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Motivations for Fidelity

Notes & Transcripts

Motivations for Fidelity

Colossians 2:6-15

            By the time Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae the city itself was small and it has been said that it is the least important city which received a letter from Paul. While we don’t know when it was founded there are records from the 5th century B.C. which claim that Colossae was a large, rich, and important city. At that time there was a trade route going right through the city and for its entire history it has been known for the wool that was made there. Over the centuries the two cities nearby, Laodicea and Hieropolis, eventually grew in popularity over Colossae. This, along with a change in trade routes made Colossae lose prominence and populace. While the exact size of the city in the first century is unknown, it is agreed that is was extremely small and had virtually no importance to anyone outside the city.

            Whether Paul ever visited or passed through this city is debated but it is clear that he did not plant the church there himself, it was probably started by Epaphras who Paul referred to in 1:7 as a fellow slave. Unlike the church at Rome where Paul knew many in the church, he does not claim to know many of the believers in Colossae, except for a few, including Philemon to whom he wrote a personal letter which we have and continue to benefit from.

            That Colossae was a small city out of the way and that Paul didn’t know very many people and yet wrote a letter like this gives us an insight into Paul’s ministry and God’s heart. If we were to consider all the cities and towns that Paul visited, ministered in, and passed through, there would probably be dozens of cities that were larger, had more converts, battled stronger enemies, had deeper struggles, needed more instruction and encouragement, and yet Paul, through the Holy Spirit, wrote an inspired letter to a small house-church in a small town.

            Here we are, Cornerstone Bible Church, about six years into the ministry. By many measurements this is a small church in a small town far away from anything. Most people 100 miles away (which is the distance Ephesus was from Colossae) barely know this city exists. Let the existence of this letter be an encouragement to you. Whatever importance human measurements pronounce on this place, know that as a group of faithful believers what you do here has eternal significance. God is present and active here.

            Paul had a specific purpose in writing this letter, as he did all his letters. He had heard from Epaphras of the false teaching that was being taught in the city. It isn’t clear whether these teachers were inside the church, or if it was simply false teaching outside the church that impacted the church nonetheless. In this city, like many small cities, there was a mix of Jewish and pagan teaching and often it was intertwined. Being far away from the locus of a major temple, religious beliefs often mixed together combining ideas from different philosophies to essentially create a new one. We see this today in some Caribbean Islands there is often a mix of Catholicism and pagan practices. Voodoo and the Virgin Mary somehow come together to form twisted beliefs and practices. This is what was happening there. A lack of historical records leaves us with only Paul’s letter to determine exactly what was being taught. Let me give you a summary of the people were dealing with:

1.      The most critical error was a false teaching of the personhood, deity, work, and sufficiency in Christ. This is why Paul spent so much effort in giving what is now the most complete Christology we have in the New Testament in Colossians 1.

2.      There was teaching that it was necessary to observe special days and dietary restrictions.

3.      There was teaching overemphasizing the importance of angels and spirit beings and dreams.

4.      Asceticism, even self-mutilations were being taught as means to a higher spiritual life.

This was a mix of Judaism, paganism, and early forms of Gnosticism.

Whether it was a lack of extensive teaching or simply persuasiveness on the part of the false teachers Paul felt it was necessary to write a letter to encourage the believers to remain steadfast in their faith and not succumb to the false teaching. In doing this Paul gives eight motivations to maintain fidelity to the truth. These eight motivations constitute the work of God uniting us to Christ through justification and sanctification. Let me list them for you now and then we’ll walk through the text in detail. As believers we:

1.      Have been rooted in Christ  (v. 7)

2.      Are being built up in Christ  (v. 7)

3.      Are being established in Christ  (v. 7)

4.      Have been filled (or completed) in Christ  (v. 10)

5.      Circumcised in Christ  (v. 11)

6.      Buried with Christ  (v. 12)

7.      Raised with Christ  (v. 12)

8.      And finally Made alive with Christ  (v. 13)

In Colossians 1 Paul begins with his typical greeting, prayers for the church, and then he lays out the clear teaching of the humanity, deity, and work of Christ. Then he speaks of his personal ministry and responsibility to the universal church. Chapter two begins with Paul demonstrating his love and care for people of Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Paul then begins the heart of the letter beginning in chapter 2 verse 6.

6Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Paul begins by affirming that the believers have indeed received the Messiah, Jesus, as Lord. Paul wasn’t saying that they received Him in their hearts as is often spoken of today, but merely that they accepted the message they were taught and affirmed that the man Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah and that He is at the same time Lord and Master over all things.  Paul spells out their reception at the beginning of the letter in 1:3 where he says:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant.

So Paul affirms that the message they heard, namely the gospel, they received and accepted. Not only did they receive the hope of eternal life in Christ, but it bore fruit in their lives which continually grew. In other words the gospel made an impact in their lives and the more they grew in their understanding of truth the greater impact it had. In the same way, Paul exhorted them to continue to walk in Christ. The command “walk” is a present imperative which means that he assumed they were already doing so, and was commanding them to excel still more.

Walking is a common picture of the Christian life. It pictures life as a path and you can walk on the path or walk off the path. You can walk following the footsteps of faithful men before you or you follow the footsteps of those who have made their own way. Here Paul exhorts them to walk in the footsteps of Christ.

Paul then gives the first three motivations in rapid-fire succession for remaining faithful to Christ.

#1 Rooted in Christ

The first motivation for fidelity is that we have been rooted in Christ. This term from horticulture describes the believer as being grounded in Christ from whom all strength and nourishment is derived. In the same way that a plant cut from the root quickly dies so the Christian apart from Christ is dead. Paul uses the perfect passive voice to enforce the idea that as believers we do not root ourselves in Christ, but we have been rooted in Christ by God in the past and it continues to be a reality. Therefore in the same way that we have not rooted ourselves we also cannot uproot ourselves.

This acts as a motivation because if we are indeed rooted in Christ and receive from him life and nourishment, the natural response is to live as he lived. In the same way that a fig tree does not bear thistles, the person rooted in Christ cannot live like the world. To live like the world is to deny the very one who gives us life!

#2 We are being built up in Christ

The second motivation is that we are being built of in Christ. Whereas being rooted was a single act with ongoing results, building up is an ongoing continual process. Paul uses a word-picture here from the architectural industry. The Christian life is like a building that after the foundation is laid there is a long process of constructing beginning with the frame, the roof, and so on. Paul is here affirming what he said to the Philippians that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). This is why we have trials in our lives as Paul says in Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” And not only trials but according to Romans 8:28-30 everything that happens to us is involved in the process of God building us up into the image of Christ.

So not only has God rooted us in Christ which is a picture of justification, but he is continually building us into Christ which is a picture of sanctification. Sanctification is the very definition is walking with Christ, so therefore Paul is saying that the spiritual reality of God working in sanctification should be matched by their living that out as they walk in Christ.

#3 We are being established in Christ

The third motivation for fidelity is that we are being established in Christ. It says here that we are being “established in the faith”. Faith is not the source or direction of this establishment, but rather it is the very thing which is being established. In other words this could read, “rooted and built up in him and having our faith established.” Here again Paul uses the passive voice which emphasizes God’s initiative in establishing us, not us establishing ourselves. First Paul used a term from horticulture, then from architecture, now he uses a legal term. To “establish” is a legal term which means to confirm a fact, to prove to be true, to establish something as beyond doubt.

Therefore God is continually confirming the veracity or truthfulness of our faith. The more a Christian grows in spiritual maturity the more they are convinced of the truth of Scripture. If you find a Christian who over time has grown more suspicious of their faith and continually questions the truth of Scripture in a skeptical way, you have found someone who is not exhibiting the work of God in their lives.

Today we have people who profess to be Christians and yet abound in doubt and skepticism. In his book A Generous Orthodoxy Brian McLaren, one of the outspoken leaders of the emergent church, wrote this: Christians "must be open to the perpetual possibility that our received understandings of the gospel may be faulty, imbalanced, poorly nuanced, or downright warped and twisted . . . [and must] continually expect to rediscover the gospel" (Ibid., 261).

If a professing Christian cannot be certain about the gospel they cannot be certain about their eternal destiny, though to be fair, postmodern thought isn’t sure about the afterlife anyway, or anything else for that matter. As Paul has said elsewhere, “You did not learn Christ this way!” God’s work in a believer’s life is demonstrated by a growing certainty over the truth of the gospel, and everything else Scripture teaches.

Well… Paul continues by saying that these three realities, God’s work in rooting, building, and establishing, should result in overflowing thankfulness. Gratitude itself is never alone, it is always accompanied by action. The action Paul desires of the Colossians is that they would continue to walk in Christ because God has rooted them, and is building and establishing them.

Paul moves on and looks at fidelity from the negative perspective, namely, the need to be actively avoiding entrapment.

8 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.

 

Here again Paul uses a present tense command indicating that they have not yet accepted the false teaching and he is exhorting them to continue to remain steadfast and watchful. What are they to watch out for? That no one takes them captive. Paul has already reminded them in 1:13 that they are part of a new kingdom; they have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of Christ. And here the idea is that someone might take them captive as prisoners of war as it were and declare them spoils of war to be gloated over. But the weapons of this battle are not swords and spears but rather philosophy and human wisdom.

Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom, it became a technical term for anything that was a system of belief. It is more or less synonymous with the concept of a worldview or ideology. The Jewish historian Josephus referred to the three sects of Judaism as philosophies, that of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. So it isn’t philosophy itself that Paul is concerned about, but rather a specific form of philosophy, namely, philosophy that is characterized by empty deceit, human tradition and the elemental spirits of the world.

Empty deceit is simply that which lacks substance. There is a form of deceit which has some substance, it has enough truth to make it believable, but enough error to make it outright deceitful. Empty deceit simply lacks any roots in reality. Empty deceit would be me trying to convince you that there is a unicorn running around the room right now. It has no basis, no relationship to reality at all. It is completely made up out of thin air.

This philosophy is also characterized as human tradition. Have you noticed how virtually all new ideas try to appear old? When Joseph Smith started Mormonism in the 1820’s he claimed to have tablets which were ancient, protected by an angel for centuries. You can be certain that if he came out with his new religion based solely on his own ideas he would not have deceived as many people as he has. But the supposed ancient tablets added authority in the eyes of those who were deceived and they continue to do so today. Human tradition is just that, tradition that is man-made, not based on God’s revelation.

Finally, this philosophy is according to the elemental spirits of the world. There is some debate over whether Paul has spirits or principles in mind. Literally the original text reads “the most basic concepts of the world” or perhaps “the ABC’s of the world.” But based on how the term is used in non-biblical literature it appears that it was used of the spiritual realm. So Paul is saying here that there is demonic origin in these teachings.

So the philosophy being espoused in Colossae was characterized by empty deceit, human tradition, and demonic origin. Or, negatively, it was not according to Christ. That is to say it did not conform to Christ’s teaching, nor did it originate with Christ. The false philosophy and true philosophy in Christ are completely incompatible, so Paul warns them to be diligent to ensure that they are not taken captive by such philosophy.

Now just as a side note Paul knew that the key to a good defense is what, a good offense. So he wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” So the strategy to not be taken captive by false teaching is to correct that false teaching and make it obedient to Christ.

Well who is Christ and what authority does he have to be the standard of true philosophy? Paul answers that question and gives the fourth motivation for fidelity in verses 9-10.

 9 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.

Who is Jesus? He is the one in whom the whole fullness of deity dwells. That is to say that Jesus does not participate in a portion of deity. It goes further than to say that he is like deity. Rather, it is a clear expression that within Jesus is the entire substance and essence of deity, which is to say that he is God in the flesh! He is the incarnate God with us. He is the way the truth and the life. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. And as such he is the head of all rule and authority. There is no authority that is out from under Christ. Even in rebellion Satan and his demons operate under the authority of Christ. This brings us to the fourth motivation.

#4 We are filled in Christ

This is not the same as being filled with the Spirit, but rather it has the idea of completion. Apart from Christ we are cut off from God and lack the resources to be obedient to Christ. But in Christ,

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

In Christ we are fully complete and lack nothing. At no point do we need to request more from God than he has already given us. Rather we should ask that he help us utilize the resources we already have.

The false teachers were claiming that by observing special days, abstaining from certain foods, and denying themselves of God-given pleasures they could achieve a higher level of spirituality. Not so, says Paul. With the eternal God indwelling the believer there is no higher spirituality to be attained. There is spiritual growth in terms of understanding and increased righteousness, but that is different than what the Gnostics taught that there are multiple levels of gods and you can walk up the ladder to achieve higher levels of deity.

Rooted, Built up, Established, Filled…

#5 We are circumcised in Christ

The fifth motivation for fidelity is in verse 11.

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.

In these next three motivations Paul walks through the believers union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. In verse 11 Paul deals with the believers union with Christ in his death. The term circumcision is so widely used as a technical medical term that it is often difficult to think of it any other way, but circumcision was a term used to describe a spiritual reality in Scripture.

In Deuteronomy 30:6 Moses told the people, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

 

The prophet Jeremiah said, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Jer.4:4).

When Stephen preached his final sermon before being stoned he accused the people by saying, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 7:51).

Circumcision literally and simply means “to cut off.” We know that Paul isn’t referring here to literal circumcision because he clarifies that they were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands by putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ. The circumcision of Christ is certainly not his physical circumcision that he ceremoniously received eight days after his birth, but it can only refer to his death. Perhaps Paul has in mind Isaiah 53:8

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

There is no other sense in Scripture by which to understand the circumcision of Christ other than as a reference to his death. Add to this that Paul subsequently speaks of Christ’s burial and resurrection and it is clear what Paul has in mind. But what does Paul mean by “putting off the body of the flesh”?

Flesh is simply used here as a reference to our sinful nature. So Paul is in essence saying that as believers in Christ our sinful nature has been cut off by means of the death of Christ. Elsewhere Paul details the relationship between the believer and their sinful nature, but here he makes the simple statement that it has been cut off.

How is this a motivation for fidelity? Colossians 3:3, “You have died, and you life is hidden with Christ in God.” Romans 6:11, “So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Before believing in Christ you were alive to sin and dead toward God. When it came to spiritual things you had absolutely no inclination toward God. But now the tables have turned. You are now alive to God and dead to sin. False teaching should be as pleasurable as tickling an amputated limb.

#6 We have been buried with Christ

Death is not the end of our union with Christ, after Jesus died he was buried and in a spiritual sense those who are in Christ were buried with him “in baptism.” Baptism is the symbolic act by which one publicly testifies their union with Christ in his death burial in resurrection. Some might wonder why Jesus was buried. If we was going to rise from the dead, what is the point of being buried for three days? Why allow the disciples to think that Jesus was a failure and that he wasn’t really the Messiah they hoped he would be?

The answer is simple – to show he really died. As it is people try to claim that he wasn’t really dead but that he has just passed out. But imagine if he “died” on the cross and the rose to life right after they took him down. Surely no one would believe that he had actually died. But being buried for three days proved he had really died and accomplished forgiveness of sin. Our union with Christ in his burial is simply an affirmation that we have indeed died with Christ and the redemption of our souls has indeed been accomplished.

The motivation this provides is simply a stronger affirmation of the point that we have died with Christ. At every point of his crucifixion, death, and burial we were there in the sense that it was our sin which he atoned for.

#7 We have been raised with Christ

in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (2:12b)

 

The resurrection of Christ was the culmination of his salvation work. Having paid the penalty for sin his resurrection completed the work by defeating death itself. It was our faith in the powerful working of God, namely, believing that God did indeed raise Jesus from the dead that brought forth our own resurrection from spiritual death into spiritual life.

The new spiritual life should cause us to flee from false teaching that is not according to Christ. Those who live have no craving to abide in the cemetery.

#8 We have been made alive with Christ

In the final verses of this section Paul gives his final motivation and explains in a powerful way what it took to make this final motivation possible.

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.

 

Here Paul looks at the spiritual nature of the believer before and after their redemption. Before redemption, Paul says, you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. “Trespasses” is a general word for sin literally meaning to walk where one should not walk, or to walk contrary to what has been taught. Here in juxtaposition with uncircumcision of the flesh it has a clear emphasis on actions. Uncircumcision of the flesh flips the coin and emphasizes the unbridled sinful nature.

Combining these two ideas here Paul is giving the most complete picture of the dire spiritual state of the unbeliever. The unbeliever is completely and utterly spiritually dead.

[IF THERE IS TIME]

When we think of physical death we related it to its opposite, namely, life. Physical death is expressed in terms of what it cannot do. A corpse cannot think, feel, reason, laugh, cry, move, see, hear, or speak. A physical corpse is a lifeless mass of tissue incapable of anything. So physical death is defined by what it cannot do. On the other hand spiritual death is defined by what it does do. Consider these passages:

Romans 3:10-18         Romans 8:5-8             Ephesians 2:1-3

The ability of a spiritually dead person to please God is as great as an ancient corpse to dig itself out of a grave.

[END IF THERE IS TIME]

Apart from the life-giving grace of God no person would be saved. And Paul reminds the Colossians, and we are reminded today, that God has indeed poured forth his life-giving power in our lives if we have put our faith in Christ.

And as it typical for Paul he anticipates a series of questions. The first of which is “how did God make us alive? If we were dead in our sins, what did God do?” The answer of course is forgiveness. God forgave us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This record of debt, certificate of debt, or handwriting, depending on your translation, was an accounting term. This document was a handwritten acknowledgement of debt from one person to another. If you were to get any kind of a loan from a bank today the documents would contain all the financial information such as the size of the loan, repayment requirements, and probably to some degree the penalties associated with non-payment. This handwritten document was the same. It was a legally binding document which bound the person to repay the debt and it included agreed upon penalties if the debt was not paid.

Furthermore, Paul not only says we held this document, but it stood against us. That is to say that the penalties were bearing down on us because we were in default. It’s like if you were to default on your mortgage today you would be receiving non-stop calls from the bank threatening to carry out those penalties if you didn’t pay up. Because death is the penalty for sin according to Romans 6:23, as an unbeliever death was literally hanging over our heads every moment of every day. Every breath we took and every beat of our hearts was an act of mercy on God’s part.

And what does it say God did? He canceled it. Literally, he wiped it off. Since the writing material in those days was non-acidic the ink did not embed itself in the writing surface. To cancel the debt one only had to wipe off the ink. It is as if your sin was written on white board and each and every sin earned death for you. But then God comes and he simply wipes it all away. He not only wipes away the debt, but he also wipes away the penalty and the laws associated with the debt. The result is what Paul said to the Romans “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The next question Paul anticipates is this, “How can he do that? If God is perfectly just, he can’t just forgive sin without allowing it to be paid. God can’t forgive a debt and just accept the loss.” That’s right. He can’t. So what does Paul say next?

This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

It was the custom of Rome when they crucified a criminal to nail the crime on the cross over their head. You’ll remember that when Jesus was crucified the Romans annoyed the Jewish leaders by putting the words “Jesus, King of the Jews” over Jesus’ head, as though it were his crime. This of course is what the people, the disciples, the followers of Jesus, the soldiers and the Jewish leaders saw as the crime posted on his cross for which Jesus was crucified.

But it is not what God saw. God made his own list of the crimes of Jesus. This list included all the things that Jesus did not do, but you and I did. Every sin that you and I have committed was written on that sign and God nailed it to the cross. In God’s eyes Jesus paid the penalty for our sin.

Isaiah 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

 

Galatians 3:13  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

 

1 Peter 2:24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed

2 Cor. 5:21  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This, for me, is the biggest motivation for fidelity. How can I, the one for whom Christ died, turn to a philosophy that is set on denying everything Jesus did for me.

We have been rooted in Christ

We are being built up in Christ

We are being established and confirmed in our faith, in Christ

We have been completed in Christ

We have been circumcised in Christ that is, united in his death

We have been buried with Christ, united in his burial

We have been raised with Christ, united in his resurrection

We have been made alive with Christ.

Verse 15

15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Allow me to quote R. Kent Hughes from his commentary on Colossians:

The image that Paul had in mind can be seen in Plutarch’s description of the three-day Triumph given the Roman General Aemilius Paulus upon his return from capturing Macedonia. Great scaffolds were erected in the forum and along the boulevards of Rome for spectator seating, and all of Rome turned out, dressed in festive white. On the first day, 259 chariots displayed in procession the statues, pictures, and colossal images taken from the enemy. On the second day, innumerable wagons bore the armor of the Macedonians. As Plutarch tells it:

… all newly polished and glittering; the pieces of which were piled up and arranged purposely with the greatest art, so as to seem to be tumbled in heaps carelessly and by chance: helmets were thrown upon shields, coats of mail upon graves; Cretan targets, and Thracian bucklers and quivers of arrows, lay huddled amongst horses’ bits, and through these there appeared the points of naked swords, intermixed with long Macedonian sarissas. All these arms were fastened together with just so much looseness that they struck against one another as they were drawn along, and made a harsh and alarming noise, so that, even as spoils of a conquered enemy they would not be held without dread.

Following the wagons came 3,000 carrying the enemies’ silver in 750 vessels, followed by more treasure. On the third day came the captives, preceded by 120 sacrificial oxen with their horns gilded and their heads adorned with ribbons and garlands, next Macedonian gold, then the captured king’s chariot, crown, and armor. Then came the king’s servants, weeping, with hands outstretched, begging the crowds for mercy. Next came his children. Then King Perseus himself, clad entirely in black, followed by endless prisoners. Finally came the victorious general,

… seated on the chariot magnificently adorned, dressed in a robe of purple, interwoven with gold, and holding a laurel branch in his right hand. All the army, in like manner, with boughs of laurel in their hands, divided into their bands and companies, followed the chariot of their commander; some singing verses, according to the usual custom songs of triumph and the praise of Aemilius’s deeds.

R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon

When God accomplished redemption at the cross and subsequently resurrected Christ from the dead, thereby defeating the final enemy, God now parades the enemy, a once feared army, but now a sorry defeated band of spirits.

Would you agree that Paul has provided us with enough motivation to remain faithful to the truth?

I bring this message to you today because there are many philosophies competing for your attention. Though the church growth and seeker friendly movements are said to have died out, remnants still remain. Innumerable books exist claiming to teach you how to grow your church and reach your community for Christ. Celebrity pastors and churches call out for you to follow their pattern for a successful ministry.

I charge you, by the authority of Scripture, to examine every philosophy to see if it is according this world, or according to Christ. Because God has done an eternal work in your life, and he is worthy of your full and undivided devotion. Amen?

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