COLOSSIANS SERIES NR 1 : The attributes of a Christian
Colossians 1: 1-8
Colosse was a rather unimportant small town – approximately 120km east of Ephesus – but important in the eyes of the Lord! God established a small congregation of Christian-believers there – through the faithful ministry of Epaphras.
The apostle Paul never went there himself, and neither did he plant the church there. There were however, false teachers in the area who minimized the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason why Paul wrote this letter, to warn them against straying and to teach them the Truth about who the Lord Jesus Christ is. In this series of messages we will see how he did it. Colossians is about who the Lord Jesus truly is.
The important spiritual message for us is this: No individual or church or Bible study group or prayer group is insignificant and unimportant in eyes of the Lord. The Lord took notice of the small congregation in Colosse, and He concerned Himself with them – through the pen and letter of Paul and Timothy. The Lord takes notice of YOU AND ME and He concerns Himself with us. We are not so insignificant and unimportant as we often feel and think that we are!
Let us now walk through the first eight verses and see what wonderful spiritual principles it contains. Are you ready to listen? It is the inerrant Word of God!
Only the fact that Paul emphasized that he is writing as APOSTLE, must let us sit upright, because it means that he is speaking with the authority of God – that shows how deeply conscious he was of his high calling. It is by no means out of himself or by His own choice that he was an Apostle. It was from Above. It came from Above. Everything was from Him.
And the believers to whom he was writing, He calls “holy”. That is = people who are set apart for the Lord. Holy does not mean without sin (sinless perfection). It means to be set apart / To belong to the Lord. Yes, ALL BELIEVERS are holy. They ARE! Absolute certainty. A fact!
And he says that they are IN CHRIST. A very intimate bond. INCLUDED in Christ. INCLUDED in Christ’s birth, obedience, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension.
Small wonder then that grace and peace are the portion of all believers. Grace = to be acquitted and forgiven by God, without merit, only by pure grace (unmerited favor) alone! If one can believe THAT, peace comes automatically, is that not so? The inner peace is the PRODUCT of grace. And it is not a peace that can be removed out of the Christian by anything on earth! The Holy Spirit’s presence in the true believer produces the peace, and because He is always present, peace also continues!
The apostle was saying that he was regularly praying for the Colossians. Intercession and thanksgiving, therefore. Take note to WHOM he is praying. What is the Name of the One to whom he is praying? The “old man up there”? No. The “the almighty one up above”? No. “Gentle Jesus”? No. “Yashua”? No. All kinds of Hebrew names? No. The “Creator”? No.
All these names are unscriptural and contrived by the human mind. He is: God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! God’s true Name in the NT!
Now you must listen carefully: Of these believers in Colosse, THREE THINGS were true all at the same time, which are the ATTRIBUTES of all people who are truly re-born from the Holy Spirit. No one can be a true child of the Lord and NOT have all three these attributes. And nobody can have it and NOT be a true child of God!
Faith, love and hope. A trinity of characteristics which is cemented into the Christian person’s inner life!
FAITH: Firm confidence in and trust upon Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection for salvation. No confidence in own merit or works. Only 100% Christ! Not Christ PLUS anything. Not Christ PLUS faith. ONLY Christ! Solus Christus.
LOVE: Love for everyone whose hope is also anchored in Christ alone. A very special love and attraction to other people in whom the Holy Spirit lives. Incidentally: That is the reason why people who do not cherish gatherings together with other believers, can not be true believers. Your love and attraction to other Christians is a sign of life, and the absence thereof is a sign of death.
HOPE : Sure confidence concerning the future. Hope > Confidence in God’s future with the world and with you as His child.
Verse 8 is so precious, because it so clearly says WHERE this love comes from. Certainly not out of man.
Remember that the natural human is DEAD towards the things of the Lord (Eph 2:1). Thus, WHERE does love, faith and hope come from? Answer: The Holy Spirit creates it. That is literally what it says in verse 8. The Spirit AWAKENS it IN the heart of the person who comes to faith in Christ.
It is and remains one of the most wonderful things to me: The REALITY of the Holy Spirit’s workings in me and His presence and constant ministering. And to think: I did not ask for it at all. I also could not bring it about. Impossible. BY GRACE He has come to work in me, He has called me, He keeps on and on and on working in me. And it will continue to be like that until the last day.
When worldliness enters into my heart or I weaken, He comes to make me uncomfortable. He makes me unhappy with the state of affairs. He takes away my peace. Because a true Christian believer is only content and peaceful when everything in his/her inner heart is PERFECTLY RIGHT. And the Spirit always TAKES CARE that everything is put right!
Of all these things we have assurance, says the Apostle, ONLY because the Gospel message teaches us that. And that is the message that he preaches. We do not have assurance because a certain church teaches it or because we have certain feelings or emotions or certain experiences. No, ONLY from the message of the Gospel do we know all that. But, it must be THE Gospel-message that the APOSTLES preached and not the slightest deviation from that!
We must continuously be taught in that original apostolic tradition. And we must give and surrender ourselves to the teaching. It does not come to us automatically via a dream. Verse 7. Epaphras taught the Colossians. That is the way the Lord chooses to work. The teaching brings understanding of God’s grace in Christ and He brings about that we learn to know it. In that way we are saved.
And do not be mistaken. This Gospel-message is very, very powerful! It bears FRUIT (verse 6). It is a message upon which we can trust. Because it WORKS. The Lord makes it work. And He is faithful. And He will never give up doing it.
Translated by Marthie Wilson