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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"From the Lord You Will Receive the Inheritance" -- Colossians 3:18-4:1

The Ninth in a Series of Sermons on Colossians

As Christians in 21st century America, we find ourselves increasingly at odds with much of our culture.  One place in particular where the tension is great concerns the nature and character of the family–which according to Scripture is the fundamental building block of human society.  Another related source of tension is the idea of calling, vocation, and the value of work–the task assigned to Adam in Eden.  Both matters are addressed in our text;  Colossians 3:18-4:1.  Paul instructs the Colossians in the proper relationship of husbands and wives, of parents and children, and servants to masters.  But he does so in the context of an entirely different cultural situation than our own, the Greco-Roman world of the first century.  But while the details of the cultural situation of Paul’s day are substantially different from our own, as we will see, much of what Paul says to the Colossians about family and work, has a direct impact upon our current circumstances.  So, there will be much for us here in terms of application.

We are continuing our series on Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, which is the apostle’s response to an insurgent heresy facing the churches in the Lycus Valley of Asia Minor.  As best as we can tell, the Colossian Heresy seemed to be a combination of a heretical form of Judaism, mixed with some sort of local paganism.  Paul’s response to this challenge has been to reaffirm the supremacy of Jesus Christ, who is creator, sustainer, and ruler of all things.  It is Jesus who saves his people from God’s wrath on the day of final judgment through his death upon the cross.  As Paul explains to the Colossians, all those who trust in Jesus are united to him in heaven, as he renews God’s people in the original image in which Adam was created, and from which he (and we) had fallen.  Much of what Paul says about the role and purpose of the family echoes the creation account, as well as the cultural mandate, and flows directly out of his instructions to the Colossians as to how Christians participate in the new creation ushered in by Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.
The Lordship of Jesus over all things will figure prominently in Paul’s discussion about family relationships along with that of servants and masters.  Those teaching the Colossian Heresy were advocating the worship of angels, seeking visions, and distorting the law of God, in a futile effort to take control over the invisible forces and fates of the universe (the unseen).  But learning secret religious principles and practicing rigorous self-denial may have the appearance of wisdom but does little to stop fleshly indulgence.  The pagan impulse to master unseen spirits and spiritual forces is a vain attempt to gain an upper hand over things already in subjection to Jesus.  After pointing out these spiritual principles and religious rules were nothing but the invention of men, Paul reminds the Colossians that Jesus has conquered death and the grave, and then ascended to the Father’s right hand, where his people are to set their hearts and minds so that we gain a heavenly perspective on earthly things.

In the second half of his letters, it is customary for Paul to offer a series of imperatives (commands) which flow from the believer’s right standing before God (justification).  In his Colossian letter, however, Paul’s focus is upon our union with Christ at the Father’s right hand (the indicative).  He describes the Christian life in terms of dying to sexual immorality and idolatry.  He speaks of putting off sins such as anger, malice, and lying.  He exhorts the Colossians to put on Christ, as one puts on clean clothes after a shower.  This struggle with sin, depicted with the metaphor of a change in clothing, characterizes the Christian life because all Christians are united to Jesus who renews us in his image, a life-long process which involves the striping off (like dirty clothes) of those sinful behaviors for which Jesus died and which characterized our old selves (what we were in Adam), yet which are inconsistent with what we have become in Christ (a new self).

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

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