Colossians 1-4 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight COL01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Soaring through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
The book of--
--Colossians. Let's turn there. Four chapters like Philippians, so an easy, fun book to get through on our Bible from 30,000 Feet. Can we pray before we start though for that?
Father, before we even take off in this overview, we pray, Lord, that you would capture each heart, that we would not be distracted by other thoughts, that we wouldn't let competing ideas or thinking patterns get a hold of us during this time, but we would devote ourselves to what your Holy Spirit-- whom we believe to be very present and very active when your Word is open-- would break the Bread of Life to our hearts, that we might learn, that we might grow, that we might apply, that we might mature, and that we would become sharpened it tools for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I specifically remember what I was going to college. And at weekends I would drive but an hour to see my folks. I remember feeling exhausted sometimes after a after a week of study. And I was interning in radiology at the time. And so there were long days, long hours. And I would drive over to my parents' house. And so in the dark, especially in the wintertime, on the freeway, I'd find myself almost nodding off. Yeah, uh-oh is right.
So I start finding myself nodding off. I start swerving on the road until I hit those little raised bumps. By the way, they're called Botts' Dots. They were invented by a guy named Botts in California who'd thought, you know, this is a problem, people falling asleep-- people like that Skip Heitzig guy. So we need to invent something so if they indeed do fall asleep and start swerving, the noise of those little Botts' Dots against their tires will wake him up and get him straight on the road.
So I found myself doing this quite a bit when I'd see them. And I became very thankful for my friends-- the Botts' Dots-- to keep me going down the road. And then I got a good night's sleep at my folks' house.
Think of the book of Colossians like that. They are given to us-- these instructions-- these four chapters-- given to the church at Colossae-- like the Botts' Dots to keep them from swerving off of what they needed to be driving toward. And that was Jesus and Jesus alone. Not religion, not a system not an ideology, not some teacher who brought some new truth, that just makes them swerve all over the road.
But just to focus on Jesus Christ, that's really what this book was designed for. It's a group of Christians in Colossae, a thriving, growing church threatened by a number of things that would get them to swerve away from the main thing. There's always a temptation to do that.
I remember in the 1970s-- this goes way back. And some of you weren't-- how many of you were not alive in the 1970s? So now I'm speaking to you about ancient history.
So when I came to faith in Christ, which was 1973, I remember during this period of time that historians called the Jesus Movement-- it was like a revival on the West Coast-- that we were-- those involved in this thriving, young church at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa-- were being sidelined, minimalized, by the traditional church-- the denominational churches.
And there were news articles about it. And their comments on us-- because they didn't understand how can a bunch of young smelly hippies ever have a real relationship with God that's worth anything, especially something that will make a difference in this world? So it was the Jesus Movement. We were all excited about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
So I remember reading an article in either Look Magazine or Time Magazine-- or maybe even a local Orange County newspaper-- that was talking about our church and our movement. And one of those denominational church leaders tried to minimize what was going on and said, and I'm quoting, "Well, all they have is Jesus." Meaning us-- all they-- all we have-- all they have is Jesus.
I remember reading that. And I tried to figure out what did he mean by that? And I didn't know because I couldn't get into his heart. But I walked away from the article going, what else do you need, but Jesus?
All you have is Jesus. Good. If all you have is Jesus, then you have all you need.
So the Colossian church had Jesus. They were following Jesus. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, the Jewish Messiah, though largely most of them were Gentiles, Paul wanted them to know, don't swerve. All you have is Jesus. And all you need is Jesus.
Now having said that, there's a reason he said that. There was a belief system-- let's call it the Colossian Heresy for lack of a better term. The Colossian Heresy was a hybrid belief system from a number of different strains that were causing these people to swerve off the road.
Part of it was Jewish legalism. We've confronted that before, like in the book of Galatians, the book of Acts. You have to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved. You remember how Paul dealt with Jewish legalism. So part of it was Jewish legalism.
Part of it was gnostic mysticism. Ever heard of the Gnostics? Some of you have. If you haven't hold that thought. I'll explain it in a minute. So part Jewish legalism part gnostic mysticism and part religious asceticism. And what that is is a person who believes if I deny myself certain pleasures in life-- certain things in life-- God will like me more, love me more, and I'll be closer to God. That's asceticism.
So I'm going to treat myself harshly. And I'm going to do harsh things. And that proves my love. Really it's done for pride because you see how harshly I live and treat myself. And oh, that guy is holy. And that's really what I want you to say or think. So that is asceticism. Legalism, we understand. We saw how Paul dealt with it.
Now the Gnostics. I mentioned gnostic mysticism. There was a belief system from later Judaism and early Christianity known as gnosticism, from the Greek word gnosis or knowledge. They believed that-- I won't tell you all that they believe, but just enough to get through this book. They believed that everything spiritual was good. Everything material was evil. Anything in the material world was evil.
So because the material world is evil, God could not have created the material world. Because he's good why would he create something that is inherently evil? So they also denied the deity of Christ. He wasn't God. He was a human being. And then deity came upon him and then left him.
But some of the Gnostics believe that Jesus only looked human but actually was not. It was a phantom because Jesus-- some thought-- was indeed this perfect, wonderful being. And if he was he couldn't be in a material body. So he would walk on the sand but not leave footprints. They just made stuff up like this. It was just this mystical, weird thought.
So the Gnostics believe that God didn't create the material world. God is perfect. But there were emanated beings-- or beings that God created-- several of these lesser gods that God created. And eventually God created a being that was so far from God, it didn't even know God. And it was that deity that created the material universe.
That belief system was quite prevalent. And it was starting to infect the churches. It becomes really prominent when John writes First John, Second John, and Third John. Now I'm setting that up because some of the language in this book lends itself to that kind of an explanation.
Here's the thing about Colossae. Paul never visited the town, as far as we know. He did not start the church in that city. But he did go to a place called Ephesus. We talked about Ephesus a couple weeks ago. In Ephesus he spent-- if you remember-- three years there. And while he was in Ephesus, that whole region heard the Gospel. Included in that region was the town of Colossae.
Now Colossae was 100 miles inland from Ephesus. It was part of the area known as Phrygia in the Roman area of Asia Minor and located in a beautiful valley called the Lycus Valley. I had the opportunity to visit that area a couple of different times.
But Paul never visited there. But while he was in Ephesus, it is believed that somebody from Colossae came to visit Paul in Ephesus while he was teaching for three years in the the school of Tyrannus. And it was a guy by the name of Epaphras. Epaphras was from Colossae. Epaphras listened to Paul, latched on to the Gospel, went back as a transformed man-- let's just put it modern terms-- started a Bible study in his home, and it grew. And that became the church. He became the founding pastor. He's mentioned here.
So he was with Paul for a while in Ephesus. Goes back to Colossae, that's how the church started. But because of the Jewish legalism, gnostic mysticism, and religious asceticism that is already infiltrating the church at Colossae, he goes now to visit Paul in Rome. Remember No is in prison in Rome. He writes four prison epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
He goes there between 60 and 62 AD-- let's just say 61-- cut it in the middle-- and tells Paul, Paul, we've got some problems. This is what people are believing. So he writes this letter to give back to Epaphras to take it back to Colossae. So that is the background of this book. There are four chapters.
You could divide the book, as I have, into four-- though not precisely by the chapters, but there are four sections. And I never liked, personally, the way the Bible is divided. I've told you before that the Bible chapters and verses are not inspired. The text is, of course.
But much later on-- like 1227-- when Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, said, we've got to make it easier for people to get through their Bible. So he came up with numbers of chapters and numbers verses. Sometimes he did a great job. Who am I to ditch the Archbishop of Canterbury? But here I am doing it. So he did a good job. But in some cases he did not do a very good job. I would have placed the chapter heading much differently than he did.
So there are four sections or four themes, the way it is divided-- though they're not precisely by chapters but around them. And I'll explain them as we go. First is the personal, second is the doctrinal, third is the practical, and fourth is the relational. That's how I've divided the book.
So the book begins in Chapter 1 with personal intercession. And I'm saying that generally. When Paul wrote most of his letters, he would have an introduction. And then he would have a prayer for them. He would let them know what he specifically has been praying for for that church, as he does here.
So "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy, our brother, to the Saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you." Now, he didn't just say, I'm praying for you. God bless you. He says, this is what I'm praying for you.
"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the Saints because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world and is bringing forth fruit."
He had never been there. He had only heard of the fruit that was being born in that area because the seed that Epaphras planted in fertile soil. It was bringing forth fruit. And he said, it is bringing forth fruit "as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth, as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the spirit."
I love fresh fruit. I love to see spiritual fruit. Now on a literal level, I consume a lot of fruit. It's one of the mainstays of my diet. But you know what happens when you leave fruit for a while? It attracts bugs. Fruit attracts bugs. Truth attracts bugs. I've watched over the years as truth goes out and impacts people's lives, that other people-- not well-meaning people-- come around fruitful believers and bug them.
Like when you turn on a light and the bugs swarm around it, or you leave the fruit out and the bugs swarm toward it, when you get a fruitful believer, there's others who will bug the fruitful believer. You don't have enough. You need more. Good start now that you're born again. But let me tell you how to have a deeper walk, a deeper life. Sometimes it's a deeper life. Sometimes they just want to take you off the deep end.
And that was happening here in Colossae. So "For this reason"-- verse 9-- "we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled"-- here's the specific prayer-- "that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will." It's a good prayer.
It's a prayer that I often pray for you. I figure Paul did it for them-- I take the prayers of Pastor Paul for the churches he founded, and I often pray them for you. Lord, may they know your will today on a personal level, in their families, with their businesses, in the community, if they're going to move, or with their children. It's a good prayer to pray. "That they might be filled with a knowledge of his will and all wisdom and spiritual understanding that you may walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing him, being fruitful, in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."
Now I want you to go back to those last couple verses and notice some key words. There are key words-- I'll explain why. Look at the word knowledge-- he mentions it in verse 9 and mentions it in verse 10-- and then the word wisdom and spiritual understanding. I'm drawing your attention to those because I believe when Paul wrote these words to the Colossians, they were key words.
These were buzz words that the Gnostics loved to use. Gnostic means knowledge. And they believe they had tied into-- tapped into-- a deeper knowledge, a certain kind of wisdom-- certain kind of understanding. And if you could be initiated into gnosticism, you too could have that knowledge and wisdom and understanding.
So Paul is using terminology that the Gnostics have taken from Christianity and reapplied it to their own weird system. And so Paul uses these terms, I believe, very intentionally. I've noticed something about Satan in general. Satan loves to use Christian vocabulary. The problem is, he doesn't consult the Christian dictionary. He uses words that we use. But he means something different by them.
The world loves the term born again. I can almost guarantee you when the world says born again, they do not mean what Jesus said in John chapter 3, to be born [NON-ENGLISH]-- from above-- a spiritual reawakening-- a spiritual rebirth. When the world uses the word saved, they probably don't have what you and I have in mind when we use the word.
For that matter when the world uses that word Jesus, they don't define Jesus like the New Testament defines Jesus. Same vocabulary, different dictionary. So that is why when you engage a cultist or you engage a worldly person, and they use words you're familiar with-- God, Jesus, salvation, born again-- stop them. And demand nicely that they explain what they mean by that word because people will pour different meanings into the same receptacle, the same word.
It's important for understanding and a conversation that you get an idea of what they mean by the vocabulary they use. So Satan uses same vocabulary but has a different dictionary. So Paul takes back these words and prays something for the Colossian church that was much more meaningful than the way the Gnostics were using.
If you go over to verse 15 now of chapter 1, we come to the second section. After personal intercession comes doctrinal information. Now to me chapter one, verse 15 down to around verse 19 or 20 is really the central part of chapter one certainly-- but perhaps of the entire book-- because he is taking Jesus and exalting him to his proper place. He gives-- and some translation will even set it out like this-- but it really is a poem.
It is a poem with a couple of different stanzas that talk about Jesus-- who He is, that he's God, the deity of Christ, and exalts him. Why? Because a couple of reasons. Remember, I mentioned that you have this hybrid theology in Colossae? You have Jewish legalism. You have gnostic mysticism. You have religious asceticism.
So the Jews did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They certainly did not believe he was God. The Gnostics simply believed Jesus was at best an emanation of God. So he corrects that in this poem in verse 15 to defend the deity and the place of Christ.
"He"-- Jesus, because he says in verse 14, "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins"-- "he is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by him"-- him being Jesus-- "for by him all things were created that are in heaven, that are on earth, visible or invisible"-- the material world and the spiritual world-- "whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things. And in him all things are held together"-- or the word consist-- "and he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have the preeminence."
Go back in verse 15 to the word image. This bothers a lot of people. He is the image of God. What does that mean? The Greek word eikon. You know what an icon is. It's an image. It's a representation of something. The Eastern Orthodox Church worships by looking at icons that they say tells the story or that even embodies different personages, including Christ himself.
The word Paul uses for the image of God is the word eikon. It means copy. It means representation. It could be translated exact representation or likeness. We have manuscripts from Greek soldiers, one writing to his father saying, I have enclosed an icon of myself-- eikon, the word used here. That is, I've drawn a picture. Or I've included an artist's rendering of myself and sent it back to his father.
So the picture, the portrait that was drawn is an icon, a visible physical representation of himself. So Jesus is the icon of God-- the representation-- the manifestation. Jesus said, if you've seen me you've seen the Father. Even though very separate from the Father, they're one-- one in purpose, part of the one true God.
Now I had a thought. I hope it fits. I'm going back a little bit. I'm stretching my analogy a little bit. Once upon a time cameras-- this is before iPhones. Did any of you have an actual camera? Good. Well, you never know. Most people have phones now.
Any of you have cameras at home that have film in it? So for the uninitiated, before there were sensors and cameras-- before there were iPhones-- we had to capture images on film. And the film had to be put in an enlarger and enlarged onto a piece of paper. Both the film and the paper had a substance on it that was called silver bromide.
When you expose silver bromide-- either in a motion or on paper to light-- it would leave what is called a latent image-- completely invisible. You couldn't see it. You'd open the shutter and close it, an image was placed on the film. If you open the camera to look at it, you wouldn't see anything. You'd see a grayish, yellowish substance but no image.
If you put that film in an enlarger and enlarge it onto a piece of printing paper in a darkroom-- like I used to do-- you'd also create a latent image. How do you get the latent invisible image to be visible? Well, you use a substance called developer.
D-76 was a common black-and-white developer. You soak it in the developer. And the latent image becomes visible. The invisible image becomes visible. God was invisible. He stamped himself on creation. But if you really wanted to see God, good luck, until Jesus came along. He developed the image.
You could look at him-- if you want to see what God is like, watch Jesus. You want to see how Jesus reacts to sin, oppression, anxiety, watch him. His reaction, you are seeing God. He developed the image of God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is God made visible. So he is the image of the invisible God. I don't want to belabor this because I gotta get through the book.
But notice the next keyword, first born over all creation. The cults love this word. The Jehovah's Witnesses love this word. What they'll say is say, Jesus isn't God. He's God's firstborn. He's born. Well they would only say that if they didn't understand, A, the concept of primogeniture-- I'll explain that-- and the Greek language.
The Greek language, first born-- the Greek word is prototokos. And it means first in rank-- first in importance, often. Now sometimes it actually means first in chronology.
So for example Joseph had two sons. Any of you remember his first born son, the one that came first? Manasseh. Manasseh was born first. He was the first born. The second born son-- not the first born-- second born son was a guy by the name of Ephraim. So you've got two sons-- first born Manasseh, second born Ephraim.
But then you get to Jeremiah 31. And God says, "For Ephraim is my first born," meaning, I have taken the second one born chronologically and moved him up in rank or status to be number one. So though it means first in chronology, it often is a word-- prototokos-- to mean first in rank, first in importance, first in order-- the highest ranking order. So God can say of somebody born second, I'm making it my first born. He's important in rank. That's the word prototokos.
God uses the word in the Book of Exodus to speak of the children of Israel. And if you were to read a Greek version of that-- the Septuagint version-- It would use this term. I have called Israel my son-- my first born. Now they weren't born from God, like you and I know natural birth. God is giving them the highest rank of all the peoples that he would ever make a covenant with. Israel is my first born.
Psalm 89 uses that word, firstborn, to refer as a prophecy to the coming of the Messiah. I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the Earth. So it's about first in rank and Importance, not well, see, he was never God because he was born. It just means he is first in rank or priority.
"All things were created through him, for him, he is before all things, and in him all things consist." Now notice this. He's before all things. So it's not like he was born first and he's not God. He's before all things. So go back as far as you want. And put your pig there. And Jesus will step out of eternity to meet you there.
Jesus is the only person who ever lived before he was born. Before Abraham was, I am. I am. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him. Without him nothing was made that has been made. So he is before all things. In him all things consist. They're held together. He holds the universe together.
And he is the head of the body. So he's saying Jesus is number one because he created everything. He is God's highest in rank and order. And not only is he before everything, not only does he hold everything together, but when it comes to these people on the earth, he is the highest. He is the head of the body, the church.
Who is the beginning, the first born from the dead-- meaning again the highest rank from the dead. It didn't mean he was the first person whoever was raised from the dead. There were plenty of people in the Old Testament that were raised from the dead before Jesus ever came on the scene. So again, the term prototokos-- firstborn-- highest in rank, highest in order, most important one ever to be raised from the dead.
"That in all things he might have the pre-eminence." It makes logical sense. If he is the originator of everything that exists, if everything was made through Him, if he pre existed before all time, before anything ever, if he's the head of the church, then of course he should be number one. He should have the preeminence in everything else. So he's directly attacking gnosticism, directly attacking mysticism, directly attacking asceticism by these comments.
So he's ahead of the body, the church. He was the beginning the first born from the dead that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. All of that to say Jesus Christ is not some second-rate emanation. He is the first-rate revelation of the invisible God. He makes the invisible God visible. That's the punch. That's the sense of this.
And I take you over now to chapter 2. Still dealing with doctrinal information. "I want you to know"-- verse 1-- "what a great conflict I have for you and for those in Laodicea"-- a neighboring area-- "for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh"-- we never met. I didn't found that church. I didn't start the church. I've never visited you before. But I love you.
I have conflict for you and for the Laodiceans "to see that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the knowledge of the mystery of God"-- you can see those buzz words again-- "both of the Father and of Christ in whom"-- in Jesus-- "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
I want you to see the importance of this with the background of gnosticism. Oh, you you have to buy into our philosophy. If you do, you'll get wisdom. If you do, you'll get knowledge. Paul says, mm, don't need that. In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If you have Christ, you have everything you need.
"Now, this I say lest any one should deceive you with persuasive words." Go down to verse 8. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Another very key word the Gnostics used was pleroma. By the way I don't know if you research this stuff like I do, but there is a neo gnostic movement today. And modern day Gnostics believe in this. They believe that the gods came from the area called pleroma, the fullness. They came from the fullness. And they have a whole theology based on this.
So Paul uses that Greek word pleroma-- fullness. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Again foreign to the Gnostic thinking, God who is perfect would never dwell in bodily form because it's evil. Paul says, no it's not. It became evil by sin. But God created it. It's good.
"In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in him." go back to that comment I read in the newspaper, all they have is Jesus. You are complete in him. I read that article. And I thought, wow, do I need more than Jesus? It says, all you have is Jesus. I wish I had just read this verse right after that article. "And you are complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power."
Now here's the thing about Gnostics-- and here's the thing about cultists, for that matter-- be they Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses or a number of other cults that call themselves Christian-- they're not out to win souls. They're out to wrangle the saved. They're out to wheedle their way into existing church assemblies and come alongside well-meaning born again on-fire Christians are growing in their faith. And they put their little arm around them and say, you're off to a good start. But you need more. And I have what you need.
That's the approach of cultists. I've seen it for years. So they're not out to just say, give me a good old fashioned pagan-- just a straight up atheist or agnostic-- let's begin there and win them to Christ. No they want to take people who have a bent towards spirituality, like y'all, and draw you away into their belief system. So that's why Paul says three times early in this chapter, beware lest anyone cheat you.
Now the more ignorant a person is of Scripture, the more susceptible they become to false teaching. If you know the Scripture, you have discernment. I'm not worried about you. And you are the fruit of just being taught week by week, year after year. You expose yourself to the Scripture like I do. And so I'm not afraid. I'm not worried. The more you know the Bible, the better off you are. The less you know the Bible, the more ignore you are of scripture, the more Scripturally illiterate you are, the more susceptible you are to believing anything.
E. Stanley Jones was a missionary to India. And he has fascinating books and fascinating stories of his time in India. When he was 83 years of age, he wrote an autobiography. He was looking back over his life. And he said this, "Christ has been and is to me the event."
You have to know a little bit about Jones. Jones was an intellectual and wrestled with the intelligentsia of the Indian subcontinent and really worked his way with elite circles and sought to persuade them to follow Christ. But he said, "Christ has been and is to me the event. In his light I will try to see life."
In his autobiography he says when he was a young evangelist, he was impressionable. He saw the danger of becoming sidetracked. He wrote this, "I once traveled during my formative evangelistic years with a very great man. I learned much from him. But when his emphasis shifted from Christ to various emphases-- like anti-war programs, social justice, birth control, spiritualism-- he was less than effective. He was a blur." Very strong words-- he was just a blur.
"He would exhaust these emphases in a year or two and have to shift to a new one." He continues, "But you do not exhaust Christ. He is the inexhaustible. Events come and go. But the event remains unchanged amid the changeable."
Paul knew that. So he says to them, don't let anybody deceive. Don't let anybody cheat you. Be on the lookout for these numbskulls who are infiltrating your midst. That's the NSV, the New Skip Version.
Verse 11. Now he drills down a little bit with his doctrinal information. And he says, "In Christ every ceremony is completed." They were big on ceremonies. The Jews were big on ceremonies. The Gnostics were big on an initiation ceremony. "In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by the putting off of the body of sins of the flesh, the circumcision of Christ, buried with him in baptism in which you were raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead."
Some people are obsessed with ceremonies. In verse 14 he continues, "Not only as every ceremony completed, but every requirement is depleted. Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us which was contrary to us, he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
Paul spent a lot of time in Romans talking about the law. He said, you can never be justified by the law. The law just simply lets you know you're in bad shape. It points to how bad you are. It shows your need. It exacerbates the need. Paul said, I would not have known sin at all unless it was because of the law.
So in effect-- this is a common practice-- if you had a debt and you paid the debt-- you had a list of things that you owe-- once it was paid off, there was a public notice nailed to some public building or door post. In effect Jesus nailed everything you owed God to the cross. Paid in full. He paid it for you. So every requirement is depleted.
Also, verse 15, every enemy is defeated. "Having disarmed the principalities and powers"-- speaking about spiritual ranks of demonic beings-- "he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them"-- and you have to know a little bit about how Romans had war. When Romans won wars, they would have a triumphal procession. They would take spoils of war, dragging slaves behind them-- what they took from those areas behind them-- in public. The crowds would cheer.
Jesus made a public spectacle of them with his death, burial, and Resurrection, and your lives bearing fruit. That's the background of that. Verse 16, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come. But the substance is of Christ."
Those rituals can't save. At best they only symbolize. How do you know you're saved? I was baptized. All you're telling me is, I got wet.
I took a bath. The baptism is the shadow. Jesus is the substance. Hold your hand up. Can you see the shadow of your hand anywhere? Can you do that? Sometimes the light is so egalitarian in this-- you can see it, yeah. So when you look at the shadow, the shadow means-- I'm seeing the shadow down there-- the shadow means there's something that made the shadow. The shadow didn't appear by itself.
That shadow means there's a substance. My hand is the substance. The shadow is a representation or symbol of the substance. So it is Christ who saves, not baptism. It is Christ who saves, not the circumcision. These rituals are simply shadows of the reality, which is Christ.
Which begs the question, why does anyone settle for less? If you can have Christ, why do people settle for baptism, settle for circumcision, settle for church membership, settle for Sabbath keeping? I think I know the answer. Mankind is incurably addicted to working for his own salvation. I think that's the reason. I think there's something in us that we-- surely I can do something to contribute to my eternal well-being, my salvation. Yes there is something you can do. Sin.
You've already done that. Because you're a sinner, you must be forgiven. That's God's business. And God will save you. Your only contribution is to go, I believe that. I really believe that. I believe that. That's it. You believe. He takes you out of darkness, places you into his kingdom, as Paul does mentioned in this letter.
But I've got to go on. Let's go down to chapter 3 and give you the third section of this letter, which is the practical instruction. Paul always does this in his letters. As Matt shared-- he did such a good job in summing up. I almost thought, Matt summed up the book so well, let's just go home.
Let's sing a song and go home. He just tied it all together. Good job, Pastor Matt-- Reverend Matt.
Here's the practical instruction. "If then you were raised with Christ"-- which you were-- "seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above not on the things of the earth." This is the practical instruction. Be in experience what you are in grace.
Or if I were to put it a different way, be in your spiritual growth what you already are in God's grace. This is what God says you are. This is the reality. Now develop that latent image and live it out. You have the power to do it. It is a reality. Set your mind on things above.
As part of that-- verse 5-- "Therefore put to death your members, which are on the earth, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these things-- anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language-- out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with his deeds."
This is the practical instruction. Now going to take all the way to verse 18, which is so good tonight, that interview. "Wives submit to your own husbands as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged. Bond servants, obey and all things your masters according to the flesh, now with eyes services men pleasers but insincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men."
Paul does this in Ephesians and Colossians, goes to the home. Why? He wants to show you what transformed humanity looks like in a first-century Roman home that's been touched by the Gospel.
He wants to go to the basic element of society and show you what a Christian husband in the first century, and a Christian wife, and Christian children and parents-- and even in the slave trade-- since half the Roman Empire, or at least a fourth or third of it were involved either as slaves or owning slaves-- he wants to show you that there's no part of life that isn't affected when those people receive Christ as savior. It touches everything.
So in first-century Roman homes, husbands, fathers, were authoritarian. They had [NON-ENGLISH]. They had the right of ownership and complete authority. That was the Roman law, [NON-ENGLISH]. What that means is by law, if I don't like my kid, I can just kill him. It's perfectly legal. It's not morally right. But it's perfectly legal, sort of like abortion. It's legal. It's morally wrong. But you can do it today.
In those days, you could kill children. You kill your wife. Plenty of people did. They had an authoritarian rule. But Christian husbands should love their wives. Christian wives should allow their husbands to bear the brunt of responsibility before God and submit to him because that husband has to submit to God.
He sees the authority of God-- the Son, Christ-- the husband is head of the home calling the shots but responsible before God. The wife in loving submission to her husband, children et cetera, all the way down to bond servants. So no part of life is to be unaffected.
The point for all of these people-- all these roles-- if you're a Christian wife, Christian husband, focus on Jesus. He's preeminent. If he's preeminent as creator, if he's preeminent over the church, then he should be preeminent in your marriage. That makes sense. See where he's going with the practicality of this? That that's how he works his way all the way down to the practical.
I've known skilled carpenters. I am not one. That's why I have to say I've known them.
And I've watched somebody who's really good at their trade. They can hold a nail. They don't even have to-- I have to go like this-- till it stands up. Then I can start hammering. They can hold it, get the hammer back, let go of thumb and forefinger, and drive the nail-- sometimes one hit-- all the way down. I bet you can do that, Sam. All the way down.
Now we have nail guns. But somebody really skilled can do that. Here's their secret. I said, what is your secret? He said, never look at your thumb. Always look at the head of the nail. I go, well, why is that? He goes, because you'll always hit what you look at. Whatever you're aiming at is what you're hit.
I go, oh, that's been my problem all along. That's why my thumbs look the way they do.
Well there's a great analogy in that. Aim at Christ in your marriage. Aim at Christ in your ministry. Aim at Christ in your parenting. Aim at Christ in the workplace. Live to please him. Then you don't have to worry about, am I spending too much time on social media while they're paying me at work to do a job? You'll sort that out because you're aimed at pleasing him, not the boss-- not with a service.
So that is his theme in the letter. And we come now to the final section in chapter 4, which is relational interaction. Now beginning in verse 7, he lists 11 associates that were part of his ministry. If you ever see a successful ministry, it's not because there's one talented guy or gal. But he or she is managed to get a whole lot of skilled people around him or her.
Paul was brilliant. And Paul was effective. But Paul knew it because he had a team. And he would often mention them at the end of the letter. So he mentioned several here. But that's an important principle.
Honestly-- and I'm speaking honestly-- I play a very small part in the effectiveness of this ministry. And people walk up to me and go, wait, I just heard joined the radio and now I'm talking to you. Well, it's not like I was actually on the radio. That's been copied from a message I gave a while back. And it's on that radio and at that time. But how do you have to be on the radio and then be on TV and then write books? A lot of skilled people that are really good. Honestly.
So same with Paul. He had a-- we often don't think of those hidden but important saints. You've heard of Charles Lindbergh. But who was his mechanic?
That was his secret. Martin Luther-- but Phillip Milanchthon-- so important to his ministry. That's the principle with Paul.
So verse 7, Tychicus-- who? Tychicus, mentioned five times in the New Testament, who is he? He's a beloved brother, a faithful minister, fellow servant in the Lord-- "will tell you the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts."
Tychicus joined Paul on the third missionary journey. And Paul describes him as faithful. Somebody once said the greatest ability is availability. Tychicus was available to Paul. He was faithful to the ministry. Paul mentions him.
Verse 9, "With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother who is one of you"-- that is he's a Colossian-- "they will make known to you all things which are happening here." I want you to remember Onesimus. I want you to remember it because his name will be explained to you in a book a little bit later on, called the Book of Philemon.
Philemon was somebody who lived in Colossae. Onesimus was a criminal? Isn't that cool? You're going, no. It's not cool. Let me tell you why it's cool. Onesimus was a runaway slave-- ran away from his master, Philemon, ran to Rome to blend in, Paul found him, preached the Gospel to him, led him to Christ. He's going to write a letter back to Philemon saying, now he's your brother. Receive him not as a slave but as a brother. Give him his freedom.
So I wish I could explain more. But I'm overtime. So I'm going to keep going.
"Aristarchus"-- verse 10-- "my fellow prisoner, greets you with Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, about whom you received instructions. If he comes to you welcome him." John Mark was on the first missionary journey. Things got hard. He missed mama. He left Paul and Barnabas. Said, I've got go home to Jerusalem. Went back to home to mama.
When the second missionary journey came up, Uncle Barney-- Barnabas-- said, hey, let's bring John Mark. Paul said, no way. I don't want that little--
--guy coming with us. It split Paul and Barnabas up over this guy. But eventually in 2 Timothy, he says, send Mark. Mark is profitable to me. So there was a reconciliation. He is profitable to me. That's the John Mark. I wish I could-- I have some things to say, but don't have time say it.
Verse 11. "And Jesus who is called Justus"-- very different than the Jesus that you and I serve a Savior. Know that Jesus-- Yeshua-- was a very common name a couple thousand years ago in Judaism. A lot of people named Jesus. These are my fellow workers, et cetera, et cetera.
Verse 12. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bond servant of Christ, greets you always laboring fervently for you in prayer that you may stand perfect in complete and all the will of God." That's the guy who started the church. And he came to find Paul in Rome because of this gnostic problem and mystic problem. And so Paul writes this letter. And he's sending it back.
"Luke"-- verse 14-- "the beloved physician"-- I want you to get this name-- "and Demas greet you." Demas was an associate with Paul. Something happened to him. He did not end well. He started well. He didn't finish well. This is the case for finishing well.
2 Timothy chapter 4, Paul says, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world." He started well, was with me in my first imprisonment, but now he has left me, forsaken me because this world has grabbed his heart. And he's not willing to suffer with me for the sake of Christ because he wants the pleasures of this world.
What a sad ending. And then for Paul to write that forever. The dude is going down in history in infamy. Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world. And so with that will end the book.
The salutation, verse 18, "By my own hand, Paul, remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen."
Let Demas be a lasting, lingering lesson. You can have a veneer. You like you're solid. But it's just a veneer. Have you ever seen a piece of wood and you go, oh, that's solid oak. It's really press board. But it's got a nice veneer on it. Very, very thin piece of wood that looks like it's solid oak. But it's just a lot cheaper than solid wood.
Sometimes as people we can be veneer Christians. We're not very deep but look good on the outside. With Demas, he looked good on the outside. He had a good veneer. He didn't stand the test of time. There was no endurance.
Collapse in the Christian life is seldom a blow out. It is usually a slow leak. When somebody falls, I can't believe it. It's been there all along. It's been there all along. They're just good at the veneer.
Father, with that in mind, we pray that you would deepen us. Put us deep in the soil so our fruit would be not just sporadic, but long lasting. And those who are bearing fruit, may you bear much fruit. We know with that comes pruning. But, Father, we invite that pruning, Lord, that we might abide over the long haul and finish well, as well as start well. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Enough said. Let's stand and worship again.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit CalvaryNM.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible from 30,000 Feet.