From the book...
"I'm Excited About Colossians."
Copyright © 2010
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by Peter Wade
You can live
and grow in Christ in a hostile world. To live God's way today
you need a stable person resident in your life, and that person is
Christ. You cannot live a fulfilled life without Christ. I know that
there are many books written about positive living that will tell you
otherwise, but I believe that so long as you have that empty gap
within yourself that only God can fill, you will not live a positive
life. Without Him we just "drifted along on the stream of
this world's ideas of living" (Ephesians 2:2
Phillips). With Him we can do all things. With Him we have fantastic
possibilities, and the colossal book of Colossians emphasizes the
place of Christ in our lives.
is interesting to note that Paul never went to Colossae. He did one
trip through the area north of the city, but as far as the Bible
record is concerned he never visited the city. So he introduces
himself as an apostle, since he is writing to a group of people he
has never met but about which he has heard much. He is currently
under house arrest in Rome, and it is possible he may never get to
is an interesting relationship between Ephesus and Colossae; Ephesus
is on the coast and Colossae about a hundred miles inland to the
east. Acts 19:10 reveals that when Paul stayed at Ephesus for two
years, the word of God reached all Asia [Minor], and one of the
cities that it reached was Colossae. The believer who actually took
the word of God there was a man named Epaphras (Colossians 1:7), who
sat at Paul's feet, learned the truth, and then took it home
and started what became a powerful and positive church in Colossae,
as well as churches in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.
All three cities were destroyed by an earthquake around 62 A.D.
teaches that the believer is in Christ, while Colossians focuses on
the Christ that is in the believer. E.W. Bullinger wrote that
three-quarters (78) of the 95 verses in Colossians have a marked
resemblance to verses in Ephesians (The
2nd ed., 1905, p.175). It is therefore not surprising to see that
while "in Christ" in various forms is used 35 times in
Ephesians, it is also used 17 times in Colossians, for the truths of
"in Christ" and "Christ in" have a vital
relationship with each other.
an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our
(Colossians 1:1). You may have noticed a difference from the King
James and other versions which read "Paul, an apostle of Jesus
Christ." The Greek texts use the form "Christ Jesus"
in this verse, not "Jesus Christ". What is the
difference? Am I
any different if I am called Peter Wade or if I am called Wade Peter?
Sometimes computer login names have your last name first and then
your Christian name or initial, but you are still you. The difference
between "Christ Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" is
a difference in emphasis.
(There are around a dozen different titles given to Christ in the New
Testament.) If Paul was named an apostle of Jesus Christ, the
emphasis would be upon the earthly Jesus, the one who was humiliated,
the one who was crucified, and who later became the risen, victorious
Christ. If Paul was named an apostle of Christ Jesus, then the
emphasis is on the risen, victorious Christ who had been humiliated.
There is a great difference between those two concepts. Do we worship
humanity of the Lord, the Jesus
of the beard and the sandals? Do we worship the Jesus crucified on
the cross? Or do we worship Christ Jesus who sits at the right hand
of God in the heavenlies, the powerful, victorious, overcoming one?
You have to ask yourself those questions. I worship Christ Jesus, the
victorious Son of God. I'm thankful for everything Jesus did
for me upon the cross, but I've found in the Bible that God
carefully uses words and when He speaks in the revelation to Paul of
what He has done for me, it's always the finished work of the
victorious Christ Jesus that is in view.
is written "to
the saints and the faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae: …"
(verse 2a). Not all saints are faithful. A saint
in Bible terms is simply a Christian believer. It is not a person who
has been canonized by the church years after they have died. A saint
is simply a person who believes in God and has accepted Christ as
their Savior. There will always be saints, and there will always be
faithful brothers and sisters. There are those who may have become
believers but have not developed further. And there are those who
recognize their place in the family of God, and want to maximize
their potential as a child of God, and see the kingdom of God
extended. They are the faithful brethren in Christ.
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
2b). Grace or favour signifies all the blessings we have in Christ
and is often used throughout the Bible, while peace comes directly
from the Hebrew greeting of Shalom. The combination of grace and
peace is often used in salutations in Paul's writings. Some
believe grace was the term for the Gentiles while peace was the
greeting to the Jews.
Christian, You are Unique!
When I am reading
verses 3 to 8, the question comes to me, "If this were the only
document I had about the Christian faith, what would I know about
being a Christian from this?" I think this is an interesting
way to look at it. If I was living in Colossae and I had no other
documents apart from the Old Testament in the synagogue, that is, no
other New Testament documents, what would this tell me about a
Christian? Could I tell anything from this as to who is a Christian,
what is their potential, and so on? And I believe we can, so let's
look at it for a moment. This will also start us on our quest to get
the basics straight—what is a Christian and who is this
first thing we discover is that a Christian is someone who
knows God exists,
as it says in Hebrews 11:6, and that He rewards those who seek Him. A
Christian knows that God exists. A Christian is one who has faith in
the invisible. We will probably never see God in this life, but He is
here and He is as real to us as our spouses, our mothers and fathers,
and the rest of the people with whom we rub shoulders. God is just
that real to a Christian. This is an important point to recognize. We
can easily forget it sometimes. We see our friends and our family so
often and we do not question that they are real. We need to get to
the same place of recognizing that God is just as real, just as
certain as the people we can see.
verse 3 Paul says, "We
give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying
always for you."
You do not give thanks to someone whom you do not believe exists. A
Christian is a person who knows that God is worthy to receive our
thanks for everything. "God…
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"—there's
another whole study here as to how God describes himself. The one
name that God delights in calling himself is the "Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ". (See Colossians 3:17, and also Romans 15:6,
II Corinthians 1:3 and 11:31, and I Peter 1:3.) God is a very proud
father. He loves to call Himself the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
thing we can find out about a Christian is given in verse 4, "since
we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus."
A Christian is one who
has faith in Christ Jesus.
That is God's own definition. There is a relationship between a
Christian and Christ. A lot of people talk about God but who or what
are they talking about? Is it just the First Cause, the Supreme
Being? Many religions use the word "God". Allah, the moon
God, is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Buddha is not the
God who saved us. A Christian by definition is one who has faith in,
believes in, Christ Jesus. The central person of the Christian
religion is Christ, the son of God. That is really important to keep
in your mind.
a Christian is a person who really believes in Christ. He doesn't
go around saying, "Whenever I'm in trouble I talk to the
man upstairs." Believing in Christ is different from just
talking to the man upstairs when you get into trouble. To believe
means to lean your whole weight upon the object of your belief.
Christ is the center of my life. In fact, later on in this chapter we
will read that He's living in me (verse 27), and He's
living through me (3:4). The center of everything to do with the
Christian life is Christ. And as believers we have come to faith in
is important to see how God works on a person to embrace faith in
Christ. There are steps to having faith in Christ. God first works on
the mind. You see, everybody has a mind, and God works on that mind
so that as we hear the gospel, the Good News; we take a seed of truth
and think about it. We are told that there are 10,000 messages a day
coming into your brain through your sight and through your hearing.
God gets to people first through their mind. That's why we
share the Good News. That is why we give out leaflets and books and
have web sites. That is why we say the right word at the right time.
God gets a person's attention and they hear and understand the
Good News. They learn that God has only the best for them.
there's another step that He takes. Emotion is involved. I can
take facts into my mind about my computer and how it works. I don't
get emotional unless the computer doesn't work. Then I have
been known to get emotional! But the fact itself is not an emotional
thing. Sales people are taught to sell the sizzle and not the steak!
When it comes to the Good News, then I see there is a glorious future
for me. God has done so much for me, and He drops a small picture of
the benefit into my mind, and then my emotions get stirred up. I have
a desire to get hold of this good life that God is talking about.
There's a certain expectation that comes to me. Elvis Presley
said he did not understand his mother's faith but he wanted it!
A lot of people go about witnessing as if they were prosecuting
attorneys. They just want to tell people what miserable sinners they
are and how they are on the road to Hell. However, the way to
encourage folk to join the family of God is to tell them how good God
is. Hold out the carrot! Make them see that this life you're
talking about is not a life of giving up something. It's a life
of receiving something better than you have right now. And that
starts desire happening in the emotions.
we're ready to go one step further and we make an act of the
will and commit our life to Christ. You might have noticed there—the
mind, the emotions, and the will. They comprise what we call the soul
of a person. You have a mind; you have emotions; and you have a will.
And it's your will that decides what you are going to do.
Having taken in the Good News, having got the desire and expectation
that you want what God is offering, then you will to have it. You
say, "I will go God's way and I will commit my life to
Christ." When you do that you will receive God's
spiritual gift package. That is how we get to faith in Christ. It
always works that way. God goes through the mind first. Your emotions
then get involved, and there follows an act of your will. You do not
become a Christian by being born in a Christian country. You do not
become a car by being born in a garage! You become a Christian by an
act of the will, and from that moment you are "saved".
go back to verse 4 again. "Since
we heard of your faith in Christ",
so a Christian is one who believes in Christ. And then it says, "and
of the love that you have for all the saints."
Christians are people who
love each other.
Now it's getting difficult. You mean
I have to love all the Christians? I mean to say, have you met some
of the ones I've run across? Someone wrote this oft-quoted
To live above with saints we love,
Will certainly be glory.
live below with saints we know,
Well that's another story!
are people who love each other. That's another Bible definition
of a Christian (John 13:35, Romans 13:8, etc.). A Christian is one
who is not thinking of themselves but of somebody else. That has to
be the hallmark of Christianity. And that is the way that you get
answers to your problems. When you quit thinking about what a
terrible mess you are making of life and you start thinking about
somebody else's problem, then you find you start getting
answers to your own challenges. If you think your problem is more
than you can bear, come visit with me and I'll take you around
the hospital one time and I think we can solve that attitude fairly
quickly. A Christian is noted as one who thinks about others before
they think about themselves.
Christian, it says in verse 4, is one who has love for all
saints. We've already seen that truth in verse 2 and the word
"saints" is used again in verse 4. A Christian is one who
has a good self-image.
In Bible terms, a saint is one who belongs to the family of God. A
saint is one who has Christ in them, the hope of glory. A saint is a
member of God's family. That is why I get upset and even
express myself strongly at times when people say they are "only
a sinner saved by grace". That is not what God says you are.
Certainly you were
a sinner. Certainly you were
saved by grace. But what are you now?
You are a saint. You are a son or daughter in God's family.
Christian, you must have a good self-image. Those Christians who seem
so spiritual when they say they are "only sinners saved by
grace" may sound humble but it is not true. I was a sinner but
now I'm a saved person. We need to say, "I know who I am.
I am a child of God with power." Let's have a good,
healthy self-image. A Christian knows God. He or she believes in
Christ, and has love to all the saints. He or she has a good
5 states that a Christian is one who
of the expectation laid up for you in heaven."
I believe the word "hope" (KJV) should always be
translated "expectation". God has an expectation which is
stored away for you in heaven. God has placed your name on it, its
gift-wrapped ready for you to take into your life and enjoy the
benefit of it. There is expectation in the Christian life. I'm
so glad I'm a Christian, and I'm glad I have an
expectation for the future. Yesterday I was listening to a tape where
the speaker asked "How should we handle the book of Revelation
and what effect does it have on us?" He took the same approach
that I do. He basically said that if you think you are going to go
through those things, then you are in the wrong family. If you are in
God's family, the book of Revelation is not for you—you'll
be gone! But if you are not in God's family, then you had
better brace yourself because there are some things coming that you
may not like.
Copyright © 2010 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is based on the King James Version, modernized and with added insights. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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