May 2014

For the Lord and Not for Men - Colosians 3:18 - 24


18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Our society entertains a notion of equality in which all social and familial roles should be leveled, without any gradiation.  So Paul’s instructions in Colossians 3 will run against the grain of this present age, in particular that wives submit to their husbands, and that servants obey to their masters, which might correspond to today’s relationship between workers and management.  But Paul’s appeal is not to the hierarchy of the social order of his day;he indicates that submission is “fitting in the Lord,” and we ought to obey as “fearing the Lord.”Lest we miss the point that all of the relationships discussed are to be pursued with an eye toward our relationship with the Him, the Lord is mentioned by name six times in these nine short verses.

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 10:58 -- john_hendryx

Set Your Mind on Things Above - Colossians 3

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The world the Lord has created is one that requires that we be discriminating.  The laws of logic by nature mean that, if we choose one thing, we reject another.  If we affirm one thing, we deny its opposite.

This principle applies to our sanctification, also.  To pursue godliness, we must renounce sin.  In the terms Paul uses in Colossians 3, we are to “put off the old self with its practices and . . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (vv. 9-10).”  We must put away, put to death what is earthly and idolatrous (v. 5), on account of which God’s wrath is coming (v. 6).  Paul gives a representative, but not exhaustive list of what these sins and practices are in verses 5-9.

In verses 12-16 Paul also gives a list of Christian virtues, things we must put on.  We must be thoughtful, intentional, and discriminating in our actions, practices and attitudes.  We bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we reflect Christ in His forgiveness (v. 13), love (v. 14) and peace (v. 15), for all of which we are to be thankful (v. 15).  And nourished by the Word of God dwelling in us (v. 16), we encourage and uplift one another.  And all we do is not for our own glory, but in His name (v. 17).

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 11:13 -- john_hendryx

Shadows and Substance - Colossians 2:16-23

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

We are created with a spiritual nature. It is part of who we are. It is unavoidable. That is why G.K. Chesterton said, “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.” It is also the root and source of all false religion.

But human complexity means we do not always face discreet, easily identifiable categories of “in” or “out,” but rather a continuum with orthodox Christian faith at one end and passing through Theological mistake, systemic error and even heresy before arriving at absolute heterodoxy.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 11:25 -- john_hendryx

Praying for God to Save the Lost

Appendix B from Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election by C. Samuel Storms

by Sam Storms

I want to introduce this article by taking us back some forty-one years to the initial publication of what soon became an evangelical classic: J. I. Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP, 1961). The book was an expansion of the address Packer delivered to The London Inter-Faculty Christian Union (LIFCU) on October 24, 1959, at Westminster Chapel. What makes Packer's book so instructive for us today is the utter incredulity on his part, in 1961, regarding a theological perspective that today, in 2002, is widespread and pervasive in its influence.

            Packer begins his defense of divine sovereignty in salvation by appealing to what he believes is, or at least should be, an evangelical consensus on the practice of prayer. He appears to assume that no one who embraces a high view of Scripture could possibly think otherwise. It is more than simply that we pray, but also how and what we specifically ask God to do that Packer believes supports his understanding of the activity of God in saving a human soul. Here is what he says:

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 14:23 -- john_hendryx

Christ Wins - Colossians 2:6-15

 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Paul here encourages the church in Colossae to continue to live according to a sound and solid understanding of the gospel, as they have been taught. “Walk in Christ Jesus the Lord,” he says. That is the gospel that they received, that made them firm and solid and caused them to grow.

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 09:01 -- john_hendryx

Suffering for Love - Colossians 2: 1-5

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

As Paul mentioned in the previous passage, he has suffered, toiled and struggled as he has ministered to the church. He is likely writing this letter while under house arrest in Rome, and his trip there as recounted in Acts was fraught with trials. And Paul begins this passage by referring again to his struggles. But he does not do so to draw attention to himself. He is highlighting his love for his readers, though not in an insincere, emotionally manipulative way. He really means it.

And Paul’s love is key here because he is comparing himself to others who may try to influence the church at Colassae. There are those who will try to delude them with plausible arguments, and for their own ends. He, however, is motivated by love, so his teachings are reliable.

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 08:50 -- john_hendryx

When We Come to God, We Must Bring Nothing but Christ with Us

by Thomas Wilcox

When we come to God, we must bring nothing but Christ with us. Any ingredients, or any previous qualifications of our own, will poison and corrupt faith. He that builds upon duties, graces, etc., knows not the merits of Christ. This makes believing so hard, so far above nature. If you believe, you must every day renounce, as dung and dross (Phil 3:7,8), your privileges, your obedience, your baptism, your sanctification, your duties, your graces, your tears, your meltings, your humblings, and nothing but Christ must be held up. Every day your workings and your self-sufficiency must be destroyed. You must take all out of God’s hand. Christ is the gift of God (John 4:10). Faith is the gift of God (Eph 2:8). Pardon is a free gift (Isa 45:22). Ah, how nature storms, frets, rages at this, that all is of gift and it can purchase nothing with its acting and tears and duties, that all workings are excluded, and of no value in heaven.

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 17:05 -- john_hendryx

Glorious Mystery - Colossians 1:24-29

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Paul has just elaborated on the importance of the church, that it is the body of which Christ Himself is the Head, as He is head of all things, and that He is reconciling the church to Himself, making her holy and blameless. Paul now shows his own passion for the church. He is suffering on behalf of the church, and for that He rejoices, as it allows him to identify with Christ, suffering for His body, His bride.

Suffering attends Paul’s ministry, but of course it is not the purpose of his calling. It is his mission is to present the mystery of the gospel to the saints, especially the Gentiles.

Two times in as many verses Paul refers to the gospel as a mystery. In our mystery stories and movies today we trust an author to know how they will end. We may try to solve the puzzles based on available clues, but in the end the author needs to spell it out for us.

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 09:37 -- john_hendryx

..Reconciled - Colossians 1:21-23

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Last time we examined how Christ is in everything preeminent. He is Lord of creation. He is Sovereign over the social order. And He is Head of the church. Verse 19 of Colossians 1 says God is pleased, “. . . through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

The Apostle Paul follows the description of Christ’s pre-eminence with a discussion on what it means for the church to be reconciled to God in Christ. Verse 21 presents the “before” picture. We—not just the Colossians—were once alienated from God. And we were happy with that, as we were even hostile toward Him. Such a heart resulted in doing evil deeds. Of course, the very idea of reconciliation means that all of this has changed.

But reconciliation does not bring us from hostility toward God merely to a neutral position. No. We are in the process of becoming holy to the point of blamelessness, above reproach.

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 17:04 -- john_hendryx

In Everything Preeminent

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. - Colossians 1:15-19

Having thanked God for the church at Colassae and the Christian traits they exhibit, and having prayed for for further knowledge and power, Paul now turns to a passionate description of God the Son.  He gives us an example of what Christ means in his life, for Christ is no mere historical character or abstract category.  Paul mentioned Christ in his prayer for knowledge and power and it is as if, once he mentioned Him, he could not contain His enthusiasm for His Lord.

He praises Christ as God, the Creator of “heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them (Psalm 146:6)”.  The Psalmist seems to imply the heavens of the sky, filled with birds.  But in referring to the invisible, Paul is describing heaven where God dwells, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim, also created by Christ.  We might consider what an insult it is to this Almighty Creator to attribute his deliberate and marvelous work to random chance or natural laws on auto-pilot.  Rather than attempt to dethrone Him with naturalistic explanations about origins, we should be quick to praise Him in His work of Creation.

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 18:49 -- john_hendryx


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