Colossians 1:1, “1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.”
- When you study Scripture you always want to draw out the context of what you are reading by identifying the author, and the audience. In verse 1 we see the author is “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
- The Apostle Paul is just a regular guy who has no interest in Jesus, actually opposed to Jesus and Christianity, and he is committing his life to chasing down Christians, throwing them in jail, and putting them to death, BUT in Acts 9 Paul’s life is radically transformed by grace through faith in Jesus, and he spends the rest of his life proclaiming the name of Jesus!
Now, when you study the Scriptures on your own there is a question that is going to pop into your mind, which is, “How can we trust the Scriptures if the Scriptures are written by ordinary people like Paul?”
All Scripture is inspired by God, 2 Timothy 3. The word “inspired” means “God-breathed,” so that these words are about people, by people, but you need to remember the God of Scripture works through people. Does that make sense? Write that in your notes. If the God of Scripture is big enough to speak creation into existence, the God of Scripture is big enough to overcome the corruption of people to accomplish His purpose.
The key word is the Bible is written by “many people.” Every other religious text is written by one person wondering off into the woods and saying, “This is what God is like!” That’s what we see in Islam with Mohammad, that’s what we see in Mormonism with Joseph Smith, but that’s not what we see with the Scriptures.
The Scriptures are made up of 44 different authors, over a 1500-year period, with a variety of different backgrounds and there is one central message, “Jesus Christ is the hope for all of humanity!”
One guy off in the woods, looking up into the sky, writing some things down is called speculation, but the 44 different authors, over a 1500-year periods, with a variety of different backgrounds all pointing to our hope in Jesus is called supernatural revelation.
Colossians 1:2 “2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”
- In verse 1 we see the author, and in verse 2 we see the audience, and the audience is just a regular group of men, women, and children in Colossae, modern day Turkey.
- Now, Colossae, is known for being one of three cities on a river, like Beaumont, Port Author, and Orange, the Golden Triangle, but instead of oil, Colossae is thriving in wool and sheep and dyes so that people were coming to them from all over the world, but in verse 2 the Apostle Paul doesn’t identify the Colossians as shepherds, farmers, designer tunics, but instead the Apostle Paul identifies these ordinary men, women, and children as “saints and faithful brethren in Christ.”
Sometimes because of the Catholic Church we see the word “saint”, and we think “saints” are those people who wear robes, legendary figures, carved into statues. There’s a suburb of Paris called St. Denis, named after a bishop who had his head cut off and then picked up his head and walked around calling people to repentance, so that people called him a saint.
That’s cool, but what the Scriptures teach is that, listen to this, that when we become Christians, by grace through faith in Jesus, we are not only cleansed, forgiven, brought even, but also, made holy, declared righteous, and called “saints in Christ.” That’s the good news of Jesus!
Colossians 1:3-4, “3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints.”
Listen to me, the assumption in Scripture is that when you come to faith in Jesus, your life not only changes in the past (forgiven), your life not only changes in the future (face to face with Jesus for eternity), but also, in the present (deep love for all the saints.)
Now, the problem is that our culture has given us a lot of different definitions for what it means to express our “love and concern for one another.”
- Some of us think it is loving to never get involved in the lives of other people. We tell ourselves, “Why would my involvement in this persons life matter? Better for me to keep people at a distance.” It’s like a sneaky love you never see coming.
- Some of us think it is loving to tell every person we meet what we think, so we walk around giving out orders, “Stop doing this, stop doing that.” It’s like bossy love.
- Some of us like to love the whole world, nobody specific, just generally sending out thoughts of love. I call it ambiguous love.
Most of us love people are like us, similar to us, easy for us, kind people who buy us things, but in verse 4 the Apostle Paul writes, ““since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which you have for all the saints” the “love” in the original language is the word “agape” and “agape is a sacrificial love.
“Agape” love is the type of love that requires you to die to your comforts, your time, your preferences, and even your reputation. “Agape” love is sacrificing for others when it isn’t reciprocated. “Agape” love is giving of ourselves when it isn’t noticed or even appreciated.
“Agape” love is what we see in Jesus. We who are unlovely and undeserving and generally ungrateful, and yet Jesus pours out His life upon us richly.
This is why we are driving toward deeper relationships with one another. In most church families everyone kind of looks alike, talks alike, dresses alike, votes alike, and we don’t always have a lot in common with one another, but what we do have is Jesus, and in verse 4 the assumption is that when you are in Christ, your life is changed, and you will see “agape” type love for one another.
Colossians 1:5-6, “5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth.”
There is a ton in those two verses, but lets just focus on the phrase, “Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” The phrase “laid up for you in heaven” means there is something being saved, or reserved for you in Christ. It is a future promise of what is to come, in Christ, and this phrase is so important, because this phrase is the explanation for the transformation. Does that make sense?
Our future hope in Christ is eternal. Our future hope in Christ is imperishable, undefiled, never fading, reserved in heaven by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5.) Our future hope in Christ is to see all of creation made new, perfected, and working as was intended from the very beginning. Our future hope in Christ is all the injustice of the world being held accountable, and our future hope changes how we live today.
It is possible that some of us this morning aren’t seeing “agape” type love for one another, sacrificial type love for “all the saints.” It’s possible that we are just drifting toward those who are comfortable and convenient. It’s possible the phrase, “love for all the saints” feels overwhelming, but our future hope in Jesus changes everything.
Look, I know it is hard to keep our eyes focused on the future of what is to come. If you ask a child, “Do you want this Slurpee now, or do you want 2 Slurpee’s in a week?” The child will always choose now!
As a result we get swept up in the mundane, we get overwhelmed by the squeaky wheels of life, and we get bogged down by the fear and anxiety in the media, and as a result we pull back, we hold tight, we focus on ourselves. I get it. I do the same thing.
But oh, for us to cry out to the Lord, “Help me Jesus long for the future reward!” Jesus, help us see the anchor we have in You that will always draws us back to Him.
Help us to consume the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8, “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us one day.”
Will you pray that prayer with me church family? Will you let the Holy Spirit lift our eyes to the eternal call on our lives is much bigger than North Village Church?