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Persevere in Your Faith

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
June 5, 2023 9:33 am

Persevere in Your Faith

The Verdict / John Munro

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June 5, 2023 9:33 am

Pastor Cameron Engle June 4, 2023 Colossians 2:6-10


In Colossians 2, Paul is giving advice to church members in Colossae, a church he did not start, but a church he met the one who did start, Epiphras.

He met this man in prison. And Epiphras told Paul all about the Colossians, all about this church. And he specifically told them all about these pressures on both sides. They had these strong pressures to take a step from their faith in the one way or the other. And this was very strong legalism on one side that pressured them to obtain a spiritual status. And on the other hand, they had paganism.

They had the culture preaching to them to take a step away from their faith. I think we can all identify with that. And students, I think you have identified with that, but you will identify with that in very particular and new ways in the weeks and months to come. Students, you're about to be tested in many different ways, so allow Paul's words to give you wisdom. In chapter 1, Paul has established that Christ's preeminence and that the position of the Son as the very image of God. Now as we walk into chapter 2 here, in verse 5, he calls them to be firm in their faith, to persevere in their faith. That's what we call you to do today. And now here are Paul's directions for the Colossians, verses 6 and 7.

And this is our first point. Be rooted in Christ. Number 1, be rooted in Christ. Verse 6, therefore as you received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith just as you were taught abounding in thanksgiving. Paul's primary concern is that the Colossians would not continue to grow in Christ. Isn't it amazing the number of people who claim Christ and yet stop growing in Christ as if the spiritual walk had a finish line in this life?

This often seems to happen, students, right after high school graduation and on college campuses all throughout this nation, unfortunately. Paul's encouraging them in this pursuit and Paul makes three statements about these Christians. Number 1, he affirms their faith. He confirms their faith. They have already received Christ in verse 6. And they were to reflect on when and how they received Christ.

Remember the nature and context of the faith at their time of salvation and live out that passion. Do you remember, students, brothers and sisters, do you remember what it was like when Christ came into your life? Do you remember what it was like when Christ lifted that burden off of your back and took it and put it on His own?

Do you remember when you understood that you were accepted by your God and Creator? Has that faded in your life? Has that passion, has that desire faded for God in your life? I want to encourage you, reclaim that passion by spending time in God's Word. It's very easy to lose passion for something that we actively avoid. Read God's Word and tell others about that story of when you came to Christ.

Remember that passion. Secondly, walk as rooted in Christ. How difficult is it to uproot a tree? We would rather just cut it off at surface level, wouldn't we? It's very difficult to uproot a tree, but have you ever seen one that actually has been uprooted? Have you ever noticed how many roots, how big they are, how deep they have dug into the ground? Just as the tree puts its roots into the ground, so let's put your roots into Christ. Roots as in your passions, your desires, your prayers, your time, your resources. What have you rooted your life into right now? What is in your life that if it were taken away you would be ruined?

You would be uprooted on your side. As you start this next phase, have you decided what you will be rooted in? Matthew 7 gives you good advice. You can either root yourself into sand or into rock. What have you established as your foundation? There are many people surrounding us, including myself, that at times have attempted to make their foundation something other than Christ, some things that are good but should not be our foundation.

Jobs, friends, family, knowledge, heritage, backgrounds, all of these are great to have and we celebrate all of these things with you today, but they are not what your foundation is. When things go sideways in life, you will find out what you are rooted in. Find your foundation in truth. Colossians 1 23, just a page behind, says, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. What does it look like to be rooted in the Lord? Spending time with the Lord and in His word so that it is the very thing you get your joy, your purpose, your motivation, your basis of love from. Pastor Monroe gave us all a challenge at the beginning of the year to spend how many minutes in the word?

That's right. Good job, church. So we've asked you time and time again, how well have you done this?

And students, I don't remember one time where Pastor Monroe excluded students from this charge, from this challenge. How well have you done, students? What does your Bible intake look like right now in your life?

Have you made any preparations for what it will look like when you go on to this next phase of your life and in the months to come? In verse 7, I like all of these words here, verse 7, just as you were taught. It's been a pleasure of mine to be a part of that for you students. Remember what you have learned at home and here at Calvary.

I'd like to give you a visual of this and I'll need the church's help to do so. We see the 2023 graduates here. If you were here this morning and you have had any impact, if you have invested any time in these particular students here, whether it be in the nursery, when they were in nursery just a few years ago, whether it was when they were in children's ministry and student ministry, would you stand and just be recognized just for a moment? If you've had any involvement in any of these students here today. And students, I'd encourage you to look around at these people.

You can be seated. Thank you for taking the words of Proverbs 22, 6 to heart and leading a student where they ought to go. But students, as you think back through Awana, Ignite Services, camps, mission trips, the songs you learned in student choir, everything your parents have taught you, you will now put into action with the most independence you have ever had. Turn with me to Hebrews 2. There's a good reminder here in verse 1.

Hebrews 2 verse 1. Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it. Pay attention to what you have learned, students. Remember what you have been taught. All of these that just stood a moment ago, took the time to guide you and teach you about the importance of Christ as your foundation. Students, but it is your responsibility to ground yourself in Christ as you continue your faith.

They cannot do that for you. Thirdly, Paul says in these verses, being rooted in Christ requires thanksgiving in verse 7. In fact, he says overflowing with thanksgiving. Paul frequently used this term thankfulness as a test of faith. If you look at Romans 1, he talks about the unrighteousness.

And Paul says although they knew God, what made them unrighteous, they did not honor God or give Him thanks. Students, you are part of the infamous generation Z. Is that generation known for its overwhelming thankfulness?

No. But Calvary students are. Those who have grown up in fear and wisdom of the Lord, they are. They are overwhelming with thanksgiving. A good reminder for all of us, do you have trouble being thankful or living in a state of thankfulness? How often do you thank the Lord? When did you last thank your parents?

I'm sure they've done a few things for you in the past few weeks. How does thankfulness infiltrate your prayers, Christian? Those who have Christ as their foundation are not self-satisfying but humble and grateful. This attitude is quite the opposite from the culture that was pressuring, putting so much pressure on the Colossians. Let's read about that in verse 8. This is point number 2. Be aware of false doctrines.

What a good reminder this morning for these graduates. Be aware of false doctrines. Verse 8, see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ.

You can look earlier in the chapter in verses 4 and 5. Paul explains about this concern he had for the Colossians to be swayed by these other teachings. Paul compares these false teachings to Christ in verse 3 and in verse 3 he says, all the riches of assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery is found in only Christ. The Colossians again found themselves wedged between these different philosophies and these different teachings. Examples of them might have been dualism, asceticism, relativism. Do any of these sound familiar to us today?

In fact, I'd say all of them do. The problem is that these philosophies and teachings would attach themselves to Christianity and try to adapt the two beliefs together. They took biblical Christianity and like my two year old with his lunch, picked and chose what he would like to have. We see this happen quite often in church history. What you are left with is Christianity and a Christ that serves our own purpose.

Which may be convenient, but it does not save. Church is anything new under the sun. Do these types of false teachers and teachings still exist today? Who dissect Christianity for what they want from it and distort Scripture in doing so? Make no mistake students. Your culture preaches to you every day.

Examples. Instead of Genesis 3, they say that identity is complicated and fluid. Instead of 1 Corinthians 6, they say that sexuality is whatever you would like for it to be. Instead of Ephesians 2, 10, students, they say that you get to decide who you are.

Don't listen to some book to tell you who to be. Instead of James 5, 16, they say no one has to hold you accountable. You can pick your own truth. Instead of John 3, 16, they tell you that preaching the gospel to someone is hateful because you are not accepting them for everything that they are. Make no mistake students, these arguments are created from human tradition and what man wants, not what God demands from us.

Have you ever heard someone arguing these philosophies and doing so? And the way they are doing it, it's almost like they are trying to convince God to change his own theology. But Colossians 1, 5 reminds us where truth can be found in the gospel and the word of God. In John 17, if you will turn with me there. In John 17, verse 14, Jesus discusses the struggle in his high priestly prayer. In John 17, verse 14, he says, I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world just as I am not of the world. This verse 8, these philosophies come from what it says elemental spirits of the world.

We need to not make the mistake. We need to understand that these arguments are demonic in nature and in origin. Here is the ultimate warning for the Colossians from Paul. They are, verse 8, not according to Christ, but according to man. What does verse 8 call these lies?

It calls them empty deceit. Our response should be similar to the words we see in Ephesians 6. Put on the whole armor of God. Prepare for battle, students. Because there is a fight going on for your attention. The enemy himself is currently attacking and trying to distract you. You had better have a sword and the one that Hebrews 4 talks about. What good is a soldier in the middle of a battlefield with nothing to wield?

Students, as you prepare, you are looking for that very first day on a college campus or the first job starting your career. Do you think at that moment when you are vulnerable that these elemental spirits will leave you alone? Students, those who desire to argue against your faith are ready and waiting for you. So, as Paul says, be aware.

Put on the whole armor of God that you may extinguish the firing arrows from Satan himself. Let's ask ourselves the question, how successful are these elemental spirits at teaching these philosophies in our nation? If you look at Arizona Christian University, I saw some statistics that startled me and surprised me. Arizona Christian University did a study out of those who identify as Christian and hold a biblical worldview. Those that hold a biblical worldview are 6%. 62% who self-identified as born-again Christians and utilize that term, identified I am a born-again Christian, 62% of those believe that the Holy Spirit is not a real living being but merely a symbol of God's power.

62%. 61% say that all religious faiths are of equal value. These are the philosophies to be aware of. These philosophies may have persuaded many but they will not persuade you who are aware. The fact is that you can only be aware of what teachings are lies if you know what the truth is. The truth only comes from the truth of Scripture itself. And here are words for rejoicing because God's word gives us a battle plan and it's a very simple one. It's found in James 4. Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.

This is a battle plan that is not complicated and comes with many unbreakable promises. Paul says instead of these philosophies, and this is our point number three, be filled with Christ. Be filled with Christ.

Students, we're celebrating a lot with you today. Many of you have attended church regularly. Many of you understand many spiritual disciplines. And many of you were raised in church and many of you have Scriptures memorized and these are great. But the question is do they guarantee that you will be consistently filled with the Spirit today and tomorrow?

They have helped you grow to where you are. Let's read verses 9 and 10 together. For in Him, Christ, the wholefulness of deity dwells bodily. And you have been filled in Him who is the head of all rule and authority. Students, what guarantees that you will be filled with Christ your first day on campus, your first day on your career, wherever you end up?

Last week, I was on vacation at a very rainy beach retreat for my family. And my wife and I during the evenings like to play board games. We say it helps us biblically fight. And we were playing this game as a conversation game. You have different cards and you pick a card. It asks you a question. You answer that question and you give it to your spouse to answer. And I picked up the card and it said, who is your best friend? And with all the love in my heart and probably righteousness, I looked over at my wife and I said, honey, without a doubt, you are my best friend.

I know, it was very sweet of me. And then I handed the card over to her with great confidence. I felt like I had let her understand what her answer ought to be.

I tried to lead like a husband in that way. And I gave her the card and she got it. And I said, Chelsea, who is your best friend? And she had the audacity to sit and think about it. She pondered, which was not the answer I was desiring. But she let me know that she was just trying to think of a female best friend as well so she could say me and a female best friend.

And that helped me sleep that night. But she assured me that she does believe that we are best friends. And I can stand here before you and tell you I have a very strong relationship with my wife.

I have a very strong bond like with my wife that I do not have with anybody else. And we have almost been married now for nine years. And I look back at those nine years and I recognize and just view everything that we have been through together. All the very difficult things that we have been through together.

Temptations, struggles, hardships. I also look at all the things that we have celebrated together. Jobs, a baby boy, all these things that we have celebrated together. And how we have loved each other and loved the Lord together.

And I look through that history and I want to ask you a question. Does that history, the history that has helped us grow, that God has used that history to help us grow into the relationship we have today. Does that history guarantee that both of us will be filled with love and admiration for each other today or tomorrow?

No. Now make no mistake, we celebrate those things all the time. We celebrate that God has grown us. But the only guarantee that my wife and I have that we will be filled with love towards one another and God is that we are consistently pursuing one another in Christ. Students, your spiritual accomplishments are something we greatly celebrate today. But they do not guarantee you will be filled with the Spirit today and tomorrow and throughout every semester you are about to go through. To be filled with God, your intake in His Word and communication with God must be constant. And your relationship with Christ must change everything in your life.

The type of Christianity where Christ does not change anything in your life has no Christianity at all. What does it look like to be filled with Christ? I want to share something with you church. About a month ago I sat in on the student life group of these graduates. And it was with, I'm sure they remember this, it was their teachers that morning were Tim and Amy neighbors. And as the class came to an end it was time for prayer requests. And you never know what a student is going to give as a prayer request. And it was pretty incredible to see the first prayer request was a young lady who, she said, I'm sharing the gospel with someone at my school, they're a senior and I know we only have about a month and a half left. And I'm worried, I want Christ to work in their life, I want the Spirit to work in their life so that they can come to Christ. I want to see them come to Christ so badly before we graduate.

What a prayer request. And then the next graduate shared that they also were sharing Christ with a friend. And that they wanted to see God move in that friend. That continued for seven students.

Seven of our students in this class, the only prayer request that morning was for the lost and that God would help them reach them. That's what evidence looks like, graduates, of being filled with Christ. And your gift today, students, is a list of universities and like-minded churches near those campuses. The first week will be filled with anxieties, with orientation, setting up your dorms, starting classes, likely bringing you to a point of physical and mental exhaustion. But when that very first Sunday comes, on that very first week, students, go to church. Not online. Go to church, physically.

Meet with the body of Christ on the Lord's Day, that very first Sunday. When I was 18 and I had just graduated, myself and a few of my friends realized that our sports careers were over. None of us got picked up by colleges. That wasn't surprising. We didn't see a professional sports in our future. We were pretty certain. And we decided something, we decided that we were not going to get out of shape physically like everybody else does.

We were going to be the exception. And so what we were going to do is meet together on the very first day of summer. We were going to exercise and work out with one another. We were going to run two miles. And then we were going to lift very heavy weights. And three days out of each week we were going to lift and run and exercise for two and a half hours. And so we decided that this was a good plan.

And then at the end we would be the envy of all other male physique. And so we decided we wanted to carpool. And here was the weakness in our plan. We decided the most central place for all of us to meet in town was Waffle House.

Some of you see where the story is going to end. And so day one we met in our athletic attire with our shoes laced up ready to go to work. We met and we looked up and saw those glorious black and yellow letters. And we made a decision that would change the course of that summer. We decided what we could do instead just this one time was go and celebrate our graduation with waffles and bacon and syrup. And we did. And then the next workout session came. And we decided we weren't going to work out then either. We did not exercise one day that entire summer.

Not one day. We kind of went the opposite direction with the calorie intake. But students, I want you to understand that there's something to be said about starting strong. Something to be said about starting strong.

Starting strong is important. Go to church on that first Sunday. Start developing your spiritual community well and early so that like-minded brothers and sisters may influence you on the Lord's day every week. If that first Sunday you have had an excuse not to go, you will start a dangerous tradition in your own life that will be very hard to break.

And for some people last a lifetime. Experience the community of Christ's body. Find a church that you can serve in.

Find a church that you can grow in. So in these philosophies, God does not dwell, God says, but in Christ the whole fullness of God dwells bodily. Many things have been found in pursuit of these false philosophies, but never truth, never life. Notice in verse 10, he, meaning Christ, is the head of all rule and authority. Christ is the Lord of your life and you are not. Your generation is not known for the submissiveness and humility to Christ, but you will be in this next phase.

We see in Colossians some of the most richest texts about the supremacy of Christ and Paul's contrast with Christ's supremacy with these false philosophies. This is exactly the phase of life that you are about to enter into. New experiences, new friends, living arrangements, schedules, contexts.

And through all of these changes you will be pushed to discern students. You will either be filled with the world or you will be filled with the Lord. Choose wisely.

Choose Christ. I have encouraged the parents of the graduates to give them a blessing this week. Pray a prayer of blessing over them this week or sometime this summer before they go off to college or before they go off to the next phase in their life. So I think it's only fitting, church, that we join together and pray a prayer of blessing over our graduates as well together. To do that I have chosen a few verses from In Christ Alone.

They'll be put on the screens behind me. So I'm going to lead us in church. Join me in this prayer as we read this blessing, as we pray this blessing over our students.

Will you join me? One more verse. Students, everything you could ever need or want is in Christ alone.

As you prepare for this next phase in your life, remember what's most important. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we come before you. We do lift up these graduates. We pray that they understand that they are so important to us.

God, many things will be said about these graduates and one of them that will never be able to be said is that they do not have a support group. Be with this church as it reaches out, as it ministers to these graduates. God, as they prepare, give them a peace of mind, an understanding of the gospel. Help them to feel and live out your promises in their life.

God, help them to not look horizontally from what they can only find vertically. Prepare their hearts and may they prepare this summer with you. Prepare their hearts. God, may they share the gospel. May they grow in you. May they find their roots in you. May they be weary and aware of false philosophies. May they be filled with you, God. And may they persevere in their faith. It is in your Christ's holy name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 11:15:42 / 2023-06-05 11:25:58 / 10

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