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Visions of God's Purposes in Christ
As an introduction to our study in the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians, we thought it would be worth the while to observe Paul's salutations in the various Epistles which he wrote in the Spirit.
1. The salutation to the Romans: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God." In this salutation we press the statement, "Separated unto the Gospel of God." The Gospel of God was concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. It was a Gospel concerning Christ crucified, Christ risen, and Christ coming again. No matter when one might have dropped in to listen to Paul preach, he would have found him clustering his message around this threefold Gospel.
2. The salutation to the Corinthians: "Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God." Paul in each Epistle emphasizes his Apostleship. In this Epistle he particularly emphasizes that he was an Apostle through the will of God. Every one of us who claim to preach should know who it is who called us into service. If we are going where we are not sent we are not an Apostle, a sent one. If we are going where men have sent us we cannot call ourselves sent of God.
3. The salutation to the Galatians: "Paul, an Apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father * *). To the Galatians Paul stresses not only that he was sent of God but that he was not sent of man. To the Galatians Paul said that when it pleased God who called him by His grace, to reveal His Son in him, that he might preach Him among the Gentiles; he did not confer with flesh and blood. We who preach today should find out whether we are under the commandments of men or of God.
4. The salutation to the Ephesians : "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus." A great many today have an idea that they are sent only to preach to sinners and to "get people converted." To the Corinthians Paul said: "An Apostle * * unto the Church of God." To the Galatians He said: "Unto the Churches of Galatia." To the Ephesians, "To the saints which are at Ephesus."
Surely there is, of necessity a particular message which needs to be declared to members of the Body of Christ.
5. The salutation to the Philippians: "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi." We find something similar in the other salutations. However, we would like to call the young people's attention to the fact that Paul was not merely an Apostle, that is, a sent one, but that he was a servant. The word servant signifies a bondslave under abject orders. Those sent of God must obey the Lord and do what He says.
6. Other salutations. In the salutation of Paul to the Thessalonians we observe that his opening words, after the statement of his personal address, are: "We give thanks to God always for you."
In the Second Epistle he says: "Grace unto you, and peace." To the Romans he said: "Beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace." To the Corinthians he said, "Grace be unto you, and peace." To the Galatians he said: "Grace be to you and peace." To the Ephesians he said the same thing, while to Timothy he said, "Grace, mercy, and peace." This he also said to Titus. To Philemon he said, "Grace to you, and peace."
This salutation is not formal, but it is expressive of Paul's real desire toward those whom he addressed. Mark the works in their order. It is not peace, and then grace; but it is grace first, followed by peace. There is no peace of God until a manifestation of the grace of God has brought us into the place of Divine reconciliation.
As we observe these salutations, let us endeavor in our letter writing to follow this wonderful example.
I. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST (Colossians 1:1-3 )
We do not want to appear overexacting to you, and yet we believe it will profit us to observe the naming of our Lord in these opening verses of Colossians.
1. In Colossians 1:1 we read: "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ,"
2. In Colossians 1:2 we read: "From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
3. In Colossians 1:3 we read: "God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
4. In Colossians 1:4 we read; "Your faith in Christ Jesus."
Thus we might go on throughout the Epistle. What is the deeper meaning of these namings of Christ? We find nothing in this Epistle nor in any of the others wherein the Name which we so commonly use is found. We mean that our Lord is not spoken of as "Jesus." We grant that you may use the word "Jesus" in all sincerity and good intent. However, His Name is not so used in the Epistles, nor after His resurrection."
The Gospels speak continually of "Jesus" as He moved among the people teaching and working miracles, because He was there as the One who came to earth to save His people from their sins. The moment, however, that His Calvary work was completed, He entered into a new phase of service for us. He rose from the dead and ascended up on High as Jesus Christ, Jesus the Anointed. He took His seat at the right hand of the Father as both Lord and Christ.
When, therefore, we speak of our Lord as "Jesus" we are in danger of confining our conception of Him only as the One who died; forgetting that He is risen, and seated, and clothed with all authority and power as the Head of the Church.
Let us suggest a few of the titles in the four chapters of Colossians in addition to those already named in the opening verses:
In Colossians 1:7 we read of "a faithful minister of Christ."
In Colossians 1:27 we read, "Christ in you, the hope of Glory."
In Colossians 1:28 we read of being presented "every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
In Colossians 2:6 is this expression: "Christ Jesus the Lord."
In Colossians 2:8 is the expression "Christ."
Three other times in the chapter our Lord is called Christ.
In Colossians 3:3 , our life is hid with "Christ in God."
In Colossians 3:4 it is "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear."
In Colossians 3:11 it is, "but Christ is all, and in all."
II. THE NAMING OF BELIEVERS (Colossians 1:2 )
1. Believers are called saints. The word saints has a twofold meaning. First, it suggests they are holy. God does not mean, however, that saints are inherently holy. They are holy in this: their sins are placed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and they themselves have obtained the righteousness which is by faith.
The word saints also suggests "separation." Children of God are not only called of God unto separation from the world, but they are called of God in separation unto God.
We are both to "come out," and we are also to "enter in"; there are many things to give up, there are also many things to receive, or to get. If, therefore, we are saints, let us live saintly, bringing our daily life and walk up to our standing in Christ.
2. Believers are called faithful brethren in Christ. Let us consider the word "brethren" first. This word suggests two things:
(1) It suggests our relationship to Christ. We are His brethren for the simple reason that we are sons of God, and He is the Son of God.
Jesus Christ after His resurrection said to Mary, "Go tell My brethren." There is another verse of Scripture which reads: "For which cause He is not ashamed to call [us] brethren."
(2) It suggests our relationship to one another. We have a relationship to each other because we are joined together in our relationship to Him. It is written, "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity"!
It may seem old-fangled, but we still delight in calling our brethren, brother this, or sister that. If we are members of one great Family, we are members one of another. Let us rejoice in this relationship. Since we are brethren, let us by all means be faithful brethren.
III. THE THREEFOLD HERITAGE OF BELIEVERS (Colossians 1:4-5 )
1. The first heritage of the believer is faith. Our key verse says, "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus." They could not have been brethren if they did not have faith. They were saved by faith, and having been saved, they lived by faith; they walked by faith; they wrought in faith.
We must remember that faith is a very active thing. It is far more than intellectual assent. It is a living, vital, active gift of God. Just read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, or the 2d chapter of James, and you will see some of the accomplishments of faith in the Christian's life. Read concerning faith in its relationship to prayer, and how it gets tilings from God; and you will see that faith is far from a dead, inactive thing.
2. The second heritage of the believer is love. Love is the second of a trinity of graces. Every young person will grant us that love is anything but inactive. Love never counts the cost, nor does it weigh the sacrifice. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man would give all his possessions, he would find that true love is not for sale.
The love in Colossians 1:4 , is spoken of in Colossians 1:8 as, "Your love in the Spirit." Love is the fruit of the Spirit. It is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit.
3. The third heritage of the believer is hope. Hope is the third of the three graces. Our verse says: "For the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven." Hope is that principle within us which takes hold of the things to come. What a man hath, why does he yet hope for?
IV. THE TWOFOLD SCOPE OF THE GOSPEL (Colossians 1:5-6 )
1. "The Gospel; which is come unto you." We can remember the day that the Gospel came unto us, and so can you remember when it came to you. You had heard the Gospel many times, no doubt, but it never reached home in the true sense, of the word, until it brought forth eternal life.
The Gospel means "good news." It is like water to the thirsty ground. It is a good word from a far country. It is a note concerning salvation. It is salvation which centers in Jesus Christ our Lord.
2. The Gospel which has come unto the whole world. The second statement of our verse is, "as it is in all the world." Thank God, the good news from Heaven which came to us, came also to others. We must never consider ourselves the sole and only recipients of grace, nor the sole and only inheritors of Glory. The scope of the Gospel reaches to the last man on earth. It is just here that we catch our own responsibility to others.
"Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on:
'Twas not given to thee alone,
Pass it on:
Let it go along the years,
Let it wipe another's tears,
'Til in Heaven the deed appears
Pass it on."
What greater joy can be ours than to be heralders of the Gospel?
3. The Gospel which came to us and to the world, bringeth forth fruit. When the Holy Spirit, through Paul, wrote to Titus, He gave commandment concerning the kind of deacons and elders, concerning the kind of old men, old women, young men, and young women, and also the kind of servants that should characterize the Church of God.
The Spirit of God wrote, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation [teaches] us that * * we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
V. PAUL'S PRAYER FOR THE COLOSSIANS (Colossians 1:9-11 )
1. He prayed that the Colossians might walk worthy of the Lord. This was a great longing of his soul. He knew that after life, comes walking, and living. He wanted the children of the light to walk in the light. To all of us, the prayer of Paul may seem startling. How can the creature glorify the Creator? How can one in the flesh give honor to Christ in the Heavens? How can a sinner, saved by grace, walk worthy of the One who saved him?
The Apostle, however, went further and prayed that the Colossians might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. We must suggest that Paul had no thought at all of the equality of saints with the Saviour. A little child may be far beneath the dignity and the power of his parent and yet he may walk worthy of that parent unto all pleasing. This should be the greatest desire of our heart.
2. He prayed that they might be fruitful in every good work. Here is something more than living. Here is service, doing things for God. Surely this too is a crowning desire of us all, that we might be fruitful in every good work.
3. He prayed that the Colossians might increase in the knowledge of God. Surely none of us know it all. therefore all of us can grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, through the study of His Word, and through our fellowshiping with Him.
4. He prayed that the Colossians might be strengthened with all might according to His glorious power. Their might, therefore, was not a might of their own. It was His might. The purpose of being clothed with His might was not merely that we might be fruitful in every good work, but that we might be clothed with all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness.
5. He prayed for the Colossians relative to their giving thanks, because they had been made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Here is an inheritance which belongs to us all, and which is ours by grace. God grant that the prayer of Paul for the Colossians may be realized in us.
VI. THE HOLY SPIRIT GLORIFIES CHRIST (Colossians 1:13 )
1. The Spirit glorifies Christ in His deliverance of sinners from the power of darkness. How wonderful it all is we were dead in trespasses and in sins, walking according to the prince of the power of the air; we were the children of darkness, even as others; but God sent His own Son and delivered us.
We remember how Christ stood in Nazareth, and said, "He hath sent Me to * * preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."
What a wonderful Saviour is this! He takes our feet out of the miry clay and places them upon the rock. He turns our darkness into light; our rain into sunshine; our gloom into glory. There is a vast difference between what we were in the days of our sin, and what we are in the days of our regeneration. It seems to us that the distance is as great as Heaven is from hell.
2. The Spirit glorifies Christ in His translating us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. This is not the Millennium Kingdom, although when we are saved, we are heirs of that Kingdom, if so be we suffer, that we may be glorified together.
This Kingdom is the Kingdom of God, and of the Son. It is the Kingdom into which we are lifted when we are born again. It is a Kingdom of light, and of life, and of love. It is the very antithesis of darkness. It is the Kingdom of a new power, even the power of conquest and victory over every power of darkness.
3. The Spirit glorifies Christ as the One in whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sin. The Spirit even carries us to the Cross of Christ, and tells us that our wonderful redemption is through the Blood. Just here we might pause and sing, "In the Cross of Christ I Glory."
VII. CHRIST AND HIS GLORY CONTINUED (Colossians 1:15-19 )
1. The Spirit speaks of Christ as the image of the invisible God. In the Book of Hebrews we read: "His Son * * who being the brightness of His glory, and the express Image of His Person."
In the Gospel of John, we read: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him."
The word "declared" means that Christ told out the Father; that He interpreted Him. It was for this cause that Jesus said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,"
2. The Spirit speaks of Christ as the First-born of every creature. When the Holy Spirit uses the expression "Firstborn" in the Book of Hebrews, He says, "The First-begotten." Our minds go back into the eternity before the world was, and we think of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Eternal Son of God, destined in the purposes of God to be the image of the Father in His incarnation.
When God created Adam and Eve, He created them in the image of God, that is, in the image that Jesus Christ was destined to bear when He became flesh. It is for this reason that we have borne, in our earthy body, the. image of the earthy, and that we are destined, in our resurrection body, to bear the image of the Heavenly.
Our earthy body was fashioned after the predestined earthy body of our Lord; our resurrection body will be fashioned after the present glorified body of our Lord.
There is another thought here. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of every creature, in that He was the First-begotten from the dead, and, therefore, the first to bear the resurrection body.
3. The Spirit speaks of Christ as the Creator of all things, visible and invisible. He says concerning Christ, "For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist."
What a wonderful Christ is He.
Some few years since a minister was preaching at Plymouth, when a request was sent to the pulpit, to this effect: "The thanksgiving of this congregation is desired to Almighty God, by the captain, passengers, and crew of the 'West India-man,' for their merciful deliverance from shipwreck during the late awful tempest."
The following day the minister went on board, and entered into conversation with the passengers, when a lady thus addressed him: "O sir, what an invaluable blessing must personal religion be! Never did I see it more, exemplified than in my poor Negress, 'Ellen, during the storm. When we expected every wave to entomb us all, my mind was in a horrible state I was afraid to die Ellen would come to me and say, with all possible composure, 'Never mind, Missee: look to Jesus Christ. He made He rule de sea.' And when, sir, we neared the shore, and were at a loss to know where we were, fearing every minute to strike on the rocks poor Ellen said, with the same composure as before 'Don't be fear, Missee: look to Jesus Christ He de Rock: no shipwreck on dat Rock, He save to de uttermost. Don't be fear, Missee: look to Jesus Christ!'"
The colored woman was right. There is no "wreck on that Rock." Those who look to Jesus in life's storm never come to shipwreck. Those who make shipwreck of their faith are those who take their eyes off Him. "He rule the seas" is right. He is the Sovereign of the sea. The Wonderful Word.
The Great Creator
We are entering upon a most wonderful portion of Scripture. It has several very vital things to say, both about Christ, and about us, the servants of Christ. It magnifies redemption through the Blood of Christ, and places emphasis upon Christian living, and its final glorious consummation.
1. By Him were all things created. If we were to ask the question, "Who created the heavens and all things?" some would doubtless say that God created them. That would be correct, for the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." However, the word God (Elohim) is in the plural, and refers to the Triune God.
It is correct to say that God the Father created all things; it is also correct to say that God, the Spirit, created all things. Have you not read "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created"?
It is also true that God the Son created all things. In the Book of Hebrews it is written, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands." When we think, therefore, of Jesus Christ, we must think of Him as the Creator. Have we not read that man was created in the image of God? It is for this reason, that the Bible says we have borne the image of the earthy.
2. By Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible. Here we have the marvelous scope of creation. It includes not only those things which we see with the naked eye, such as the sun, and the moon, and the stars, but it also includes innumerable heavenly bodies which lie far beyond the naked eye, yea, far beyond the strongest telescope.
Under the things created by Jesus Christ, unseen by man, are dominions, principalities and powers. These have to do with things heavenly. They include angels, and their ministrations; they include Satan, and his whole regime. Back of them all is Jesus Christ, and all things were created by Him,
3. All things were created for Him. Not only were all things created by Him, but they belong to Him. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. So also are the sun, the moon and the stars His, and all their fullness.
4. He is before all things. This statement (Colossians 1:17 ) only emphasizes and enforces the statements of Colossians 1:16 . He is, of necessity, before the things which He created. To the Jews, Christ said, "Before Abraham was, I AM." In the Old Testament we read, "Yea, before the day was I AM." Thus it is that we might say, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
5. By Him all things consist. The word "consist" means "held together." We are accustomed to calling it "gravity." It is, supposedly, gravity that keeps all of the countless myriads of worlds in their place. However, what is gravity? We plainly state, Christ is gravity. He once said, "I am the Resurrection, and the Life." We say that He is gravity, because God says in effect, "In Him all things are held together."
I. CHRIST, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH (Colossians 1:18 )
1. The Church is an organism. Some people think of the Church as an organization, that it is man-made and isolated from any contact with God. The Bible conception is entirely different. The Bible describes Christ as the Head of the Church, and each of us as members of the Body.
We cannot operate apart from Him, nor can He operate apart from us. We are, therefore, as stated in First Corinthians, "Labourers together with God." In Ephesians there are these words, "That we * * may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth."
2. Christ is the Head of this organism. The head stands for headship. Headship stands for authority, and power, and for control. Every one of us, as members of the Body, are under the authority and guidance of the Head. We are to act and move as the Head directs.
We would that the church of today would recognize the supreme Headship of Christ. Headship in our day has been too often taken away from Christ, and vested in an individual, or in a group of individuals.
3. The Head of the Church is He who is the First-born from the dead. How wonderful is the One who holds authority over us! We can almost see John, on the isle of Patmos, as he hears the voice of the Lord Jesus, saying: "I am the First and the Last! I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
With such a living and victorious Head, the Church has nothing to fear. Christ, the Head of the Church, is the Conqueror of death and of hell. We, too, shall live, because He also lives.
II. THE PREEMINENT CHRIST (Colossians 1:18 , l.c.)
1. Christ is preeminent in Heaven. He is one with the Father in this preeminence. How marvelous are the magnificent scenes of Revelation 4:1-11 and Revelation 5:1-14 . There we behold the throne and He who sits upon it. There we see the Lion of the tribe of Judah, standing before the throne, as the Lamb who had been slain. Around and about the throne, were the four living ones, and the four and twenty elders.
Beyond them, were an innumerable number of angels, ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; and they were saying: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
In all of this, we see the preeminent Christ in the glory and preeminence which He had with the Father before the world was.
In the fifth chapter of Revelation, the same group surrounds the throne. They ascribe an added glory to the Lamb, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
2. Christ is preeminent on earth. Our verse says that in all He must have the preeminence. We grant you that for the time, the men of this world have revolted against Him. There are thousands, yea, millions, who blaspheme His Holy Name. We read, however, in the Book of Philippians, these words: "That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." All of this is written because "it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." Thank God that of His fullness have we all received, and grace for grace.
III. THE CHRIST OF THE CROSS (Colossians 1:20-21 )
1. Christ made peace through the Blood of the Cross. Here is a wonderful statement, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God." When Jesus Christ died upon the Cross, He brought us back to God.
In Ephesians, it is written: "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ. For He is our peace." The result of the peace made at the Cross, we mention next.
2. Christ reconciled us by the Blood of the Cross. Our sins had separated us from God. The Lord, however, on Calvary, suffering, the Just for the unjust, settled the sin question. We who were enemies, became friends. We who were alienated, were bought back and given access to God. Thank God for this blessed truth. We now may approach the Father upon the basis of the Blood of Christ.
3. The time when all things will be reconciled. Colossians 1:20 says, "By Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven." What a wonderful perspective there is here. Jesus Christ will reign until He hath put all things under His feet.
When every unrepentant and unbelieving foe of God shall have been cast out into everlasting darkness; when Satan and all his hordes shall have been delivered into chains of darkness, even to the lake of fire and of brimstone, then, without a vestige of sin or rebellion left, there will be perfect peace, perfect reconciliation, and perfect comradeship between God and man.
All things in Heaven, and all things in earth, through the Blood of the Cross, will be reconciled. This is the perspective which lies before us; as we consider it, we rejoice.
IV. THE PRESENTATION OF THE SAINTS (Colossians 1:20-23 )
1. A presentation which awaits the saints of God. Colossians 1:22 reads: "To present you * * in His sight." There is a time coming when we must all appear before Christ. This time is described in Thessalonians, where we read: "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
In the Gospel of John, Christ said, "If I go * * I will come again, and receive you unto Myself."
Paul tells us of how the Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout; of how the dead in Christ shall arise first, and of how we who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
This will be a marvelous hour. It is the hour of our Rapture. It will be wonderful to us. It will be wonderful to Him. Wonderful to us as we behold His face, and enter into His glory. Wonderful to Him as He beholds the marvelous heritage of His Cross.
2. A presentation, holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight. To be so presented we must continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which we have heard. This Scripture does, in no wise, offset the fact that in Christ, clothed with His imputed righteousness, we shall be saved from wrath and made inheritors of the saints in light.
In Second Corinthians it is written, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, * * whether it be good or bad."
V. REJOICING IN SUFFERINGS (Colossians 1:24-25 )
1. Saints are called to minister. Paul, in the last clause of Colossians 1:23 , says: "Whereof I Paul am made a minister." Colossians 1:25 opens with the same words: "Whereof I am made a minister." The Holy Spirit evidently wanted to emphasize the fact of Paul's Apostleship. A minister is one who serves.
Paul was a minister who served in a very large way. He speaks of how, in his day, the hope of the Gospel had been heard by the Colossians, and had been preached to every creature which is under Heaven.
2. Saints are called to suffer as they minister. So far as Paul was concerned, he rejoiced in his sufferings, desiring to fill up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ. Paul did not mean that the Calvary work of Christ was not a finished work. He did mean exactly what Christ meant when He said, "If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His Household?"
The soldier of his country dare not expect to be forever free from fighting; nor need he expect to escape the deprivations, the dangers, or even the death that belongs to war.
3. Saints should suffer for the body's sake. If we suffer for the Church, we suffer for Christ. It is still true, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" The Lord thus showed that He and His Church are one. Therefore, if we suffer for the body, we suffer for the Head of that body.
VI. THE HIDDEN MYSTERY (Colossians 1:26-27 )
1. The Church itself was a mystery hidden from the ages past. The time came, in the mysteries of God, in His dealings among men, that it was necessary for Israel to be broken off, temporarily. God set her aside, as His agency to make Himself known to men.
The eleventh chapter of Romans discusses this matter. It shows, however, that not only was Israel broken off, but that the Church was grafted in.
The Old Testament Prophets prophesied Israel's downfall. They also prophesied Israel's final restoration. They did not see, however, that during this age, which has now spanned twenty centuries, God would be making Himself known by the Church, which was the Body of Christ.
2. The glory of the mystery concerning the Church is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
(1) Christ and the individual possess one life. This is true for the simple reason that Christ and the individual believer are indissolubly linked. An earthly parent may die, and his son may live. Or, the son may die, and the father live. Their lives are two lives.
We, however, cannot die because Christ is our life.
It is the analogy of the vine and the branch. No one can say, the branch begins here, and the vine ends there, because the two are woven and interwoven, linked and interlinked. As a result, the life of the branch is in the vine.
(2) Christ and the Church, which is His Body, possess one life. The head cannot live apart from the body, nor the body, apart from the head. The one is subject to the other, and joined to the other.
Ephesians tells us that we are "fitly joined." It is for this cause that Paul writes that the mystery of the Church, a mystery hid from the ages and generations of the past, is "Christ in you, the Hope of Glory."
VII. THE PREACHER'S MESSAGE AND AIM (Colossians 1:28 )
1. The preacher's message. After we read in Colossians 1:27 , of "Christ in you, the Hope of Glory": we continue reading in Colossians 1:28 : "Whom we preach." In other words, Paul preached Christ, and he preached Him as the One who died for sinners, and as One who indwells saints. He preached Him as the Hope of Glory.
Christ should always be the theme of the pulpit. On a certain church, there were words written on the corner stone, "We preach Christ." Some vines, however, had grown up, which covered the word "Christ," and caused the inscription to read, "We preach."
Alas, alas, how often is this true in these days of apostasy! Let us cease to preach ourselves, our own reasonings, and let us begin to preach Christ.
2. The preacher's warning. Here is the way it reads: "Warning every man." He who would be faithful to his flock, must warn them of the dangers which lurk in their pathway. He must warn them lest they succumb to the tempter, and miss those marvelous rewards which await the faithful.
3. The preacher's teaching. Our verse speaks of "teaching every man in all wisdom." The preacher must do more than the evangelist; more than the exhorter. He must be a teacher. He must teach those things which concern the victorious life, the glories of his Lord, and everything which concerns the Gospel once delivered.
4. The preacher's preaching, warning, teaching, should have one thing in view. He does all of these things, according to our Scripture, that he "may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." God pity the pastor who can do no more than present newborn babes to his Lord.
Babyhood, in Christ, should present but the beginning of our work. The passion of the pulpit should be the perfecting of saints.
In this study the Cross holds a vital place. Our Creator is our Saviour; His Blood is our ransom.
Shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28 ).
Dr. George L. Robinson in his book concerning the archaeological discoveries in the land of Edom about the City of Petra, tells of visiting a hot spring called the Bath of Pharaoh, near Tafila, south of the Dead Sea.
The native men, he says, sacrificed a kid and a lamb, cutting the throats and allowing the blood to flow into the bubbling water. Then after much shouting and emotion, they leaped into the bloody mixture and plunged beneath the reddening flood.
The idea of propitiatory sacrifice still lives in these lands of hallowed memories. Dr. Robinson said that as he watched the proceedings, there came to him the old lines of that great hymn,
"There is a Fountain filled with Blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that Flood,
Lose all their guilty stains."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Colossians 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24