Colossians 2a

 

Have you read your Bible today? Hopefully we are all spending some time in Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. And as we do so, remember that it is just as much a letter to our congregation as it is to any other church of God’s people.

JOIN THE SING-ALONG AT THE END.

Colossians 2a……………………

Have you ever wished you could have seen and heard Jesus in person? How about the Apostle Paul? Would our faith have been stronger? Would we have been less likely to ever fail?

Let’s explore that from the other side. If you had a grandchild that you’d not seen in person, would that be hard? Paul challenges us to see both of these lessons as he begins the second chapter.

Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, [2] that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, [3] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [4] I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.

[5] For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

Just as Jesus really cared about all of us who would come to believe in Him and follow  Him without ever seeing Him in person (read John 17 and especially verses 20-23), so Paul struggled with the knowledge that countless of his readers would need extra encouragement in the faith for not having seen. Verses 1 and 2 of this chapter ought to always remind us of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, for that concern is the very exhibit of God’s care for us.

In the concern of both Jesus and Paul, never forget the vital lesson for us: Love like Jesus did! Jesus worded it like this: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). And all the blessings, all the real understanding and knowledge of Christ is bound up in real love. If you would be really wise, smart and knowledgeable, love like Jesus did!

Colossians 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

[7] having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

All the good and positive things are found in Jesus. All the good that we can ever be, is found in letting Him live in us. And those that really are in Christ will show it by their lives!

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. [9] For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, [10] and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; [11] and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; [12] having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. [13] When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, [14] having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Verses 8 through 14 we need to examine very carefully, for in them are essential lessons. Never let a hollow, half-truth (or, more often a no-truth-at-all), teaching of human beings supplant the reality of all truth in Christ! There are NO latter-day prophets, no hidden truths that no one but you has ever understood, no other way of salvation than that in Jesus. Peter preached that same message in Acts 4:12. We must keep preaching it today!

Verse 9 tells us where to find God. Indeed, EVERYTHING of any value is IN Christ Jesus! Nearly 100 times the words are used in the New Testament. In Him is God. In Him are all good things and blessings. In Him are His people and their salvation.

Is it any wonder then, that IN Jesus we are made complete? He is ruler and authority over all. No man has the right to overrule Him. The only people that speak for Him are His saved ones as they speak His words.

In verse 11 Paul extends the comparison of this priority by comparing it to circumcision. Under the Law of Moses, males could physically show that they belonged to God. But in Christ, ALL (male, female, slave, free, this earthly nationality or that) are to exhibit by their lives that they belong to God.

In case you were wondering what we come to be IN Christ, this passage makes it clear. The old us dies and is buried. But in this case, we are buried with Jesus in baptism. And we are, just like Jesus, raised up through faith. People often mistake getting wet with being baptized. Unless it is for the right reason, done looking to our God and Savior, it doesn’t mean a thing.

The picture of our baptism is underscored several times (like here and in Romans 6) but always to those already IN Christ. The point is NEVER to go back and try being baptized again and again to fully appreciate and understand what’s happening. No, the point is always to point us back to that incredible moment when we submitted ourselves to something of incredible power and meaning with simple faith in God.

Baptism is never portrayed in the New Testament as something we know all about and appreciate when it happens. Otherwise, there would be far more explanation of baptism to those before they were baptized in Acts. Instead, all the incredible meaning of all the change is reserved for those who have now passed out of the death in the water into life in Christ.

Just like an infant failed to see the meaning and import of his circumcision until he matured, so we only begin to appreciate all the wonder of meaning of baptism as we mature in Christ. And the ultimate gift of life comes with the removal of our sins.

In verse 14 Paul turns to some unique legal technicalities to make his point. The crushing debt and burden of sin requires some great power to remove on God’s part and some extra effort on our part to appreciate.

The certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, may well suggest that, just as the Lamb’s Book of Life (Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27) keeps record of those that belong to God, so, too, does another book record the sins that are charged against us. So how to rid that “book” of those charges?

David appreciated this lesson, too, in Psalm 51:1-2 as he describes sin with three “dirty” words: transgression = crossing the boundary or getting on the wrong side; iniquity = distortion of the soul; and sin = missing the mark. Each required a unique method to cleanse or correct: blot out = as on clay tablets; wash = scrub, high detergent for deep dirt removal; and cleanse = ceremonial purification.

Paul joins in this extra work of forgiveness by combining terms of physical destruction (tearing up) of the legal document and nailing it to the cross. You may recall that the charges against Jesus were “nailed” on the cross with Him (John 19:19-22). In a sense, the very reason for Jesus’ death on that cross was our sins. He really did die for us!

Now that Paul has gone to such lengths to show the amazing forgiveness of our sins by Jesus, so He now uses a unique analogy to display both our Christ and His triumph.

Colossians 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

To appreciate what Paul is picturing here requires us to travel back in time and see what the people of Paul’s day and time saw in these words. For this illustration, Paul shifts gears from the destructive power of the cross (to sin) and now portrays the great triumph.

In times past the tradition had been for a victorious Roman general to be awarded a triumphal procession. By the time of Paul, only the emperor could celebrate a triumph. So Paul’s first point is equating Jesus with the ultimate emperor.

To be honored with a triumph required an impressive victory against a major threatening enemy of Rome. Typically, the highest leaders of the enemy were defeated, disarmed and placed in cages like circus animals to be paraded through the streets of Rome itself. During the parade, Roman citizens both cheered their conquering, victorious, Caesar and booed, derided (and even threw things at, poked and prodded) and otherwise humiliated the defeated enemy as they followed the heroes in the parade. Finally, the procession ended at the Temple where the defeated enemy would be slaughtered as an offering to the gods.

This is the picture that Paul now paints for Christians. When Jesus won the victory over sin and death, He parades in triumph publicly. He makes a public display of them; literally a bold showing of disgrace of them as His triumph!

To the Christians reading this, they understand fully how it all ends. Satan and all his powers of sin and death are the ultimate losers. They deserve nothing more than for sport to be made of them as they are led to the presence of Almighty God, there to be sacrificed, put to death before Him!

It is important that we see what Paul is saying. Jesus the Christ, through His cross and sacrificial death has set everything in motion for victory!

NEVER let anyone or anything try to steal the reality of that victory from you! Don’t become the prize for some false doctrine loser. Our God holds the real power. His redemption of us and His choosing of us as His has placed us far above any one or anything that man or devil could ever offer.

Victory is in Jesus. Victory is Jesus. And we are called to be a part of His family and His eternal Kingdom. Don’t ever settle for anything less!

—Lester P. Bagley

 

When the Wicked are Winning

One of the hard lessons of this present epidemic is the fact that it will come and go. The last couple of weeks saw a resurgence here in Arizona and with at least one known case among us (although his was during our original two-month quarantine and so very unlikely to have affected anyone else in the congregation). So, out of an abundance of caution we are not meeting for two Sunday’s. BUT we can still all be praying and reading God’s word, can’t we? Take advantage of this time to get closer to God!

When the Wicked are Winning

Have you ever had a discouraging day when it seems that the whole world has gone crazy and evil is winning no matter what? Oh, wait! Was that yesterday, the day before, and even today? I guess when it comes right down to it, we all will get exactly where David is coming from with one of Psalms.

Psalm 109 is a prophetic Psalm that is used by Peter referring to Judas Iscariot in his sermon on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:20). The Judas in David’s life was his close friend and advisor, Ahitophel. Once renowned for his wisdom, when Absalom revolted,  he deserted David and supported Absalom. So David, like Jesus, understood betrayal at its greatest (cf. 2 Samuel 15 – 17).

Equally interesting is Jewish tradition that says the Psalm originated in David’s advice to Solomon as Solomon takes the throne. Much like Peter’s sermon reminds those who would be Christians of God’s curses for betrayal, so too, does David council his son and newly crowned king.

David is old and feeble now. His time on this earth is rapidly growing to a close. He’s seen much of both good, faithful friends and those that seem so but are not. God’s lessons are meant to be shared that others might learn too. The preface to this Psalm tells one more important point to remember. The story of God’s ultimate victory over betrayal and sin is to be sung. In addressing the Psalm to the “chief musician” David places it among the worship songs for the temple services.

Now put all this together. In this world, there is always wickedness, betrayal, false friends who will bring harm and not blessing to God’s faithful people. How are we to see them? Yes, we cannot hold a grudge and hate them, for that brings the illness of sin into our own hearts. It’s not our place to judge them for vengeance belongs to God.

And yet, God does not expect His faithful children to be ignorant, sweetness, and doormats to Satan and his minions. Not only does God bring His harshest judgments to the ungodly and sinners (cf. Proverbs 11:31 and 1 Peter 4:18) but God expects His people to take comfort in knowing that this is so!

So with all this background in mind, let’s consider God’s inspired words and David’s advice to his son, the young king:

Psalm 109   

  • O God of my praise, Do not be silent!
  • For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
  • They have spoken against me with a lying
  • They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without. In return for my love they act as my accusers;
  •  But I am in 5 Thus they have repaid me evil for good And hatred for my love.
  • Appoint a wicked man over him, And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
  • When he is judged, let him come forth guilty, And let his prayer become sin.
  • Let his days be few; Let another take his office.
  • Let his children be fatherless And his wife a widow.
  • Let his children wander about and beg; And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
  • Let the creditor seize all that he has, And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
  • Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him, Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
  • Let his posterity be cut off; In a following generation let their name be blotted out.
  • Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, And do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
  • Let them be before the LORD continually, That He may cut off their memory from the earth;
  • Because he did not remember to show lovingkindness, But persecuted the afflicted and needy man, And the despondent in heart, to put them to death.
  • He also loved cursing, so it came to him; And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from
  • But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, And it entered into his body like water And like oil into his
  • Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself, And for a belt with which he constantly girds
  • Let this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, And of those who speak evil against my

The fact is, the wicked of this world follow Satan and his will. It is evident in every one of their misdeeds and their hatred for what is good and right before God. And God will NOT allow them to get away with it. They ARE going to be punished and stripped of every good thing. But that is not the end of the story…

  • But You, O GOD, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake; Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;
  • For I am afflicted and needy, And my heart is wounded within
  • I am passing like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like the locust.
  • My knees are weak from fasting, And my flesh has grown lean, without
  • I also have become a reproach to them; When they see me, they wag their head.

Yes, God’s people will struggle with evil that seems to be winning. It will bother us that the wicked seem to get away with everything. But that is not the end of the story…

  • Help me, O LORD my God; Save me according to Your lovingkindness. 27 And let them know that this is Your hand; You, LORD, have done it.
  • Let them curse, but You bless; When they arise, they shall be ashamed, But Your servant shall be
  • Let my accusers be clothed with dishonor, And let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a

God’s people need to understand that God is always in control. God’s people need to hang on to the fact that the righteousness of God is going to destroy evil and all those who practice it (read what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8). And God’s people need to stand proudly, forgiving, blessing even when cursed. Just let God do His job and take care of them. Because God will judge harshly and rightly even as He glorifies His people. But that is not the end of the story…

  • With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the LORD; And in the midst of many I will praise
  • For He stands at the right hand of the needy, To save him from those who judge his soul.

You see, our job is to stand firm with God. We must not only acknowledge His righteousness but obey and follow it. Let’s lift up our voices in praise to God that He has found us worthy to endure, to face the test of a wicked world that seems to be winning.

Let’s sing the song of victory, not despair. Let’s praise the Lord for He delivers us and saves us. Let’s live like it!

—Lester P. Bagley

Creeping and Drifting…

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From the Preacher’s Pen… I once heard of a mayor who firmly believed that traffic warnings were overdone. He was elected just because he felt it excessive to always be telling people how to run their lives and what not to do. So, his solution was to get rid of all the traffic control in his city. No more stop lights, no more stop signs, no more yield signs, no more signs preventing people from driving however they wanted.

As you might expect, things didn’t go well in that town. As traffic snarled and accidents abounded, pedestrians were increasingly run down and people eventually became so angry that they replaced their mayor with one that promised to put the rules back in place and restore order.

Hopefully, you realize the lesson has important parallels for us in God’s word. Let’s look a moment at…

Creeping and Drifting

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we share, I felt the necessity to write to you urging you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4)

Jude presents an important reminder of the fact that sin does not appear to us dressed up with horns and a pitchfork. Satan and his false-teaching followers know how to creep in without our notice. The warning from God is clear; we must always be on the alert, watchful lest the Devil and his ungodly companions sneak in and cause us to also do wrong.

The NIV renders verse 4 like this: For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Watch out for the dangerous, unnoticed, secretly slipping in ungodly people who are perverting God’s will! Do we get the point?

What is amazing in light of God’s clear teaching is how often someone will suggest that we “let them talk and have their say. After all, won’t everyone recognize false teaching?” Do we really have a God-given responsibility to protect those babes and immature ones in Christ? Let’s check with God on that: Reject a factious [divisive, Paul literally calls them a heretic] person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11) Paul also warned the elders of the Ephesian church that savage wolves were going to be a threat to the church and that they would be leading people away from salvation (cf. Acts 20:25-30).

God’s lesson for us is important: There is danger out there and it will sneak in and destroy our lives and the Lord’s church if we let it. Be careful, always watchful, always devoted to the truth in God’s word! Okay, as soon as we observe the big bad wolf huffing and puffing at our door, we will immediately stop him and never allow ourselves to be led astray!

The problem with this boast is that God also warns us of another danger… that of drifting. The Hebrew writer warns: …  we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:1-3a)

Danger does not always come with a sign and a warning. Indeed, it is especially deadly when it creeps in. We miss the signs when they are almost unnoticeable. We drift ever so slowly away. It is dangerous simply because it is insidious, easily missed until it is too late.

All the warnings in the world are useless without us first knowing God’s will. Reading your Bible daily is a beginning. Studying intently on your own and with your fellow Christians will help even more. James puts it like this: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22–25)

Be careful not to allow either creeping or drifting into your life for the Savior!

— Lester P. Bagley

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low either creeping or drifting into your life for the Savior!

— Lester P. Bagley

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10/28/18 ~ The True Story of Satan

Lucifer Morningstar [Tom Ellis] by BeMyOopsHi

From the Preacher’s Pen…

Inquiring minds want to know! That made a lot of money for a magazine, but over the years most people have realized that the articles were pure fiction. People have always enjoyed fiction. Adam and Eve enjoyed (however briefly) the fiction that eating from a certain tree would make them just like God. But fiction is still false and never has the lasting enjoyment of truth.

We’ve all heard a lot of fiction about the Bible and one of the greatest subjects is Satan. There are some imaginative stories about his name and where he came from. So, let’s check out a bit of fiction and replace it with truth:

The True Story of Satan

In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he discusses hearsay (Matthew 5:21-48). His ultimate point is that people often misrepresent what God has actually said and that God expects His people to truly know and follow the real teachings of God. The Jews had made up so many stories, so many myths and fables that they often confused what God had actually said with what they thought or imagined on a subject.

The Apostle Paul dealt with much the same issue as he gave instructions to his fellow preachers Timothy and Titus. To Titus (1:13-14) he says that, because human lies are not trustworthy, those who teach them are to be severely reproved so that they may be sound in the faith not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

Likewise, Timothy is commanded to point out these various sins to Christians (1 Timothy 4:1-6) and (verse 7) to have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. Paul goes on to describe this as self-discipline for the purpose of godliness.

Now, after all that, let’s get to Satan. What is his story? Where did he come from? Is he a fallen angel? Was he actually God’s chief angel? Oh, and very important, what about his name: Lucifer?

As far as what Scripture actually says… There is today no such being or person as Lucifer!

Wait a minute! Doesn’t the Bible say that Lucifer is the devil’s name? In fact, one of the frequent claims of the King James Version worshipers is that other Bibles leave out the name Lucifer and so they are frauds!

The King James Bible frequently consulted the Latin (in plain English, the very manuscripts most often corrupted by the Catholic church and used for their frequent false teachings) and from them chose to use a Latin word rather than the Hebrew. One has to suspect, though it’s hard to trace, that Lucifer was perhaps an early medieval name and myth about the angel that fell and became Satan. But in reality, no such story exists anywhere in Scripture.

The KJV turned a fairy tale into a wild story that’s repeated by “everyone” today. There are two “proof” passages. First is Ezekiel 28. Verses 1-10 are usually accepted as being about the human king of Tyre (after all, it says that in verse two). But verses 11-19 are claimed to be all about Lucifer. Just for reference, verse 12 says almost the same thing as verse two. The discussion in God’s own words is all about the king of Tyre. If you actually read it, there is nothing about Lucifer or Satan actually there at all!

The second “proof” text is, of course, Isaiah 14 and especially verse 12 where God this time applies the term to the King of Babylon. The KJV is the first to use the Latin term as a proper name and totally invent something that is never in the Bible.

The Hebrew has: “heleyl, ben shachar” which is literally “shining one, son of dawn.” This phrase means, again literally, the planet Venus when it appears as a morning star. In the Septuagint it is translated as “heosphoros” which also means Venus as a morning star.

The Latin word lucifer is first used in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. In Latin at the time, lucifer actually refers to Venus as a morning star. Isaiah is using this metaphor for a bright light, though not the greatest light to illustrate the apparent power of the Babylonian king which then faded. The KJV translators took an old Latin adjective and made it a proper noun to agree with their mythical beliefs. That’s neither good linguistics nor good theology!

As for Satan, we know absolutely nothing from God about where he came from! Is he actually a fallen angel? Scripture never says that. It DOES say a few other things on the subject:

2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan DISGUISES himself as an angel of light. Revelation 12:9 says that Satan was/is cast down (out of heaven presumably) with his angels at the crucifixion. And Matthew 25:41 says that the eternal fire (of hell) is prepared for the devil and his angels.

So, honestly, to say anything about Lucifer and Satan as being the same, or anything about where Satan came from is to indulge in either medieval fairy tales or sheer, ignorant speculation without a leg to stand on.

As God’s people, let’s make a point of NOT paying attention to myths and worldly fables… just like God tells us! Let’s stick with and place our trust in the firm foundation of God’s word as our God commands us to do.

Where Scripture actually speaks, let us speak boldly. Where Scripture is silent, let us keep the silence of God.

— Lester P. Bagley

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