Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Hostility Towards God
We?ve come from a section where the supremacy of Jesus was celebrated. We see clearly that Jesus is the fullness and exact representation of God. Paul also showed Jesus as the creator and sustainer of this universe, and also of a new universe. But in order for us to be a part of that new creation we have to have peace with the One who created it. And based on our human minds, that?s a big problem.
Jesus solves the problem, but it comes at a great cost to God. He then asks us to be willing to pay a price to bring that solution to others.
Being alienated or estranged means we once had something that we?ve lost. In the Garden of Eden we walked with God in perfect fellowship. It?s what we were made for. But our rebellion ended that fellowship and we became separated from God by our sin. That separation is the alienation or estrangement we feel.
God said that in the day Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil that they would die (Gen 2:17). What died that day was not only our fellowship, but our ability to think straight.
The phrase: ?hostile in your minds? means that the actual process of the way we think has been broken. Paul says it is because of our evil actions, but the Greek is a little more difficult to translate here. The sense here is more like Romans 1:21-32.
Romans 1:21 ?For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools ? :28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness.?
So the broken mind leads to broken behavior, which leads to more brokenness in the mind?and the cycle continues. The cycle led us to hate God and consider Him our enemy. It means hating and opposing. All the good that is God we as humans hate to the point that we don?t even know it.
But into that situation comes Jesus:
What God did in Christ is called ?reconciliation?. It means: ?to bring back a former state of harmony.? We get back that fellowship we lost. How? It?s not by Jesus setting an example for us to follow, though He does that. It was through the tremendous explosion of our continual sin, meeting the total purity of a holy God?on the cross with Jesus on it.
Without going into all the technical and theological intricacies of this passage, the sense is this:
- Jesus took on our form, our ?flesh? and fully represents us. He became one of us.
- He is also fully God (as we saw in the previous section).
- When sinless man, representing sinful mankind met a holy God the result was His punishment for our sins on the cross.
- So now, when we come to Jesus, we find our sins already condemned and paid for and ourselves at peace and reconciled with God
The purpose is so that we would share His nature, not the old sinful self. The picture is two-fold. ?Holy? and ?faultless? suggest a sacrifice that is without spot or blemish?so we are cleansed. ?Blameless? suggests not just without accusation of sin, but without even the suggestion of sin?like ?he looks good in public, but wait till he?s behind closed doors? kind of gossip.
What God has done on the cross, forgiving our sins, He is also doing in practice, by re-fashioning our character into His image?bit by bit.
In the future this will be completed and we will stand before Him in His presence completely spotless and pure?but there appears to be a caveat.
This verse could trip some people up. I think the essence of what Paul is saying here is that if the Colossians buy into the false teaching that has come into their midst, they are not going to find salvation or reconciliation in that belief. It isn?t the gospel; it isn?t good news at all. You have to put your trust in something real.
?Grounded? and ?steadfast? refer to foundations and superstructure. You build true faith on a firm foundation of understanding of who Jesus is.
The Colossians? problem was folks coming along and giving them another gospel. Those that were not truly faithful to Jesus could have their hope shifted away to something that is not going to save them.
Paul declares that this good news, this gospel, has been declared to all creation. God made the proclamation and has now sent His heralds, including Paul (and us) to make that proclamation from one end of the earth to another.
So in concluding his introduction, Paul gives them some insight into his ministry?a great summary of what God did through the Apostle.
24 ? 26
This verse is also a bit hard to swallow. Was there something lacking in what Jesus suffered? No. The idea here is that we are now the hands and feet of Jesus. Jesus said: ??You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world? (John 16:33). That suffering we have allows us to do the work of Jesus in the world as His ambassadors.
John 14:12 ?I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.? So we are carrying on the work so that the suffering of Christ to bring us back to God will continue to bear fruit in the world.
So there?s kind of a double meaning here:
1. We spread the gospel as a part of filling up the church, purchased by the suffering of Jesus. Not everyone was brought in while Jesus was on earth?that?s our job to partner with Him in that effort.
2. With that job of sharing the gospel comes our own suffering:
?In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted? (2 Timothy 3:12 HCSB)
Phil. 1:29 ?For it has been given to you on Christ?s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.?
On verse 25 Paul is saying that part of God?s master plan was to have Paul share the gospel with the Colossians and also suffer for his part in the gospel. Often we think that when we are in God?s will that nothing bad will happen to us. Quite the opposite is true?the closer you are to Jesus and the more you reflect His character the more likely you are to be in the sights of the enemy and the more you own flesh will want to rebel. Don?t let this dissuade you, because we also know that there is something very special about sharing suffering as a Christian.
Phil. 3:10 ?My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.?
The purpose of Paul?s suffering, and ours, is to reveal the gospel?a message that was hidden until Jesus revealed it.
The Colossians were mostly Gentiles?as are most of us. The gospel came first to the Jews but wasn?t for the Jews only. Having Jesus in us, gives us the hope that one day we will truly be like Him, especially as we struggle with suffering both external and internal.
28 ? 29
So as God works in us in Christ, so too we need to work?this is that great partnership where we cooperate with God?s Holy Spirit inside us, and wanting to work through us to help others mature in Him.
?Teaching? means: ?to hold a discourse with someone in order to instruct them.? That?s what I?m doing now. ?Warning,? means to set someone?s mind in the right place. Sometimes teaching isn?t enough as the culture or the flesh tends to warp our thinking and we need someone to set us straight. Paul does this with ?skill? (?wisdom: Sophia?). This is important as Paul begins to address the problem with the doctrine being foisted on the Colossians.
The end goal is for everyone to be mature, which means to be complete. You may feel like you will never measure up to other ?spiritual giants? around you?but Paul uses the word ?everyone? three times. You can mature in Christ, if you let God do the work and you actively participate.
We see that in Paul powerfully in verse 29. He ?toils? to the point of getting tired?he agonizes (?striving?)?but notice that it is God?s strength (we get the word ?energy? from the Greek)?and not just working but working powerfully, the Greek word dunamis which means ?dynamic?. God?s strength becomes whatever Paul needs dynamically to meet the current situation in order to promote maturing in the body of Christ.
All this will become important in the next chapter as Paul lays out his argument to counter the false teachers.
In summary?in this section of the letter, Paul says: it?s all about Jesus; Jesus doing the work of bringing us back to God; Jesus who is God in the flesh. There is no other. People will come up with all kind of crazy stuff they want to sell you in terms of doctrine to move you away from the centrality of Jesus. Don?t do it! Hold to the simplicity and power of the gospel. It was so worth it that Paul was willing to suffer for it.