Sunday, October 4, 2009

Christ Is Enough

The leaves are changing and autumn's chill is in the air. Inside the walls and halls of New Life Covenant there was only warmth and a lot of good vibes. In fact, the decibel level was such that Brad had to shout to be heard as he welcomed us. "Good morning! Glad to be back."

Announcements included this afternoon's Old Fashioned Hymn Sing at the Newmans, the opening night of Adventure Club on Wednesday, and a women's Mocha Night at Barnes and Noble Tuesday evening at 7:00.

Darlene's introit set the tone as we we entered into worship.

The Scripture reading was from Colossians as Brad continued his series of messages drawn from this significant letter of Paul's. Following a time of prayer, he took the pulpit to speak from God's Word.

Christ Is Enough

"I just want to finish well," Brad stated as he opened the Scriptures to Colossians, where we have been the past few weeks. Paul wrote this letter to address a heresy that had been introduced in Colossae. That heresy was syncretism.

Brad illustrated syncretism by reminding us of school lunches in which on Monday you were served green beans, Tuesday corn, Wednesday broccoli, Thursday lima beans. And on Friday, we all recall the soup of the day with all the leftovers from the week, vegetable medley. It was a bad stew. And that was what was happening at Colossae. Every kind of teaching was getting mixed together.

Paul writes, no, no, no. You don't need all that other stuff. Christ is sufficient. Christ is all you need.

Brad did a re-cap of the passage he preached on two weeks ago, Colossians 1:9-11.

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully. (NIV)

Paul's prayer was for these people to be filled with the knowledge of God's will and these several other items. Brad noted that it is a circular progression, that to be filled with the knowledge of God's will requires that we be in the Word, which leads to spiritual wisdom and understanding. As a result, we bear fruit and this causes us to want to know God better because of the work He is doing in our lives, which leads us back into the Word, etc.

Jesus was not just a good teacher. Jesus is our Savior. He is also the one who qualified us, has rescued us, and has transferred us into His kingdom. And He is more than sufficient for all our needs.

In verse fifteen Paul writes that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Paul is writing here that if you want to know what God looks like, get to know Jesus.

Jesus Himself said, in John 14:9, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father."

The letter to the Hebrews begins with a similar astonishing claim. 1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3

In Philippians 2:6-7 Paul wrote of Jesus,
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

Brad pointed out that the phrase "made himself nothing" is elsewhere translated, "he emptied himself." By this Paul did not mean he emptied himself of his divinity, but rather, of his self-interest.

Returning to Colossians 1, verse fifteen states, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." The meaning here is not that Jesus was a created being. Jesus existed from before time and himself says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega." Paul's intent is to underscore that Jesus is of firstmost supreme importance, which we see amplified in the opening of John's gospel.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

and verse 18: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Again, John says here if you want to see who God is, look at Jesus who has made Him known. It is worth noting that the passage begins with the creation, that through Jesus all was created, and furthermore, he created it out of nothing, ex nihilo.

Jesus is Christ is above all and over all. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus even says as much when he declares, "All authority has been given unto me on and and earth, go therefore a make disciples..." As a side not when Jesus says he is above all authorities, that includes Satan. Satan has no authority over any believer. He can mess with you, but he has not authority over you. As regards your position in Christ, he can't even touch that.

Satan has been defeated, as Paul goes on to say in Colossians 2:13-15.

13When 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, 14having 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. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Brad compared Satan's power to the Chicago White Sox in this last game of the year. They fell short and can't win a playoff berth, but they can spoil it for someone else. Similarly, though Satan has been defeated at the cross, he is able to play a spoiler role and ruin as many lives as he can before the end. (Note: Brad is a White Sox fan and not trying to say the Sox are satanic.)

Brad shared a Frank Peretti story that aptly illustrated this same point. A family was headed somewhere in their car when a bee flew in the window, which was exceedingly distressing for the daughter in the back seat who had a serious allergy to bees. The father hoped it would fly out of the back seat area and when it did, he grabbed it in his hand, allowing the bee to sting him. When he let go of the bee, the daughter was initially afraid again, but the father comforted her by showing that he'd been stung, and "now all he can do is buzz."

C.S. Lewis, who at one time was himself a skeptic, pointed out that the notion that Jesus was a great teacher was actually a foolish position. "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic or else he would be the devil. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for as fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let's not come with any patronizing nonsense about him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us and he did not intend to."

A hymn of praise followed as we prepared to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

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