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Counsel from a Concerned Apostle, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
March 24, 2022 7:05 am

Counsel from a Concerned Apostle, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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March 24, 2022 7:05 am

Jesus Christ, Our All in All: A Study of Colossians

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Today from Chuck Swindoll. Counterfeit Christians wear many different masks. Every one of the most important works of the Spirit of God is to enlighten us with understanding.

It's called the Ministry of Illumination. The Word of God has been revealed. That's revelation. God giving his truth to various people who would write it. And then that meets directly with inspiration for those who are recipients of the revelation. It's called an inerrant document, the original text of Scripture. So there's revelation, there's inspiration.

Both of those have ceased. There is no further divine revelation and there is no further inspiration as we know it revealed in the Scriptures. But there is regularly illumination. For example, if perchance today you discover, you learn, you realize, you observe something from the Scriptures that you had not known or seen or learned before, you have been illumined if it weren't for the work of the Spirit that could not take place. That explains why some are completely bored when the Word of God is taught and others are on the edge of their seat. If you are here without Christ you haven't the Spirit of God. That's not meant to be insulting.

It's meant to be accurate. And without the presence of the Spirit in your life, the Word of God is just another ancient book, black print on white pages that sort of meanders from one subject to another without much to say. And so I would say to you who live with those who have never trusted Christ, be patient.

There will be a time by the grace of God that they will come to Christ and when they do the whole work of the Spirit will begin to take place and there will be illumination even in their lives. Now we're learning these days about the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians. Colossians, not to be mistaken with Galatians or the little letter of Philippians, this is Colossians and we're in the second chapter in our study looking at verses 1 through 12 today which I would like to read for you from the New Living Bible. Colossians 2 begins, I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea and for many other believers who have never met me personally.

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I'm telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you and I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now just as you accepted Christ Jesus as the Lord you must continue to follow him.

Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body so you also are complete through your union with Christ who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ you were circumcised but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision, the cutting away of your sinful nature.

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized and with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God who raised Christ from the dead. Our hope is that we will be illumined with an understanding and also realize the practical application of these 12 verses as we live our lives these days. We need each other.

We really do. I need you and you need me. You need the person near you, sitting around you, beside you, living with you, how much we need one another. There was an adolescent period in my spiritual growth where I went through the idea, heretical though it was, that I really didn't need anybody. I knew Christ. I was able to read his word. I was engaged in the study of the Scriptures. I had a wife who loved me and I had a future that seemed fairly bright. I had good parents and now they had played their part and I was now on my own. What a stupid way to think that I don't need anybody else.

The Wall Street Journal came out several years ago with a great list. It begins, how important are you? Well, more than you think. A rooster minus a hen equals no baby chicks. Kellogg minus a farmer equals no cornflakes. If the nail factory closes, what good is the hammer factory? Patarevsky's genius wouldn't have amounted to much if the piano tuner had not shown up. A cracker maker will do better if there's a cheesemaker.

The most skillful surgeon needs the ambulance driver who delivers the patient. Just as Rogers needed Hammerstein, you need someone and someone needs you. You may not be convinced of that because you, like I used to be, are an independent thinker.

You'll make it on your own, thank you. So I need to warn you, that's a dangerous way to live. Psychologically it's dangerous and it may be dangerous physically. Philip Zimbardo, when he was professor of psychology at Stanford University, wrote a piece in Psychology Today titled The Age of Indifference.

He puts his finger on the problem. I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them. It has been shown to be a central agent in the ideology of depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, rape, suicide, mass murder, and a wide variety of disease states.

Check it out. Next time you hear of a mass murder, chances are good the one who did the murdering has been alone and isolated, living unto himself or herself far too long. What an unhealthy way to live. And by the way, we seem to promote that whole concept. No longer are we a share and share alike people.

Moving to a home, one of the first things we do is build a fence to keep the barbarians at bay. We are independent cogs in complex corporate structures. We wear headsets as we jog or do our lawns or walk to class or eat in cafeterias. Our watchword is privacy.

Our commitments are short-term. And haven't you been at restaurants where nobody at the table is talking to the other person? They're all thumbing their texts to somebody somewhere else that ought to be talking to somebody. And they're all lost in their silly little phone.

How valuable is that little phone? How did I ever get along without it? Very well. Very well, honestly.

The Lone Ranger, once a fantasy hero, is now our model, mask and all. Listen to the admission of a man who became a pastor. I was raised in the Jesus and me, privatized, individualized Christianity of the fundamentalism of the 60s and 70s. No one knew my father and mother.

I mean really knew them. No one had a clue what was going on in our home. No one helped my father to see through the blindness that allowed him to live a double life of skilled deception and duplicity. No one knew how troubled my mother was beneath her encyclopedic knowledge of the Scriptures.

No one knew. We were a Christian family in active participation in a vibrant church, but what we were involved in lacked one of the primary and essential ingredients of healthy New Testament Christianity. A trained, mobilized and functioning body of Christ. For much of my Christian life and a portion of my ministry, I had no idea that my walk with God was a community project. I had no idea that the Christianity of the New Testament is distinctly relational from beginning to end.

I understood none of the dangers inherent in attempting to live the Christian life on my own. I had no awareness of the blinding power of remaining sin. I had no idea that I was living outside of God's normal means of sightedness, encouragement, conviction, strength and growth.

I had no idea. I honestly fear on occasion when we emphasize the importance of studying the Word and becoming stabilized in the Scriptures that we leave the impression just you and God and you're on your way. Don't bother with the others who aren't in league with where you are.

What an unhealthy way to think and frightening way to live. If it's any comfort to you, the great Apostle Paul, astute theologian, brilliant mind, surrounded himself with people. His letters are filled with names unfamiliar to us, very familiar to him because they were his friends. He ends the magnificent doctrinal treatise of Romans with one name after another after another after others and others and others that you find nowhere else mentioned in the Bible because they're his friends. Matter of fact, when we get to the second chapter of Colossians, we find him writing words of love and understanding and compassion for people he's never met. The only way he knows them is through a friend named Epaphras who was mentioned more than once in this little letter. But he cares about them, which reminds me, you remember that litany of suffering and sorrow and hardship that he lists in 2 Corinthians 11? You remember in the deep shipwrecked, many times beaten with rods, on other occasions left to die under a pile of stones and on and on. And he comes to the very end of this list, which is heartbreaking, verses 23 through 27.

He comes to the end in chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians by adding, and besides all this, there's the care of the churches. Besides all the things I was going through, I couldn't get off my mind the people that I had ministered to. I built into their lives and I'm concerned about them. If nothing else, I hope you will pick up from this message today that people matter. Your relationship with others is far more important than anything other than your relationship to Christ.

We need each other. Paul begins this second chapter of Colossians. By the way, the letter runs on without chapter breaks, as all of you would realize. There's simply a letter that starts at the beginning and runs all the way to the end.

There are no chapter breaks anymore than there are chapter breaks and letters you write. So continuing with the thought of Christ's power that works within me, he says a personal word at the beginning of chapter 2. I want you to know how much I've agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea.

He doesn't even know the people. By that I mean he's not sat with them, been in their homes, they've not sat in his tent, they've not known each other face to face, but he says, I've agonized for you. Agonized.

Agon is the Greek word. I've been in agony thinking about what you're going through. In other words, I care about you.

My heart is touched knowing what you're going through and we'll realize what that is in a moment. I've agonized for you and the church at Laodicea. Far as we know he was never there.

Only a few miles from Colossae. He mentions toward the end of the letter Hierapolis, another church, another location, and far as we know he wasn't there. But he cared about them. In fact, look how he writes, I've agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea and for many other believers who have never met me personally. We don't know each other face to face, but I pray for you. I have you on my heart. And he continues, I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. Look at those words. I don't know them personally, but I long for them to be encouraged and to know what it is to have loving arms around their shoulders.

I hope they're not trying to make it on their own. We need each other. He continues, I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. By the way, it's a slap in the face of the cult of the Gnostics. Not a cult in our day, not by that name, but in that day there were those who spoke of the great emanations that came from the heavenlies. And among the emanations that came from the heavenlies was Jesus.

You can name him among them. And there were many others, and this higher, higher knowledge, this great understanding of the light, I mean, it smacks of new age. In fact, this is a great time for me to add, anytime you're engaged in a teaching that demotes or decentralizes the person of Christ, you're in error. Christ is the supreme one. In him are hidden all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, as we will read. But the cults come and they let you have your Jesus, if you want to talk about Jesus. Remember, they use our vocabulary, but they don't use our dictionary. Same words, but when they say light, they mean something different than when we say light. When they refer to Jesus, they mean someone different than when the Bible refers to him in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now you're getting a hint as to why he's concerned, why he's agonized over them.

Verse four tells us, I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. The terms well-crafted convey the idea of persuasive. We call it smooth talk.

You've seen it. We often attribute it to a salesperson. Watch out for him. He's a smooth talker. Or don't let her talk you into something that you don't really want to go to or you want to buy.

That's the term used here. I'm concerned that no one deceive you with well-crafted arguments. It's a great time for me to pause and say those who want to seduce you into false teaching won't do so by insulting you.

That would attract no one. They'll tell you how valuable you are and how concerned they are that you're missing truth, a higher truth than you'll ever get from between the bindings of a book called the Bible. Watch out for folks like that. Smooth talking. If you can't think of another analogy, just think of a politician.

That'll work. They say all kinds of things. Most of them don't mean a bit of it, but it gets them elected. And you look back and go, what was I thinking? The fact is, you weren't. You believed them. How do you know they're lying?

Their lips are moving. Posters, watch out for people like this. Wake up! I care about you. Just as you would care about the kid you send off to college knowing that he or she is a little weak and they're stepping right into those classes and you know the prof takes great delight in shattering their faith.

Years ago, I knew of an individual who told me that. He said there were several profs on our faculty who had one great desire and that was to shatter the faith of the freshmen. You care about your freshmen.

Paul cares about these people living in Colossae. He said, I don't want anyone to deceive you with their well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. Those are words of love, by the way. I'm not near you, but man, I've got you on my heart. I rejoice that you're living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. I want it to stay strong.

I don't want it to get weak. I don't want you to hear the siren song of some false teacher who says, let me tell you what you're missing by that kind of narrow thinking. Christ isn't all you cracked him up to be. Let me teach you what you're missing.

And they come with their smooth talk. An alarming warning from Paul to be wary of false teachers. And there's more wisdom ahead in this passage.

This is Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled this section of Colossians, Council from a Concerned Apostle. And to learn more about today's study and this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. You often hear me reference the Searching the Scriptures study notes, and we encourage you to dig deeper into Paul's letter to the Colossians by using this free resource.

You set the pace. You can go as deep as you like. To interact with the study notes online or to download the free PDF document, go to insight.org slash studies. One of your fellow listeners said, I've read the Bible from cover to cover once and still read Scripture every day. But while listening to Chuck's series, I'm also using the STS Guide. I also purchased Chuck's book on this subject.

And then this listener from Tennessee added, I even reference maps now, which is an absolute first. The Bible has become more than just an ideal to follow, but has come alive to me. Well, you'll find the Searching the Scriptures study notes at insight.org slash studies. And to purchase Chuck's commentary on Colossians, go to insight.org slash offer. And then finally, remember, when you give a donation, you're empowering us to provide a constant source of Bible teaching for you and for countless others who've come to rely on Chuck as well. So thanks for doing your part in making these daily programs possible. To give a donation right now, call us. If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888. You can also give online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Dave Spiker. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message called Council from a Concerned Apostle, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Council from a Concerned Apostle, was copyrighted in 2014 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-18 20:52:29 / 2023-05-18 21:00:31 / 8

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