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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Christ in You, the Hope of Glory" -- Colossians 1:24-2:5

The Fourth in a Series of Sermons on Colossians

Paul is under house arrest in Rome awaiting his appearance before Caesar.  During this time, he will write letters to the churches in Philippi and Colossae, a circular letter to the church in Ephesus, and a personal letter to a man named Philemon–all of which are included in our New Testament.  Paul has heard from Epaphras–the pastor of the church in Colossae who is with Paul in Rome–that the church in Colossae is doing well, but that it is now facing a serious challenge from false teaching.  An unnamed false teacher (or teachers) was contending that the key to finding spiritual fulfillment is found in a mixture of pagan and Jewish practices, which, from what we glean from Paul’s response, included keeping Sabbaths, observing rigorous dietary laws, worshiping angels and seeking visions.  Paul describes this as a philosophy, a human tradition, and an extreme form of self-denial (asceticism).  Paul’s response is to affirm the supremacy of Jesus over all things.  As we have seen, and will see again, there is much in this letter which speaks to our own situation today–Christians in the midst of an increasingly pagan culture, with false religions and false teachers on every side.

We are continuing our series on Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians.  Last time we took up another of the so-called “Christ hymns” cited by Paul in the opening chapter, this time the hymn in Colossians 1:15-20.  Our study of this hymn happened to fit perfectly with the fact that it was also the first Sunday in Advent.  As we saw, this particular Christ hymn reveals a great deal about the person and work of Jesus, who, as the hymn affirms, is the very image of God and the creator of all things.  As firstborn from the dead, Jesus begins his work of new creation when he conquers sin and death in his resurrection.  It is Jesus who reconciles rebellious sinners unto God and then incorporates those reconciled into his church.  Since the Sundays in Advent focus upon the Incarnation of Jesus (his supernatural conception) leading up to Christmas (Jesus’ birth) it was quite appropriate to begin Advent by looking at one of the most important Christological passages in all the New Testament.  Just who it is who came to save us from our sins–Jesus, the very image of God, in whom God’s fulness was pleased to dwell, who is also firstborn from the dead, and head of his church.

This time out, we will see another similar (if unintended) connection between Paul’s discussion of Jesus as “the hope of glory,” and that one in whom hidden mysteries are revealed, and this, the second Sunday of Advent.  Traditionally, the second Sunday of Advent is devoted to John the Baptists’s role in pointing Israel to the coming of the Messiah–focusing upon the expectation and hope that the promised redeemer would finally come to save his people.  And so, when in Colossians 1:27 Paul speaks of Jesus as the hope of glory, and then in chapter 2:3 points out that in Jesus the wisdom and knowledge of God are revealed, we are directed by Paul to consider the incarnation as the revelation of God’s glory, and whose return at the end of the age is the hope of all believers in Jesus.  Such hope is a good thing to consider, especially in light of the fact that this is the second Sunday in Advent.

As we turn to our text, Colossians 1:24-2:5, we come to a new section of the Colossian letter in which the Apostle Paul describes the nature of the mystery revealed to him–that in Jesus’ incarnation and messianic mission to Israel, God has fulfilled his promise to redeem his people from sin’s guilt and its power.  To accomplish this, Jesus (who is the creator of all things and the very image of God) took to himself a true human nature in the womb of the virgin and came to earth to reconcile sinners to God through his once for all sacrifice for sin–his blood shed for us upon the cross, reminding us of the difficult but obvious truth that Jesus must suffer and die to save us from our sins.  As that one entrusted to preach this message to the Gentiles, Paul explains the hardships he has endured for the cause of Christ and his church–including the Christians in Colossae.  As Paul told the Colossians (v. 23), it is to this work of preaching that God has called Paul as a minister of the gospel.

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