Col 2 6-15 - December 3, 2006
A Christ-Centered Church
A. ILL: Alexander the Great
1. For Alexander the Great, there was a connection between name and conduct.
2. If you carry the name Alexander, then your conduct should match the name.
3. There is a direct connection between name and conduct.
B. In the mid 1990’s the Christian group Newsong came out with a song that reflects this same idea.
1. The chorus says -
We wear His name
The name above all names
We wear His name
In a world that's lost
We are called to be the light
We wear His name
2. This song makes the same connection – wearing Christ’s name invokes a conduct consistent with that name.
3. Jesus is the Light of the world and has called us to be the same.
4. Why? Because we wear His name.
C. Our text
1. Paul is addressing Gentile Christian community that has truly been positive examples of commitment to Christ.
2. However, some false teachers have come on the scene and are causing doubt and dissention within the church.
3. The false teaching seeks to undermine the sufficiency of the person and the work of Christ.
4. So, Paul is calling the Colossian believers back to a Christianity that is totally centered on Jesus Christ, because without the foundation of Jesus Christ, the church will be rendered powerless in accomplishing God’s mission in this world.
D. Two More Characteristics of a God-Centered Church
II. Will Be Loyal to her Lord (2:6-7)
A. Big Idea: To embrace Christ as Lord is to have His Lordship inform every aspect of our conduct.
1. Although he commends them for their faith, Paul cannot remind people enough – “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him”
a. You have received the truths of Christ from Epaphras, you have embraced these truths in faith, and have acknowledged that Jesus is the way, truth, and life.
b. Now – Walk in Him!
2. Walk in Him
a. The word “walk” is a command and deals with everyday life conduct.
b. NIV renders the word “continue to live in Him” which is a good translation.
c. The truths of Christ are not simply to be relegated to intellectual propositional statements.
d. The truths of Christ are to permeate every facet of our lives.
C. Application Interlude
1. As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view our role as husband or wife?
2. As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view our work ethic, even if we are union?
3. As we embrace the truths of Christ, will it change the way we view all relationships?
a. Instead of bitterness, we will be marked by forgiveness.
b. Instead of revenge, we will be marked by unconditional love.
c. Instead of tearing down through gossip, we will build one another up with edifying speech.
d. Instead of my individual rights, we will seek the best interest of others.
4. As stated previously, embracing the truths of Christ is more than agreeing to intellectual propositions – it means submitting to His Lordship.
D. Two reasons why Christ’s Lordship ought to inform every aspect of our conduct.
1. Nature of Christ’s work (vs. 11-12)
a. Vs 11 – Difficulty lies in that the NIV translators not only translated this verse but decided to make an interpretive judgment.
1) NIV interprets Christ as the one performing circumcision on us – a spiritual circumcision of the heart.
a) NIV renders the Lit. “Body of flesh” as our sinful nature or flesh.
b) This is a circumcision performed by Christ – he performs the act of circumcision on us.
c) Romans 2:29 - Paul does speak of circumcision of the heart but that it is performed by the Spirit.
2) However, the verse could also be read as Christ being the recipient of circumcision.
a) The only other time “body of flesh” is used in the NT is Col 1:22, which clearly speaks of Christ’s physical body.
b) Verse 12 – refers to the burial and resurrection of Jesus, so it seems that verse 11 completes the triad – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
c) Couple the metaphor of circumcision (which was literally a small minor incision) with the verb “putting off” which literally “stripping away” – you have a very horrific picture of the brutality of Christ’s physical suffering and death.
b. The POINT
1) Christ does not seem to be the one performing the circumcision in vs 11; he is the one receiving it!
2) Paul says we have received this circumcision of the heart because we died with Christ, were buried with Him, and were raised in Him.
3) Paul uses the metaphor of circumcision to describe the horrific brutality of Christ’s suffering and death.
c. Therefore in vs. 11-12 Paul informs us as to why Christ’s Lordship ought to inform every aspect of our conduct - because of the nature of Christ’s work.
D. Nature of God’s Work in Christ (vs. 13-15)
1. Paul balances the triad of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection by specifying three things God has accomplished in Christ.
a. God made you alive in Christ (vs. 13)
b. God cancelled the written code that was against us (vs. 14)
c. God made a public spectacle of the powers and authorities (vs. 15)
2. “Written Code”
a. Many have suggested that this refers to the Law and its regulations, but Christ did not come to abolish the Law.
b. However, Paul seems to be using commercial trade language of the day.
c. Written Code refers to an IOU – a note of indebtedness that acknowledges the obligation to pay a debt and is signed by the debtor.
d. Paul seems to be making the case that Jew and Gentile alike share the same indebtedness to God, for there is none righteous – no not one!
e. And unlike a commercial IOU – this debt cannot possibly be paid by sinners.
f. PTL – God cancels the debt!
1) Not by ripping up the IOU and throwing it away
2) But by exacting the full penalty of the debt (DEATH) on his Son, Jesus Christ.
3. Vs. 15 – the image refers to what was going on “behind the scenes” as it were when Jesus was crucified.
a. Paul uses this image as a paradox
b. Jesus captors dragged him through the city, stripped him naked, held him up in contempt, and nailed the charges against him to his cross …
c. But while this was going on, unbeknown to the world, God was doing the exact same thing to them.
d. God made a public spectacle of all that opposed Jesus by showing how utterly powerless they were to deter the plan and purposes of God.
e. God raised His Son from the dead declaring his ultimate triumph over sin and death.
E. Paul says, on the basis of Christ’s work and God’s accomplishments in Christ, walk in Him.
1. God’s gracious provision in Christ must invoke a response.
2. The response of a true disciple will be to allow His grace to permeate every aspect of their lives.
3. To be bound to Christ is to be bound in obedience to Him.
F. Paul summarizes it this way – “you have been rooted, you are being built up, and you are being strengthened in the faith”.
1. Three participles in the passive tense that indicate God’s divine activity in our lives.
a. We have been rooted in Christ – like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.
b. We are being built up – we have not yet arrived for we are a work in progress. Yet God remains active in conforming us into the image of His Son.
c. We are being strengthened in the faith
2. By the use of these passive participles, we can see that all that God demands…He provides for is Christ.
3. Therefore, walk in Him!
1. As a side note – is Paul speaking to a specific individual or is he speaking to a church?
2. To the church, Paul is saying…
a. You have been rooted, are being built, and are being strengthened.
b. Paul is encouraging these Gentile believers with Christ’s promise – I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!
3. Isn’t it easy to become discouraged with the church?
a. Full of Christian sinners who talk behind one another’s back, stew in their anger, refuse to deal with unresolved conflict.
b. When it comes to church isn’t it easy to peer over the fence to see how good some other church has it in comparison to how awful we have it?
4. Paul reminds them of the words of Christ, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.”
5. A Christ-centered church will be loyal to her Lord.
III. Will see abundant thankfulness as spiritual protection (vs. 8-10)
A. As I am sure you noticed, we totally skipped vs. 8-10.
1. But did you really notice? Doesn’t the message seem to flow perfectly jumping from verse 7 to verse 11?
2. Why did Paul insert verse 8-10 (another command) at this point?
3. Why didn’t he simply wait after our verse 15 to make another point?
B. I would suggest to you that Paul intentionally interrupts his flow of thought because he makes the connection between our abundant thankfulness and our protection from being kidnapped through hollow and deceptive philosophies.
1. In the list of participles in verse 7, the first three were passive indicating things that God does to us.
2. The fourth participle is the word “overflowing” and it is the only active word listed – indicating the appropriate response of the true disciple.
C. Immediately following our active response of abundant thankfulness to God for His work in our lives, Paul warns the Colossians not to be lured by deceptive and hollow philosophies.
1. Describes these deceptive philosophies in three ways
a. They depend on human tradition
b. They depend on the basic principles of this world
c. They do not depend on Christ
D. ILL: Basic Principle of this World – FAIRNESS
a. 50-50 marriage
b. I give my tail off for this marriage but my spouse gives me nothing in return – it’s just not fair!
a. I work my tail off for this company, and my coworker is so lazy – yet we are treated as equals.
b. It is just not fair!
3. The issue of FAIRNESS seems like a hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on the infantile principles of the world rather than on Christ.
4. God does not operate on our understanding of fairness at all – he simply says “Follow Me”.
E. The point I think Paul is making is that when we are overflowing with thankfulness for what God has done and continues to do in our lives, we protect ourselves from the elementary principles of this world that do not depend on Christ.
F. Paul makes a direct connection between thankfulness and our protection.
A. A Christ-centered church will be loyal to her Lord
1. The God-centered church will so strongly embrace Christ that His grace will mark the fellowship within and the ministry without.
2. Christ is building His church – he loves her and so ought we.
B. A Christ-centered church will see abundant thankfulness as spiritual protection.
1. To not continually reflect on the nature of Christ’s work or God’s work in Christ is to open ourselves up to the hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world.
2. If it doesn’t depend on Christ, then it must be dismissed.
C. If we would only remain focused on Christ and His gracious provision
1. We would see how sinful we are…
2. How easily we stumble into sin…
3. We will be less critical of the church
4. We will be less critical of our brothers and sisters in Christ
5. We will be more loving and more humble
6. We will be more concerned about the mission of God, then internal squabbles.
7. And we will remember that the work will one day be done, because He said – I will build my church!
D. Do you love the church, cherish her?
E. Are you willing to lay down your life for her?
F. Read Colossians 2:8-10