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Some Reasons to Celebrate

01.31.2021

46M

Kicking off our new collection, Above All Earthly Powers, Ben Stuart challenges us to slow down as we make our way through the book of Colossians and to sink our roots deep into the soil of the word of God.

Key Takeaway

The grace of God and the gospel of Jesus is a global message, but it's also a personal one. We don't have to perform or work for approval. We are secure in Him.

Colossians is a beautiful book about staying in the wake of Paul and his teaching to their fellow brother Epaphras who helped plant the church in Colossae.

Colossae wasn't a huge city. It was about 2-3 days from Ephesus and a multi-ethnic agrarian culture with a very young church. We know where it is, but it's never been excavated because it is still used as fertile farmland to this day. Interestingly, Paul used agricultural context and language in this book, and that can still be seen and understood today.

If you want to grow in Christ, you grow with Christ. You cannot grow apart from Him. This book contains the highest, most exalted, beautiful praise of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It extols the authority and supremacy of Jesus. He is above all earthly powers. You don't outgrow Jesus; you grow in Jesus.

This series will move very slowly. Verse by verse. Speed is the enemy of depth.

There were some serious issues that Paul needed to address, and he will, but first, he starts with the good news. The message is about a man who makes us holy and makes us family. It's global, yet it's deeply personal.

Colossians 1:1

Paul's introductions in his letters matter. He was named Saul when he was born and was a member of the Jewish educational elite. Names change across ethnic lines pretty often, and in the Hellenistic ethnic community, he was known as Paul. After his radical encounter with Jesus, he knew his mission was to take the message of Jesus to the Gentile world. So it's important that we recognize that when he introduces himself as Paul, he's addressing himself by what his audience would know him by. He rightly claims to be an apostle, which carries the meaning of being an emissary for Christ Jesus. (Christ is not Jesus's last name: it's a title for Messiah.) He is using his authority as an apostle to back up Epaphras.

Timothy is half Jew, half Gentile, and not really accepted by either community. Paul calls him a brother proving that in Jesus, He is building a family. God is on the move to unite brothers and sisters all across the globe.

Colossians 1:2

How does this happen? Through faith in Christ Jesus, the Son of God. We fix our eyes on Him. The message Paul is bringing is of grace, peace, and kindness. God is our Father and gives us peace with Him, peace with others, and peace with ourselves. Shalom isn't just the absence of conflict. It's the presence of flourishing.

Colossians 1:3-4

It's personal. Paul prayed 3 hours a day. Which we think is a lot, but that's what the average person spends on their phone every day. What you think about, you'll care about. What you care about, you will chase. Your inputs determine your outputs. How could Paul know God so deeply? He lingered with God 3 hours a day. Paul is always thanking God for them because their trust in God became a love for others.

Colossians 1:5

Their hope is laid up in heaven. There was false teaching saying that they had to work hard for their salvation and for God's approval. Insecurity leads to self-absorption. Their hope is secure; their approval is fixed. The most loving and generous children usually come from stable homes. We are the family of God, God's Children.

How did they get there? It's so personal to them! They knew they were forgiven, that they had a place in the family, and their hope was secure. Their hope gives them faith which gives them love. The Gospel is advancing.

There is a current study that about 1/3 of the global population claims to be Christian, and it's the fastest growing among all religions. There is no center of global Christianity. It also found that atheism has peaked.

Colossians 1:6-8

The Gospel is advancing now as it was then. It's bearing fruit across the world. Is it doing the same for you? Do you know Him? The solution is Jesus and His grace.

Quote

"God is building a family. It's global, but it's personal. He came for you. He came for me. We don't have to make our way up to Him. He came down to us."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Colossians 1:1-8
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.