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Sermon #2475 — Miscellaneous Sermons

 

Title:                           What A Great Savior!

 

Text:                            Colossians 1:1-29

Subject:                     The Glorious Person and Work of Christ

Date:                          Sunday Evening — May 19, 2019

Readings:     Merle Hart and Jimmy Bowman

Introduction:

 

Let’s turn to Colossians chapter one. I will give you the title of my message when I am finished.

 

Background

 

While you are turning to our text, let me give you just a little of the background of this Epistle. This letter to the Church at Colosse was written while Paul was a prisoner at Rome, about thirty years after our Savior died at Calvary. Paul wrote this epistle about the same time he wrote Philippians and Ephesians.

 

We do not know who first brought the Gospel to the city of Colosse. Though some in this assembly had never seen Paul’s face (2:1), Luke tells us that some years earlier he and Paul went throughout the region of Phrygia (Asia Minor) preaching the Gospel (Acts 16:6 and 28:23). While preaching in that region, many were converted by the grace of God and turned from their idols to worship the true and living God (Acts 19:11, 22, and 26).

 

After he had sown the seed of the Gospel, Satan sowed his tares among the wheat, which threatened to choke out the good seed of the Gospel. As it is now so it was then. — Wherever Paul preached the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, the fiend of hell sent work monger missionaries behind him preaching freewill/works religion.

 

Epaphras’s Report

 

When the pastor of the Church, Epaphras (called Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25 and 4:18), came to visit Paul in Rome, he told Paul of the faithfulness of God’s saints at Colosse and of his concern for their souls because of the heretics who sought to corrupt the Gospel and turn the hearts of the saints away from Christ. They came in the name of Christ, pretending to be the servants of Christ, but they were in reality the messengers of Satan

  • Judaizers tried to mix law and grace, mingling Moses and Christ, teaching that works must play some part in salvation.
  • Others sought to corrupt the Gospel by mixing vain philosophy with the revelation of God, teaching for doctrine the commandments, superstitions, and reasonings of men.
  • Some even taught the veneration (worship) of angels and saints, and taught for mortification the punishing of the body!
  • Still others crept among God’s saints, teaching the proud Gnostic notion that salvation was to be attained by learning, teaching that men arrive at Christ by their own brilliance.
  • They all preached righteousness. — They all called it the righteousness of Christ, but the message they preached was the righteousness of man, a righteousness that was ultimately gained by something man must do, experience, feel, or know. It was not that righteousness sinners have by faith in Christ alone.

 

Proposition: Paul, inspired by God the Holy Ghost, wrote this epistle to confirm God’s elect in the Gospel of Christ, to warn them of the heresies by which Satan’s messengers sought to pervert the Gospel, and to urge them to — “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel” (1:23).

 

May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we look at these 29 verses together.

 

Salutation

 

This letter, like most of Paul’s epistles, opens with a gracious, encouraging salutation (vv. 1-8).

 

(Colossians 1:1) “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother.”

 

 

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God.” — Paul refers to himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” not “the apostle of Jesus Christ.” John the Baptist was the voice by which God spoke to men in his day. Paul was one voice among many; and he looked upon himself that way. In the beginning of this Gospel age there were twelve apostles. Paul was the apostle born out of season, the one God had chosen to take Judas’ place.

1.    The apostles were men chosen by Christ.

2.    They saw the Lord personally.

3.    They wrote the Scriptures by divine inspiration, giving us the infallible Revelation of God in this Book. Though they were fallible, sinful men just like us, they were infallible as they wrote the words of Holy Scripture, being inspired by the Holy Ghost.

4.    They were gifted to work miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine.

5.    When the last of the apostles went to glory, the apostolic age and the apostolic gifts by which the apostles were identified as God’s inspired messengers, ended.

Š      The gift of tongues ceased.

Š      The gift of prophecy ceased.

Š      The gift of healing ceased.

 

This was all done “by the will of God.” There are no apostles in the Church today. There are many preachers sent as messengers of God to his people, but there are no apostles.

 

Read on. — “And Timothy, our brother.” Though Timothy was not an apostle, Paul included him in this salutation because God’s servants are all brethren, fellow-laborers, and workers together in his vineyard[1]. They are not rivals! There is no such thing as “Big Me” and “Little You” in the kingdom of God.

 

(Colossians 1:2) “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” — All believers are saints (sanctified men and women). All believers are faithful. And all believers are brethren. We are sanctified by God the Father in election, God the Son in redemption, and God the Holy Ghost in the new birth. We are brethren because we have the same Father, because we are in one body and family, and because we have one Elder Brother, — Christ Jesus. All who are born of God are “in Christ.” We are saints, we are brethren, and we are faithful only because we are “in Christ.”

 

Grace be unto you and peace.” — First grace. Then peace. Believers seek that which is best for one another and truly wish one another well. We cannot desire anything better for anyone than this: — “Grace be unto you, and peace.”

  • Grace saves you. Peace makes you know that you are saved.
  • Grace is the root of every blessing. Peace is the flower that makes life sweet and fragrant. I pray that God will grant you both grace and peace.

 

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is no grace for anyone and no peace except that which is freely bestowed upon needy sinners by God the Father through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

(Colossians 1:3-5) “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel.”

 

We give thanks to God.” Because grace, peace, faith, and love, and all things pertaining to salvation are the gifts of God, he alone is to be thanked and praised for them. I commend these things in you. I encourage you to commend them in others. But thanks and praise goes to our God alone (Psalm 103:1-5; John 3:37; James 1:17). — “I am what I am by the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Every gift of grace is from the triune Jehovah, our God, through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Mediator (John 3:27; James 1:17). Faith, hope, and love always go hand in hand. Where one is found, the other two are always present. All are the gifts of God’s grace.

  • Faith is that gift of grace that unites us to Christ and gives us peace with God.
  • Love is that gift of grace that unites us to one another and gives us peace.
  • Hope is that gift of grace that unites us to eternity and gives us peace.

 

(Colossians 1:5-6) “…Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel, Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.”

 

We do not know the grace of God in truth unless it brings forth fruit in us. We may know it in our heads, but we do not it in truth, we do not really know it at all, if it does not affect our lives, and bring forth faith, love, and hope.

Š      faith, which lifts us above the world;

Š      love, which preserves us from selfishness; and

Š      hope, which keeps us up under all trials.

 

A mere head knowledge is of no value. I want to know my Savior in my heart! When God the Holy Ghost makes the Gospel we have heard sink down in our hearts, revealing Christ in us, then, we know the grace of God in truth and give thanks and praise to God!

 

Now, watch this. — In verses 7 and 8, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to commend to this Church their beloved pastor, thereby encouraging them to highly esteem him and hear him.

 

(Colossians 1:7-8) “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”

 

  • Epaphras was Paul’s fellow-servant.
  • He was a faithful minister of Christ.
  • He loved and spoke well of those people whose souls he served.

 

When I read these two verses again, they did my heart good. How I rejoiced to read of Epaphras speaking well of God’s people and of Paul speaking well of Epaphras! Most, these days, seem to think godliness requires them to pick holes in the armor of others, point out their faults, and castigate them for their failures. Grace teaches men who experience it better. Grace teaches us to…

  • Honor our brethren.
  • Cover their faults.
  • Extol their virtues.
  • Forgive their offenses.
  • And help them (lift them up) when they fall.

 

Fit for Heaven

 

In verses 9-14, the apostle Paul declares that the Lord our God has, by the almighty, effectual operations of his grace made us fit for heaven. Lest you imagine that I have overstated what the passage says, read verse 12 for yourself.

 

(Colossians 1:12) “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

 

Rejoice, my brother! Give thanks, my sister! Sing praise to God! He has made us fit for heaven! Now, look at verses 9-11 with me.

 

(Colossians 1:9-11) “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”

 

Pastor Epaphras spoke to Paul in glowing terms of the Colossian saints, of their faith and hope in Christ and their love for Christ, his Gospel, and his people. Here, Paul tells these saints, “Since the day Bro. Epaphras came here and told me about you and God’s grace in you, I have not ceased to give thanks to God for you and have not ceased to pray for God’s grace ever to be upon you and work in you.”

 

That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will.”

Š      His Revealed Will!

Š      His Purposed Will!

Š      His Providential Will!

Š      His Redemptive Will!

Paul prayed not only that they might have knowledge of these things, but that they might be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

 

Oh, that we might be delivered from the dead letter of the law and the empty, dry traditions of religious orthodoxy! That we might have and be filled with a God-given wisdom and spiritual understanding of our sins, our need, and our inability! That we might be filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding of God’s manifold mercies in Christ! — May God give us more than a profession of faith in Christ. May He give us the possession of Christ! — May God give me more than the knowledge of and love for the doctrines of Christ and fill my very heart and soul with the knowledge of Christ!

 

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing.” — This is talking about the believer’s godly conduct and behavior in the Church, in our homes, on the job, and on the street. Let us seek to live, and walk, and talk as those who are in Christ, seeking to please and glorify God.

 

Being fruitful in every good work.” — Believers are trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord to bear the fruit of the Spirit and good works of the kingdom of Christ (Ephesians 2:10).

 

(Ephesians 2:8-10) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

 

Increasing in the knowledge of God.” — Spiritual ignorance is both dishonoring to God and counterproductive to us. We honor God by believing him and by living for him as we grow in the knowledge of him who loved us and gave himself for us. We cannot grow in grace if we do not grow in knowledge of Christ. And we cannot grow in the knowledge of Christ without growing in grace.

 

(2 Peter 3:18) “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

 

Strengthened with all might according to the glorious power.” — We cannot attain these things or do these things by our own strength and power, but by his we can (2 Corinthians 12:9). — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

 

(Philippians 2:12-13) “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

 

(Philippians 4:12-13) “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

 

Now, look at verse 12 again. How I wish I could expound the marvelous wonders of grace here declared!

 

(Colossians 1:12) “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”

 

The Lord our God has, by his almighty, free, saving grace in Christ, qualified us, has made us fit, to enter into and possess heaven itself, the bright and glorious inheritance of the saints. By nature we are fit for hell. Grace has made us fit for heaven (1 Corinthians 1:30)

 

(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

Read verses 13 and 14, and you will see how he did it.

 

(Colossians 1:13-14) “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”

 

Now, having just mentioned God’s grace and God’s great salvation in Christ, Paul seems to go off on a tangent. He seems to go wild with excitement. He was so enthusiastic with regard to Christ and his great sin-atoning sacrifice that the very thought of Christ’s blood stirred his blood. If you read the chapter as it ought to be read, observing its grammatical structure, it seems that Paul wrote verses 15-29 like a man whose hand was on fire. He could not write fast enough or express himself adequately. He was enrapt in his subject, raptured in his soul, as he began to write about Christ.

 

All-glorious Christ

 

Having barely declared what Christ did for us at Calvary, Paul was inspired by the Holy Ghost to extol, magnify, honor and praise him as our all-glorious Savior and Lord (vv. 15-29). I could not expound the depths of these verses if I had the mind of Solomon, the tongue of an angel, and the space of eternity to do so. This ocean is too deep for me. So, let me just wade around the edges and splash in the water. Throughout the chapter, he plays a symphony on just one string He!

 

(Verse 15) “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” — He is God.

 

Š      Christ is exactly what God is, for he is God. And he is that One, the only One in whom God is seen and known.

 

(Colossians 2:9) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

                    

Š      He is the Firstborn of every creature. That is to say, He is “the Beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). We know that is what this means because the next verse, verse 16, tells us so.

 

(Verse 16) “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.” — He is the Creator of all things.

 

(Verse 17) “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” — He is eternal.

 

(Verse 18) “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” — He is the Head of the Church. – The Beginning of All Things! — The Firstborn from the Dead! — The Upholder of All Things! — That He Might Have The Pre-Eminence!

 

Š      In the Covenant

Š      In the Scriptures

Š      In the Heavens

Š      In the Church

Š      In our Preaching

Š      In our Worship

Š      In our Hearts

Š      In the End

 

(Verse 19) “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” — He is fulness.

 

Š      All Divine Fulness (Colossians 2:9)

Š      All Mediatoral Fulness!

Š      All Covenant Fulness!

Š      All Saving Fulness!

Š      All Everlasting Fulness!

Š      Undiminishable Fulness!

 

(Verse 20) “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” — He is reconciliation.

 

(Verse 21) “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”

 

(Verse 22) “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”

 

Now, look at verse 23. Here is a conditional aspect of grace. Grace is ours forever, so long as we persevere in grace. But the promise of God is unconditional. — “They shall never perish.” — If I am his, he will keep me in his way!

 

(Verse 23) “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”

 

All God’s preachers are made men.

 

(Verse 24) “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”

 

There is nothing “behind” or lacking as to the atoning efficacy of Christ’s sufferings. But there is much yet to be endured by us in order that all the elect may be brought to Christ.

 

(Verse 25) “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.”

 

(Verse 26) “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”

 

Here it is

 

(Verse 27) “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

(Verse 28) “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

 

“Whom we preach” — Not what, Whom! — Not about whom, Whom!

 

(Colossians 1:29) “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

 

I fully agree with Mr. Spurgeon’s comment on this last verse. — “There will never be any mighty work come from us unless there be first a mighty work in us, no man truly labors for souls unless the Holy Ghost has first wrought mightily in him.” — As Paul put it, “Our sufficiency is of God!

 

Illustration: A couple from America, visiting London, went to hear Joseph Parker preach in the morning. As they left the services, the man said to his wife, “What a great preacher!” — That night they went across town to hear Mr. Spurgeon. As they left the service that night, the woman said to her husband, “What a great Savior!”

 

I promised you that I would give you the title of my message when I was finished. Here it is. I got it from Bro. Merle Hart ten or twelve years ago. One night before our evening service, back in my office, Bro. Bob Poncer read this chapter. When he finished reading these 29 verses, after Bob led us in prayer, Bro. Merle said, “What great Savior!” That’s the subject of Colossians 1. “What great Savior!” Oh, may God make him your Savior this very moment!

 

Amen.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] “The highest office-bearer in the church recognizes even the least as being a brother and worthy of respect and recognition. In Christ we are one, and he that is greatest is but a servant.” (Henry Mahan)