Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why Do We Do Evangelism? -- 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 12-15; 2:1-7

Why Do We Do Evangelism? -- 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 12-15; 2:1-7
by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 27, 2008 AM

Many people reject the concept of evangelism. They may think evangelistic efforts violate a person’s freedom. Others, though they believe in evangelism, refuse to take part in it for a variety of reasons. Time, effort, or the will to do it. They do not recognize that all Christians have a responsibility to participate in evangelism. God calls believers to do their part in evangelism. Today’s sermon encourages us to do our part in winning others to Christ. How and why we should do this is very important for us to understand anew for our world today.

We live in a time when many misunderstandings exist about salvation. Believing that all truth is subjective, many do not acknowledge objective truth: That there can only be one truth. Therefore they resist efforts at evangelism because they do not believe that any single road leads to salvation. Others may believe that objective truth exists, but they hold that many roads lead to salvation. Still other think that there is no God and man is only accountable to himself. The abundance of false teachings and of misunderstandings about salvation today underscores the need for Christians to do their part in evangelism. Let’s discover why we do evangelism.

READ: 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 12-15, 2:1-7

Paul warned Timothy not to tolerate false teaching in the church at Ephesus (vv. 3-11). This false teaching, based on Old Testament law, led the church to errors both in doctrine and behavior. Paul related...

I. The Need for Evangelism! (1 Timothy 1:3-7)

1. There is a need for the gospel to be proclaimed clearly! Paul reminds Timothy that he had strongly “urged” him to stay at Ephesus for a reason. It is tough language by the Apostle. Why? Because Paul wanted Timothy to “command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.” Literally a different doctrine than what Jesus or His disciples taught! There were those who had come into the church and had begun to poison the simple gospel of Jesus by telling the new believers they needed to follow the Old Testament Law all over again. They wanted “promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith.” These legalists were heretics who had abandoned the gospel and were more concerned about their own legalism than the truth! Paul’s “goal,” however, was one of “love, which [came] from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith!” Not some ulterior motive like the legalists who were infecting the church. They had “wandered away” from the truth of the gospel and had instead “turned to meaningless talk!” Paul wrote that “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” By promoting myths and genealogies rather than the gospel, these false teachers had wandered away from acceptable teaching. Paul wanted Timothy to put them in their place. Like in Ephesus, today, there is a need for the gospel to be proclaimed clearly! This is the need of evangelism!

EXAMPLE: Legalism still rears its ugly head in the guise of Christianity. Whenever anyone says that “It is faith in Jesus, and...,” you know immediately they are adding to the gospel truth. They will mask it as “following God’s Law,” or that “Jesus followed God’s commandments,” but what they really saying is faith in Jesus is not good enough. You have to also follow their brand of legalism. Paul knew that legalism is poison to the soul. It wraps itself in self-righteousness, yet leads to spiritual death. Why? Have you followed all the commandments? Which ones are valid today? Are we still supposed to stone disobedient children? The commandments are more than what we find in the Decalogue in Exodus. They cover ministration, food choices, sacrifices, washings, ceremonies, and a lot of other things as well. Jesus did away with them all by His grace as it was extended to us because of His death on the cross. He left us with two commandments that cover all the others: Love God completely and others as yourself. There is a need for evangelism so that the gospel can be clearly proclaimed.

Unlike the “myths and genealogies” the false teachers promoted, the true gospel has the power to change people’s lives. Paul knew this firsthand and he shared this truth in a beautiful moment of thanksgiving with Timothy as he remembered what his own life had been like before knowing Jesus. Paul tells Timothy about...

II. The Truth of Evangelism! (1 Timothy 1:12-15)

1. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners! Paul was thankful for the “strength” and the ministry or “service” Jesus had given him. Paul knew that the “law was good” when it was properly understood, but the law could not save anyone. Only the “glorious gospel of the blessed God” in Jesus Christ could! Paul himself once a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man... was shown mercy because [he] acted in ignorance and unbelief!” He thought that legalism was the truth, but he was “shown mercy” when “the grace of our Lord was poured out on [him] abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Paul shared the history of his own life to demonstrate the transforming power of the gospel. He was “the worst of sinners” before the Lord had transformed him! If the Law could have saved anyone, it would have been Paul! He had been, by his own words, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee!” (Philippians 3:5) No one could claim a better “law” degree than Paul. Yet this closed-minded legalist was saved by faith alone in grace alone! Paul knew that only the grace of the Lord could save a person. After hearing the gospel, Paul realized that the grace of our Lord had been “poured out” on him “abundantly.” God had poured out His grace on Paul to a greater degree than he could ever have imagined possible. Only the true gospel had the power to change lives as it had changed Paul’s life! This truth stood at the heart of Timothy’s battle against legalism. Paul was the proof! Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. This is the truth of evangelism!

EXAMPLE: If we could save ourselves by observing the Old Testament Law, Jesus never had to die a horrible death on the cross. We could just worship on a certain day, eat certain foods, and sacrifice the ceremonial animals we all raise in our backyards! Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations. To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the Apostle John, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17), and remember to be gracious to others. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 1:3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. The truth of evangelism is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not to get us bound again to legalism and ritual.

Paul’s appointment as a herald, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles gave him the opportunity to spread the gospel. The church in Ephesus was in danger of losing its evangelistic zeal. Paul urged believers then and now to move back to the basics—that Jesus died for sinners and wants all people to be saved. In this truth, Paul knew one of the most powerful weapons for a sin-sick world is prayer. Therefore he teaches Timothy about...

III. The Need for Prayer In Evangelism! (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

1. Prayer reaches the sin-deaf ear! Notice that Paul wrote to give Timothy confidence to face those who spread false doctrine and undercut the church’s commission to evangelize. Therefore, Paul’s first line of defense was prayer. In this verse, the apostle mentioned four different words for prayer: “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving.” “Requests” included petitions individuals made of God. The term “prayers” referred to the spoken “breathed out” words one prays. “Intercessions” included prayers on the behalf of other believers, and the “thanksgivings” Paul mentioned was the spoken gratitude for God’s blessings. The apostle may not have intended any sharp distinction among the four terms, but the use of all four words emphasizes the importance of prayer in overcoming the false teaching in Ephesus and in winning the lost to Christ. Paul urged that these prayers “be made for everyone for kings and all those in authority.” Why? So “that we [Christians] may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” He knew who held earthly power and only heavenly intercession could influence it! The prayer of evangelism Paul related was “good and it pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” That is Jesus’ desire! We do not know who God draws to Himself, only He does, but we are to pray for the lost. Paul knew that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time!” If they could not speak to those in authority, they could certainly pray for those in power, that they would come to faith in Jesus. It is the prayer of evangelism that reaches the sin-deaf ear.

EXAMPLE: Legalism turns people away from the grace of Jesus. Why? It is judgmental and self-righteous in its attitude and actions. While the sinful world will one day be judged, we are to be about the mission of telling the good news. The Shepherd’s Scrapbook online relates that “Legalism is (most dangerously) a soteriological problem. That is, legalism is a false gospel. Legalism is the damning lie that says God’s pleasure and joy in me is dependent upon my obedience.” Tony Reinke goes on to relate “Legalism is the lie that God will find more pleasure in me because my obedience is greater than others or that God looks at me with disgust because I am not growing in grace as quickly as my friends. It is the failure to remember that God’s pleasure in us comes outside of us (in Christ). Legalism causes the heart to forget that God sings over us because of the work He has done, not because of what we have done (Zeph. 3:15-17).” This is what Timothy faced in Ephesus and Paul condemned. Paul said to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) There is a need for prayer in evangelism because prayer reaches the sin-deaf ear.

Conclusion:
The need for evangelism, the truth of evangelism, and the need for prayer in evangelism.
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Christian Responsibilities – Colossians 3:18-4:6

Christian Responsibilities – Colossians 3:18-4:6
by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 20, 2008 AM

We all have responsibilities in life. Some of may take them very seriously while others may have never prioritized their lives at all. I remember very well how I had to learn what responsibility meant when I got my first dog. It meant I had to make sure he was fed, tied up at night, bathed when he rolled in something awful, and I had to train him to behave. Which, would have been a whole lot easier if he did not run away so often!

Paul knew that Christians have responsibilities as well. In his concluding section of his letter to the Colossians, Paul covered several subjects. He first outlined the responsibilities of the members of a Christian family. Paul further dealt with believers’ responsibilities toward Christian servants and their masters. Then he stated certain responsibilities believers have toward their church and toward non-believers. Let’s discover what Paul taught about Christian responsibilities.

READ: Colossians 3:18-4:6

Every home is just one big happy family all the time, right? WRONG! We all know that there are times in every family when we just want to throw up our hands and head for the hills! This is life. This is what it means to have a home and a family. Not all is roses, but it can be great if you are willing to accept your God-given responsibilities. Here in Colossians, Paul teaches us about...

I. The behavior of Christians in the home! (vv. 3:18-21)

1. How a Christian relates to their family reveals how they view their God-given role! Here Paul briefly set forth the relationship of the wife to the husband, husband to wife, child to parent, and parent to child. Paul was not setting up an authoritative hierarchy, but rather what roles existed within a good Christian home. Just as there are differing roles within all of God’s creation, families are to have them as well. Colossians is the “Reader’s Digest version” of Ephesians 5:21-6:4! A wife’s submission is voluntary, based on her appreciation of God’s role for her life. Paul is not teaching servitude or slavery, and he does not tell the husband to make his wife submit! Notice that the husband is to “love” his wife! It is an unselfish love that gives rather than receives. He is to “serve and protect.” Such love always acts in the other’s best interests. And, children are to “obey” their parents, not just in what they choose to, but in “everything.” Why? It “pleases God!” He relates that parents, specifically “fathers,” are not to “embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” The idea is one of constant nagging. Paul prescribed the behavior of believers as spouses, as parents, and as children. Christian couples are to be characterized respectively by submission and love. Christian children are to respectfully be obedient, while Christian parents are to encourage their children. How a Christian relates to their family reveals how they view their God-given role!

EXAMPLE: Have you read about how many people are wring their new homes as “smart houses?” They are connected to the Internet so that when you are gone you can adjust the lights, turn them or other things on or off, use web cameras to check to see if everything is okay, turn on outdoor or interior lights as you pull into the driveway, and you can even automatically feed the pets! As “smart” as that sounds a truly smart home is one where the Lord is its focus and not just some programmable CPU. Paul writes that a smart home is one where the behavior of Christ is evident in family life.

While every home is not perfect, if God is at the center of a family’s life then it will be as close as the Lord intended. Yet, we do not stay home all the time, do we? We have school, we have friendships, and we have jobs. In order for our families to be fed, clothed, and sheltered we have to earn a living. Paul related that how a believers acts on the job says a lot about his faith walk. He teaches us about...

II. The behavior of Christians on the job! (vv. 3:22–4:1)

1. How a Christian behaves at work displays their true character! In the first century, many of the early converts to Christianity were slaves, and they were accepted in the churches as brothers and sisters in Christ. We can use Paul’s admonishment for our work ethic today. Why? Because Paul indicated that their work ethic should be raised to a higher level because of their relationship to Christ, and so should ours! Christians are not to do just enough work to get by or to work only when our boss’ “eye is on [us] and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord!” Christians are to have a higher work ethic than the world! “Whatever you do,” Paul admonishes his readers, “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men!” Christians in today’s workplace should accept their job as gift from God, who has graciously given them the ability to perform those tasks. Our focus should be on our ultimate reward, not “atta boys” from others. Remember, we receive what we have worked for: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism!” However, a Christian boss should “provide” their workers “what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” The behavior of a Christian on the job is not just watched by their earthly boss, but by their Heavenly Lord. How a Christian behaves at work displays their true character!

EXAMPLE: The other day, as I drove into the driveway, I realized that my neighbors were working at their jobs, raising their families, and serving in their churches just like me! I know this might sound kind of odd to you, but it really hit me that each family had some job they went off to everyday! It reminded me of the response of the American statesman Bernard Baruch when he was asked who he thought was the greatest personality of our age. With great wisdom at age 94 he said: “The fellow who does his job every day. The mother who has children and gets up to get them breakfast, keep them clean, and send them off to school. The fellow who keeps the streets clean. . . . The unknown soldiers—millions of them.” Paul would say that how you behave at your work displays your true Christian character.

While both family and work are important aspects of our lives, if we leave out the next area, we will miss what God has called us to do in this world. We are to be part of the “called out,” to do Jesus’ work and will in the world. Christians not only have responsibilities to family and work, but they are to be an active part of the body of Christ. In Colossians, Paul teaches us about...

III. The behavior of Christians in their churches! (vv. 4:2-4)

1. How a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe! Paul used the imperative to exhort his readers to persevere in prayer. The word translated “prayer” is a general term for worship and prayer. Paul admonished the Colossians to be watchful or wide awake in their prayer lives. In other words, Christians need to spend more devoted time in impassioned prayer. Some of us are not eloquent speakers or astute scholars, but all of us can spend time in enthusiastic prayer for the needs of our church and those around us. Notice as well that Paul specifically asks for their prayers: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” If you are not praying for your pastor, ministers, teachers, and other workers in your church you are limiting and weakening the effectiveness of your church! Why would I say that? Paul urgently related to them, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should!” The idea is one of emphasis. Paul believed he was chosen to do what God had given him to do and he desperately needed his fellow church member’s prayers in order to do it effectively: “as clearly as I should!” It consists of only three letters in the original language, but it carries a depth of theological meaning. Paul had to preach it and they had to pray for him! Paul knew that how a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe!

EXAMPLE: What does your routine involve? Perhaps it is getting yourself or your husband off to work, your children to school, caring for your home, working a couple of days a week, and helping in your church. Perhaps you do not think there is much opportunity to be used mightily by God. Well, you are wrong! With all the emphasis on the extravagant these days, it's easy for us to lose sight of the fact that God is the God of everyday living. It seems that we're always looking for some great display of His power in our lives. But what the Lord desires is for us to focus on doing His will from our heart each day, delighting in humble service for Him, especially in our church home. In fact, Paul would say that how a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe!

Finally, we discover that the Christian does not just have a family to nurture, a job to work at, and a church to serve in, but the reason we exist is to worship the Lord in all we do. In fact, wherever we walk, whatever we do, and wherever we live we are part of the world the Lord has created and the world His Son died for. Therefore, Christians, Paul related are to be careful how they live in it. Paul teaches us about...

IV. The behavior of Christians in the World! (vv. 4:5-6)

1. What a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness! The phrase “make the most of every opportunity,” literally means “redeeming the time,” and it comes from the world of commerce. It literally means “to go to market and make a purchase.” The verb form indicates that such action is to be constant and habitual on the believer’s part. We must exercise wisdom at all times and demonstrate that we are serious about our Christian living. Christians are to “be wise in the way [they] act toward outsiders.” Christians do this when they make sure their “conversation” is “always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Salt, being the Word of the Lord Jesus. Christians should act and sound like Christians! This why Jesus would remind his followers, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’.” Why? Because Jesus related that “anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) In fact Jesus would tells his listeners, “Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’” (Matthew 15:17-18) The believer’s conduct includes his speech. What a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness!

EXAMPLE: I read a fable about a man who was browsing in a store when he made the shocking discovery that God was behind a sales counter. So the man walked over and asked, “What are You selling?” God replied, “What does your heart desire?” The man said, “I want happiness, peace of mind, and freedom from fear . . . for me and the whole world.” God smiled and said, “Oh, I don't sell fruit here. Only seeds.” What “seeds” are you sowing in the world around you? Paul would write that what a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness.

Conclusion:

Paul teaches about our responsibilities as Christians in four areas of life: 1) The behavior of Christians in the home, 2) The behavior of Christians on the job, 3) The behavior of Christians in their churches, and 4) The behavior of Christians in the World.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Holy Living -- Colossians 3:1-17

Holy Living – Colossians 3:1-17
by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 13, 2008 AM

My mother had favorite expressions she would use when she caught us doing something we were not supposed to be doing. Sometimes she would declare, “What in God’s green earth do you think you are doing? or she would ask us, “In the name of all that is holy, what in the world are you up to?” I am not sure exactly what she meant by either of these. Maybe she felt that at that moment we were up to something unholy or that God’s green earth could not survive? Trying to do the right things that would not bring about these inquiries from my mother could be at times kind of tough.

Living holy lives for the Lord is sometimes better said than done in the lives of Christians as well. This is especially true in a world that not only promotes ungodly living, but encourages it as being “normal.” Paul gave the Colossian church the answer they needed in order to live holy lives for God through Jesus Christ. What he related to them can instruct us as well this morning when we consider holy living. Let’s discover how...

READ: Colossians 3:1-17

Paul reflected on the basis for the Colossian believers’ new life in Christ. Through their conversion experiences they had died to their old way of life and risen with Christ to walk in newness of life as symbolized through believer’s baptism. The world follows a totally differing philosophy of life. It places value on things that do not last and encourages ungodliness. In a world that acts this way the believer needs to ask...

I. Where should I look for real value in my life? (vv. 1-4)

1. Real worth is found in the One who is worthy! As Christians we must look to Christ for values that will guide us to holy living. Since believers have not only died with Christ but have also been raised with Him, they should set their hearts on things above where He is! Paul would remind us that “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him... In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Romans 6:8, 11-12) Christians are to seek things from above, not from here in this world. As believers, we are to be in the world but not of the world. We are to keep our feet firmly planted on the earth, but our minds are to be set on heavenly values. Paul reminds his readers that when you trust Jesus, “you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God!” However there is a future promise as well in that “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory!” What a glorious day! The values and goals of believers will be vindicated at that future time! Paul is reminding us where we should look for real value in our lives.

EXAMPLE: What do you value in life? The owner of a Denver restaurant reported, "I first tried to sell buffalo tongue as an hors d'oeuvre at $1.75 and had no takers. So I priced it at $6.75, set a limit of two to a customer, and sold out every night." The crowds push past. They mill about the stalls, shopping for satisfaction. They spend their money for food that won't nourish them and for drink that won't quench their thirst. But money can't buy what they really need. God offers real nourishment, lasting joy, and forgiveness from sin--and it's all free! The shoppers don't take Him seriously, yet He doesn't alter His marketing strategy. Real worth is found in the One who is worthy! Our lives should be lived for Jesus. He is the one where we should look to for real value in our lives.

Paul charged the Colossians to look above for guidance and to live by heavenly values rather than by earthly ones. Christians must look to Christ for values that will guide them to holy living. The apostle continues by listing some of the most prevalent sins of the first-century Greco-Roman world. Many of these vices had been a part of the lifestyles of these former pagans. My mother would have asked if we were “a band of heathens?” Paul admonished them to turn away from these practices that should not be a part of a Christian lifestyle. In a world that acts ungodly the believer needs to ask...

II. What should I avoid in my Christian life? (vv. 5-11)

1. Holy living is wholly living for the Lord! Paul would say, “Avoid anything that would tend to make you unholy.” To live holy lives, we must avoid behaviors and attitudes that characterize those who adhere to earthly values. Paul provided a list of these attitudes and behaviors that the Colossians were to “put to death” (v. 5) in their lives. Paul’s imagery moved from death and life to putting clothes on and off. “Put to death… whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” The Greek tense in this command suggests a decisive action, as if Paul said, “Crush it! Do it now! Do it purposefully!” Of course, God has already done it in them, but Christians are to know this, count it to be true, and act accordingly. In other words, we are not to go on living as though we are still alive to such sins as “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry!” We are to put away that old life, which springs from their earthly natures and desires. Christians “used to walk in these ways, in the life [we] once lived. But now [we] must rid [ourselves] of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from [our] lips. Do not lie to each other, since [we] have taken off [our] old self with its practices!” (Colossians 3:7-9) How do we do this? By literally putting “on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator!” It is an act of will and a desire of our heart! Believers are not “to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing” of [our] minds! (Romans 12:2) What should you avoid in life that would lead you astray? Anything that leads you astray! Holy living is wholly living for the Lord!

EXAMPLE: In a sermon titled “Faith Tested and Crowned,” Alexander Maclaren distinguished between being tempted and being tried. He said that “the former word conveys the idea of appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong. The latter means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand.” Maclaren continued, “Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or proving says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.’” Temptations and trials are two sides of the same coin, for a single Greek word conveys both ideas. What should you avoid in life as a Christian? Anything that would tend to make you unholy. Holy living is wholly living for the Lord.

My mother would have shaken her head and asked us, “Do you really want to live this way?” If the Colossians were to genuinely serve Christ, they must conduct their lives in a worthy manner. Although these Christian responsibilities are not to be used as a checklist to ensure one’s salvation, such qualities should be evident in our lives as a result of a right relationship with Christ. In a world that supports ungodly living, the Christian should ask...

III. How then should I live for the Lord? (vv. 12-17)

1. Living for Jesus, means dying to yourself! Living a holy life involves behaving in ways that enhance relationships with others around us, unity in our church, and a greater understanding of Jesus’ teaching. We are to let Jesus control our lives! If we truly live for the Lord, our lives will be full of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” This is a big difference with the previous list! If we have clothed ourselves in Christ, then our garments ought to match His handiwork! In fact, we are to ratchet it up a notch and “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances [we] may have against” each other! It may be tough to do but we are told to “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” WOW! How is this possible? Paul writes that it is only through the sacrifice of “love.” The sacrificial love of Christ “binds them all together in perfect unity.” Which brings about a peace that Christ gives to His people as a part of our calling. It brings about this “peace” and also a spirit of thankfulness, which is a command by Paul. “And be thankful,” he states. The Christian is to let this “word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” What a beautiful picture of a holy life! In fact, Paul related that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus!” How should you live for the Lord? Live for Jesus and die to yourself!

EXAMPLE: He was a remarkable person. Author of 150 books, Toyohiko Kagawa was a teacher, a poet, a philosopher, a scientist, and an evangelist. He wrote on various subjects ranging from scientific studies to theological issues. During World War II, he was imprisoned for his “pacifistic” views. But he never ceased to love and serve God. Often he repeated these three prayers: “Father, forgive.” “God, let me live to serve.” “O God, make me like Christ.” Those brief petitions reveal the spiritual dynamics of a truly Christian lifestyle. That third prayer cannot be realized unless we take seriously the other two. My mother would have said, “Boys you are not going to live like this!” How should you live for the Lord? Live for Jesus and die to yourself.

Conclusion:
1. As Christians we must look to Christ for values that will guide us to holy living.
2. To live holy lives, we must avoid behaviors and attitudes that characterize those who adhere to earthly values.
3. Living a holy life involves behaving in ways that enhance relationships with others, unity in the church, and the understanding of Jesus’ teaching—all of which in essence means allowing Jesus to control our lives.
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Revelation of Jesus – Colossians 1:25-29

The Revelation of Jesus – Colossians 1:25-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 6, 2008 AM

Most folks like a good mystery. One where there is intrigue and suspense and maybe a surprise outcome as well! I will never forget the mystery of the “Broken Cookie Jar.” Never heard of it? Well, I am not surprised because it happened to my family. My mother had a cookie jar she loved and one day it got broken, but none of us siblings would confess to the dastardly deed. She therefore lined us all up in a row and asked each of us if we had broken it, and, each time she asked, each one of us said, “No, it wasn’t me.” Since none “confessed,” we all suffered the consequences. Many years later the mystery was solved when my sister came clean to breaking it. Sure, this is not as great a mystery as say some others, but it confused my brother and I for years until my sister plead guilty!

The Apostle Paul spoke of another mystery. One that has eternal and spiritual consequences for our lives. It is the mystery of salvation revealed through Jesus Christ. There are those in the world who would like others to think that salvation is a long drawn out process and a mysterious secret only obtained by those intelligent enough to gain the prize of enlightenment. This is what the Colossians were being told. It was a lie. Paul reveals in his letter exactly what this mystery is and its importance. Revelation literally meant an unveiling of something that had been hidden, like a covering on a box that is removed to reveal the contents inside or a drape that is whisked away to reveal what lay under it. Paul therefore teaches us about the revelation of Jesus and what it means. Let’s find out today...

READ: Colossians 1:25-29

Paul willingly rejoiced (v. 24) in the midst of his suffering for the cause of Christ. Christians today are to demonstrate their commitment to God and to His revelation that the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ is inclusive. However, those who respond are God’s elect. Paul relates that...

I. The revelation of Jesus, is disclosed to God’s saints! (vv. 25-26)

1. A mystery is no longer a mystery when it is revealed! Paul related that he had “become its servant by the commission God.” God did this in order that Paul would present “the word of God in its fullness,” with no hidden agendas or secret decoder rings involved, to the world! The Colossian heresy boasted of a “fullness” of knowledge possible only through their mystical experience. But Paul declared that the fullness of “the mystery” is freely found and disclosed in Jesus. By “mystery” Paul meant something once concealed but then revealed! This contrasted with the Colossian heretics’ notion that a mystery was a secret teaching known only to an exclusive group and unknown to the masses. Sound familiar? Paul viewed himself as a servant, a minister of Jesus’ “body, which is the church,” given a message by God to unveil to those He had drawn to Himself. God had chosen to reveal the content of this mystery to His people through Paul who had become its chief minister! It was a “mystery” in that not everyone could understand it and that it had “been kept hidden for ages and generations, but [was] now disclosed to [all] the saints!” Those whom God had chosen to reveal it to. Not some secretive society, but those whom He chose to share the good news of Jesus Christ and Paul was one of them! The revelation of Jesus, is disclosed to God’s saints!

EXAMPLE: “Open it up! Open it up!” came the delightful squeals of the little girls invited to the birthday party. They all knew something unmistakeably true about any gift: It cannot be fully appreciated until it is unwrapped. This is true for birthday presents and for the gift God has given to us through Jesus Christ as well. It remains a mystery until it is revealed, until it is opened up, unwrapped, and used. How wonderful to know therefore that God’s mystery has been revealed! the revelation of Jesus, is disclosed to God’s saints! But more than that...

The Bible definitely teaches us that God draws those He has chosen to Himself. His saints. Jesus related that no one could come to Him unless God had drawn them and this holds true now as well. However, we also know that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. Therefore, Paul related that...

II. In this revelation of Jesus, God deliberately chose to make His mystery known! (v. 27)

1. God elected to reveal Himself in Jesus Christ! “God has chosen to make known” this mystery to all New Testament saints! He willed in His sovereign mercy to reveal His eternal purpose the “glorious riches of this mystery!” The amazing thing is that this mystery was now by design consciously revealed by God among not just the Jews but now also to the Gentiles! This is the theology of Jesus when He declared, “For God so loved the world.” It was God’s choice to reveal His plan: God's call to salvation is unlimited but His redemption is limited to those who believe! Even to gentiles, Jews, and to all of those He has chosen! Though this particular aspect of God’s intent previously had been hidden, the inclusion of all people had been a part of God’s plan for all eternity. It had now come to glorious fruition through God’s Son who had given Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. God intentionally made Himself known to the whole world through Jesus Christ. The mystery was revealed! Paul related that it was a intentional act of God to reveal His purpose through Jesus. In this revelation of Jesus, God deliberately chose to make His mystery known!

EXAMPLE: When confronted with the fact of God choosing His children, often people will object with the phrase, “That’s not fair!” The reason is that they misunderstand God and His plan. They think in humanistic terms that if you chose one over another, then that lessens a person’s worth. This is how the Jews thought. Nothing is further from the truth. We forget that God is not only eternal He is also all knowing. He exists outside of time and space because he created both! The idea in Scripture is that God has chosen, now chooses, and will choose those who are drawn to Him. Conversely, God has rejected, now rejects, and will reject those who are not drawn to Him! This is why Jesus could say, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) The wording is literally, “I did not know you, I do not know you, and will not know you!” WOW! How wonderful to know then, that in this revelation of Jesus, God deliberately chose to make His mystery known!

Even though God draws people to Himself, we do not know whom God has chosen and so He has given the task of sharing the good news of salvation to His church. Paul related that it is because of this that...

III. The revelation of Jesus, is something His saints should be willing to labor for! (vv. 28-29)

1. Serving Jesus should be habit forming! Paul’s proclamation was habitual one for him as well as a continual one he could not escape. He had to do what God had called him to do! Paul engaged in preaching on a consistent basis, not occasionally, for the sake of the good news. The focus of Paul’s proclamation was Jesus Christ, the primary subject of God’s mystery that had been revealed. He therefore should be willing to labor for it, just as all Christians should as well. Paul habitually warned and taught his listeners. Paul’s desire was to proclaim the mystery of Christ among the Gentiles as correction to any false teaching they may have received by “admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom!” His desire was to “present everyone perfect in Christ.” The idea here being like James who desired that Jesus’ saints “be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4) “To this end I labor,” Paul related. It was his focus in life to see immature believers mature in their faith. This is what today’s church has lost in the process of soft-selling the gospel without teaching the duty of walking in the gospel. In fact, the term translated “labor” contains the idea of genuine effort. It is intensive labor that produces extreme exhaustion. Paul had spent himself for the purpose of Christ. Do you? The revelation of Jesus, is something His saints should be willing to labor for!

EXAMPLE: You have heard people say, “A honest day’s pay for an honest day’s labor,” yet there are many who seek to be “paid” for work they did not do! We live in a “me first” society that seeks its own comfort at all costs. What a contrast to Paul or many of the past wonderful “saints” of the Lord. I wonder what people would truly do if they actually got back from their church what little they truthfully had labored for! Far too many enjoy the “comforts” that others work hard to provide, thinking that it is their “right” to enjoy and expect. How sad. Think about this seriously for a moment. Could you actually “eat” from the labor you have invested in Jesus’ body that you belong to? Could you pay the bills from what you have invested in time, talent, or treasure? Does this frighten you or anger you that I would dare bring such a thing up at all? Far too many like the free ride of faith they receive from their fellow saints. Paul tells us that the revelation of Jesus, is something His saints should be willing to labor for!

Conclusion:
The revelation of Jesus, is disclosed to God’s saints! In this revelation of Jesus, God deliberately chose to make His mystery known! The revelation of Jesus is something His saints should be willing to labor for!
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.