for the church. No one can truly serve God in the church Absolute Ministry: without that motivation.1 Committed to the Colossians That is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you in the fight day in and day out. It kind of reminds me of a story: ABSOLUTE CHRIST, PT. 7 Colossians 2:1-5 A mother had watched her son through the week begin to drain in energy. And by the end of the week he had simply lost the INTRO: desire to get up and get with the day. She heard the alarm go off through the door. She listened as nine minutes passed and After hundreds of years, a model preacher has been found to the alarm went off again. Apparently he just kept punching the suit everyone. He preaches exactly twenty minutes and then sits little snooze button on top of the alarm. Finally, after three or down. He condemns sin, but never hurts anyone’s feelings. He four extra rings, she decided to take charge so she walked in works from 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. in every type of work from and said, ―Son, it’s time to get up. You’ve got to get up.‖ He preaching to custodial service. He tithes weekly to the church peeked out from under the covers and said, ―Can you give me and stands ready to contribute to every good work that comes three good reasons I have to get up?‖ She said, ―Well, yes. First along. of all, it’s Sunday, and you need to get dressed for church. He is twenty-six years old and has been preaching thirty Second, you’re forty-three years old and you know better than to years. He is tall and short, thin and heavyset, and handsome. lie there. Third, you’re the pastor of the church and they expect He has one brown eye and one blue, hair parted down the you to be there!‖ middle, left side dark and straight, the right brown and wavy. Although this is a funny story, many pastors have He has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and spends probably experienced a similar situation or at least feeling. all his time with older folks. He smiles all the time with a straight The ministry is tough (as we talked about a few weeks ago) face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously and draining and often it becomes difficult to stay in the dedicated to his work. He makes fifteen calls a day on church fight. But there is a deep-seated commitment that firms members, spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched, and them up and keeps them moving forward – the commitment is never out of the office. to Christ/the Gospel and the Church. Never in a million years, right?! There aren’t any perfect We have already talked about Paul’s commitment to the pastors out there, and there’s always going to be Gospel – enduring whatever trials and suffering came about as something that you don’t necessarily care for that your he faithfully preached the Gospel. He was committed to sharing pastor does or doesn’t do. But while we’re on the subject, Christ with everyone and then working at maturing everyone so it’s interesting to think about what you think are the most that they would stand before Christ as complete on the day He important qualities a pastor should have. I would venture to returns. That took a lot of effort and energy, energy he didn’t say that on the top of your list would be things like: have. But God was working through him, as He does through us intelligence, education, leadership ability, boldness, as well, to accomplish the purpose of ministering to others. holiness, or speaking ability. Although all those are But the next section/chapter begins with another essential components, perhaps the most necessary commitment Paul has in his ministry – a commitment to the ingredient in the life of any minister of Jesus Christ is love universal church (specifically the Colossians here). 1 MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. Paul loved the church because he loved Christ. He knew any other system of belief or god to be worshiped – and well the truth expressed in 1 John 4:21, ―This commandment we SUFFICIENT – that there is nowhere else the believer needs to have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his go for life, salvation, purpose, answers, and help. Those two brother also.‖ It was his love for Christ and His church that themes are life-changing and foundational to a successful and enabled Paul to endure the physical suffering he went through ( joyful life in the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. 11:23–27). It also allowed him to bear ―the daily pressure… of concern for all the churches‖ (2 Cor. 11:28). The first thing I want us to notice in this passage this Because of that love he could endure defections, false teachers, morning is Paul’s incredible and intense commitment to and personal abuse. Indeed, he could ―endure all things for the the Colossians ~ his heartfelt concern for them. sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory‖ (2 I. He Was Committed to the Struggle (2:1) Tim. 2:10).2 A. In mentioning his struggle, Paul again uses the noun Paul was deeply and seriously committed to the church agon from which we get agony. The word originally was because of his love for her. That is what I want to show you derived from the place where the Greeks assembled for this morning as we go through the first five verses of the Olympic games, a place where they agonized in chapter 2. wrestling and footraces, where they fought to win. Paul This morning I am going to preach two sermons – no lie! had been agonizing, fighting for the Colossians with Really, it’s just walking through the passage explaining Paul’s everything he had. commitment to the Colossians (the church as a whole) and then B. What makes this truly remarkable is that he had never moving on to bring out some practical considerations from the once personally visited them or their neighboring passage. Both of these are very important for us to understand churches. Aside from Epaphras, Philemon, and perhaps because 1.) If we understand Paul’s heart for the church and his a few others he had met in Ephesus, he had never seen commitment to her, maybe we will find our own hearts the Colossians. He had no idea what the people looked blossoming with the same love as we commit our lives to like, he knew nothing of their personalities; yet he ministering in behalf of Christ; and 2.) If we understand the agonized for them. Why this strain for people he had dangers of the infiltration of false teaching along with Paul’s never seen? Because he was God’s ―chosen instrument‖ solution and help through that situation, we will be able to to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). His old become firmer in our own faith and stand more effectively stony heart had been replaced with an apostolic heart against those dangers. which beat with love for the despised Gentiles.3 C. Paul’s struggles could have been any number of, On a final note and before we get into the passage, I want to things on their behalf, such as beatings, attacks, call your attention to the transition in our main themes. As we travel difficulties, etc. However, as we talked about in move into Colossians 2 we find the two themes of the letter the introduction, Paul was writing from a prison cell together and kind meshing into one. This section begins the in Rome, therefore it probably wasn’t some of those body of the letter where Paul goes on to highlight and refute the physical sufferings. Rather, we can imply from 4:13 deceitful and destructive message of the heretics. In doing so, that Paul’s struggle was spiritual – striving and he shows that Christ is both SUPREME – better and superior to agonizing with them through prayer. 2 3 MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon, Wheaton IL; Crossway Books, 1989, p. 52. D. Paul was deeply concerned and anxious about what was B. He didn’t want the believers there to go into ―battle‖ taking place in the cities of Colossae and Laodicea – with without any ammunition or defenses. This letter provided the infiltration of false teaching and heresy. With the them with both. Paul wasn’t necessarily encouraging display of his concern and his striving on their behalf them to “enter” the battle against the false teachers. In through prayer (and now in the writing of this letter) he fact, he would more than likely encourage them to avoid lets them know just how serious their situation was. and stay away from those people. However, he did want to equip them with enough ammunition for a successful But his commitment didn’t stop just with his struggling defense against those false teachers. with them through prayer. He went on to tell them why C. Many pastors today could learn a thing or two from the he was struggling so much on their behalf – he didn’t Apostle (which I am trying very hard to do) in equipping want them to fall away to serious error, but to be the people in the church to be able to stand against encouraged to greater faithfulness in the Lord. attacks on their faith as well as the church as a whole. 1. Did you know that the philosophy of Open Theism is II. He Was Committed to their Stability (2:2-3) still around today – that God does not know the future A. Already we have seen that Paul’s Means of Ministry was and that all of life is like a giant choose-your-own- to preach the gospel to everyone, to purposely admonish ending book? Do you know how to defend yourself everyone and to practically teach everyone for the and the church against it? I would hope so, because purpose of presenting everyone mature/complete in much of the answer is found in the passage on the Christ. supremacy of Christ (Col. 1:15-19). B. Here in this passage, Paul continues in that motivation, 2. Did you know there are very intelligent and respected striving to make sure they do not lose their footing in their theologians who are trying to re-interpret the meaning struggle against the false teaching and teachers who of justification – stating that what Paul really taught were already there as well as those who would come in about it was not what we are teaching today? It’s a the future. back-door approach to a return to a works-based C. The way that this would happen was for them to be salvation, and many people are falling victim to it. Do “strengthened in their hearts, committed to the body you know how to defend yourself against it? Stay of believers and filled to the brim with the knowledge tuned because part of the answer is coming towards and understanding of God so that they would be the end of this chapter. established in the faith with complete assurance. 3. It’s incredibly important to be equipped, both by your This, Paul was convinced, would prevent them from church/pastor and your own personal study in order to the devastating effects of falling away from the faith stand firm in the defense of the faith. And that is what and into some sweet-sounding heresy. Paul was unswervingly committed to. III. He Was Committed to their Defense (2:4) IV. He Was Committed to their Success (2:5) A. The whole reason Paul was agonizing on behalf of the A. A problem that plagued Paul throughout this whole Colossians and writing this incredible letter was to give situation was that he couldn’t be there in Colossae, in them a solid defense against what was surely very person, in order to battle these false teachers. How he difficult to resist – the eloquence of the false teachers. would have like to withstand these adversaries to the face, and at the same time use his boundless energies I pray that we too would have the same commitment and and devotion to build up the believers in their faith! But passion to protect and preserve the faith of our church physically (―in the body‖) he was prevented from following community. that course. But there is more that I want to encourage us with this B. But even though he could not be physically present in morning. There are five priceless truths in this passage that Colossae to rout these false teachers and to prevent will protect US from the dangers threatening our own faith, them from making even an attempt to destroy their faith, individually and corporately as Carson Bible Church. the Colossians have all Paul’s help right in this epistle, From this passage we can find the information and with that help they can prevent any man from trying and encouragement we need in order to be to cheat them.4 committed ourselves to the ministry of the Gospel C. But the question comes that if the Colossians are standing so well (as verse 5 says), why does Paul still and the church, to stand firm in our faith, and fight come to their support, why does he still strain to hard against the ceaseless attacks of our enemy. strengthen them in the fight against the false teachers? The answer is simple. We have already noted the force I. Struggle in the Spirit of Concern (2:1) of the tense: ―try to cheat you.‖ Thus far the Colossians A. As we just saw, Paul was incredibly concerned about the have stood in line with all firmness, but, like all errorists, believers in Colossae. This was because he was the false teachers there were persistent, and this causes incredibly concerned about the universal church as a Paul’s concern for the Colossians, he is thinking of the whole. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not he was the future days. He is not one who waits until the one who started the church, or even whether or not he damage is done; he acts with promptness so that no was the one who was responsible for maturing the damage shall ever be done, so that with his help the believers there. If there was an issue plaguing ANY Colossians shall stand more firmly than ever. That is church, or any attack coming from any false far more joyful task than repairing damage after it teacher/teaching, Paul was quick and ready to send out has been done, especially when such damage might help in the fight. have been prevented by taking proper measures in B. Paul’s concern should be an example and call to US time. Fortify in advance! is the proper procedure.5 to do the same! C. Enlarged hearts always know the agon – struggling. They Obviously, Paul is deeply concerned about the Colossians have sleepless nights; they empathize; they struggle in and is intensely committed to their success against the prayer. But these big hearts also know the most joy. It is infiltration of heresy in the church; and his commitment to this kind of heart to which all of us are called, whether we them, even though he had never visited or seen them, was are missionaries or merchants: a heart that is willing to brilliantly put on display in this passage. He could not agonize not only over our own little circle, but the Church stand by and watch as emissaries of Satan came in to Universal.6 sabotage the church, regardless of whether or not HE was D. We need to have a heart like the heart of the shoemaker the one who started it. William Carey, some two hundred years ago, who made a leather globe so he could pray for a world still unseen 4 Lenski, 90. 5 6 Lenski, 91-92. Hughes, 53. to him. Ultimately Carey’s ―world-class‖ heart propelled united in love, (3) and as they are settled in their him to India as he became the founder of modern understanding of the truth. missions. E. Does YOUR hear beat for the world like Carey’s? A. Be Strengthened! Does your heart strive and strain for the people 1. The word ―encourage‖ in this context is confirming or Jesus died to ransom? Are you committed to strengthening the perplexed. The apostle was not standing with and protecting the church of Jesus trying to comfort his readers because of the damage Christ? May our hearts burn and strive with concern that false teaching may have done in their midst, but for our Lord’s church! rather to encourage them to stand firm and to press toward the goal of full understanding, which he mentions next.7 II. Safety in the Community of Faith (2:2) 2. Commentator William Barclay cites an example of parakaleō from classical Greek that parallels its usage I have come across many people who are under the here. impression that they do not have to attend church in order a. There was a Greek regiment which had lost heart to be a Christian. That is true. I have met other people who and was utterly dejected. The general sent a state that they do not have to go to church in order to learn leader to talk to it to such purpose that courage about God. That is also true. But there is something was reborn and a body of dispirited men became missing in all of that. Jesus never meant for us to be a fit again for heroic action. SOLO COMMUNITY – He died and rose again so that we b. That is what [parakaleō] means here. It is Paul’s could all be ONE and worship together as one. But more prayer that the Church may be filled with that than that, they are ignoring the incredible necessities and courage which can cope with any situation. (The benefits of being a part of the faith community. Chris and I Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and were talking the other day about this and wondering: “How Thessalonians [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, do people say that they believe in Jesus Christ and worship 1975], p. 129)8 Him, and yet they avoid Him at the same time. We are the 3. When believers are out on their own all the time BODY OF CHRIST and He is here with us all the time, they become very susceptible to whatever including when we gather for corporate worship. doctrines and theologies are out there – most of Furthermore, they are ignoring the specific command in the time falling to some of them. However, within Scripture to MEET TOGETHER – Heb. 10:24-25. And if that the community of faith there is great safety as we wasn’t enough, their absence from the community set them ENCOURAGE and STRENGTHEN one another in in a dangerous place where they become very susceptible the fight and in life! and prone to great and successful attacks by the enemy. With that being said, Paul encourages us in this passage to B. Be United! reject those tendencies and get connected to a solid community 1. The imagery of united is that of a body being held of faith. And these two verses contain three elements which add together by ligaments to make a strong unit. Unity and up to a loving, learning community. Paul’s goal is that believers 7 Kent, 71-72. be (1) encouraged in heart which happens as they are (2) p. page 8 MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. solidarity create strength. False teaching is naturally assuring regarding the truth that has been revealed to divisive. A person left alone, with no support, is much men in the Word of God.10 more vulnerable than a cohesive unit. 3. Paul desires that the Colossians also experience all 2. What creates unity? Love! Concern for one another. the wealth that comes from full assurance. Without Relating to one another as brothers and sisters, with that assurance, believers cannot enjoy all the loyalty and support. When we are united in love, we blessings that are theirs in Christ. For example, no will be strengthened in heart. Then we will have one can look forward with hope to the blessings of assurance in understanding. heaven who doubts whether he is going there. For 3. Paul knew that if the Christians in Colosse would stop that reason Peter says, ―Be all the more diligent to lending a sympathetic ear to the smooth-talking make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 errorists and would join in an even closer union of Pet. 1:10).11 (CF. 2 Peter 1:1-11) hearts, such actions would provide the strength and 4. When the believer experiences spiritual truth by living encouragement vital to spiritual victory in an hour of it, it becomes truly understood and leads to assurance crisis. of his or her salvation. The New Testament, then, 4. No intellectual process will lead to a full grasp of the concludes that knowing the truth and acting on it mystery of Christ unless it is accompanied by a love leads to full assurance of understanding. People for him and for Christians that knits us, the church, often express to me doubts about their salvation, together in love. We cannot pursue knowledge of God even though they have read books on assurance. in willful, unloving isolation, rejecting fellowship with Their primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but others. Historically, some have tried and have a failure to apply the truths they know. Truth that finds suffered incomplete or even distorted understanding. solid footing in a strong heart and works itself out in ―Complete‖ understanding of the mystery comes in love of fellow believers results in deep conviction. loving community.9 That is the basis for assurance.12 C. Be Confident! III. Completeness in the Possession of Christ (2:3) 1. As long as the believers were uncertain about the basic truths of their faith they were vulnerable to being In this verse, Paul takes a home-run swing at the heretics swayed by any persuasive teacher who might appear. that were infiltrating the church in Colossae and Laodicea. . . [The Colossians’] understanding should have been Those teachers were telling everyone that there was much correct. What was needed now was the full assurance more knowledge they needed in order to become true that their understanding was true. worshippers of God and achieve maturity. In other words, 2. If the Colossians were to stand firm against the JUST knowledge of Jesus Christ and God’s Word was not enticing doctrines that were being presented to them, enough to save or to sanctify. Paul would not stand for this they needed a ―true knowledge of God’s mystery.‖ vicious attack against the faith and proclaimed two That is, their understanding had to be thorough and awesome truths to battle it. 10 Kent, 72-73. 11 MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. 9 12 Hughes, 55. MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. A. Don’t Search for Treasure You Already Have! Naturally, Isaac, son of Yechel, walked back to Krakau, back to his own house, where he looked beneath the sink in his own In his book Souls on Fire, Elie Weissel tells a remarkable tale. In kitchen, found the treasure buried there, and lived to a ripe old far away Krakau, in days when sleep was often disturbed by age as a rich man. The treasure was at home all along. dreams, there lived on Isaac, son of Yechel. Isaac was a poor This truth applies to Christians as well: our treasure is man whose family seldom ate their fill. One night in a vivid in Jesus Christ, who resides in us. We don’t have to look dream, he saw the distant city of Prague. He saw a river flowing anywhere else. Paul wrote to the Colossians because false through the city, and under a particular bridge he saw a buried teachers were telling them that Jesus Christ was not treasure. When he woke the next morning, the dream had not sufficient; they needed some additional spiritual faded. Its clear and vivid images remained etched on his mind. experiences. They taught that Jesus himself was That night the dream returned. And the next night. Every night inadequate and this inadequate Jesus couldn’t provide all for two weeks, Isaac had the same dream in which he saw the they needed for a full spiritual experience. city of Prague, the river, the bridge, and the buried treasure Paul countered this claim by telling the Colossian hidden beneath the bridge. believers, as well as their modern counterparts, that Jesus Finally, he decided to walk all the way to Prague to see for is the fullness of God and that because of their relationship himself if the dream might be real. After several days he arrived with Him, they have been given fullness. He told them not in the city. Even though he had never been there, he recognized to look for other treasure when the true treasure is already it and knew it well from his dreams. He found the bridge, went theirs.13 under it to search for the treasure, and then suddenly was gabbed firmly at the back of his neck by a soldier who dragged 1. Because Christ is sufficient, there is no need for the him away to prison for interrogation. writings of any cult, philosophy, or psychology to The soldier sat him in a chair and said, ―All right, Jew, what supplement the Bible. He is the source of all true were you doing prowling around under that bridge?‖ Not spiritual knowledge. That knowledge is also crucial to knowing what else to say, Isaac decided to tell the truth, ―I had a assurance because doubts about Christ’s sufficiency dream that there was buried treasure under that bridge, and I bring doubts about His ability to do what He was looking for it.‖ promised.14 Immediately, the soldier burst into mocking laughter, ―You 2. It is not necessary to go elsewhere – that is, to stupid Jew, don’t you know that you can’t believe what you see investigate human systems and philosophies – to find in your dreams? Why, for the last two weeks I myself have had an explanation of the mystery of the universe and the a dream every night that far away in the city of Krakau, in the relationship of the Creator to His creatures. As we house of some Jew by the name of Isaac, son of Yechel, there learn to know Christ better and understand the truth is a treasure buried beneath the sink in his house. Wouldn’t it be concerning Him, every question is answered, every the most idiotic of actions if I were to go all the way to Krakau to perplexity made clear, and every doubt dissolved. look for some Jew that doesn’t exist. Or there may be a Why turn aside to idle speculations, no matter how thousand Isaacs, son of Yechel. I could waste a lifetime looking pretentious, when God has spoken in His Son and for a treasure that isn’t there.‖ With uproarious laughter, the soldier stood him up, opened the door, gave him a good kick, 13 and let him go. Max Anders, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, in the Holman New Testament Commentary, Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 1999, pp. 301-2. 14 MacArthur, J. (1996, c1992). Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press. given His holy Word to lead us by the Spirit into all town, this universe together, and that without him truth?15 all would dissolve; if you believe that he is the mystery, the incarnate reconciler who will one day B. The Treasure is Christ! reconcile the universe and redeem humanity to 1. No wonder the full knowledge of Christ has such a himself; if you believe that he is the lover of your wealth of assurance of understanding, and thus no soul, who loves you with a love bounded only by wonder that Paul strains to encourage his readers to his infinitude; then, despite the fact that life will use this wealth of assurance: ―in him (Christ) are all be full of trouble, nothing much will go wrong. the treasures of the wisdom and of the knowledge,‖ Your vision of Christ will quicken and shape your they are all in him ―as hidden away.‖ life. What you believe about Christ makes all the 2. Where, save in Christ, are these treasures that we difference in the world now and in eternity.17 need? And all of them are in him, which is the point to be noted here since the Judaizers thought they had a Every system that makes light of Christ or His atoning blood is few extra ones which they had found elsewhere. But from the pit and is to be shunned as a viper by all who know these extra ones were not wisdom but only ―a show of Him. So-called Christian Science is an example. A follower of wisdom‖ (v. 23).16 Mrs. Eddy, the now-deceased head of the cult, visited a simple 3. Perceptive Christians have always known that the key Christian woman and labored long to explain the professed to spiritual well-being is an increased knowledge and benefits and beauties of that system. After listening for several focus upon Christ. Less than one month before C.S. hours, the Christian found herself utterly unable to follow the Lewis died, he wrote this letter to a little girl: specious sophistries and vapid theorizings of her visitor. Finally a. Dear Ruth . . . Many thanks for your kind letter, the Christian exclaimed, ―I do not understand what you are and it was very good of you to write and tell me getting at. Can’t you put it all in simpler terms so that I may that you like my books; and what a very good know what it is that you want me to believe?‖ letter you write for your age! If you continue to love ―Well,‖ replied the cultist, ―in the first place you must Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I understand this: God is a principle not a person. You see, my hope may always do so. dear, we worship a principle.‖ 4. What you think of Christ, your conception of Him, ―Enough,‖ exclaimed the other with a relived expression on is everything. If you believe in Jesus Christ, that her countenance, ―That would never do for me! I worship a he is eternal, without beginning and without end, personal God revealed in Christ, my blessed, adorable Savior.‖ that he always was continuing; if you believe that And at once her soul was delivered from the net spread before he is creator of everything, every cosmic speck her by the soft-voiced emissary of Satan who had been across trillions of light-years of trackless space, endeavoring to ensnare her. the creator of the textures and shapes and colors The test of any system is whether or not it makes light which daily dazzle your eyes; if you believe that of Christ. he is the sustainer of all creation, the force which is presently holding the atoms of your body, your It is when you find your connection in the learning and loving community of faith and your confidence in the 15 H.A. Ironside, Colossians, Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1997, pp. 48-49. 16 17 Lenski, 88. Hughes, 53-54. person and work of Christ that you find your deceptive. Clearly, this is persuasive speaking in the ammunition supply fully stocked and ready for battle. worst sense. You are then equipped to stand firm against whatever 5. Given the context in which Paul uses the word, false teaching or teacher comes your way! images of the stereotypical used car salesman come to mind.18 IV. Defense against the Spread of Deception (2:4) E. But Paul’s encouragement to them was that they had everything they needed in order to stand firm against A. The false teachers coming into the church were not low- them! They had no need to go anywhere else but Christ lifes who were easy to spot and easy to resist. and the instruction they had received concerning Him in Completely the opposite. order to resist the heresies. B. There are enticing voices all around, and, as with the F. The same is true for us today. We can resist Gnostics, what they say sounds logical. If you are whatever false doctrine (like the prosperity gospel making a counterfeit dollar, you do not use yellow proponents) with the same information – the truth construction paper, cut it in the shape of a triangle, about Christ! and put Batman’s picture in the middle with a big “3” on the corners. Deception looks authentic. It is V. Stability in the Firmness of Faith (2:5) supported by intelligence, credentials, popularity, even a touch of class. A. In spite of all these things, and to the rejoicing of the C. Paul said in 2 Cor. 11:13-15 that such men are false Apostle, the Colossian believers were continuing to stand apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles firm in their faith despite the steady attacks against them of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades by the heretics. as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his B. “Good order and firmness of your faith in Christ.” In servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their the present context, [this] describes the collective aspect end will be what their actions deserve. of the Colossians’ faith. Each believer was still in his D. This passage brings out the fact that these people in place (taxin) and collectively, the church was maintaining Colossae were extremely eloquent and persuasive. a solid front (stereoma) against the foe. No one had 1. The term “plausible arguments” is used rhetorically broken ranks or defected; the church was not tottering. to refer to speeches based on logical reasoning rather The apostle’s concern was that this steadfastness of faith than demonstration. would continue, and that the adversaries would at length 2. In one court case, the word is used to describe a be silenced.19 criminal’s attempt to persuade the court to let him C. This verse goes to show that the possibility of standing keep stolen goods (see Lohse, 83). firm in your faith is not only possible, but successful. The 3. The indication is that those who use these fine- Colossians were reaming firm in their faith despite the sounding words are constructing plausible, but false, aggressive attempts by the false teachers to thwart them! arguments to manipulate others. D. That truly is a cause for rejoicing! You want to know 4. As Paul states in verse 8, for such people the truth is how you can stand firm in your faith and not be like not a concern. Their philosophy is hollow and 18 Anders, 314. 19 Kent, 78. so many others who seem to fall away whenever the The church should be a place of hope, good cheer, and winds of other teachings blow their way – be encouragement, the place where others affirm the areas of strengthened by getting connected to a loving, growth in our lives and help us on the way to maturity, the learning community of faith, be filled with the place where we are fortified for daily battle in the midst of knowledge of Christ and God’s Word so that you will despair and hopelessness, and the place where we do the have the assurance necessary for this battle, and same for others.20 stay alert to the deceptions of the enemy, for they I hope and pray that Carson Bible Church will become that will come! kind of a place. A place where we are filled with concern for the Universal Church of Christ; providing safety and encouragement to all who fellowship with us; finding our CONCLUSION: completeness only in Jesus Christ – our great treasure; defending our church and each other against the wicked attacks The president of the Special Olympics was giving a talk to a of Satan; and joining ranks for stability as we remain firm in our large audience. During the question and answer time that faith. GOD HELP US! followed, someone asked him to describe the best moment for him as president of that year’s Special Olympics. Without any hesitation he told about the 100-meter run. Six developmentally handicapped kids lined up in a stadium filled with 50,000 people. These kids had prepared all year for this event. They wanted to win. Although they could not run well, they would give it their very best effort. The gun went off and all six began to run. At about the 50- meter mark, one of the six runners fell down, face first on the track. The other five runners took a couple more steps and then stopped. They looked back and saw the fallen runner. Then, to the surprise of the crowd, they all went back, helped the fallen runner to his feet, joined hands, and continued the race—all of them crossing the finish line at the same moment. Each one received a gold medal. Most people want to experience growth, to feel appreciated and respected. They also want to feel a sense of community – that they belong. They want to develop deeper relationships that will break into the loneliness and isolation that our modern world has seemed to intensify. We are mistaken if we think that people are simply looking for friendly churches; they are looking for friends. They yearn to be connected to others who will give them encouragement and support. 20 Garland, 136.