Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's all about Jesus

Colossians 2:6 – 15

Paul begins to deal with what has been called the “Colossian Error.” It had five parts. It relied on philosophy based on human tradition and principles (v 8), arbitrary and obsolete ceremony (vv 16), angel worship (v 18), visions as a means of authority and source for teaching (v 18), salvation maintained by works (v 23).

Today we are looking at the four questions this text asks us:

I. Are we chasing the shiny or consistent in Christ?

A. Consistency in Christ means Jesus is our Lord.

1. Receive Jesus as “Lord” is a step beyond realizing salvation.

2. The goal is to continue in that walk.

3. Trouble is we are distracted by the “shiny” (mistake “shiny” as true and “not shiny” as not true).

a. “Watch out for people who try to dazzle you...” (MSG)

b. Dinner and a show, magnetic personality, activity, “spirit fulled worship” (a way of saying ours is good theirs is not)...

B. Strategies for staying consistent:

1. “Rooted” is in the “aorist” tense, meaning it is something that is a completed event.

2. “Built up” is in the “present” tense, meaning this is an on-going thing.

3. “Strengthened” is in the “present” tense, meaning it is an on-going thing.

4. “Overflowing” is the final result... thankfulness!

II. Are we captive or free?

(Observation: false teachers “kidnapped” converts from churches... W. Wiersbe)

A. How are we taken captive?

1. (Greek audience) through philosophy. (Jewish audience) through works.

These are “HALLOW AND DECEPTIVE” regardless how wise or right it looks.

2. Ultimately error plays on ignorance.

a. Human tradition. (Culture, everybody does that, everyone knows that...)

b. Basic principles of this world.

1.) Literally the “ABC’s”

2.) So basic they are easy to miss but corrupt absolutely.

(Ill.) Ben Witherington, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary wrote a book “The Jesus Quest” which covers a variety of ideas about Jesus in today’s theological world. I asked how evolution played into these theories. He admitted that was a basic principle for most of what I would consider “non-Biblical” ideas.

Subtle warning: most false teachers do not ask people to forsake Christ, the ask people to make Christ part of the new system. (Wiersbe)

B. How are we set free?

1. Circumcision done by Christ.

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. [29] No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.” [Romans 2:28 – 29]

2. Baptism... using the image, not the actual baptism (“Through your faith”) [v 12]. It is an identification with Christ. (See chapter 3)

(Observation: both are symbols of something very permanent...)

IMPORTANT: the contrast is between philosophy which depends on human tradition and basic principles of this world and Christ.

III. Are we dead of alive?

A. Sin has a deadening effect, Christ brings us alive. [v 13]

1. It was sin that caused the mess we are in... death, abuse, injustice, sickness.

2. The choice is “self-life” or “Christ-life.” Either we are alive in Christ or dead in our sins.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” [v 13]

B. How did God do this?

1. [v 14] “Canceled” the written code... our expression for “arrest warrant.”

2. [v 14] “Nailed” as the image of crucifixion... That which accused us (sin) was taken and place on an instrument of execution.

3. [v 15] “Disarmed” means a direct and violent intervention for us. (Does this give us a picture of sin holding us hostage at gun point?)

4. [v 15] “Triumphing” means ultimate victory celebration.

If sin means captivity, death and constantly chasing the shiny, then Christ means freedom, life, and consistency.

(Ill.) Scientist studying learned behavior. Colony of monkeys in a cage. The cage was set up with cold water sprinklers and a ladder in the center leading to a bunch of bananas. When ever a monkey would climb the ladder to get the bananas, the whole colony would be sprayed with cold water. Eventually the monkeys would stop trying to get the bananas so the water was turned off.

Then a new monkey was added to the colony and it would always head for the bananas. The other monkeys who had been sprayed with cold water would stop the monkey and beat him, to teach him to not go after the bananas. Eventually, they took all the first monkeys out of the cage and replaced them with new monkeys. All of the new monkeys were taught by the colony to not go after the bananas.

The scientist added a third generation of monkeys. When they put a new monkey in the cage, it would go after the bananas and would be beaten by the colony. Amazing, monkeys that had never been sprayed with cold water still behaved like the previous generation without knowing why.  [This is probably an "Urban Legend"]

IV. Are you caged or changed?

A. It’s time to ask: “Why do you do the things you do?”

1. “Everything of God gets expressed in (Jesus)...” MSG

2. Unfortunately, as one of my Asbury professors once admitted, it all comes down to what a person wants to believe....

a. Do you hear the human tradition/principles in that statement.

b. Fact is: it is what God tells us... not how we squeeze it into tradition or philosophy.

B. Human effort comes down to this:

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” [v 23 NLT]

... they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” [NIV]

1. Caution: this is not “license.”

2. The issue is what have you accepted?

a. Jesus as savior? Great, Jesus died to save you from your sins!

b. Jesus as Lord? Jesus was raised to life to provide a pattern for your life.

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