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The gospel of the Lord - the victory of the Gospel

Notes & Transcripts

The Gospel of the Lord

The victory of the Gospel

Lord’s Day 5th October, Morning Worship, 9.30am

© Rev D Rudi Schwartz[1]

Bible Readings

Old Testament:                     Isaiah 46:1-10

New Testament:                   Colossians 2:9-15

Hymns/Songs

                1.  Approach:                        “O God, our help in ages past

                2.  Forgiveness of sins:        “This world has great rewards to give

                3.  Thanksgiving:                   “Come you thankful people come

                4.  Preparation:                    “How blest the righteous in their life

                5.  Response:                        “Hallelujah, hallelujah, hearts to heaven

Main Points

1. Introduction
2. The victory of the Gospel: The God of heaven and earth revealed in Christ!
a.       Deity of Christ announce before his birth
b.       Deity of Christ announced at his baptism
c.        Salvation is in Him alone
3. The victory of the Gospel: unity with Jesus Christ
a.       Unity because of what God has done
b.       We were dead in our sins
c.        God made us alive in Christ
d.       What belongs to Christ now belongs to us: victory      
4. Conclusion

1.  Introduction

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Last week the Gospel of our Lord came to us urging us to be equipped and built up in the Lord with all knowledge and understanding so that we would not be taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies which depend on human tradition and understanding (Col 2:8). 

 There are indeed a lot is “isms” on the marketplace these days.  We need to take note of these “isms” without reverting to ostrich practice, digging our heads in the sand, hoping that our “isms” were “wasms”.

But the question we need to ask ourselves is this:  Why should the Christian stand firm and be victorious over these philosophies?  Why is it important that we do not conform to the philosophies of this world?  Remember the word of God in Romans 12:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:1-2)

Or, as another translation puts it:

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.[2]

In comment on the phrase “do not be conformed” a commentator writes:

It is very telling that being “conformed” to the present world is viewed as a passive notion, for it may suggest that it happens, in part, subconsciously. At the same time, the passive could well be a “permissive passive,” suggesting that there may be some consciousness of the conformity taking place. Most likely, it is a combination of both.[3]

2.  The victory of the Gospel: The God of heaven and earth revealed in Christ!

The answer to the question about why the Christian should see to it that he or she should not be taken captive is given in verse 9:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)

This verse begins with “for” – it gives a reason for the argument put forward in the previous statement.  The Greek word here is used after verbs of thinking, judging, believing to introduce the content of the thought processes.  First the apostle makes the statement: 

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Then follows the “for”, the reason why Christians should not be found falling for hollow and deceptive philosophy and be dragged away from the truth, not being able to defend the truth of the Gospel.

Against the philosophy of the Gnostics – and let us add to this – many the philosophies of our age too, comes the statement:  “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”

This is where the “isms” of philosophies and the Gospel of Christ intersect; this is where they meet head to head:  Christians don’t believe in an idea; they believe in God, they believe in Jesus Christ who is God, and who represented the Father to take on the enemy of the Gospel and to defeat it comprehensively.

2a.          Deity of Christ announce before his birth

There was a time when the heavens were rendered and God visited this earth by sending Jesus Christ to take on the enemy.  The first steps were given when the angel announced the birth of Christ:

The angel went to her [Mary] and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:28-35)

The shepherds heard the voice of the angels singing:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

2b.          Deity of Christ announced at his baptism

Of Him John the Baptiser declared:

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and He will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)

And when Jesus was baptised, we read:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

2c. Salvation is in Him alone

Of Him John declared:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

He fulfilled the will of God, He drove out demons; He made the deaf to hear; the sick He healed; He raised the dead; He stilled the storm; He fed the multitude; He rebuked the learned and the wise; He came to seek and to save; He never wanted to be served, He only served.  But then, He also took on the enemy – and overcame victoriously!

That’s why the apostle could say: 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,  and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)

So, brothers and sisters, don’t be deceived and be dragged away; don’t be fooled by the arguments of our age, discarding and snubbing at the uniqueness of the Son of God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one goes to the Father but through Him.  Salvation is found in no one else; there is no other Name given in heaven and on earth through whom we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

We refute the blasphemy of the Roman Church and those who adhere to the philosophies of Arminians who state that we need to bring to our salvation good works, or even a sort of saving faith as part of good works in order to be saved.  We agree with our fathers who framed the Belgic Confession (Article 22):

For it must necessarily follow that either all that is required for our salvation is not in Christ or, if all is in Him, then he who has Christ by faith has his salvation entirely. Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God— for it then would follow that Jesus Christ is only half a Saviour. And therefore we justly say with Paul that we are justified "by faith alone" or by faith "apart from works."

It was this Jesus Christ, the Son of God who conquered death and hell and Satan who called his disciples to evangelise the world, saying:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

3.  The victory of the Gospel:  unity with Jesus Christ

At this stage, my dear brother and sister in the Lord, we need to be very alert and attentive.  You have to follow with me as we discover the riches of the Word of God.  Many books have been written on verses 11-12 of Colossians.  It is also here were those who adhere to covenantal baptism and those who believe in believer’s baptisms part ways.  I don’t particularly want to pick a fight with those who believe otherwise than Presbyterians, but it is of utmost importance that we follow the argument of the apostle closely to grasp this principle of our unity by faith in Jesus Christ, in order to understand what it means for us to believe in the victory of the Gospel.

3a Unity with Jesus Christ because of God has done

First of all, we need to understand what was done for us to have unity with Christ, which came about by what He has done for us.  The mode of the in Greek and English in this verse is passive, followed by an active verb.  First,  you were circumcised, then the circumcision done by Christ. In other words:  unity with Christ is an act performed and done by Christ on our behalf and with and in us.

Secondly, as it was with those in the Old Testament who by circumcision had participation in the covenant of grace, so it is with those in Christ.  What circumcision symbolised in the Old Testament, namely the grace of God who took for Himself a sinful person and bestowed grace by making him His child, Christ’s act of grace, a spiritual circumcision, does to those called into the household of God:  He saves by grace – an act not achieved by us, but achieved by what Christ has done.

Now, we need to skip one step in the argument, taking up the next; however, we need to come back to what we now skip.

3b We were dead in our sins

What is it that Christ did on our behalf, which by union with Him, has now become ours by faith?  We have to read verse 13:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins (Colossians 2:13)

When we were dead in our sins.  That is why we need to understand that we did nothing to deserve grace and salvation.  We also need to understand the grace in this statement:  it is because we had not part in this salvation that it is perfect!  Christ did it for us.

Our sinful nature is described as “uncircumcised”;  it was outside of Christ, perfectly incapable of doing the will of God; we were not united to God, and therefore we could not share in the grace of God.  To be uncircumcised in Old Testament terms was to live outside of God and to have no participation in his life-giving grace.

3c God made us alive in Jesus Christ

What happened then?  Now the active form of the verb:  “God made you alive with Christ.”  How did this happen?  Well, Christ died for our unrighteousness and sin.  How is this described? Let’s read verse 14:

… having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)

When Christ died on the cross, his blood was a complete remission for the sins of those whom God would call to Him.  The symbolic language here is that of an outstanding account.  Our sins against the law of God, this code referred to here caused us to be the enemy of God.  The problem is that we cannot do anything to wipe out the charges against us, because our hearts are uncircumcised.  We need help from someone who can do it; someone who is perfect:  someone who is both God and man.  This Saviour is Jesus Christ.  When He died in our place, He took the charges against us and nailed it to the cross.  There He died for us, and there He declared “It is finished” – debts cancelled!   But He rose again. 

3d  What belongs to Christ,, now belongs to us:  victory

Now the line of argument is continued:  God made alive with Christ.  So what belongs to Christ is ours by union with Him on account of what God did for us in Him:  when He conquered the powers of sin and hell and Satan and the enemy of the Gospel by triumphing over it on the cross, He made a public spectacle of them.  It is called public spectacle because it was not something mystical which happened in a little corner somewhere in Palestine in the time of Mary and Joseph; no, it was real: Satan was defeated, the tomb was left empty and Christ poured out on his church the blessings of his salvation. This fact is not only known to the devil and his band of evil-doers, it has been know where the Gospel is preached right across the world through the ages; which explains the opposition against the Gospel.

This takes us back to the “for” or “because” of the beginning of verse 9.  Do not be taken captive by foolish philosophies, for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form – and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority.

It is by the sacraments that we have both seals and symbols of our union in God and Jesus Christ. It was the same in the time of the Old Testament:  God gave them the circumcision by which He would seal and signify his grace to them by becoming their God.  It was also by the Passover and the blood of the lamb that they would be included in the covenant of grace and be taken out of slavery into freedom.

We have already looked at the circumcision done by Christ to unite us with Him in his victory. This is where we return to that part we left out in our unpacking of this verse.  What is the circumcision which Christ did for us?  It refers to his complete salvation of victory over his enemy in which we have part.  But how do we know that we have part in it?  Verse 12 gives the answer:

…having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)

This is the New Testament sacrament which replaced circumcision of the Old Testament.  Through baptism we are united with Christ to be included into his covenant of grace, and being united with Him we need to understand that we have victory with Him and under Him and because of Him and in Him. 

Not only are our sins forgiven and the charges cancelled in Him, we now have with Him victory over his enemy. 

We therefore cannot allow ourselves to be trapped by arguments and philosophies of our age.  We should rather be armed with the armour of Christ to expose the failure and defeat of the enemy.

4.  Conclusion

Let’s sum it up with the words of the apostle in another page of the Bible:

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:6-11).

Someone told me this story.  In the Namib Desert lives an antelope called Gemsbok.  This animal has two very sharp and long horns, which they use to defend themselves.  My friend saw a gemsbok that had been attacked and wounded by a lion.  The antelope used his sharp horns to defend himself and actually drove his horns through the chest of the lion and killed it.  The gemsbok was the conqueror, but it lost a lot of blood in the attack.  The result was that it died with the carcass of the lion still stuck to its horns. 

It was the conqueror, but it was not more than conqueror. 

How many Christians, having lost focus of Christ find themselves in this situation!   May God give us the grace to be more than conquerors in Jesus Christ.

Amen.


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[1]  Feel free to duplicate this file or quote from it.  The Name of the Lord be glorified!

[2] Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.

[3] ibid

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