COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 6: The heartbeat of an Apostle
Colossians 2: 1-5
At that time there actually were some churches that were not established by the Apostle Paul’s personal ministry, but by the ministry of fellow workers (of the Apostles). Of course, they preached the Apostolic Message accurately. The churches in Colosse and Laodicea were two such churches.
Therefore those believers had never met Paul personally. But he was jointly responsible for them because the Lord made him an apostle for the non-Jewish (gentile) nations. And the Apostles had a unique authority and responsibility to lay the FOUNDATION of the Church concerning TEACHING (doctrine) and LIFE (example of how a follower of Christ must live and how a church of Christ must function) (Eph 2:20).
Paul did not hesitate to write to these churches. It was urgent, because false teachers tried to disrupt the churches with a slanted presentation of who/what Christ is. There was no other way Paul could communicate with them. He had to put pen to paper. But in that we see a wonderful Divine Providence, because in the end his teaching was preserved for the church of all the ages – in our New Testament!
Within the Apostle’s heart there was a fire burning. It was the immanent presence of the Holy Spirit that worked in him. He was so passionate and on fire for these churches. He practically emptied himself for their sake.
In all of this we can so clearly see the heartbeat of the Lord Himself – manifesting through Paul. And it will also manifest itself in us if we are people who are in Christ by faith and living Spirit-filled lives. In us also the Lord’s own heartbeat manifests itself and also His concern for others – particularly fellow-believers.
That is why I call today’s message: The heartbeat of an Apostle. While it actually should be: The heartbeat of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although Paul had never met those believers in Colosse and did not know them, he was contending for them – with great power. In Greek it literally says that Paul was “ experiencing a great struggle” for them. It refers to an inner struggle that manifests in a prayer-struggle. He was involved in a prayer-struggle for the sake of the salvation of those people – that they would be delivered from the influence of false preachers and that they would love and embrace and preach the unadulterated truth about Christ.
Where today do we still find men and women of God who will strive and contend for the sake of the salvation of others? Who have other people’s salvation so seriously at heart? It is undeniably the living Christ who had Paul so fired up. Undoubtedly. And because the Lord still lives and works in His child today, any true Christian can in 2019 also know and experience something of a prevailing prayer-struggle for the sake of others. It is not an impossible matter at all.
But even more: Where do we still find Christians today who know prayer AS A STRUGGLE!? Intercession that is. Jesus struggled at Gethsemane, so much so that His sweat was like drops of blood. That is something altogether different than to spend a quick few minutes in prayer morning and night. The passion and burden become so great that you and I go into a prayer-struggle.
Where do we find people like that today? People who feel compelled by the Spirit to go into seclusion to spend an hour or two hours or three hours in prayer – interceding for others?
The Apostle Paul was physically separated from the church in Colosse – indeed he was in a Roman prison – but in the “spirit” he was with them in the sense that he was thinking about them, contending for them in prayer, and followed with interest the news of what was happening in that church. Therefore, he was fully aware of what was going on and how false preachers were confusing the believers. It was exactly THAT which drove him to earnest prayer. Because according to the teaching of the Apostles, the great attribute of a spiritually healthy church was that there was to be UNITY and harmony and stability and steadfastness concerning the content of what was believed and taught. And where there was deviation from that, discipline had to be applied. Because it is of the utmost importance that the genuine truth must be believed and taught. Particularly the genuine truth about who/what the Lord Jesus Christ is and does.
Because bear in mind: The ESSENCE of the Gospel-message is Jesus! Christ is the “mystery” that had not been clearly understood in OT-times, but was taught clearly and plainly by the Apostles in NT-time. Now it is a REVEALED mystery! Everyone can now know Jesus and know and embrace the Truth. The true wisdom and knowledge are hidden in the Lord Jesus Himself! It is a daily walk and life with HIM and a deepening in His Word and prayer that bring one more and more to an understanding of the depth of the riches in Jesus! Nothing else! Nothing less! Nothing more!
Paul’s prayer-struggle for the Colossians was therefore that THIS great truth would be revealed to them – by God’s grace.
His struggle on their behalf was for THREE THINGS:
1 THAT they would be ENCOURAGED. They had to TAKE COURAGE and look Up and take delight in the Truth that the Apostles taught them. False teaching always makes one feel cast-down. But truth lifts us up! It is still the same today!
2 That there would be mutual connectivity in love among them. It is that type of UNITY that is conducive for the common insight into the Truth. The more divided believers/church are, the easier it is for false teaching to enter. The closer the unity, the harder it is for false teaching to enter. Satan always wants to cause discord. Now we know why!
3 That they would come to the realization that ALL the treasures of insight and truth and wisdom and knowledge are found ONLY IN CHRIST HIMSELF, and that there is no wisdom WITHOUT Him – only human wisdom. And who wants that?! But the more we realize that everything is IN the living Lord, the more we would become earnest with Bible study, prayer, fellowship > Walking with Him every second of the day.
Can I ask you and myself an urgent question:
1 Are we very sure that we have truly embraced the Lord Jesus in faith-confidence and that we are in a living relationship with Him – trusting on His death and resurrection alone for salvation?
2 Are we sure that it is our sincere passion to live with the Lord? Or is it merely words or perhaps a desire and a wish?
3 Is there anything that is causing division between us and other true Christians who love the Truth? Something that was done or said? Perhaps an attitude?
May the Lord help us all to burn with an inner desire to pray for others, wrestling in prayer. And to seek unity with others who also love the truth.
Translated by Marthie Wilson