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November 2, 2020 7:00 pm
BJU President Steve Pettit begins a discipleship series entitled, “Seeking Things Above” which is a study of Colossians.
Welcome to The Daily Platform sponsored by Bob Jones University today. BJ you president Steve Pettit begins a 10 part series entitled seeking things above from the book of Colossians like to ask you take your Bibles this morning and turn with me please to the book of Colossians chapter 3 while you're turning there. I'd like to just say what a blessing it was yesterday for me to be able to be in the Lord's house here in Greenville and I heard two wonderful sermons yesterday by two different men and I'm just so grateful that there are so many wonderful choices and opportunities for good service for good churches in Greenville were not only you can attend, but get involved and be a servant, and serve in the local church and so as you are making those decisions, make your decisions wisely and well, and are thankful for the ministry that we have in the partnership that we have with so many churches in the greater Greenville area. We begin this morning are series on seeking things above, which is actually the third chapter the book of Colossians that we will be spending our Mondays together in studying throughout the semester and this morning. What I'd like to do is to begin today and next week with two foundational messages about the book of Colossians, because to jump to chapter 3 without any kind of grasp on the big picture of the book and chapters 1 and two really does not help us to really feel the sense of what Paul is expressing in the third chapter and so this morning. My desire is to talk to you about the book of Colossians and simply understanding it and so this morning I'm going to give you some information on going to ask a number of questions trying to work through why it is that Paul wrote this letter and why it is. This book is so important, so I hope you'll take good notes as you listen well to the theme of understanding the book of Colossians and so we begin this morning we need to first of all consider why is it that we should study Colossians, and if you think about it. It was written by a man who was in prison to a group of people that he had never met to the city today that no longer exists. So what is the practical value of studying such a short book. It's only 95 verses long, well within the inspired contents of the book of Colossians. It addresses the two greatest needs in the Christian life and the first need is the need for a clearer vision of the person of Jesus Christ. It's a vision of Christ. Seeing Christ throughout all of our life. Seeing him who is invisible. The second great need of the Christian life is to know how to live our Christian life in a big poor yes manner by a conquering Christian and overcoming Christian a Christian that is not living a defeated life, but a victorious life. So the two great needs are the need of vision and the need of victory in the New Testament. I think it's important for us to understand that the apostles were overwhelmed with the greatness of Christ and his gospel because they had seen him. They had lived with him and they saw him in his death in his resurrection, and they understood that Christ was more than enough for them to live their life because in Christ. They had everything but unfortunately today.
Now 2000 years later, we are often underwhelmed with the greatness of Christ.
We seem to need some kind of spiritual add owns or some kind of attitude something more. We need to find some kind of secret to living this Christian life. So Colossians was written in order that we might experience this vision and this victory and beef in the fulfillment of the prayer of the old St. who prayed for us, that we may see Christ more clearly we may love Christ more dearly, and we may follow Christ more nearly that's what Colossians is all about. So let's begin with some basic facts about Colossians, who is the author well we pretty much you know the law alter is because he uses the first century template for letter writing.
When he introduces himself. He says Paul and apostle of Jesus Christ. So when Paul wrote this letter. Where was he and actually in the end of the book chapter 4 verse three, he tells us that he was imprisoned so we call this a prison epistle written by Paul in the city of Rome somewhere between 60 and 62 A.D. and just a little just a little timeline. Paul was converted somewhere between 30 and 33 A.D. and he was probably killed somewhere between 65 and 66 A.D. so this is towards the end of his life and ministry. So why was the letter written. What were the circumstances or the settings surrounding the letter and basically it was built on a visitor who came to see Paul in prison and this visitor's name is a path for us and he made the 1200 mile journey from Colossae which is in central Turkey all the way to the city of Rome to see Paul. Obviously it was a big deal for him to do that now was up who was a path for us. Well, we know he was a convert of Paul's early ministry. When he was preaching in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the world and that day was located along the Aegean Sea coast and what we know as modern Turkey, and in his hometown Colossae was about 110 miles inland. So sort of the diffs distance, you know, give or take a few miles between Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina. That area where where Colossae was located also had two other main cities called Laodicea and higher opulence. Now what is important to note is that Paul the apostle had never been to the city of Colossae. He was riding the church people he had never met. Apparently a path for us it gone back to his home area after he was converted through Paul's preaching in Ephesus and Varick.
A church was formed as a fruit of the evangelistic ministry of a path for so Pappas was like an evangelist.
Any preach people got saved in a church was started and so in the letter to the Colossians Paul confirms in chapter 1, we will not read that to the congregation that up half risk was a legitimate minister of the gospel.
Any preach, the legitimate the legitimate message that God was blessing throughout the whole world and that's important. He confirmed a path for us as a legit minister and a legit message because that's the problem that was starting to arise within the church. So why did a path for his travel to Rome to see Paul well it was based on the need for help in order to deal with a very perplexing problem in the church and it was an issue in the church that was doctrinal in manner that is what you believe and what it risen up in the church was a form of false teaching that up half risk did not know how to handle know sometimes church problems arise and they are very complicated and you could say this problem was a bit slippery because when you heard the logic it made sense, but it didn't quite sound right, spiritually, and a Pampers felt like he was out of his league. He was trying to handle it, but it wasn't working, and so he came to Rome seeking the wisdom of the great apostle. By the way, let me just say this that most of the New Testament letters were written to deal with various internal church problems in most churches if they have problems have one of three kinds of problems, either a doctrinal problem of Christian living problem or a leadership issue.
So what was the specific doctrinal problem in the Colossian church, and if I could say this way. That's a part of the problem.
The problem is and ask is in explaining it because when you read Colossians Paul doesn't come out and directly tell you what the problem is he ever talk to somebody in there talking about the problem but not really telling what the problem is trying to figure it out. Okay, someone is suggested that it's a bit like listening to a phone conversation of a friend or maybe a person you know our parent and you know that there's a problem, but you can only hear one side of the conversation, and so in Colossians you hear the answers that Paul gives.
But you really don't quite hear the problem but as we read the book and as we look at what Paul says we can produce enough of the problem to be able to discern and perceive the root of the erroneous teaching.
So really the issue is the false teaching and learning what that is. One person said in this way we can apply Paul's teaching in the letter to a wide variety of historical and contemporary movements that share the general contours of the false teaching. Our inability to pin down the false teaching does not mean that we cannot describe some of its basic tenets. In other words, the problem that a Pampers faced in his day may be a little different than the day, but the issues are the same and that's what is important. So here's what we know about the problem. It was a doctrinal error that had arisen internally within the church. You could say it was homegrown.
It was a Christian teaching that had been influenced by the spirit of the age so that the message was sort of a mixture and add own truth amalgamated with the spirit of the age. You could say it was a kind of a doctrinal accommodation to what was going on in the culture of the day, and that's always one of the great problems in the church. The clash between culture and doctrine and the main idea of the errant teaching was affecting the general way that believers were living out the Christian life. It was affecting their lifestyle.
You could say it was sort of a new kind of spirituality it was creating a new mood that was different from the mood in the attitude that came through the preaching of a Pappas. It was it was similar in words but different and feel and the problem is, it was creating tension and divide in the church so the purpose of the letter is to provide the resources that the Colossian believers needed to recognize and deal with false teaching. And I do want to say as we go through this passage of Scripture, the semester that we do have this kind of false teaching abounding today in our world. It's in the United States of America and as a Christian, you need to why be wise in understanding that so what were the major traits of the teaching of these false teachers, and there were two things, and when emphasizes throughout the semester. Here's the first thing the false teachers offered a spiritual fullness not previously experienced in the gospel preached to them by a Pampers.
Let me say it again.
They offered a spiritual fulfillment or a spiritual fullness that was not coming in their mind through the preaching of a pamphlets they were saying something like this. What you have right now as a as a believer is all right. It's a good foundation for faith.
Pampers taught you the basics it's a good start. Hey, you got say, but it's not enough. There's something more hollow so much more and we can help you experience the Christian life you've always wanted. You can be completely fulfilled total satisfaction guaranteed and they made the claim that they could per fact, the simple and elementary faith of the Colossians, they offered a deeper knowledge of God and a greater experience of the power of God. When you stop your answer? How does that sound to you, and let's be honest, we do not want a better experience in your Christian life.
Would you not, are you satisfied with your present knowledge of God, or do you want to know God in the right away how many of you would like to know God in a greater way sure that support of of of our hearts desire. Do you not feel that you need more power, and if you need more power to overcome overcome your emotions overcome your struggles, overcome your thoughts, if you need more power. Raise your hand. Sure it is a message that appeals to everyone in the Colossians were being taught that they needed something more. And that's true. We all need and want something more in our Christian life. So what's the problem. The problem is the source of that fullness. Where do you go to get that. Here's the question. When a believer is saved is he given everything he needs in the moment of salvation in order to live the Christian life. When you got the Lord did you get everything you needed or is there something that you need subsequent to your your salvation. That's the question.
And here's the error. What they receive in Christ. It salvation that had been taught to them by a Pappas. They were saying is not enough. They basically needed some additions to Christ something they didn't have they needed something to Hector. They needed something to happen to them beyond their salvation that would elevate them to a number or a higher spiritual level, the gospel preached by Paul in a Pappas teaches that in Christ and through the gospel.
You already have everything you need, you got it all. Christ is more than enough. Christ is sufficient. We are complete in him we have all in him. That's the message of Colossians Christian living, therefore, is growing in that knowledge and understanding. It's it's understanding your Bible and understanding the work of God in a greater way. It's living out and experience what God's work in our hearts through the power of God. At the moment your say that is the ethical and moral life of the believer comes out of the inner life of Christ, but the Colossians were subtly learning a wrong view of the sufficiency of the gospel. Whatever these additions were they were actually becoming subtraction because whenever you try to add to Jesus you take away from Jesus. So what was being Paul was a new spiritual if you could say this, a fullness, but then secondly, the false teachers spoke of a new spiritual freedom for those who followed them. The teachers appear to offer a deliverance, a deliverance over Santa Ana deliverance over the flash a deliverance over Satan.
But it was it was a deliverance that was different from what Colossians with the Colossians experience to salvation. Example the teachers appear we can read it in chapter 2 I would encourage you to do it yourself.
The teachers appear to have claimed a particular insight into the powers of evil and the ability to give the believers a special protection from demons that work that was in contrast to Christ's defeat of all the demonic powers on the cross so it didn't focus on what Christ did it focus on something different. These false teachers also told that by following Jewish legal codes and you read that in chapter 2 touch not taste not handle not that by doing that they would experience a more complete spiritual life were not talking here about the moral moral and ethical standards of the believer that we read in Colossians 3 the deal with overcoming the flesh by the grace of God, but these are certain codes that we follow these are life will be complete.
The teachers also had a strong emphasis on living in victory over temptation through severe self-discipline of the body they would deprive themselves in reality when you have strong discipline of your body.
It makes you look strong, but the problem is it doesn't empower you to combat the strength of your own lust because the one thing you cannot escape is the sin of your own heart and in reality. Often times it could lead the vanity and pride and self-confidence in judgment of others. That leads to a potential failure in the realm of your flash. Only Christ in his power through the cross can give you victory over sin. So throughout Colossians Paul reminds us that deliverance is always always ours in Christ and following these teachers will not lead you to liberty, but it will lead you to slavery so let's try to sum it up in the false teaching. There is a form of Christian perfectionism that can be reached outside of Christ, all of us want to be perfect and you want to be perfect.
I like to be perfect. I woke up this morning and I was reminded own various occasions. I'm not perfect. I would like to be perfect, but how do you reach that state of maturity and perfection what's in Christ is what Christ is provided for us and we have to grow and that is called sanctification is progressive.
It's over process of time, but these false teachers were teaching a former Christian perfectionism that can be reached outside of Christ, either through legalistic observances or elite knowledge or mystical experiences or severe discipline.
Their focus was on gaining some kind of knowledge outside of the word of Christ doing some kind of action this not based on the work of Christ or going through some kind of experience that is outside of the presence of one person said it this way any teaching that questions the sufficiency of Christ not only for initial salvation, but also for the spiritual growth and ultimate salvation from judgment falls under the massive critique of Colossians. What is Colossians all about. It's not a man centered message a man centered message will follow in the two parts. Either works oriented where it's one why do to obtain the blessing with a primary focus on steps or rules or to a higher level tiered spirituality that seeks for blessing outside of seeking Christ if you want to seek blessing see Christ and what happens is that this false teaching can lead believers to find their ultimate sense of security and identity in something other than Christ that other thing becomes the focus and it's no longer Christ and Paul consider this to be false teaching of a philosophy that move people away from the hope of the gospel, moving people away from Christ.
He was the source of all spiritual knowledge and power. So what did Paul emphasize what is Colossians all about well is very very clear when you read it because it just jumps out at you, especially in chapter 1 what we discover is that that Colossians is all about the two words that you find in the book more than any other words the first word is the word Christ the name of Christ is mentioned 25 times and referred to in 65 versus obviously he's the center of it all. Christ is the image of God.
Christ is the head of the church. Christ is the creator of the world.
Christ is preeminent Christ is our life.
Let's be honest when you go to church and you hear somebody lift up Christ exalt him for who he is what he is done all of his glory and his manifestations unfolding to us what is accomplished for spies, life and death. What is it do for your faith does not not motivate you. Does that not strengthen you. Does that not encourage you. For example, tomorrow integrity and living a pure life you can have preaching on pricing want to go out live a dirty life doesn't work that way. The church is stabilize, strengthen, sustained, and satisfied through the preaching of Jesus Christ.
But then there's a second word that is mentioned 30 times is the word all all speaks to the fullness and the completeness that we have as Christians in Christ, he is our all and all, everything is in him so as we finish this morning.
What's the answer here and let me just say that this error is very very subtle because it's an error that is among now and be careful when I use an illustration because because I know that you think about it, and some of you going to do it but let me just come to give your picture going to a local Christian bookstore and what you find is the primary emphasis of the books now nothing that every book that is written is false teaching. Please don't please don't get that. But think of the emphasis if you were to walk in the bookstore. Look at the top 10 books. I wonder how many of the books would be speaking about your best life now.
Your purpose driven life. The secrets of living a victorious life. Steps to greater fullness. How to have the power of God in your life okay but if you were to ask the person that runs a bookstore, show me your section on Christ.
What would they say well we got a little section the back with a couple book in the Congo weight of it. I thought Christ was everything in my point I'm making it as it is the tendency of all of us and is the point of Colossians that is easy to drift away from that, especially in contemporary society. This era was slippery is like trying to climb agrees pole.
The era is not denying basic doctrine it is presenting a philosophy that appeals to your spiritual.desires, but gives you the wrong answer.
It's not something the Christians can always see because it takes discernment.
That's why a path for us at a travel to Rome to get help from Paul from the apostle Paul and the answer goes back to what Paul is saying over and over and over. Christ is the heart of the message he is the source of Christian growth in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, all the fullness of God is in Christ, and we are in him and 20 centuries have passed since Paul wrote this letter, but the necessity of focusing on Christ as he is revealed in the book of Colossians has not passed and that's why next week's message is entitled Christ is all and all, so that is very clear that in Christ alone. We have all the sufficiency we need to live the Christian life. Father, thank you for your sufficient word and your sufficient and perfect son. And thank you Lord that in knowing him and seeking him that our life grows and changes blessed this semester as we seek things above. In Jesus name, amen. You've been listening to The Daily Platform. Bob Jones University president Steve Pettit invite you to visit our campus in Greenville, South Carolina, and see how God is working in the lives of our students. For more information about Bob Jones University, visit www.bjyou.edu or call 800-252-6363