Colossians - Lesson 1 -- Chapter 1

Colossians 1:1-2
The Incomparable Christ


Colossians 1:1-2:
The book of Colossians is about the all-sufficient Christ, the sovereign Christ in whom
is everything that we need, in whom is everything that we have as Christians.
The gospel of Jesus Christ was not brought to the Colossians by Paul.
Paul tells us in the passage we just read that Epaphras had come to the Colossians
with the word of truth.

Epaphras had been in Ephesus some (125) hundred miles to the west of the Lycos Valley
and he had heard the preaching of Paul there and Paul compliments him as that faithful man
who took back the gospel to the Colossians and where many came to Christ
and a church was formed in that city where Paul had never been.

In this letter, Paul is responding to what Epaphras has told him about the Colossians.
Epaphras has visited Paul and he has told Paul that there were new teachers --
false teachers in the congregation, and they were confusing the young Christians.
They were combining Christian truths with Jewish ritual practices
and even pagan beliefs and practices.

Look at the first two verses:
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God and Timothy our brother to the saints
and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
" (1:1-2)

In the salutation to the Church, Paul's greeting is intended to minister to the Colossians.
Paul tells them who he is, and gives a blessing to the believers at Colossae.
Look first at this great salutation.

Paul's claim begins first.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God."
Paul's authority comes from God.
Paul has never been to this church before.

There are new teachers at this church, and visiting teachers who are teaching them
a "new and improved versions of Christianity."

Paul does not know them personally, and they do not know him.
So, he tells them that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
and that he has the authority to write what he is teaching them.

Paul addresses his letter "To the Saints at Colossae."
When Paul says "To the Saints at Colossae," he doesn't mean extraordinarily holy people.
He doesn't mean super spiritual Christians who are most involved in all the activities
of the congregation.
Paul says this to all the members of the congregation.
He is saying this to those who have been set apart by God for His own people.

This relationship to God is underscored by the word, "saints," just like the relationship
that they have to one another is underscored by the word, "brothers or brethren".

Saints describes their relationship to God.
Brothers describes their relationship to one another.
They are saints.
Those who are in Christ, and only those are saints.

So, Paul greets the faithful brethren at Colossae.
This word from Paul is an encouragement to faithfulness, and to obedience.
And Paul uses that term, "brother", to show their closeness,
and when he calls the Colossians, "brethren," it is a call to express the unity of believers.
We are to be united in love, united in mutual love, united in ministry, united in mutual ministry,
and united in fellowship.

That leads us to the blessing.
Again, we look at verse 2 which says, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ
which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace,
from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
."

Paul is pronouncing a blessing, a benediction, on the Colossian Christians.
He says, "Grace to you".
That grace is God's favor towards them and us.
Paul reminds them that this grace is freely bestowed by God even though
they did not deserved, and even though they were at enmity with God.
God's grace is undeserved.
Ant then he adds, "peace," to the blessing -- "grace and peace from God our Father."

Peace speaks of an inner peace that comes only from God.
It is a peace that knows that we have been brought into a right relationship to God.
This comes by trusting in Jesus Christ, and there is nothing that can separate us
from the love of God which is in Christ.
It is a peace that calms us even in the trials of life.
Our peace is not based on an absence of adverse circumstances
It is based on the presence of Christ in our lives.
That peace comes from relationship with living God.

Colossians 1:1-8:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you
from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have
for all the saints — the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up
for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth,
the gospel that has come to you.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing
among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ
on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit
"
(Colossians 1:1-8 NIV)

The message of the book of Colossians centers on having a right view of Christ
and on how to live the Christian life.
As Paul was writing this letter, he knew that there were problems facing the church.
He knew that the Christian life was being distorted, and he knew that the truth
about Christ Himself was being distorted.
The message of Colossians is that Christ is both supreme and sufficient for our every need.

To know Christ is to experience the powerful and radical life changing grace of Almighty God.
And it all centers in Christ.
As Christians, we need to know more about Christ.
We need to focus on Him.
We need to study about Him.
We need to grow in our knowledge of Him.

Being a Christian transforms our attitudes.
And the first change that Paul sees is the emergence of faith.
When we receive the truth of the gospel, we abide by faith.

Look at verses 3 and 4:
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus."


Hebrews 11:1 is a definition of that faith:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

We exercise faith each day.
When we drive across a bridge, you may not be aware of it, but we are exercising faith
that the bridge will not collapse.
When we eat at a restaurant, you are exercising faith that the food served to you will not kill you.
These are simple matters of faith based in our experience.

Faith in Christ is like this.
We believe, and then we act on that belief.
We trust, and then we obey.
We must not only believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins,
we must also commit our lives to live for Mim because of what He did for us.

Look at Colossians 1:4.
"…we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints…"
Christians, we are to live a life characterized by love.

Listen to what Jesus said:
"A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

(John 13:34-35 NIV)

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
Anyone who does not love remains in death.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know
that no murderer has eternal life in him."
(1 John 3:14-15 NIV)

So, are you walking in love?
It's easy to love the lovable.
But it takes God's power to love the unlovable.
And God will give us the power to love even the most difficult.

We abide in faith, walk in love, and rest in hope.

Look at Colossians 1:5:
"the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven"

We have a hope.
It is the hope of Heaven.
We know that this life is not all there is.
We know that one day we will experience eternal life in all its fullness.

We read in 1 Peter 1:4 of "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade
— kept in heaven for you
."

This is the hope of every Christian.
Hope makes us willing to endure, and even sacrifice for future glory.
Hope allows us to rest on God's promises.
We should focus more on hope.
We should focus more on heaven.

And that hope enables to live in the here and now.
It enables us to recognize what is really important.
The truth of the gospel of Christ transforms our attitudes and our actions.
What begins its work on the inside will show up on the outside.

We will grow in Christ.

Colossians 1:6: "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing,
just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it…"


When we receive Christ as our Saviour and Lord, we receive God's great salvation.
Salvation is a continuing process of growth.
Salvation begins in regeneration, as we are born again into the family of God.
Salvation continues in sanctification, as we are changed daily into the image of Christ.
Salvation culminates in glorification, when we receive our spiritual body
and enter into the very presence of Christ.

Right now we are in this process of sanctification.
We should be growing in our faith.
We are called, His disciples", which means that we are learners.
We must focus on Christ, study Him, learn more about Him,
and experience more of Him.

We will become more like Christ.
Our goal must be to become more like Jesus.
We will become more like Christ.

Paul taught this in Romans 8:29:
"For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son."

Are you more like Christ today?
Are you more like Christ today than when you first placed your faith in Him?
That might have been five years ago, or ten, or twenty.
You certainly should be farther along in your walk with Christ now.

Are you more like Christ today than you were last month at this time?
Our goal must be to become more like Christ each and every day.

Colossians 1:9-12a says,
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you
and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom
and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him
in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that
you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father…
"
(Colossians 1:9-12a NIV)

The process of maturation is amazing, when you consider what we are like at birth.
We enter this world as totally helpless little babies.
We can't care for ourselves.
We need someone to do everything for us.

We need someone to feed us, change us, and keep us warm when it's cold,
and to keep us cool when it's hot.
We have no knowledge, no ability to speak or intelligently communicate,
and we don't understand what's being said to us.
We can't use our hands, and we and can't walk.

But we do learn to do all of those things.
We learn to understand what people are saying to us.
We learn to speak, even though we do not know the language.
We learn to communicate, and to walk and how to use our hands.
It doesn't happen overnight, but we do learn.

Considering the state of total helplessness and ignorance in which we entered this world,
that we learn so quickly is absolutely amazing.
And this learning process continues throughout life.
We must never quit learning and growing, and maturing.
We should be more mature at 21 than we were at 12.
And we should be more mature at 50 than at 30.
We should keep growing and maturing.

Just as we had to learn how to live as human beings in this world,
so we must learn how to live as spiritual beings in God's world.
We must learn how to walk spiritually just as we learned how to walk physically.
Just as our parents taught us how to walk physically,
so the Spirit of God teaches us how to walk spiritually.

Paul's desire was that the Colossians should live a life worthy of Christ.
Look at verse 10: "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way
."
A literal translation of the phrase, "live a life worthy of the Lord,"
is to "walk worthy of the Lord."

We walk the way God leads us, and we must live so that God is glorified and pleased.
Paul desire was to walk to please to God.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you
and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom
and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God
." (Colossians 1:9-10).

The emphasis of Paul's prayer was that they needed to grow in their knowledge of God.
And we need to know His will.
We need spiritual wisdom and understanding.

The apostle Peter had a similar emphasis:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ."
(2 Peter 3:18 NIV)
We need to learn more about Christ.
To do this, we must feed upon God's inspired Word.
In God's Word we learn about Jesus Christ.
He is the message of the Bible.

We also gain knowledge of Christ by experiencing more of Him.
A Christian is someone who knows Christ, and also experiences Him.
We need to experience Christ in order to know more of His grace.

Paul knew that the more he learned about Christ, the more there was to know.
Paul was wanted to experience more of Christ.
And so should we.

We must not only walk in increasing knowledge, we must also walk in fruitful service.
"…that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work…"
(Colossians 1:10b NIV)

Christianity is about living for Jesus.
We must meditate upon the Word, seek Him in prayer, wait patiently to hear His voice,
and worship Him.
But we must also show His love in practical ways to others.
We must reach out in kindness and do good deeds.
We must practice our faith.

That is what Paul meant when he said we would be bearing fruit in every good work.
The fruit of the Spirit is described in Galatians 5:22-23:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control."
(NIV)

This fruit that begins on the inside as our nature is transformed.
When the Spirit of God comes into our lives through the new birth, an inner transformation begins.

This inner transformation is Christ being formed in us.
We become more like Christ on the inside.
This is the fruit being referenced in the passage from Galatians.
And this inner fruit will eventually manifest itself in outward actions.
The result of this is the doing of good works.

Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Jesus wanted us to show the world by our good deeds as followers of God.
That is how we are to let our light shine.
When people see us doing good deeds, it will be a positive reflection on our heavenly Father.
So we must walk in increasing knowledge, and also walk in fruitful service.

Additionally, however, we must walk in spiritual power.
"…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience… "
(Colossians 1:11 NIV)

This is so important
We must be strengthened with all power in order to live the Christian life in the first place.
Without the power of God, we simply can't live for Christ.
We may try to live the way a Christian should live, and we may become better,
but we will still fall short.

It takes the power of God to live for God.
When we come to Christ we receive the power of a supernatural life.
We have the power to transform our lives.
We have the power to enable us to resist temptation.
We have the power to enable us to live a life surrendered to Christ.

This power gives us an ability to endure.
We must have endurance in our walk with God.
Hard times will come.
They come to all of us.

We are also told that this power gives us patience.
A confident trust in God gives us patience.
We will never have this patient endurance in our own strength.

It will take the power of God.
We must be strengthened by his mighty power.
We must walk in increasing knowledge.
We must walk in fruitful service.
And we must walk in spiritual power.

And we must walk in joyful thanksgiving.
"…and joyfully giving thanks to the Father…" (Colossians 1:11c-12a NIV)

Giving thanks should be characteristic of our Christian life.
Christians must be thankful.

Think of all God has done for you.
We should be most thankful for our salvation.
Salvation is the greatest gift that anyone could ever receive.
We could spend all eternity thanking God for just our salvation.
But God has also blessed us with countless other blessings as well.
When we see all that God has done, we can always be joyfully thankful.

Colossians 1:12-14:
"... giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints
in the kingdom of light.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom
of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
(NIV)

As Christians, we need to understand clearly just what God has done for us
through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
We need to live our lives with that realization.

Now we will look at three areas of the work of Christ on our behalf.

He has qualified us for an eternal inheritance:
"...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints
in the kingdom of light.
(Colossians 1:12 NIV)

We have been qualified (enabled) by God to receive an eternal inheritance
in the kingdom of light.
It's absolutely wonderful to think that we have been qualified for that eternal inheritance..
We are heirs of the kingdom.

Christ made us worthy to receive this eternal inheritance.
"... in whom [Christ] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:14 NIV)
The work Christ did for us is found in two words found in verse 14.
The words are "redemption" and "forgiveness".

Redemption, which means to buy back.
It means that we were bought back by God.
We have been redeemed.
Are you familiar with the pawnshop.
A pawnshop was located on the bus stop where I would catch a bus to go home from school.

While waiting for the bus, I would window shop.
I would see watches, musical instruments, jewelry, and all sorts of things.
These items once belonged to other people.

People would pawn their articles to receive needed money from the pawnshop.
They would come back by a certain date and pay back the pawnbroker with interest
to redeem their items.
They would buy back the item they owned.
If they did not do so, the item became the property of the pawnbroker.

This is what Jesus Christ did for us.
He made us and He bought us.
He redeemed us by paying the penalty for our sin on the Cross.
He died on that cross in our place.
He took upon Himself our sins.
He was our substitute.
He purchased our redemption by giving His life as a sacrifice.

We have been delivered from the penalty of sin.
Because of what Christ did on the Cross, we no longer have to pay the penalty for our sin.
We are set free from the penalty and guilt of sin.
We are no longer guilty before God.
Christ has taken our guilt away.
Praise be to God!

He has also delivered us from the power of evil.
" For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness…" (Colossians 1:13a NIV)

Christ qualified us for an eternal inheritance through His redemption
and has forgiven our sins, and has delivered us from the power of evil.
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.
Evil is real.
Satan is real.
There is a real kingdom of darkness.
It is a kingdom that has no geographic or ethic boundary.

The Bible teaches us that we come into this world belonging to this kingdom.
We come into this world with a desire to sin.
We were slaves to sin.
All of us have sinned.

In Christ, we have been delivered from the bondage to sin,
and we have been set free from the dominion of darkness.
That is what Jesus Christ has done for us.

He not only paid the penalty for our sin in His death on the cross,
but He also broke the power of sin over us.
This does not mean that we are free from the temptation to sin.
All of us are tempted.
But the Bible tells us we not are tempted beyond that which we are able to bear,
and with the temptation, God will make a way for us to escape.

We do not have to yield to temptation.
We can say, "No", to sin.
We are are no longer slaves to sin.
Sin does not have control over us.
We have been set free from the power of sin.
God has qualified us to inherit in his eternal kingdom.
He has delivered us from the power of evil.

He has also transferred us into Christ's kingdom.
"…and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…" (Colossians 1:13b NIV)
We are now citizens of the kingdom of God.
He delivered us from the dominion of darkness in order to bring us into His eternal kingdom.
Our citizenship has been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ.

Now, let's look at Colossians 1:15-19:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn
from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…
" (Colossians 1:15-19 NIV)

Who is Christ to you?
What does it mean to follow Him?
How would you define your relationship to Jesus Christ?
If you had to rate His importance in your life, how high a rating would He get?
On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you put Jesus, in terms of how important He is to you?
Is Christ first in your life?

In our study, apostle Paul presents several reasons why Jesus should have first place
in our lives.

Jesus should have first place in our life because He is the manifestation of God.

The first reason why He should be given first place in our lives is because of His relation to God.

Notice what it says in Colossians 1:15a (NIV): "He is the image of the invisible God."
In other words, He is the actual manifestation of God.
In the Greek, this word "image" is the word eikon (eijkwn).

You might recognize its English derivative –– "icon".
It is an interesting word because it points to several things.
It points to a statue or a portrait, or in our modern vernacular, a photograph.

What is being said here is that Jesus Christ is the picture of God.
When Jesus came to this earth, God the Son came in the form of a man.
He walked among us and lived among us.
In Christ, we see the image of the invisible God revealed.

Do you want to know what God is like?
Look at Jesus.
Do you want to know what God would do if He came to earth and had to live like you live?
Just look at Jesus.
He shows you exactly what God would do..
He is the image of the invisible God.
He also deserves to be first in our lives because He is the creator of the universe.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Colossians 1:15-17 NIV)

Jesus Christ is Creator of the universe.
Paul calls him the firstborn over all creation.
In the Greek the word, "firstborn", is "prototokos".
This word signifies priority and preeminence.

Paul is saying that Jesus deserves priority over all things.
He deserves first place over all things.
He is supreme over all.
He is supreme over all things is because He was before all things, and created all things.
He is the Creator, God.
He called all things into existence.

The terms, "visible, invisible, thrones, powers, rulers, authorities,"
are all terms for angelic and demonic spiritual beings.
By His creative hand everything, visible and invisible, physical and spiritual, was created.

Christ is the Creator, and we should serve Him for that reason alone.
But He is more than Creator.

He is also the Sustainer of the universe.
We read that "in him all things hold together."
He holds all things together.
He is the Sustainer.
Without the presence of the eternal God of the universe, things would literally fly apart.
But there's something more.

He is not only the Creator of all things, and the the Sustainer of all things,
He is also the Destiny of all things.
Our text says that "all things were created by him and for him."

Everything that has been created, was not only created through His power,
but also created for His purposes.
God made you and me for His purpose.
Christ brought us all together in this place, not so we could do our things,
but so we could do His thing.

God gave you the profession you're in, not so that you could do your thing,
but so you could serve His purpose.
If you're a doctor...lawyer...store clerk..., you are there so that you can show people
what God is like living in a human being.
You are on mission for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ has called you to fulfill His purpose.
You were created by Him and for Him.
Christ should be first in your life because He is the manifestation of God,
and because He is the Creator of the universe.

But there's another reason mentioned in this chapter of Colossians.
Christ should have first place in your life because He is the Head of the church.

"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn
from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him
…" (Colossians 1:18-19 NIV)

Paul gives us the image of a physical body.
In a physical body, the head is the controlling part of that body.
A body is not much good without a head.

It is an essential part of the body.
We can survive without a arm.... but not without a head.
Paul is saying that Jesus is the boss, He is the ruler, He is the head,
He controls the body.
The body of Christ is the Church.

As Christians, we are all part of the church.
And we should respond to the will of Christ, our Head.
We must discern what Christ wants for His church and then follow him.
Our goal must be that in everything He might have the supremacy.

Jesus Christ demands and deserves first place in everything!
He is the head of the Church.
The Church is like the human body.
We're all members of the body, and He is the head.
He directs us.
It is by His resurrection power by which we live and move and have our being.
We cannot exist without Him.

Jesus is not looking for prominence.
Many churches give Jesus Christ a prominent place.
Jesus does not want, or in any way desire prominence in our affairs.

We give Him prominence when we mention Him every now and then
as we go about doing things the way we want to do them.
We meet and decide what we want to do, and then pray at the end of the decision,
asking the Lord to bless the decision.
That's giving Jesus a prominent place.

But Jesus doesn't want prominence.
Jesus demands preeminence.
He deserves and demands first place.

Instead of deciding what we want to do, and then asking God to bless it after the fact,
we must to come to God, first.
We should come in prayer, seeking His will -- asking God what He wants us to do.
And if our plans are not His, we must discard ours and seek what He would have us do.
We must do that in our personal lives, in our church life, and in every facet of our lives.

Do you just decide what you want to do, and then do it?
Do you sincerely pray about every decision?
Do you ask God beforehand?
"Lord, I've got an important decision to make, what would you have me to do?

Or do you wait until you get in a jam and say,
"God I didn't consult you on this, but please get me out of this mess?"

And sometimes He will because He is merciful, but that's not the way we should live.
We must seek His will in the beginning.
Christ should be first in your life because he is the very manifestation of God.
Verse 19 says: "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him."
Jesus Christ is God the Son.

He desires and deserves and demands first place in our lives.
We must give Him first place in our lives!

Colossians 1:20-23:
"..and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth
or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds
because of your evil behavior.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death
to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —
if you continue in your faith, established and firm,
not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature
under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. "
(Colossians 1:20-23 NIV)

God's Plan of Reconciliation

"…and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth
or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds
because of your evil behavior.
"
(Colossians 1:20-21 NIV)

God has a plan of reconciliation.
Even though we chose to sin and disobey God, He saw our condition and was not content
to simply do nothing.
He was not content to leave us in the sad situation in which we found ourselves,
even though we deserved it.

Sin, you see, has corrupted us thoroughly. In theological terms, we call that "total depravity".
It means that we can do nothing to save ourselves.
We need a power greater than ours to deliver us.
We need a Savior.
And Jesus Christ is God's answer to our alienation.
He bridges the gap.

The Price of Reconciliation

"…by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross…
But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death…
"
(Colossians 1:20b, 22a NIV)

Jesus paid the price of reconciliation.
John 3:16 says that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us.
God sent Jesus to pay the price for our reconciliation.
He paid the price through the Cross.

In our text we read of how He made peace through His blood shed on the Cross.
When Jesus died on that Cross, He was being put to death for our sins.
His death paid the penalty for our sin.
The Bible declares that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

When Jesus died on the Cross, He died in our place.
He was as our substitute.
He paid the penalty that we should have paid.
He took upon himself our sentence of death.
He died for us!

Christ's death on the Cross satisfies divine justice and God forgives us
because of Christ's sacrifice.
It makes us right with God.
It reconciles us to God.

The Purpose of Reconciliation

"…to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…"
(Colossians 1: 22b NIV)

Our holiness is the purpose of reconciliation.
God desires to present us to Himself as a holy people.
We are to be holy in his sight.
We are to be without blemish.
We are to be free from accusation.

This is the purpose of God in reconciliation.
We are being made fit for heaven.
As a part of this process, God is changing us from the inside out.
Not only did Christ's death reconcile us to God, it also works in us to change us
into people who are like God.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God.
" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

When we received Christ, we received His righteousness.
His righteousness was imputed to us.
Now we stand clothed in His righteousness.
It is not our righteousness.
It is His.

Now God now sees standing in His righteousness.
He sees us through Christ.
We are being made fit for heaven.
And one day we will be glorified.
That process has already begun.

" But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
"
(2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB95)

The process began when we received Jesus as our Saviour.
It will be completed at the end of the age when Christ returns to receive us
into His heavenly glory.
At that time we will be totally transformed as we receive our spiritual body.
Until then, we are gradually being transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
This is the process that we call sanctification.

It is a continual and progressive setting apart for God's purposes.
That is the essence of what it means to be holy.
To be holy is to be set apart for God.
That is God's purpose for your life.
That is his purpose in reconciliation.

"…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope
held out in the gospel.
This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven,
and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
" (Colossians 1:23 NIV)

Our faithfulness is the proof of reconciliation.

Have you ever wondered why some people who claim to be Christians
show no evidence of their Christianity?
There are some who claim to be followers of Christ, "Christians",
and yet seem to have no desire to go to church, read the Bible, worship God,
or fellowship with other Christians.
It seems strange that a true Christian would not want to do those things.

There is an answer.
The sad fact is that not all who claim to be Christians are really Christians.
The reason why many "Christians" seem to show no evidence
of Christianity is that they are not really Christians at all.

Christianity is a life-transforming encounter with God.
Christianity is not a religion.
Christianity is not a ritual.
Christianity is not based on our heritage.
And Christianity is not based on our good works.

Christianity is a relationship with the living God.
It is an encounter with God in which we surrender our lives to Him
and He comes into our lives and lives in us.
And if Christ is living in you, there should be some evidence of that in the way you live your life.
Our faithfulness is the proof of our reconciliation.

Real Christians follow Jesus.
Real Christians worship Jesus.
Real Christians study the Bible.
Real Christians connect with a church.
Real Christians like to be around other Christians.
Real Christians share the good news about Jesus.
Real Christians follow Jesus!

" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry
of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting men's sins against them.

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
"
(2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV)

Not only have we been reconciled to God, but we have also been given
the ministry of reconciliation.
We now appeal to others to be reconciled to God.
We are ambassadors of God.

We represent the living God before a lost world.
We hold in our hands the key to heaven.
We have the truth of the gospel of Christ, the good news that Jesus died on the Cross
to reconcile people who were alienated from God.

Colossians 1:24-29: "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh
what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you
the word of God in its fullness — the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages
and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches
of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
"

When your life is over, what do you want people to say about you?
All of us would like to think that our lives made a difference in the lives of others.
We would like to think that we would be missed and remembered by many people
whose lives we had touched in some significant way.
Paul was overwhelmed by the realization that God would use him.
He was amazed that the eternal God of the universe would call him to be His ambassador.
For Paul to be used of God was the most significant enterprise on earth.

Paul was talking about ministry.
Ministry is just another word for service.
Paul had a passion for ministry because he knew that it meant allowing God
to use him for God's glory.

Do you see ministry as your highest privilege?
Do you see service for God as a calling?
Do you have a passion for ministry?

If we want to make a difference in people's lives in this world,
then we need to become passionate regarding ministry.
Do you want to be used of God?
Do you want to make a difference in the lives of the people around you?
I hope so.
If you do, there are several conditions you must meet.

To be used of God we must be willing to pay the price.
"Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking
in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you
the word of God in its fullness
. " (Colossians 1:24-25, NIV)

Following Christ involves surrender.
We must surrender our lives to Christ.
We must see ourselves as servants of God.

Being used of God will involves sacrifice.
Jesus told us that we would be persecuted for His sake.
If we are going to follow Jesus Christ then we must be willing to pay the price.
That price may be suffering.

Paul says that he suffered for the sake of the church.
He rejoiced that he had the privilege to suffer for their sake.
Paul was speaking of the suffering we endure as Christ's representatives.
When we suffer, Christ suffers.

Following Christ means servanthood and suffering.
The church has always prospered during times of persecution and difficulty.
We have a cause worth sacrificing for.
We have a cause worth suffering for.
We have the most important mission on earth -- to serve Christ.

To be used of God, you must be willing to pay the price.
To be used of God we must focus on Christ.
"... the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations,
but is now disclosed to the saints.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches
of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We proclaim him…
" (Colossians 1:26-28 NIV)

Paul speaks of the mystery that had been hidden.
This mystery is now revealed.
The mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." ....

The focus of Christianity is Christ.
The focus of our ministry should be Christ.
The focus should not be religion, or a philosophical system of ethical behavior,
or rules and regulations, or rituals and good works.
The focus of all we do as Christians should be Jesus Christ.

Ministry is making a difference in people's lives.
That is the purpose of ministry.
If you want your life to be significant, then invest your life in the lives of other people.
When you make a difference in someone's life, you begin a chain reaction.

One illustration of this is the true story of Teddy Stallard.

Teddy described himself as an unattractive, unmotivated little boy.
He was difficult to like, especially for a schoolteacher who had to look at him
all day with his deadpan, expressionless, unfocused stare.

Although his fifth grade teacher said she loved all her students,
Miss Thompson had to admit that deep down she wasn't being honest.
She didn't like him, and she even received a certain perverse pleasure
in marking his papers with red ink and writing the F's with a flair.

Her view of him was already distorted by her perspective, but she should have known better.
As his teacher, she had his records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit.

His records read like this:
First Grade: "Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but he has a poor home situation."

Second Grade: "Teddy could do better. His mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home."

Third Grade: "Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner.
His mother died this year
."

Fourth Grade: "Teddy is very slow but well behaved. His father shows no interest."

At Christmas, all her class brought her presents in pretty wrappings
and all gathered around her to watch her open them.
She was surprised when she received a gift from Teddy.

It was crudely wrapped in brown paper and loosely held together with tape.
When she opened it, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing
and a bottle of cheap perfume.
The children began to giggle, but she put on the bracelet and applied some of the perfume
on her wrist.

She asked the class, "Doesn't it smell lovely?"
When school was over and the children had left, Teddy had lingered behind.
He slowly came over to her desk and said softly, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother.
And her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I'm glad you liked my presents
."

When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.

The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a new teacher.
Miss Thompson had become a new person.
She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an ambassador for God.
She had a new attitude.

Now she was committed to loving her children and doing things for them
that would live on after her.

Because of Miss Thompson's loving attention, by the end of that school year,
Teddy showed dramatic improvement and had caught up with most of the students.

Miss Thompson did not hear from Teddy for a long time, after he left her class.
Then one day she received a note that said:
"Dear Miss Thompson: I wanted you to be the first to know.
I will be graduating second in my high school class. Love, Teddy Stallard
."

Four years later, Miss Thompson received another note. It read:
"Dear Miss Thompson: They just told me I would be graduating first in my class.
I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Love, Teddy Stallard
."

Finally, Miss Thompson received another note:
"Dear Miss Thompson: As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, MD. How about that?
I wanted you to be the first to know.
I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact.
I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive.
You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year.
Love, Teddy Stallard.
"

Miss Thompson went to that wedding.
In Teddy's eyes she deserved to sit where his mother would have sat; she had earned that right.

She had done something for Teddy that he could never forget.
By a small act of love and kindness, she had changed the course of his life.
She had exercised the power of love.
She had become an agent of God.

When you understand that the purpose of ministry is to touch the lives of people,
you will begin to have a passion for ministry.

To be used of God, we must depend upon His power.
"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."
(Colossians 1:29 NIV)

Paul learned the secret of living in the power of God.
And so must we!
We must learn to depend upon Christ for our daily resources of strength.

If we try to simply live in our own strength, we will fail.
Our power is limited.
We need God's strength.

We must learn to depend upon God's strength rather than relying upon our own.
We must discipline ourselves spiritually by keeping our appointments with God.
We must take the time to read God's Word.
We must study it.
We must seek to understand what God is saying to us through it.

We must learn to give, not only of our money, but also of our time and talents.
We must serve, by becoming a participant in ministry, sharing ourselves with others.
We must witness by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others.
We must take a few risks for God.

God will be with us as we minister in His name.
We must learn to rely upon God more and more, and less and upon ourselves.
We must minister in His power.

Do you really want a life that makes a difference?
Then step out in faith.

Determine to live a life in dedicated ministry to God and service to others.
Catch the passion of ministry and your life will never be the same.
And you will make a difference in this world for God.

This concludes the first lesson of the first chapter of Colossians.