16 March 2010

Colossians studies 7: Paul responds to the false teacher (2)

by Dan Phillips

Thus far, we have seen that the church in Colosse was a relatively young little church situated in a culture with diverse populace and influences. An associate of Paul's named Epaphras had founded the church by the pure preaching of the person and gospel of Jesus Christ. The church had gotten a good start, and was showing genuine life and vitality, as the gospel bore fruit in their lives.

However, an individual had come bearing a false teaching. This teaching had elements of paganism and mutated Judaism, and involved at least some degree of attempted syncretism with the edges of Christian faith. He and his teaching had apparently not yet begun to make serious inroads into the church, but Epaphras was concerned. He appealed to his mentor, the apostle Paul, for a word — and what a word he got!

Paul responded by affirming Epaphras and his message, as we saw last time.

More potently, Paul responded by preaching Christ in all His fullness. How do we see that, specifically, in Colossians? A study I did found that, out of the 95 verses in Colossians, Christ is mentioned in 53 of those verses. In fact, some verses mention Him two and three times.

To break it down a bit, this means that some 56% of the verses mention Christ at least once.

Or, put another way, every other thing Paul says is something about Jesus.

Why?  I hope to open this up more fully as we proceed, but very briefly:

First, in Christ God has come and solved our most fundamental problem (1:19-22)
...because in Him the Father was pleased for all the Fullness  to dwell permanently,  and through Him to reconcile all things back unto Himself, by making peace through the blood shed on  His cross, through Him — whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens.  And you, though being formerly abidingly alienated, and enemies in mental disposition, as shown by your wicked works, yet now He reconciled you back in the body of His flesh through His  death, to present you holy and unblemished and inculpable in His very presence,…
As has been often and well-said, we did not primarily need a teacher nor a philosopher; we had had both in Moses and Solomon, and they served to show the distance between us and God's holiness and wisdom. We did not primarily need an example. We had such a pattern in the Law, and it damned us, as does the "example" of Christ if we attempt to earn salvation by emulation.

Nor did we even solely need God to call us to come to Himself, to bid us and welcome us and throw His arms open to us. Why not? It would be a loving and lovely offer, but....  Try filling a baseball team in a graveyard. Try populating a party with ravenous wolves. We both could not have come, and would not have come, had the invitation been only external.

Nor did we need a Salvation-cosigner, merely achieving salvation, making salvation available, as if one were to lay down a goblet brimming with the elixir of life in a morgue, bidding "whosoever will" to come and drink, then standing back to watch.

No, we needed a Savior, one who came into the world not merely to teach, nor merely to guide, nor merely to offer salvation; but one who came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

We needed God Himself to deal once and for all with our sin-issue, root and branches. So He did in Christ (Romans 8:3). All the fullness of Deity dwelt bodily in Christ.
  • It was that body that made possible the shedding of His blood, without which there could be no atonement nor forgiveness (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). 
  • It was that Deity that imparted infinite value to the shed blood (Acts 20:28).
So He does not merely open the door for us, but He opens it, clothes us, and carries us through that door into the presence of God.

Second, in Christ we are filled full (2:9-10)
...because in Him is permanently dwelling all the fullness of Deity bodily, and you stand filled full in Him,  who is the Head over all rule and authority
He who is filled with God fills us with life and blessing. His filling is natural and native; ours is a covenantal boon. His is eternal; ours has a beginning. His is infinite; ours is finite — but sufficient.

This last point is worth further unpacking. I plan to take a half-step back next time, and revisit this fullness which all Christians know in Christ.

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8 comments:

David said...

Yeah, but I'm pretty sure the false teacher didn't like Paul's tone.

love God... said...

Thanks Dan...Hallelujah what a Savior!!!

May "every other thing WE say be something about Jesus".

olan strickland said...

Well then, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 2:10a); Christ is the head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 2:10b); and we are not to be guided by the commandments and teachings of men (Colossians 2:22 - this is a usurpation of headship) but by the commandments and teachings of Christ which comes to us through men who are faithful to Christ and God's Word and who have been given to the church by Christ. These do not usurp headship and replace truth with heresy but continually exalt Christ, remaining in the bounds of the written Word of God.

allen said...

Beautifully put Dan!
The CHRISTian life/faith really is all about Christ. That which diminishes or detracts or distorts Him in any way (His person or work, His will or worthiness,) is to be vigorously opposed as the damnable doctrine for which it is.
"Of Him, and through Him, and to Him.."!!

John said...

Oh, wow. I am so going to use that "elixer of life" parable. Well, said, Dan.

Joey Phillips said...

"Nor did we need a Salvation-cosigner, merely achieving salvation, making salvation available, as if one were to lay down a goblet brimming with the elixir of life in a morgue, bidding "whosoever will" to come and drink, then standing back to watch.

No, we needed a Savior, one who came into the world not merely to teach, nor merely to guide, nor merely to offer salvation; but one who came into the world to save sinners"

If this were facebook, I would have clicked the "like" button. Well said sir.

DJP said...

Well... there's the stars.

(c;

Lisa said...

Excellent. Thank you.