- Sermon Notes
Firm in the Faith
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae, a city in Asia minor, or Turkey as we would know it today. Paul did not plant this church and, to the best of our knowledge, never once set foot in that city. The church was very likely started by Epaphras who Paul knew very well.
When Paul was in Ephesus the gospel was breaking out into a major revival and leaders were rising up who were taking hold of the gospel and bringing it to nearby cities where they would plant churches and the gospel spread rapidly throughout the region.
Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote this letter. Epaphras visited him with news that the churches were growing, but that false teachers had been bothering the churches with doctrines and teachings that were contrary to the straightforward gospel of Jesus Christ.
Who better than Paul should write to them and lay down a strong foundation of truth on which they can build their faith and grow in the maturity of the Spirit. Paul has encountered these false teachers before and knows very well the danger of their doctrines and is more than capable of countering their false teaching by laying down the truth of the gospel.
We can be thankful for this opportunity to confront these false teachers because in confronting them, Paul gives us some of the greatest truths as a foundation for our own faith.
Familiarity with the truth is the best preparation against that which is false. When federal agents are being trained to detect counterfeit bills, they’re first trained to understand how genuine bills are made and then are asked to personally touch many bills to experience them and get as familiar as possible.
The same is true for us, we need a good understanding of the gospel, of the nature of God’s Son whom He sent with His heart after us to take our sins upon Himself. But we need more than intellectual knowledge, we need to personally experience the Holy Spirit touching our lives and igniting our soul.
- Paul heard about their faith and the sincere love they had for all the saints and that the gospel was bearing fruit in their lives, and therefore, Paul wrote, he was praying for them.
- He’s praying because he wants more for them. God never wants us to be spiritually stagnant. Have you ever smelled a stagnant pond? It doesn’t exactly smell like fresh glacial water in springtime.
- Living water is alive, it’s fresh because it’s on the move. The same is true for us spiritually. God wants us to be spiritually alive as well.
John 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
- First, Paul is praying that we are filled with the true knowledge of God’s will. How important is that? We should be praying for that for ourselves.
- Many books could be written about God’s will, but a straightforward understanding is that God’s will is His desire for our lives.
- The sense of God’s will here is not the specific ordering of the steps you take in life, but rather it’s the sense that God wants you to be filled
with the knowledge of God’s heart for you.
- You can see that because he prays that we be filled with the true knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
- God gives us spiritual wisdom in His word and the more His word fills you, the more of His heart, the more of His will you have in your life.
- Paul is countering false teachers who want to divert the spiritual course of that church, but Paul knows it will only shipwreck their faith.
Jeremiah 8:9, The wise men are put to shame, they are dismayed and caught; behold they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what kind of wisdom do they have?
- God empowers His word by the Holy Spirit so that it ignites the soul so you have more than just knowledge, you have spiritual revival and the desire to take hold of spiritual wisdom for your life.
Proverbs 3:13, 15, 18, How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.
B. Get spiritual understanding
- The word for understanding in the original Greek here actually has an interesting meaning, it means flowing together, like two streams converging.
- In other words, it’s the flowing together of God’s wisdom with how you live your life. It’s directly applying God’s heart to how you live.
- There’s a great application here. When many people say they want God’s will for their lives, what they mean is that they want God to provide the answers of what to do, but don’t want to go through the process of learning the principles of wisdom that’s behind what they should do. Wisdom flows together with living; they converge together.
Illus - When my kids were growing up I was the homework helper and I noticed that what they wanted was for me to just give them the answers, they really didn’t want to understand the formulas behind those answers.
- But this is a great key to life. Paul prays that they would be filled up with the real knowledge of God’s will… in spiritual wisdom and understanding.
- When David’s son, Solomon, was anointed king of Israel he had a vision that the Lord came to him and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.”
1 Kings 3:9, “Give Your servant an understanding heart to judge your people to discern between good and evil.”
- God was very pleased that he asked this thing.
II. Live Worthy of the Lord
- The first two words of verse 10 are key; be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding… So that… you may walk worthy of the Lord.
- God’s wisdom should converge in our living; they were never meant to be separated. But when we do, we are the ones who are blessed. God is for us and
His wisdom is good.
A. Seek to please God in all things
- What you seek after says a lot about what you value, what’s important to you.
- Whenever I have an opportunity to talk with someone who is young and life is before them, I encourage them to pursue their dreams; but what is the stuff of their dreams? Who do they want to become?
- Seek after those things that please God and He is sure to give them to you.
2 Corinthians 5:9, Therefore we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
- How we live matters because there is a day fixed in which each one of us will give an account to God.
- Many people have anchored their desires to earthly things, but there is a bigger picture. That’s like desiring an important position on the Titanic, there is something greater than that to pursue.
- Desire to become great in the kingdom of God is what Paul is saying; seek to please Him in all things.
- What is it that pleases God? Answer; faith.
Hebrews 11:6, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Hebrews 11:39, And all of these, gained approval through their faith…
B. Bearing fruit in every good work
- Before something bears fruit it is first the tree or the vine that bears it. In other words, you get apples because first it was an apple tree.
- Bearing good fruit is the result of God transforming your heart into that which is good, and then good fruit comes from that good heart. In other words, it begins with authentic revival.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good… for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- Therefore, we have a part in all of this. Be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Put spiritual treasure into your heart.
Galatians 6:7-9, Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.
- What does good fruit look like? Fruit is sweet and tasty, it’s pleasant and refreshing. Now, we take that and apply it to our lives. It’s what you do, it’s what you say, it’s your countenance, the tone you use to speak, it’s edifying and blessing those that are around you. It’s doing acts of kindness.
Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.
C. Increasing in the knowledge of God
- To walk worthy of the Lord is to walk according to the worth or the value of God in your life.
- If you increase in the knowledge of God, you have a greater and greater understanding of His worth. Paul writes many verses to give us a greater and deeper understanding of the knowledge of God.
- But notice in verse 11 that it has a direct impact on our character… strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience…
- He’s talking about being strengthened in the inner man, that’s where character resides and that’s what defines who we are.
2 Corinthians 4:16, Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
- And the result is steadfastness and patience. Those are qualities that define spiritual maturity.
- Steadfastness is a steady consistency.
James 1:6-8, The one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.
- Patience and steadfastness go together. The older I get the more I’ve come to value patience.
2 Timothy 2:24, The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged…
- But notice that all of this comes because you have a greater and greater knowledge of God so that you walk according to His worth.
- Beginning with verse 13, Paul gives one of the most glorious descriptions of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
- He is the image of the invisible God, Paul wrote. God sent His Son that we might know Him and that we might know how great is His love for us.
Illus - God called Moses to deliver the people of Israel from the slavery and oppression of Egypt. Moses stood before Pharaoh telling him that Jehovah, the God of Israel, had said, “Let my people go.”
Exodus 5:2, But Pharaoh said, “Who is Jehovah that I should obey His voice? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”
- If you don’t know Jehovah, you most certainly will not obey His voice. But the more you know Him, the more you will walk according to the worth of who He is in your life.
- All things were made by Him, and all things were made for Him. That means that you also were made by Him, and were made for Him.
- When you live according to that principle, your life is lived as God intended it and He is well pleased.
Colossians 1:1-20 NASB
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, bothin the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.