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Author Topic: Colossians 1:1-8  (Read 400 times)

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Hidden In Him

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Colossians 1:1-8
« on: February 19, 2018, 05:14:43 PM »
The Holy Spirit: Confirmation Of The Truth Of The Gospel

     In the first few verses of Paul's letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul will use the word truth in connection with the gospel twice. Why? Because the Colossians were Gentiles, which made it necessary for Paul to all the more stress that the God of the Jews had accepted them into the household of faith. Outside of Judea, the Gentile nations regarded the God of the Jews as just one among many gods of the ancient world, albeit exclusive to the Jewish race. But now the truth the gospel had come to the Colossians: Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, had died for the sins of the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and by His grace He had opened the door for Gentiles to now come into relationship with the True and Living God:   
     Paul, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ by the will of God, and the brother Timothy, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse.
     Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father. We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying all the time for you, having heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and [your] love for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in the heavens, which you heard about beforehand in the recounting of the truth of the gospel, which came unto you as also unto all the world, and is producing fruit there and increasing even as also among you from the day in which you heard it, and recognized the grace of God in the truth, even as you learned from our beloved fellow slave Epaphras, who is a faithful servant of Christ to us, having also disclosed unto us your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:1-8)

     But there is a very important question worth asking here: How did the Colossians actually know the gospel was true, and they had been accepted into the family of God? The answer is because the Lord was providing them with supernatural assurances of it. Not only was He confirming the word with signs and wonders following but He was also pouring out His Spirit upon them as further confirmation that what they were hearing was indeed the truth.
     As I will demonstrate in this study, God never intended unbelievers to simply accept the gospel of Jesus Christ on blind faith. He intended that they be provided with evidence of it.
     Unfortunately, this is not what modern Christianity teaches today. Potential converts are told simply to believe. This is one of the primary reasons why we are now losing the spiritual war. Many have reduced the gospel down to a mere intellectual debate, hoping to win converts over through the power of mental persuasion. But in the end, it just ends up being their opinion against ours, and most decide to go on believing whatever they choose to. Even worse, Satan is now causing many new converts and young believers who were raised Christian to eventually fall away from the faith because it was only something they mentally assented to for awhile. Because they never received any real proof of the truth of the gospel, they cling precariously to their faith for awhile until someone eventually talks them out of it.
     The solution to these problems is to return to presenting the gospel as it was originally presented: With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and with signs and wonders following, for in today's spiritual climate most simply reject Christianity out of hand as being fiction. And as a result, most are dying and going to Hell, and will continue to do so until we return to not just proclaiming the truth of the gospel but providing proof of it.

Evidence That The "Gospel Of Peace" Was True

     What exactly was it that they "heard about beforehand in the recounting of the truth of the gospel"? The Colossians heard what all Gentiles chosen by God were hearing: That through faith in Jesus Christ the door had now been opened for them to become members of His family. How did they know this? Because the Holy Spirit was being poured out on them in proof of it. Beginning with the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles is what convinced the Jews that God had now begun also accepting the Gentiles as His spiritual sons and daughters:

     And the apostles and brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision were differentiating with him, saying, "Before uncircumcised men you went in, and you ate with them." But having begun, Peter related the story to them in order, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and while in a trance I saw in a vision a certain vessel like a great sheet being let down by four corners out of Heaven. And it came to me, upon which after I had looked intently, I was considering. And I saw the four-footed creatures of the earth, and wild beasts and creeping things, and the birds of heaven. And I heard a voice saying unto me, 'Rise up, Peter, sacrifice and eat'... And behold, at once three men stood at the house in which we were, having been sent from Caesarea to me. And the Spirit said to me to go with them, making no distinctions. And these six brothers went with me as well, and we entered into the house of the man, and he related unto us how he saw an angel in his house, which stood there and said, 'Send [men] to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who shall speak words to you by which you and all of your house shall be saved.' And as I was beginning to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them even as also upon us in the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'Indeed John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then, in believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ, God also gave them the gift equally as unto us, how was I able to forbid God?"
     And having heard these things, they were silent, and glorified God, saying, "Then God has also given the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11:1-18)

     This is why the Colossians had great love for all the saints, Jews and Gentiles alike. Though they had formerly been estranged and alienated from the Living God, and enemies to Him in their minds, not being Jews, they had now been accepted into God's family through faith in His Son:

     Wherefore remember that you who were once Gentiles, and those said to be "the uncircumcision" in the flesh by those said to be "the circumcision" in the flesh performed by hand, that you were at that time without Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and being without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once afar off were brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that He might make in Himself the two into one new man, making peace, and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it. And having come, He preached the gospel of peace to you who were afar off, and to those who were near, in that through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. (Ephesians 2:11-19)

     What was the gospel of peace? Precisely what was referred to in the passage above. There had once existed a state of enmity between the Gentiles and the God of the Jews, such that any Gentile found in the inner sanctuary of the temple at Jerusalem would die. But now peace between the two had been made through the blood of the Lamb, so that instead of death the Gentiles were being renewed unto newness of life through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them in abundance.
     This was the same gospel of peace referred by Paul in his description of the armor of God; the same gospel of peace that all believers were to have their feet shod with, so that if they had to give an account before interrogators, they were prepared to share the message that through faith in the blood of Christ a state of peace now existed between God and man. And how would they know this was true? Because if they chose to believe, God would pour out His Spirit upon them in confirmation of it. 

The Holy Spirit: A Divine Assurance From God

     But someone would say, "But I didn't need any assurances to believe, and I don't think others do either." Regardless of what you might feel is necessary, the only thing that is relevant is what God Himself felt was, and He was clearly providing numerous assurances to believers during New Testament times that the gospel was true, chief among them being the manifestation of works of power among them, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. So too did the apostle Paul provide assurances that the gospel was true through the type of life he was leading:   

     For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in great assurance, just as you know what type of men we were among you for your sakes... For at no time did we come [to you] with a word of flattery, as you know, nor with any pretext of covetousness, God is our witness, nor did we seek glory from men, not from you or from others, [despite] having the ability to be heavy-handed as apostles of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 2:5-6)

     As Paul also stated in this context, the Gentiles were most certainly not converting to Christianity for nothing. It was precisely because of divine assurances such as signs and wonders and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that they were turning from dead and lifeless idols to the True and Living God:

     For our good news did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit... and from you the word of the Lord rang out not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but even in every place where your faith towards God has reached unto, such that there is no need for us to have to say anything. For they themselves relate concerning us what entrance we had unto you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the True and Living God, and await His Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, Jesus, Who is saving us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 8-10)

     Moreover, Paul would describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon believers was the "pledge" of God, a type of proof He had every intention of saving them from the wrath of God that would eventually come upon the nations:

     Having heard the recounting of the truth, the gospel of your salvation... you were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the [purchased] acquisition, unto the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Spiritual Gifts: Proof That Gentiles Were Fully Accepted

     The spiritual gifts were likewise a means by which God was fully confirming that the Gentiles had equal status and equal roles to play in the ministry. As Paul would tell the Corinthians, the testimony of Christ was being confirmed among them in that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were being granted to them, and as a result of receiving these gifts they themselves were being confirmed by the Holy Spirit to now be true sons and daughters of God:

     I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God having been given unto you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you such that you are not lacking in any gift while you await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [from Heaven], who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the Day of the Lord. God is faithful, through whom you were called unto the shared experience of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)

     Moreover, the fact that supernatural gifts of divine utterance were being given to both Jews and Gentiles alike, as well as to slaves and masters alike, was intended by God to prove that every member of the body of Christ was equally important in His eyes, and equally important in terms of the role they played in the ministry of the church:
     There are diversities of executions [of the spiritual gifts], but it is the same God executing them all within all. And there is being given to each a manifestation of the Spirit to be of benefit [to all]. For to one the word of wisdom is being given by the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to a different one faith in the One Spirit, yet to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit... For by the One Spirit we also were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freemen, and we were all made to drink one Spirit... And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you." Or again, the head [cannot say] to the feet, "I have no need of you." But rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are greatly necessary. And those [members] of the body we suppose to be more dishonorable, upon these we bestow a more abundant honor, and those among us who are disrespectable have a more abundant respectability, while our respectable members have no need. But God has integrated the body together, having given more honor unto those who are inferior, that there might not be divisions in the body, but that the members might show the same concern for one another. (1 Corinthians 12:6-9, 13, 21-25)

     In other words, the reason God was giving supernatural gifts to every member, especially those who might have been deemed inferiors such as slaves or Gentiles, was precisely so that there would be no divisions in the body over social class. When slaves left a meeting, they went back to their roles as part of an inferior class socially. But within the Christian congregations God was making sure there were no social inferiors whenever believers gathered together, for the socially "disrespectable" were being given more abundant respectability amongst the congregations of God by the Spirit of God Himself. This the case just as much with Gentiles as with slaves, for which reason no one could deny them full involvement in the ministry of divine utterance, for the Spirit Himself was confirming them as equal vessels through whom He might speak.

The Pattern Jesus Himself Originally Set For Believers

     This is why the pattern Jesus set for believers to follow after conversion stipulated that baptism in water be followed immediately by baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus insisted on being baptized in water despite knowing full well that John's was a baptism of repentance:

     Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now. It is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. (Matthew 3:13-14)

     Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from Heaven as a dove and remain upon Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

    Just as John would testify, Christ was in fact the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. But what, then, was He doing allowing Himself to receive the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance? Though John objected, Jesus responded that it was proper for them to fulfill all righteousness. By this Jesus meant that He would allow John to baptize Him, not because He needed repentance, but because He was setting a pattern for all future believers to follow through everything He was now doing. As the "Firstborn from the dead," Jesus was taking the first step all believers would need to take after their conversions, in keeping with the pattern He Himself had set.
     The pattern then, was as follows:
1. Be baptized in water to signify death to the flesh.
2. Then receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be "born from above," which would thereby signify being born into a new spiritual life.
3. Engage in an extended period of intense fasting, so as to make "mortification" of the flesh a practical reality in your life, in advance of the coming temptations of the Devil.
4. Withstand the temptations of Satan to bribe you into forsaking God.
5. Go on to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, confirming it through signs and wonders following, being weak in the flesh yet strong in the Spirit. This is what Paul came to understand in telling the Corinthians, "Whenever I may be weak, then I am powerful." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

The Need To Again Confirm The Truth Of The Gospel

     The following Question And Answer page at a Christian internet site illustrates just why we need to return to confirming the truth of the gospel to new converts through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. With nothing to go on other than merely having made a public profession of faith, many often confess to having doubts. Unfortunately, the pat answer most usually receive is that they shouldn't go by their feelings but by the written word of God, something which sounds good in theory but isn't actually very spiritually responsible on a practical level:   

Question: "Hi there. I read the bible and have accepted Jesus as my Savior. Unfortunately I still struggle deep in my heart with doubt. It all seems too good to be true! Am I truly a saved Christian when I can’t seem to find ‘the peace that transcends all understanding’? - Sandy"

Answer: "Hi Sandy,
It’s wonderful that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. The Bible teaches us in Romans 10:9 that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” So you are saved. Your salvation does not rely on how you feel but on what Christ has done for you." (Questions And Answers, As A New Christian, How Do I Deal With Doubt?, Christianity.Net)

     I once heard a local pastor give this exact same answer concerning the doubts younger believers were having, so I know this is essentially the standard answer given, and unfortunately it is misguided. Yes, we are saved by faith, but the Lord intended that our faith be reinforced by experiencing His presence tangibly through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which this precious soul should have been told to begin seeking God for earnestly in prayer from the very outset.
     Instead, the writer goes on to say: 

"The peace that Paul is speaking of in Philippians 4:7 (the “peace that transcends (NIV) or surpasses (ESV) all understanding”) is not a feeling of peace but the reality of peace between us and God based on the saving work of Jesus on the cross. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and saviour, you have this peace no matter what you feel." (ibid)

     Correct. The Peace of God spoken of in Philippians "is not a feeling of peace but the reality of peace [that exists] between us and God." However, how did believers in New Testament times know with certainty that this peace now existed between them and God? Because He was pouring out His Spirit upon them.
     Eventually the writer arrives at the following statement:
"Once we have chosen to put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we embark on a journey of living as God’s children. This will involve a growing in maturity as we grow in our love, knowledge and service to God..." (ibid)

     Again, how did New Testament believers know they had been "born again" and become God's children? The expression "born again" reads literally as "born from above" in the Greek, and New Testament saints knew they had been born from above because the Holy Spirit was descending upon them from above. To this writer's credit, however, he or she does eventually point the doubter in the right direction with the following words:   

"As you continue to pray and ask for God to work in you by his Holy Spirit, you will grow in faith and understand what you are reading more and more. (Questions And Answers, As A New Christian, How Do I Deal With Doubt?, Christianity.Net)

     Praying to God to work in them, and more importantly manifest Himself to them supernaturally, ought to be the leading response to such a question, not something added on towards the end. And what should be added regarding praying that God confirm the truth of the gospel is to remain persistent in prayer for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for as our Lord Himself promised, those who do so can rest assured He will grant the outpouring to them at the proper time:

     Then [Jesus] said to them, “Who among you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has come from a journey to me, and I do not have anything to set before him.' And the one inside should answer him, ‘Do not make trouble for me. The door has already been shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot rise up and get it for you.’ I say unto you, even if having risen up he will not give it to him because he is his friend, yet because of his impertinence, having risen, he will give him as many as he needs. And I say unto you, ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. And which father among you, if his son should ask [for bread], will give him a stone? Or for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent? Or even if he should ask for an egg would give him a scorpion? If therefore you, being evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:5-13)

     To be "impertinent" meant to not be restrained within due or proper bounds, especially regarding matters of impropriety. Thus, this was yet another passage that had relevance for the Gentiles, because many might well have thought themselves impertinent to ask the God of the Jews for the Holy Spirit, or for spiritual gifts. But the teaching of Jesus was to have faith, faith enough to bother God for such things until they finally received them.

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