July 31, 2013
Colossians 1:1.The Bible reads, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 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.”
So as we start out on the book of Colossians in our Bible study, let me first of all explain to you what the book is. The book is an epistle; an epistle is a long letter. And this letter is being written by Paul and Timotheus, Timothy, unto all the saints and brethren who are at Colosse.
Now if you look at the word saint as used, and it is used many times in the Bible, scores of times, it’s always referring to those who are saved, every time. The Bible does not use the word saint to refer to a special kind of Christian. The Catholic church will elevate a person to sainthood and say that long after a person died, we’re going to declare them to be a saint. But in reality all throughout the New Testament, all throughout the Bible, the word saints is used to refer to those who are sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ. And over and over again he talks about the saints.
Now, here he says the saints and faithful brethren which are at Colosse. Now Colosse is a place; the people who live there are called the Colossians. That’s why the book is called the Epistle to the Colossians. Now let me point out you something about the word “and”. Often in the Bible people are confused by the word and because they think that every time we see the word "and" we’re talking about two different things. Look at verse 3. It says “we give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you”. Now I don’t think anyone here would dispute that God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are one and the same, right? Because Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So when the Bible says “God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ“, we’re talking about the same person. And often the word and can be talking about two different things, but often in the Bible as is the case here, and is used to talk about two of the same thing. So in verse 2, Paul is talking about the saints, and the faithful brethren are the same people. And in verse 3 God is the same person as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
See, the word faithful in the Bible has 2 different meanings. Sometimes the word faithful means anyone who has faith, anyone who believes, anyone who has is saved, anyone who’s a believer is faithful, meaning that they have faith. But the word faithful, according to the context, can also mean someone who is worthy to put your faith in, someone who is reliable or trustworthy. So sometimes when we hear the word faithful we think of some who is reliable, who is trustworthy, who is always there for you. But faithful also in the Bible can refer to someone who believes, who is a believer, who has faith. The opposite of the faithful would be the faithless. The infidel, the non-believer.
So this is the epistle of the Paul unto the Colossians. Let me say that the apostle Paul wrote 14 books of the New Testament, more than half the books of the New Testament. Of course we know that God is the author of all Scripture, that holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But Paul was the human instrument by which this book was penned. Now are there are those today who subscribe to a false teaching, elevating the epistles of Paul above other Scripture, and basically saying, if it’s not in the epistles of Paul, it’s not for us. A lot of people have heard of this, where they say 1 and 2 Peter, not for us. James, not for us. And they’ll say “the 4 Gospels are not for us. The epistles of Paul are teaching for the new Gentile church”. This doctrine, often known as hyper-dispensationalism, or just dispensationalism, will often say this: “Well Paul is our apostle”. We’re gentiles, so Paul is our apostle. This other stuff, we don’t worry about that. Go to 1 Corinthians chapter 1.
If you think about how ridiculous it is to say that certain Scriptures don’t apply to us just because they didn’t come from Paul. Just because Paul at some point said, You know what? I’m the apostle of the Gentiles, all he meant by that was that he spent his life bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, taking the Gospel to distant countries as a missionary bringing the Gospel into foreign nations. And he basically said to Peter: “Look Peter, you’re taking the Gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem. I’m going to take the Gospel to the Gentiles." These two men were preaching the same New Testament, the same message. They’re just bringing it to 2 different geographical areas. The proof of that is that the apostle Paul in Romans 1 said “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. ” It’s not 2 different messages for 2 different groups. No, the same Gospel for the Jews is the same Gospel for the Gentiles, the same God will save the Jews by faith; the same God will save the Gentiles by faith. There is NO difference between the Jew and the Greek, the Bible tells us.
So to sit there and say “Paul is our apostle”, no he’s not YOUR apostle. Let me tell you something, you are not a Gentile living hundreds of years ago, to whom Paul brought the Gospel specifically. Therefore he’s not your personal apostle, no more than Peter, James and John are your personal apostles. They are the apostles of Jesus Christ and all of what they preached, all of what they wrote for us in the Bible is applicable. And to say only what James wrote is applicable for me, only what Paul wrote is for me, that is a false doctrine. What Paul wrote is for the Jew, it’s for the Gentile; what James wrote is for the Jew, it’s for the Gentile. It’s for all of God’s people. There is NO difference between the Jew and the Greek!
So to sit there and say, the book of James is addressed to the 12 tribes who are scattered abroad; that means it’s not for us as Gentiles… if you’re going to say that, I guess you’re saying the epistle of Paul to the Colossians is not for the Jews. Or the epistle of Paul to the Romans is not for the Jews. But Paul specifically SAID that the Gospel that he preached was for both Jew and Gentile. He reiterates that later in the book of Colossians itself. But look at 1 Corinthians 1. Let me show you the error, the ridiculousness of that doctrine. Look at what the Bible says in verse 11 of 1 Cor. 1 "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
To say “Paul is MY apostle”, you’re like these carnal Christians in Corinth. You see, Cephas in verse 12, that’s Peter. So some people are saying "Well, Peter's my apostle". And some people are saying "Paul's my apostle". Paul didn't die for you. There's one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. S There's one Gospel, so don't sit there and try to divide Christ! Don't try to divide the body of Christ. Don't try to divide between Peter and Paul. They preach the same Gospel of the same Christ. There's one Gospel, it’s salvation through faith, by grace. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.
Go back to Colossians. I just want you to understand that the epistles of Paul are God’s word, they are God’s scriptures; but they aren’t any more or less God’s word than anything else in the Bible. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, so Colossians is no different from anything else.
Let’s see what we can learn tonight from Colossians chapter 1. First of all, we saw God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; we saw that they saints and the faithful are who this is being written unto. Look at verse 3. It says: "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you," and look at these last 4 words: praying always for you. Paul and Timothy are basically saying that they’ve been praying a lot for the saints in Colosse. If you go down a little bit to verse 9, it says “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”. Two times here Paul is mentioning that he’s praying for the Colossians and that Timothy is praying for them also. I think there’s a tendency sometimes to tell people that we’re praying for them and we’re not really praying for them. Sometimes I’ve caught myself saying “I’ll pray for you”, and I say, I need to pray for this person right away. because I don’t want to be like that guy who says I’m going to pray for them and doesn’t do it. We definitely shouldn’t deceive or lie: “I’ve been praying for you, brother”, when in reality you haven’t spent any time praying for that person. Sometimes it just comes out of our mouth. We know that the Scriptures are true, so we know that Paul and Timothy really were praying for them. I notice that when I’m reading Romans, he’s talking about praying for them. In Galatians, he's talking about praying... over and over again he says he’s praying for Philemon, for Titus, for Timothy… Paul did a lot of praying! Because we see all these different groups, and Paul was praying for all of them, and we know that Paul was telling the truth here because it’s in Scripture. That tells me that we should be praying for one another and not just dissimulating and acting like we’re praying for one another, but actually spend time praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ, specially our church members.
A lot of times Paul even specifically says “making mention of you in our prayers”, or talks about praying for people by name. I think that we as Christians should pray for people by name, and love the brothers and sisters in Christ that are part of our church, and not give lip service: “Praying for you, brother!” It’s just meaningless.
You say, What do I pray for? If you get to know people, and meet people, you’ll figure out what needs to be prayed for in their lives, by getting to know them. And that’s why going to a website or watching TV or listening to the radio is not a good substitute for going to church. A lot of people just listen to preaching through one of those electronic formats, but that is not church. Church is a place where you go, you meet people, you have friends, you pray for them, you love them, there’s a fellowship there. That’s what Paul had with the Colossians and so many other people, and he talks about praying for them. He says in verse 4 that he’s been praying for them: “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth.” There’s so much packed in here; Colossians is jam-packed with doctrine.
Here we see the Bible teaching us that the time that this is being written, the Gospel was already going out throughout the whole world. Because he's talking about the word of God coming to them, them learning about the grace of God in truth, and he says it's bringing forth fruit, it's going into all the world and it's bringing fruit everywhere. A lot of people say there's so many parts of the world that have never heard the Gospel. They've never been exposed to it. But even back then God made sure that the Gospel was getting out all around the world.
And today the Gospel is being being preached in every nation of the world. According to the Bible in Revelation, there will be people out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation. Here he said the Word of God is being preached in all parts of the world and is bringing forth fruit.
You say, well, does that mean we don’t need to send missionaries? No, we need MORE preaching of the Gospel, more people to take the Gospel where it is not represented, but we also need to do a lot of soul-winning right here at home! Just because a person has heard the Gospel one time doesn’t mean they are saved, and we need to go back to them again. There are a lot of people even in America that haven’t heard the Gospel. And we need to get the Gospel to regions beyond, to foreign nations, also at home. We need to preach it as much as we can, we need to be used of God in whatever area God puts us, but this attitude that says “There are huge parts of the world where the Gospel’s not been”, that’s simply not true. The name of Jesus Christ is known on every continent and in every nation in this world. Talk to people from India, China, Africa… they’ve heard of Jesus.
Now they may not have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel; that’s why we need Spirit-filled soul-winners, to give them Gospel, but the word of God has gone out into all nations and brought forth fruit in all parts of the world. That’s what we see in this passage also. He says that they have love to all the saints. They love God’s people, they love the brotherhood, they love the saved. It says (starting) in verse 7, “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ,w ho also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
As we read this, we can get an idea about what some of the strong points were of the Colossians and some of the things Paul wanted them to work on. The strength that we see of the saints at Colosse was their love. Over and over again Paul is praising them for being loving, for loving people, loving the saints. He says Epaphras told us about your love. We’d already heard before about their love, from other people. And over and over again he talks about what a loving church they were, but the thing that he wants them to work on and the thing that he’s praying for is knowledge. He says in verse 9 “since the day we heard it”. Heard of what? Their great love, what a loving church they were. And to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and understanding. So here we have 3 words: knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Those are 3 words that come up a lot in the book of Proverbs. God talks about the importance of those 3 elements. They all have to do with learning.
And in the next verse he says “that ye might walk ” and then he brings it up again, “and increasing in the knowledge of God”. Now go to 2 Peter 1. So Paul’s saying you are a very loving church; I’m hearing about your love from all different people, how loving you are, but you need to also have knowledge with that. If you’re going to be fruitful, and abound in every good work, if you're going to walk worthy of the Lord, love is important, love is critical, love is important. Paul says "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal", and so we know that love is key. But he says love's not enough. Add do that some knowledge. You need knowledge and wisdom and understanding. He says "I'm thrilled how loving you are; I don't want to see that love go to waste." Get the knowledge, and if you can combine knowledge and love, it's going to be action, that's the right action, that's going to be what God wants to happen.
Look at 2 Peter; it talks about some of the same things as Colossians. "Of course this is not coming from our apostle, but it does mention the same things." (Just kidding) In 2 Peter 1 he talks about the same thing, about being fruitful. He ties in knowledge and he also ties in love. In v. 5 it says "besides this, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge". The reason he says add to your faith is because that's what saves you, is faith. The Bible says "for by grace are you saved through faith, and then not of yourselves; it is the gift of God". We know that anybody who is saved has faith, or they're not even saved. As the Bible says "that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". So it’s great you have faith; you’re saved. But you have to add to your faith, virtue.
What does virtue mean? Virtue has to do with living a good life. It also has to do with power. Look what it says next: “Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge”. You need to grow in knowledge, you need to learn new things, you need to gain knowledge.
He says you need to add to knowledge, temperance. Temperance is basically being able to control yourself, being tempered or under control. You talk about someone having a bad temper; it means they’re constantly getting out of control. They blow up; they lose their temper and they become angry about insignificant things. He says “add to temperance, patience. And to patience, godliness. And to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. So he says look, you need not only to have faith, but you need the life to back it up if you’re going to be fruitful. Have the virtue, the temperance; those are the things you need to have to do to live your life. Living a life of virtue, of temperance, not a life of sin, of gratifying the flesh. He says you’re also going to need knowledge. But then the final bond of perfectness, that last element that’s most important is charity or love. That’s the final icing on the cake that’s going to make you fruitful in the knowledge.
So he says if you just have knowledge but you don’t have love or charity, you’re nothing! Because in 1 Cor. 13, the next thing that he goes on to say is “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing”. So we’re not saying that love’s not important, but we’re saying that to serve God effectively you must have both love and knowledge. You’ll run into a lot of people, in fact a whole movement today of churches that are very lean in the knowledge department. And oh the love flows. That’s great, but they need the book of Colossians to tell them, it’s great that you’re so loving, that you care about people, but you need to get in the Bible; you need to study to show yourselves approved unto God. You need to add to your faith virtue and to your virtue knowledge, because you don’t want to be unfruitful. You need to have knowledge, you need to have wisdom, you need to have understanding. That’s basically what Paul said in Colossians 1. Over and over again he’s telling them that they need to learn more.
And this is downplayed today in churches, where they are interested more and more in giving you an experience. You go to the church, you have a religious experience, an emotional experience. Maybe you come out FEELING very close to God, or like you just charged your spiritual battery. That’s great, but what did you learn? I’m not against the feeling, I’m not against you feeling close to God, but if you’re really going to be close to God, you’d better learn the word of God, and get the knowledge and the wisdom and understanding that God tells us hundreds of times are important to us. He says wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, with understanding.
What do these words mean? Knowledge is when you know things. Look at the first four letters, know. When you don’t know the Bible, what Genesis is about, what Exodus is about, what Leviticus is about. “Oh, that doesn’t matter!” No, you’re not going to be fruitful. “Yes, I will!” No you won’t. The Bible says you need to learn. A lot of people have a lot of love, and not a lot of knowledge. They go out and do a lot of work for God, and they do all the wrong things, because they don’t know what God told them to do! Really loving preachers that preach a lot of false doctrine. Not even because they want to preach false doctrine, but because they are lean on knowledge. They just didn’t do the reading, the study of the word of God, the Bible.
I remember one time when I was a teenager. Back then I was in a really liberal, watered-down church, a New Evangelical church. I remember sitting in the youth Sunday School group; it was a discussion about whether it would be better to have been brought up in a Christian home your whole life, or whether it were better if you had lived a life of sin and then got saved so you’d have a better, more radical testimony: “Man, I was into drugs, I got drunk, I was partying and I got saved.” And now is the discussion.
I thought to myself, this is ridiculous! Everybody liked the testimony. “A person like that’s going to be more powerful, used by God because of the more radical change in their life”. I raised my hand and said “I think you’re going to be used in a greater way if you’re brought up saved, in a Christian home”. And they said “Why do you say that?” I said, because when you grow up in a Christian home, and you’ve gone to church all your life and been reading the Bible, you’re going to have so much more knowledge of the Scripture. You’re really going to be able to use that knowledge to serve God, whereas somebody who gets saved later in life, in their 30’s or 40’s, they’re having to play catch-up of all that stuff they could have learned for all those decades. They have to go back and read and learn… They go, “Oh man, it’s just about what you know? Is that what it’s all about? How good is that, man? It’s just about telling people about Jesus, man! Just Christ crucified and nothing else, man!” I’m sitting there thinking, what are you talking about? What’s the rest of this book? I thought we were supposed to know this! We need this!
And you say, “Well, look at the apostle Paul!” I know the apostle Paul got saved later in life, but there’s a difference. He studied the Bible since he was a kid, at the feet of Gamaliel, brought up as a Pharisee. He still memorized huge chunks of the Old Testament. Even once he got saved, he spent a whole bunch of time in the desert just reading the Bible. He went into Arabia and just studied the Bible and learned it. He KNEW the Scripture, he knew what he was talking about. I’m not down on people who get saved later in life, but why would it be better to get saved later than sooner? The sooner the better! The sooner you can get saved and the less dumb things….why would you want to do a bunch of dumb things that later you could talk about? “Yeah, I used to do all this stuff.”
You know what’s a more powerful testimony? Jesus saves! Jesus died for all our sins, and was buried and rose again. But was your life dramatically changed? No, I got saved when I was 6, so I really hadn’t hit rock bottom yet. If you could have seen me before I was saved… good night! Stealing cookies from the cookie jar, eating fruit snacks unauthorized and hiding the wrappers under my mattress, pushing little girls in the playground off of the swing. But Jesus changed it all.
You know what? That’s not what the Gospel is. The Gospel’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. And the Gospel’s the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. I can preach that whether I was a junkie or not. It’s great if your testimony can help someone get saved. But this thing of downplaying knowledge, knowledge doesn’t matter, isn’t important. Then we have a generation of dumbed-down churches, dumbed-down Christians, who are easily deceived. The one who does not have knowledge is carried about with every wind of doctrine; they’re tossed to and fro; they’re not grounded in what they believe because they don’t know the Scripture. But when you know the Scriptures and you know false doctrine, you go "wait a minute!" A verse is popping into your mind... "what this preacher is saying is not right". Not because you FEEL it’s not right, but because the Bible SAYS… and the verses are coming to mind because you know Scripture. If you don’t know Scripture and a preacher says this is what the Bible says, you say OK, because you don’t know!
Knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Knowledge is knowing things. It’s important to know things, to know what the Bible says. Wisdom is when you not only know things, but you can actually apply those things in your life. That’s what preaching is supposed to do, to take things that are in the Bible and try to apply them to today’s world, to our daily lives, to situations.
Somebody might know that drinking is something that the Bible warns against. The Bible explains all things that are going to happen when you drink, how your eyes will behold strange women, your mouth will utter perverse things. You might know what the Bible says about that, but if you see a person turn around and go and start drinking, that person lacks wisdom. They’re not applying what they’ve known and learned. They’re not applying it to daily life, and to decisions that they’re making. They know the facts but they’re not able to apply them. Understanding is when we not only know things, we not only apply things, but we understand them. It’s possible to know something and apply it, but we don’t necessarily understand it. So I tell my children “Do not drink alcohol. Here’s what the Bible says: "Thine eyes shall behold strange women and thy mouth shall utter perverse things”. And they might look at that and say, well now I know that the Bible warns about alcohol. Wisdom tells me I’m going to heed the Bible’s warning and I’m going to abstain from alcohol. But understanding is when they understand what it means to behold strange women. If I say that to a 6, 8 or 10-year-old, they’re not going to fully understand what the Bible is saying. Or when it says your mouth is going to utter perverse things. Later on, they might understand and comprehend.
When I was growing up, I didn’t necessarily understand why I wasn’t supposed to commit fornication. I didn't fully understand why I wasn’t supposed to do a lot of things, but I still obeyed it anyway, because the Bible said so. Then later after I marry and after I live my life, then I look back and understand why God didn’t want me to commit fornication. At the time I didn’t fully understand it, but I trusted and obeyed. So here knowledge is being emphasized. If your going to be fruitful, if you’re going to win people to Christ and do a lot of good work for God, you need to be a loving person. No question, 1 Cor. makes that clear, but you also need to have knowledge.
Let’s keep reading. It says "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God”. So now he’s explaining some other attributes that need to be a part of our life. He says, not only do you need love and knowledge; he’s saying you want to be a strong person. What’s the opposite of strength? Weakness! The Bible says be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Weakness is when we give in unto sin because Jesus Christ said watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The Spirit truly is willing but the flesh is weak. So when our flesh is weak, when we walk in the flesh, we’re going to be more likely to give in to temptation. Strength is when we resist temptation. Temptation is before us, whether we look at something we shouldn’t look at, participate in something we shouldn’t participate in. Strength is when we stand firm, hold firm, do not give in to temptation. It takes strength to watch and pray. Weakness is when we say, I’m too tired to pray, I don’t have the energy or will to pray. I don’t have the discipline to even sit still and just pray. Strength overcomes those obstacles. Strengthened with all might according to his glorious power with all patience. Patience is when we don’t have an attitude that says I want everything right now. Patience is similar in the Bible to endurance and diligence. We’re willing to continue and wait and not expect to be gratified with everything right now.
If we’re impatient, what does it mean? Give me my food right now! Patience is willing to wait a little while if necessary. He says longsuffering, what does that mean? It means that we don’t just blow up at people who do or say something that we don’t like. Suffering long with someone means putting up with someone. Are you a person when if there’s someone around who’s not just like you, who doesn’t act just like you want them to act, you say, I can’t put up with these people? But that’s not longsuffering, is it? Longsuffering is maybe where our husband or wife does something that annoys us, does something that we don’t like and we don’t flip out or instantly blow a gasket; we put up with things and pass over certain transgressions, not get so rattled and angry about things that don’t matter. If you get so angry about some little thing, that’s the opposite of longsuffering. Longsuffering is if somebody does something that you don’t like, you just relax.
I’m not talking about correcting people that are under your authority. Obviously you correct your children, but you can do that without blowing up at them, without instantly losing your temper, you can still be patient and correct them. You can be longsuffering and be patient with them. Why do marriages end up in divorce? Because of a lack of longsuffering. “I just can’t put up with him anymore! I just can’t take her anymore.” You know what? You need to have longsuffering, to be patient with people. Sometimes there are people that have serious faults. There could be someone in this church that irritates you. You need to be patient with them, and say "That’s how they are. I’m going to be patient." And sometimes people change. Maybe your husband has a serious problem or fault. Maybe your wife has a serious problem, a serious problem, a serious sin in their life. It doesn't mean that they're never going to change. You need to be patient, longsuffering, try to help them, and over time things can change. It doesn’t mean that they’re never going to change. But we need to have longsuffering , meaning that we put up with people, we’re patient with them. We don’t expect everyone to be exactly like us, and do everything exactly the way we want it. Otherwise we're just going to cloud up and rain on them. That’s the opposite of longsuffering.
And then he says "with joyfulness". So no longsufferer with a bad attitude of "Grr, I guess I’ll just put up with them". The pastor says to just let them be an idiot, whatever. He says longsuffering with joyfulness. Be cheerful about it, have joy in doing what's right. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light”. He said you’re going to have patience and longsuffering toward others; keep in mind that's the only reason that you're even meet to have a big a part of the inheritance, as big as God has made you meet. Basically he’s saying that in your flesh you're not worthy of going to heaven. You’re not worthy of the inheritance the saints will inherit. That’s something that God has given unto you, so you ought to be patient with others who are not as far down the track as you are.
In a church like ours there’s a tendency for people not to have patience and longsuffering . Our church preaches the word of God pretty straight and we’re pretty strict. We cross the T and dot the I; then people will get this attitude… somebody comes in and they’re not like us; we just want to straighten them out. You don’t believe exactly like us, get out! That is a bad attitude. You and I didn’t get this way overnight, did we? One day you were unsaved, living an ungodly life. And then boom, you got saved, you were in church, you dressed right, you acted right, you talked right, you read the Bible every day, you prayed every day, you had all your doctrine right?
Then these people come here and they don’t even know about the rapture and the tribulation. Get out! You need to understand that people are all at different stages of growth as Christians. Some people have saved for decades, some people have been saved for a few weeks or months, some have been saved for a year, 2 years.
Here's how I judge people. I don’t judge people on how good they are, how righteous and knowledgeable they are. I judge them on which direction they are going. If I see someone who’s growing, who’s trying, even if they’re very worldly, and don’t have the knowledge, they're wrong on a lot of doctrine. but if their hearts in the right place, be patient with them! If you had met me when I was 17, I’d have been the person you're calling an idiot. And I know brother W did meet me when I was 17 and he didn’t say I was an idiot. If you’d met me when I was 16, you’d have said I was an idiot.
If you had met me when I was 15 or 16, I’m sure I would have said a lot of dumb thing about the Bible. I hadn’t read the Bible from cover to cover at that point. I would have had a lot of dumb doctrines, I would have believed a lot of stupid things, I would’ve been dressed like an idiot. There are so many things that would’ve been wrong with me. I didn’t change overnight; I spent years and years reading the Bible, listening to the preaching of God’s word, slowly changing in one area after another, learning new things, getting my doctrine in conformity with God's word. You can't just expect everybody to be there. And I guarantee you were the same way. It’s taken you a process to get where you're at.
Salvation happens in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, but the Christian life and growth is a process. So don’t you dare be rude to people and jump down their throat and don’t alienate people. We work hard to invite people to come to church. Don’t just turn around and turn people away from our church by rudeness. I understand if somebody hears the preaching of God’s word and its straight from the Bible they might get offended and that’s their problem, but we'd hate for somebody to not come back because you are rude, you rudely correct somebody or rudely tell someone that they're wrong about something, something that really isn’t that important or that probably they will eventually learn. Just focus on being nice to people; while you have knowledge, while you're straight down the line, while you are fundamental and cross your T's and dot your I’s, you should also be longsuffering and patient with people. People are often surprised by the type of people that I’ll talk to and hang around with and get along with. But because they’re good people that are learning. It's not that they are bad people because they're at a different stage of the journey. It says here in v. 13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”, so the forgiveness of sins comes through the blood of Christ. It says in v. 15 that he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, for by him were all things created”… remember this is all going back to the dear Son. This is all about Jesus, the dear Son; the sentence in v. 13 is not ending. There’s a semicolon and another semicolon at the end of 14, then a comma. It’s all one sentence. So we’re talking about Jesus, and it’s saying that we have redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins, who is the image of the invisible God. The Bible says that no man has seen God at any time. "The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him."
So no one has seen God the Father at this time, but we have seen Jesus Christ. You say, is Jesus God in the flesh? 1 Peter 3:16 tells us Jesus is God in the flesh. But if we keep reading it says “for by Him were all things were created”. So the Bible says that all things were created by Jesus. And Genesis 1:1 says in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Here it says "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell”.
We know that the Father is God, but the Son is God also, and the Holy Spirit is also God. The Bible says there are 3 that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these 3 are one. That’s what people mean when they use the word Trinity. The Trinity simply means the 3 in 1. The word Trinity is not in the Bible, but 3 in 1 is in the Bible, and that’s what Trinity means. It’s a word we use today to express it in a way that people understand. The proper way of stating it is “the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, these 3 are one”. So we all believe in one God, but he exists as the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these 3 are one. That’s why the Bible says in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and the Word was God. I don’t understand that. The Bible says “great is the mystery of godliness”. It’s something that’s hard to wrap our mind around.
The one way to help you understand is to think that we as human beings are also in 3 parts, the body, the soul and the spirit. Can those 3 parts be separated? Absolutely, because the Bible says the body without the spirit is dead, so the moment that we die our bodies are separated. Let’s say that I would die tonight. If someone were to look at the dead body and identified it to the coroner and said, “That is Steven Anderson”, would they be telling the truth? Yes. But my spirit would be somewhere else; it would be in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present to the Lord, 2 Cor. 5. Paul said I should desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better. SO therefore my soul and spirit is in heaven with the Lord Jesus, is that the real Steven Anderson? Yes. Would it be accurate to say Steven Anderson is in heaven? Would it be accurate to say that the body left behind is also the same Steven Anderson? Yes, so you could say they could be in 2 different places and be one person. Maybe that helps you understand a little bit, to say the Lord God is The Father, son and Holy Ghost. The Father could be up in heaven, Jesus Christ down on the earth, but they’re one person in the sense that there’s only one God, it’s not 2 different gods.
Col. 1 is really strengthening that fact that Jesus is God. It tells us that Jesus is the creator of everything. It says before all things. So in the beginning God, and it even says he IS the beginning, in Rev. 1 where he said: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” and it’s Jesus speaking there. Which is proven by the fact that he then then says “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen”. He says he was dead; that’s Jesus. Jesus died and rose again. But it says I’m the Almighty. That proves that the Almighty God is Jesus. And we see in Colossians 1 that he’s the Creator. It’s a strong statement. It says in v. 18 that he’s the head of the Body, the church. A lot of people will say see, there’s only one church. But the Bible uses the word churches more than it uses the word church. The church is a congregation and the Bible says that the husband is the head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife.
Is there only one wife? The universal wife? The Catholic wife? No, there are multiple wives, multiple husbands. Well there are multiple churches, the church at Ephesus, the church at Smyrna, the church of Pergamus. And Christ the head of the church, it means an institution. That means each church has Christ as its head, of that local body, just as each husband is the head of that wife. There doesn’t have to be one. It says he’s the head of the church. It says in v. 19 “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”.
Now Romans 5 teaches the same thing.
Go to Romans 5, a great parallel passage. Romans 5:8 is a verse that we often use when we give someone the Gospel: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Lots of people use that verse but they don’t really fully understand what that verse is saying. Now the modern versions all change this verse, clearly showing that they don’t understand the verse, but then I’ve heard a lot of people change this verse out soul winning. They’ll say God commended his love toward us, that means God demonstrated his love. No, that’s not what it means. The NIV says that that’s what it means. Look what it says in v. 6. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” So the Bible is saying, someone might die for someone else if they were a really good person. Someone might be willing to die for someone they love; for example, a parent might be willing to die for their child. A husband might be willing to die for his wife. Maybe if there’s a great man that I know, a godly man, he’s serving God, he’s a righteous man, who I have great respect for… I’m willing to lay down my life for that guy. But he says SCARCELY for a righteous man will one die. Some people are like no, I’m not going to die for anybody! I want to stay alive! Scarcely meaning hardly, hardly ever is one willing to die for someone else. But if they are willing, it’s for someone they like, for someone good. You’re not going to lay down your life for someone that you don’t like. Someone that you consider a bad person, an ungodly person; you're not going to sacrifice your life for an ungodly person. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. What he’s saying is that God's love goes so far beyond our life. Our love might compel us to die for someone that’s good. Jesus Christ on the other hand died for the ungodly, for us.
Look at the next verse: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement”. We can have such great assurance of our salvation, because a lot of people believe you can lose your salvation; we don’t believe that. He says you can have so much assurance of your salvation because when Christ died for you, you were a complete enemy. He saved you when you were ungodly, when you were at enmity with Christ. Well, he can keep you saved, when you were reconciled. Now that you’ve been saved by the blood, he’s even more likely, he loves you even more. If he accepted you when you were ungodly, why would he reject you after you’ve already received Christ? It’s a strong assurance there that now that we’re saved and reconciled, we’re going to be saved from wrath. God’s wrath is not going to be upon us even if we sin. That’s why at the end of the same Chapter 5, he says where sin abounded, grace did more abound. Should we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! But if we sin, grace will abound, we’ve been reconciled. We will not lose our salvation.
Back to Colossians. That’s basically what he says here in Colossians, what he says here in verse 21: "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight, If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled.."
He’s saying you’re only going to be unblameable and irreprovable in his sight if you continue in the faith. You'll still be saved if you continue in the faith, but you’ll be reproved, you’ll be punished on this earth. He says "if you continue in the faith, grounded and settled and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven". Heaven, again. Remember how we talked earlier about how the Gospel has gone out through all the world? People try to see that there are large parts of the world where they’ve never heard of Jesus. Is that what the Bible says? It says that the Gospel which you have heard and which is preached to every creature under heaven, "whereof I (Paul) have been made a minister, according to the dispensation of God”. Oh, see the word dispensation! We must be…No, just because the word dispensation is in the Bible, that doesn’t make me a dispensationalist. And just because the word presbytery is in the Bible, that doesn’t make me a Presbyterian. And just because the church of Christ is in the Bible, that doesn’t make me a member of the church of Christ, and just because the Bible has the word Nazarene, that doesn’t make me a Nazarene. People take good words in the Bible and twist them. Nazarene’s a great word. Teaching you that you can lose your salvation is not great. Presbytery is a great word; teaching Calvinism isn’t great. Church of Christ is a great term; teaching that you have to be baptized to be saved, that's not great. And on and on. What we see here when the Bible says dispensation, the word dispense means to… well for example a Pez dispenser. What does a Pez dispenser do? It gives you Pez! It dispenses Pez, to dispense means to give. The other meaning of the word dispense is to use something up. To dispense with something is use up. So we see here, it says "whereof I have been made a minister, according to the dispensation of God”. Which is GIVEN to me. So the dispensation of God is what God gave him, because to dispense something is to give something. You’ll notice that if you look up the 4 times that the word dispensation is used, it’s not used to refer to “the 7 dispensations, periods of time where people are saved in different methods, or where God is dealing with Israel". None of those mentions will preach that. They never teach it as a period of time; it is always something that is given.
And then there’s the 3rd meaning of dispensation that is not a Biblical meaning. If you study the word dispensation it sometimes means to give and sometimes means to be used up. The dispensation of the fullness of times is where he says there shall be time no longer, Rev. 10. But there’s a term dispensation that the Catholics would use, where if someone uses the word it means we’re going to let you off the hook of following God’s commandments. Like you’re not allowed to, say, kill your wife, but we're going to give you a dispensation, because you paid us. You say, that sounds weird. We were at that Bible museum, they used to have pricing sheets. Remember, they used to sell indulgences, where you could get your sins forgiven by the Catholics… I saw the price list, and one of the things was killing your wife, it was like $2.50. It was a lot more money back then than it is now, like thousands of dollars. Literally, killing your wife you could buy an indulgence, you could get a dispensation on that. There were other things like a priest could have a concubine, a woman that he goes to bed with, for like 2.25. He could have a live-in girlfriend. Now that was in writing, it was spelled out! These Catholic priests, they're not married, they took a vow of celibacy, but they could have a woman that they're shacking up with; they just have to pay money to the church and it's paid for. Look it up! This pricing was amazing. When King Henry the 8th killed his wife, it was like you can kill her but you can't divorce her. If he killed her he could pay the church at Rome and get it absolved, get a dispensation.
I might not be using the word dispensation exactly right, but thank God I'm not an expert on buying your way into heaven. In case I got that price wrong, forgive me… because I’m just trying to go to heaven on faith. So it says here "the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”, the fact that Christ lives inside of us, that we have Christ in our hearts, the great mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament. Who do we preach? We preach Christ, "warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily".
Part of our preaching is warning. When we go out soul winning we also go out soul warning. We're warning people of hell if they’re not saved. You should always teach people about hell when you give the Gospel. Not only that, in church we need to warn the believers that if they don't live right, God is going to chastise them on this earth. They're not going to lose their saslvation, but God will punish. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgesth every son whom he receiveth." We need to warn people with the word of God. Not preach a positive, sugar-coated mesage but a warning lesson to the lost and a warning lesson to the saved, warning them of the judgement of God on sin. To the unsaved it’s hell, to the saved it’s earthly consequences. Let’s bow our heads for a word of prayer.