes as God choosing him and setting him apart before he was born. A significant part of Paul's ministry was writing to address the needs and issues the churches faced while he was in prison. Timothy is also mentioned here. Timothy is described elsewhere as his son in the faith and traveling with Paul on his missionary journeys. Paul had invited Timothy into a discipling relationship in which he taught, mentored, and coached him. Timothy developed from being a helper into being an invaluable ministry partner of Paul. He was Paul's representative, a stand in for Paul, teaching and trouble shooting in churches.
God Makes His Church His Family
Look at the vocabulary in these first two verses, Paul uses brother twice and describes God as our Father. We are spiritual family because we have the same Father. God has made us his children in the miracle of new birth. The church is called the household of God, that God is the Father of the household, and that Christ is the Son over the household. God does not see any children outside his household. As family we gather and live life together. You do not pick your own family, they are given to you. And you don't just hop around and change churches like you do clothing. Most people change churches for the wrong reasons and circumvent their own spiritual growth. People often leave for the very reason God wants them to stay and grow from it. The difficulties we experience in relationships are the tools God intends to use to teach us and mature us.
God Gives His Church a New Identity
The letter is addressed to the 'saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae.' 'Saints,' means first that we are set apart by God for his purposes. It comes from the Old Testament idea in which God chose Israel out of all the nations to be his special people for his purpose. As a result they are a holy people and a holy nation. As the people of God they were to take on the character of God, becoming like him. Those same two ideas are carried over as the church fulfills Israel as the people of God who are chosen from all the nations and set apart for his purposes with the promise of becoming like him. They are faithful brothers 'in Christ,' one of Paul's favorite words, here synonymous with being a Christian. It is used several times in this letter and describes our realm of existence, God has put us in Christ. All of us are born 'in Adam' which describes the realm of our existence in bondage to sin, under the guilt and condemnation of sin and Satan. Yet in Christ we enter a new realm of existence free from bondage to sin and guilt and condemnation. We are saints in light, who have been transfered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his Son. Yet they are also still in Colossae to be lights who shine in their city.