Message: “The Real Jesus” – Christian Gaffney
Sunday, July 14th, 2019
The book of Colossians was written by the apostle Paul to the believers in this young church to address false teachers and heretical doctrine. Paul praises them for their burgeoning faith. He tells them he and Timothy pray that God fills them "with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives."
Though he doesn't explicitly name the false teachings, we know from historical records that Colosse was known for a syncretic approach to faith that combined Jewish, Gnostic, and pagan practices resulting in a cult venerating the archangel Michael. While Paul doesn't name the heresy, he is intentional and direct in his opposition to the false teachers themselves. As any good teacher knows, if you want to teach your students to recognize the truth, you study truth. This way, when false doctrine is presented, it's easily exposed as heresy.
Paul is intentional is demonstrating to the Colossians that Jesus is the image of God (v15), the Creator (16), the preexistent sustainer of all things (17), the head of the church (18), the fullness of God in the flesh (19) and the reconciler between God and man(20–22).
Beginning in verse 15, Paul addresses Jesus as Supreme. But why start here? Why not discuss the false teachings of the angel-cult? Because without this fundamental truth - Jesus is supreme - nothing else matters. If Jesus isn't Supreme, if he isn't "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation," (v.15), He is a liar, and there is no basis for their faith. Throughout his letter, Paul will continue to emphasize the sufficiency of Christ as contrasted with the emptiness and futility of human philosophy.
Paul also declares Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega. "All things have been created through him and for him. All things are from him, and all things are for him." He is one with His Father as the agent of creation from the beginning, and He will possess all things in the end. Because He is supreme, Jesus is the source of power, the conduit, and the reason for it. In Him, through, Him, and by Him, we are reconciled with God our Father. This makes Jesus not only supreme but also our Savior.
In verses 21 and 22, Paul tells the Colossians, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…" By Jesus' death on the cross, we are freed from our sins, washed clean through His blood.
When you think of greatness, who is the first person that pops into your mind? Why? What makes them stand out to you? What qualities do you admire?
Why do you think Paul took the time to describe the qualities of Christ to these young believers?
How would you explain reconciliation with God to a non-Christian friend? Be mindful to avoid “Christianese” verbiage.
How firm is your faith? What can a person do if his or her faith is weak?
Think about how you would present Christ to someone who is confused by false teaching or has solid doctrine mixed with heresy. What truths from Scripture should you focus on when you present the gospel to your unbelieving friends or family?
This week, set aside time to meditate on this Paul’s description of Christ.
Ask yourself, how can this passage transform my life? How can I live out the truth of this lesson?What specific action(s) do I need to take? What practical lessons can I share with those I am discipling?