Sermon series: Christ the Center
Sermon series: What Does Jesus Do For Us?
Scriptures: Colossians 1:19-23
Jesus is a popular figure these days. A quick search on the internet will give you a vast array of opinions and points of view about Jesus. There is a "Jesus Diet," which gives you an eating plan based on what some people think Jesus ate. One website attempts to tie Jesus to the beginnings of vegetarianism. When it comes to Jesus, the opinions and views expressed are almost without end. Some people see Him as God, others say He was simply a good teacher, and still others deny that He ever existed.
But all opinions about Jesus are just that. It is only in the Scriptures that we find objective insight into the truth about Jesus - who He is, what He did, how He did it, and so forth.
The reliability of the Scripture, and its testimony about Jesus continue to be at the center of our faith. One of the reasons so many professing Christians are carried away into false doctrines is because they do not know what the Scripture says. As born again believers, we know the Scripture is truth, and it reveals to us God's truth about us, our universe and about Himself.
Paul wrote to the Colossian church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. He did so to combat false teaching and teach the truth.
Notice with me six questions about Jesus that only be answered in Scripture - answers that speak to us about the fact that Jesus died for us.
The first question is this:
I. Who is Jesus?
In Him dwells the fullness of God (see also Colossians 2:9).
Many scholars believe that part of the problem at Colosse was an early form of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that Jesus was a created being, one of many spiritual beings between man and God, each spiritual being or Aeon being at a different level depending upon their knowledge. The more knowledge, the higher up the spiritual being. They taught that the spirit was good but the flesh or body was bad, thus, they said, God, who was perfect goodness, would not and could not dwell in flesh. So they denied the incarnation.
Paul refutes this kind of teaching head on. He says that not only did Jesus reconcile us through the body of His flesh, but he states that in Jesus dwelt the fullness of God. Some of the false teachers, who denied the deity of Jesus said that Jesus was a normal mortal man and that God's Spirit only settled upon Him for a while. Paul says that the fullness of God (see 2:9) dwelt in Him bodily.
The word fullness is the Greek word from which we get our word "plentitude." It denotes the totality of divine powers and attributes that reside in Jesus.
The word dwell is interesting. It means to permanently reside. In other words these divine attributes that Jesus possessed were not temporary, as some were teaching, they were and are a part of who He was and is.
The Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ, God the Son, was born of a virgin, with a human body, and a sinless human nature and that in Him perfect humanity, like existed before the fall, and the totality of the divine nature coexist.
Remember, who Jesus is, is one of the most important issues we will ever face. If He is not who He says He is, then He could not do what He said He did, and if He did not do what He said He did then our faith is in vain.
Is it any wonder that the world is trying to redefine who Jesus is? You can see it on the Learning Channel or on Public Broadcasting, or in Time Magazine. There are numerous articles and shows trying to redefine Jesus. As Christians, not only must we know who Jesus is, we must know to the degree that we can explain it to others.
Jesus was completely God and completely human.
II. What did He do?
He died for us to reconcile us.
Reconcile – To bring back into proper relationship. Reconcile – Only used three times in the New Testament, it means the restoration of a previously existing relationship. Sin puts us at odds with God, Jesus, through His work on the cross, bridged the gap between us and God, making it possible for us to have a relationship with Him.
Peace – The absence of hostility; the presence of tranquility. Peace – to bind together, not only a cessation of hostility, but the presence of tranquility, from the Old Testament concept of shalom which meant to be healthy, to be whole, the harmony enjoyed when a person's relationship with God is where and what it should be.
Not only a condition in relation to God and men, it is also a blessed experience in concrete life situations.
This peace will be with the believer - I Corinthians 1:3
It will reign in his or her heart - Colossians 3:15
It will keep his or her heart and thoughts in Christ Jesus - Philippians 4:7
It comes directly from Jesus - John 14:27
It is the same peace that Jesus enjoys. It is His peace - John 14
There is nothing that can rob us of that peace - John 16:33, Romans 8:35-39
It is an external evidence of the internal residence of the Holy Spirit - Galatians 5:22
Jesus Himself is our peace - Ephesians 2:14
III. Why did He die for us?
Alienated – This is our position, our state of being. Denotes isolation, loneliness and a deep sense of not belonging. It means to be estranged or cut off, separated. This is the natural spiritual state of man.
Hostile in mind – This defines our attitude towards God. Those who do not know Jesus, who live outside of a relationship with Him and outside of His will, are living in rebellion against Him. They are hostile in their minds, in other words they hate God. Have you ever wondered why some people seem so violently opposed to Christianity? You don't see them being that opposed to other philosophies or doctrines, but you begin to talk about God or about Jesus and they get down right hateful. Why? Because their very nature, as Ephesians 2:3 says, made them enemies of God.
Engaged in evil deeds – Alienated from God, outside of a knowledge of His will, not possessing the ability to discern spiritual things, with a nature and an attitude that is hostile to God and His truth, the natural result is that one's actions will follow ones attitude.
IV. How did He do it?
He reconciled us through the blood of His cross.
Metonym – to use the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related. ex: "Scepter" for "Sovereignty." The blood is used as a metonym to describe the entire redemptive work of Jesus. This concept is foundational to our faith.
I came across the website of an organization called, "Atheists for Jesus." Its founder claimed that while He did not believe in God, in the divinity of Jesus or in any of the miracles, he did think the teachings of Jesus were good and that by the knowledge gained through His teachings we could better ourselves.
This is an expression of modern day Gnosticism. I recently read a publication by Maged Mikhail entitled, "The Gnostics, a survey of Gnostic beliefs." Mikhail says, "In the Christian framework Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the Son of Man, being without sin, and actually dying and rising from the dead, makes Him the Savior. He did enlighten humanity with His teachings, but the actual salvation was through His deeds not His words . . . To the Gnostics, however, Salvation had a totally different meaning. Salvation was from uncertainty, thus the deeds of the savior figure, whoever he is, are quite unimportant; what is of absolute importance, however, are his teachings."
Paul wants to make it abundantly clear that it was the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary's cross that saved us from our sins, not simply His teaching.
Look at what he says in verse 22:
Knowledge by itself cannot save us. It is what Jesus did on the cross, paying the price for our sins that offers us salvation. Knowledge of that sacrifice offers us the opportunity to accept His free gift of grace. But in order to be useful knowledge must be founded upon truth, so just thinking that Jesus died for our sins, or just wishing it were so would not help us. Jesus, as God in the flesh, died for our sins and rose again. That's what enables us to be reconciled to God.
But Paul goes on to make another point, a point that is aimed at contradicting false teaching.The Body of His flesh through death – Jesus died physically, He was and is fully God and fully human. He could not have died a physical death were He not Human, He could not have been a sacrifice for our sins were He not divine.
It is absolutely essential to our faith that we understand Jesus came in the flesh. He was not simply some spiritual apparition. One of the key teachings of most Gnostic beliefs was a doctrine known as Docetism. The Docetists taught that Jesus was not fully man, because God and man could not dwell in one person. Thus, they said, Jesus was simply a ghost, the Spirit of God disguised to look like a human. Their name came from the Greek word "dokeo" which means, "I seem." So they said Jesus just seemed to be human but was not. Paul wants to put that false doctrine to rest. Thus, you have such a great emphasis upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
V. Why did He do it?
Why did Jesus die for us?
He died for us because the Father loves us and there was no other way to be right before God except that an acceptable sacrifice is made for our sins and that sacrifice was Jesus. (Romans 5:17)One day we will all stand before God. Each of us will give an account for our works, for our words, for every part of our lives. Those who have been redeemed, who have been reconciled through Jesus will have nothing to explain, all of their sins, all of their shortcomings will be covered by the blood of Jesus.
In order to present us:
Blameless – without accusation. The devil is the accuser of the brethren. He wants to point out all our sins, he wants to keep us in bondage to sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, so that when we stand before God no one will be able to point the finger at us, we will be without blame.
Holy – set apart from sin, set apart unto God. Purity.
Beyond reproach – irreproachable – Legal term, one not open to accusation, one free of guilt.
You see, what Jesus did was all we need. He paid it all. When He said, " It is finished," it was finished. The deed was done, the sacrifice made, the price for our souls was paid. We don't need some special revelation, some secret knowledge, something extra on top of what He did. He did it because, as Ephesians 1:9 says, it was the Father's good pleasure. God wanted to reconcile us to Himself.
VI. What evidence is there?
How can we know that He accomplished His purpose in dying for us?
The "if" in this verse has caused many people to misunderstand what it is saying. It could just as well be translated "since." The original language does not, in any way, convey doubt, to the contrary it is a statement on Paul's part of affirmation that since they have been reconciled they will remain faithful. The scholar Peter O'Brien paraphrases the idea of the text as saying: "At any rate if you stand firm in the faith, and I am sure you will." Paul is confident that those who are truly in Christ Jesus will not stray from the faith, but that they will persevere.
Those who are saved will persevere in faith and obedience, because it is consistent with their new nature. They will continue in the faith because they have a new disposition, a new mindset, a new outlook on life that gives them the desire to do that which pleases God.
Perseverance/Faith – The body of truth, and the trust they have placed in Jesus.
Hope of the Gospel – Their hope was based on the gospel, that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a vicarious death and rose in a glorious resurrection. It could not be based on external knowledge, on the secret knowledge of man, but on the completed work of Jesus Christ.The devil ever wants to take our hope out of the gospel He wants to us to place our hope in things that will let us down, so that he can disillusion us and cause us to lose hope. But if our hope is placed on Jesus, we will never fail.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
The person who has been transformed, who has been made a new Creation in Christ, will persevere. It is part of their new nature. It is what Christ has created them to do. That change, that perseverance is the evidence of the work of Christ in our lives.
Allow me to suggest four practical ways to apply these truths to your Christian experience.
A. Know the Scriptures
To keep you from sin: "I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You." - Psalm 119:11
Precious to you because we love Him: "I delight in Your commands, which I love." - Psalm 119:47
Powerful as a weapon: "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God's word." - Ephesians 6:17
Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified His word: "Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth." - John 17:17
B. Recognize the difference between position and condition
You have standing with God because of what Jesus has done. You have been declared a saint. The blood of Jesus has washed your sins away. Jesus will present you to His Father someday, spotless, without blame or cause for accusation. Don't confuse the temporal condition of your spiritual life with your position as a child of God. You have been adopted into the family, made a friend of God, reconciled by the blood of Jesus. No one can take that away.
"I am and always will be a child of God."
C. Walk in the confidence that God loves you
This will keep you from falling prey to the devil's lies that you have to be good enough to deserve God's love. God loves you. He sent His Son to die for you before you even knew Him. His love never changes. He will always love you. You could never be good enough for Him to accept you. It is the righteousness of Jesus that makes us acceptable to Him, not our own.
"God loves me and nothing I do will ever change that."
4. Persevere – Hang in there
His Spirit is there to strengthen you, to enable you, to help you be the person He wants you to be.When I was a kid I remember playing with a toy clown. It was not a doll. It was an inflatable punching clown. It was rounded on the bottom and had sand in it. Whenever you punched it, it would go back, but then the sand in the bottom would bring it back to a standing position. No matter how many times you punched it, it would always rebound.
That's the idea Paul is conveying here. We are to keep coming back, keep rebounding to our standing position. The Holy Spirit is deep within us, enabling us to bounce back, regardless of how many times we are knocked down.
"I surrender my life to you, fill me afresh and anew with you Spirit."