Paul did not establish the church in Colossae, the preacher Epaphras did (1:7). But Paul wrote to the Colossians to encourage their faith, reliance and devotion to Jesus Christ, as the Church struggled to grow toward maturity.
Paul, by long standing tradition, is designated as the author. The author claims to be Paul in the greeting (1:1). Paul also refers to himself in 1:23 and 4:18.Modern scholarship casts doubt on this, but it merely distracts from the richer study of the clarity of thought and supreme beauty of Paul’s Christology.
The Colossians were “faithful in Christ” (1:2), exhibited “faith in Jesus Christ” (1:4), were “bearing fruit” (1:6) and “love in the Spirit” (1:8). These statements put the scholarship about the so called “Colossian Heresy,” into proper perspective. Paul was writing these churches, not to admonish them, like the Corinthians, but to encourage them to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast,” (1:23). This is crucial to determine exactly what the so-called “Colossian Heresy,” consisted of.
As an Epistle, the New Testament book of Colossians follows Paul’s epistolary style. Paul generally begin with a greeting, moving on to thanksgiving and prayer. The body of the epistle is generally apportioned equally between theological instruction and application, while personal greetings reinforce the writer’s attachment to the recipients. The book of Colossians is rhetorically persuasive, with well-styled argumentation clarifying the gospel and its application as one side of a debate between the all-sufficiency of Christ and the false teaching of man-made religion that threatened the Colossian church. Continue reading “Stand Firm”
This newsletter is a little late, I apologize and hope your week as been fruitful. I have been enjoying a wonderful staycation with my family; celebrating the end of Summer and enjoying some rest for the coming of school and the busy fall schedule. Taking time to reflect on what has been given to us, drawing strength from it, prepares our hearts and hands for the new struggles and difficulties of life that inevitably come. This is a process that God has built into us – Sabbath rest. New revelations. Transfigurations. These are the means of preparation for the way of the cross. Faith is the substance of things not seen. Our faith gives the objects of faith substance. And what God has done, as recorded in His word and in our lives, is the food for that faith.
Filling up the edges
Mark 9:7And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Cloud, or light, had been the sign of God’s presence in the wilderness; and, in true Old Testament style, on this occasion too, there came a voice from the cloud.
The cloud just like the bright, white clothes (v. 3) suggests the shekinah glory and calls to mind the tent of meeting. In the Old Testament clouds are symbols of God’s presence, protection, and authority.
Exodus 13:21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Exodus 19:16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
The Holy Spirit is glory the cloud that filled the tabernacle and temple according to Nehemiah and Haggai. Continue reading “Church Newsletter 2019-8-23”
Spring seems to have taken a break, but I think our thirst for summer has been officially revived. It is supposed to be a particularly mild summer, so be sure to take the moments when they come. Make the most of the glorious outdoors.
As we come out of the winter and take stalk, do some spring cleaning, consider how we are running our race – we ought to consider what might actually be in our hearts without our realizing it. The following list is from out text on Sunday which I did not have time to enumerate. So, take this list slowly. Talk about them with your spouse and children. Break up the fallow ground of your heart with God’s word. Pray for insight. Call what is inside you what Christ calls it. Repent. Rejoice. Repeat.
Filling up the edges
Mark 7:20–22 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
The locus of a person’s thoughts, will, decisions, emotions and the knowledge of right and wrong. The sense of the word is your “self.”
It is the heart which makes a man what he is and governs all his actions Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
In the Bible it usually designates the whole personality. Both in the OT and NT it is the seat of wisdom (1 Kgs. 3:12), and of thought and reflection (e.g. Jer. 24:7, Lk. 2:19), the instrument of belief (Rom. 10:10) and of will, the principle of action (Ex. 35:21) which may be hardened so that it resists God (Deut. 15:7; Mk. 16:14).
It is the principle both of virtues and vices, of humility and pride, of good thoughts and of evil thoughts.
Hence in Scripture the heart is the center of the human person, in which the physical and the spiritual life are concentrated, and therefore in the NT the dwelling-place of Christ (Eph. 3:17) in which reigns the peace of God (Col. 3:15).
In this sense it is used in the language of Christian spirituality, which regards the human heart as the special organ of the love of God.
The heart is a big deal and what does Mark consistently bring into play? What has Jesus been dealing with?
Mark 3:4–5….But they were silent. And [Jesus] looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart…
Mark 6:52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mark 7:6–7 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
The source of true defilement in men is the human heart, and the tragedy of man’s original sin reaches its demonic fulfilment in man’s wanting to sin in his heart.
There is no heart in which this radical evil has failed to take root. We have to be honest about what is going on inside of us.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Sin is just something that “happens,” to us. We wants it. Yet we feel shame, pain and estrangement. We fear man and what they think. Pride, fear and shame ties us in nots or cause our hearts to cool.
The answer is found in Psalm 44:21…God…knows the secrets of the heart.
God knows what is in the heart of man.
We have to let God show us what is inside of us. And we have to accept the diagnoses and the cure, which is heart surgery. But, Heart surgery is a lot scarier then hand soap. Then gourmet kosher food. Than a religious to-do list.
A man is defined by what he holds in his heart. Eating or refraining from certain foods will not change this list one iota, nor will washing one’s hands. It is the heart that must be cleansed.
Your religion cannot be a matter of externals, but internals. Your internals.
At the head of the list is “evil thoughts.” The word “thoughts,” is itself amoral, which is why the word evil is added.
It carries the idea of discussion or debate, with an under-tone of suspicion or doubt. Either with one’s own mind or with another.
For example; Luke 9:46-48An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts…
Arguing with brothers about foolish things, quarrelling, ungracious suspicions, and doubt are all implied and summed up with this phrase, evil thoughts.
Fornicationis a broad term covering all acts of sexual immorality; it is wider than adultery.
The word “fornication” is used in the Scriptures to mean several different things. Its general meaning refers to every kind of illegal sexual intercourse, that is, any intercourse except that between a husband and wife.
But don’t be too hasty, patting yourself on the back.
Fornication is as common to modern men and women, Christian or otherwise, as having elbows.
Theft,murderand adultery. The three that stand in the mind of many as the, well I never sins, so I must be a pretty good person.
Matthew 5:21–22“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder… But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment….Matthew 5:27–28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. ’But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Washing cups, bowls and hands seems a lot easier, doesn’t it? A long list of externals certainly seems a lot easier than what Jesus is teaching here.
So, murder and adultery are two big, yeah but I never sins – always brought up in a self-justifying way. But you can be a serial killer and adulterer and never leave the confines of your heart and mind.
While the Hebrew word for “covet” can also be translated “to desire,” in the tenth commandment it means an ungoverned and selfish desire that threatens the basic rights of others.
Coveting is sinful because it focuses greedily on the property of a neighbor that is his share in God’s grace.
Coveting is a gateway sin. It is a lack of contentment and gratitude.
It leads to theft, lying, adultery and a host of other potential sins. Coveting starts in the heart and unless it is uprooted it will not remain there. It will manifest itself in a host of sins.
Wickednessappears to be a general term denoting acts of deliberate malice, translated variously as evil, Ill-will, spitefulness, trouble or harm.
Wickedness refers to evil in its active form, i.e.mischief (Nu. 16:26). As such, it denotes perversity of mind (Pr. 15:26; Rom. 1:29) by which the natural man surrenders himself to evil impulses (Ps. 10:1–11).
Wickedness has its seat in the heart and is inspired of Satan (1 Jn. 3:12), it is progressive and contagious in its manifestation.
The wicked man is utterly perverse, finding unholy delight in the infliction of injury (Pr. 21:10).
It is like leaven in a bread. It spreads and affects the reaction and condition of the whole loaf. Wicked men seek are mischief. They don’t just gossip, they who to gossip to in order to cause the most damage.
They manipulate, muddy the waters of clarity and stir up strife.
Malice characterizes the life of men under the wrath of God (Rom. 1:29). It is not only a moral deficiency but destroys fellowship.
For believers it belongs to the old life according to Tit. 3:3, so there is still need for exhortation to ‘clean it out.’
1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
That is what this whole section is about. Jesus has begun a new work in you. You are not yet perfect. There are things in your heart that need to come out.
Deceit implies the components of cunning and treachery.
Sensuality is Moral abandon. Indulgence in sensual pleasure unrestrained by convention or morality.
Envy is more than coveting but a grudging jealousy with which a man looks upon the possessions of another. It’s not merely wanting what another has but resenting that another has it.
Slander is to speak critically of another person with the intent to hurt them. To falsely accuse another.
Elsewhere, Jesus said, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak” (Matt. 12:36).
This should cause each person to be very careful what they say about others.
Pride The emphasis placed on pride, and its converse humility, is a distinctive feature of biblical religion, unparalleled in other religious or ethical systems. Rebellious pride, which refuses to depend on God and be subject to him, but attributes to self the honor due to him, figures as the very root and essence of sin.
Foolishness describes the dominant disposition of the man who is morally and spiritually insensitive; he does not know God and he does not wish to know him.
Foolishness is characterized by thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, or judgments that lack sense, prudence, and discretion. Foolish behavior may be immoral or dangerous and is often used for self-destructive tendencies. Foolishness stands in contrast to wisdom, prudence, and sound judgment.
Titus 3:3–7For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
He gives the spirit. He gives us new hearts and minds. He takes your envy, malice, fornication, lies, murders, deceits, etc. and replaces them. With what? How?
Galatians 5:22–24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
To you and me. No, don’t turn away. Don’t hide in shame and guilt and doubt. What’s inside you? You don’t want to face it. You don’t know what to do with it. You don’t know where it comes from.
Don’t be so willing to self-justify and remain in self-deception. That is slavery and death.
Let Christ give you the heart surgery you so desperately need. You are muddled.
But Jesus knows what is inside of you. John 2:23–25[Jesus knows] ‘all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
He knows what’s inside you, that no one else knows. That you hardly know yourself. He will tell you. He will tell you what to call it. He will take it from you willingly. Its why He came. Its why He reigns. He is here to heal you. To cleanse you from the inside, out.
This parable is still connected to the parable of the sowers. Jesus is giving you the seed of eternal life.
But remember Jeremiah 4:3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
Come. Don’t linger. Don’t trust in the externals. Trust Him and He will give you new internals – a new heart and thus a new desire, mind, emotion and will and it will work from the inside out.
But you must remove the weeds, thorns and stones.
Come to His word. His spirit will teach you – Him. His law. His heart for you. He will give the new heart.
Godliness isn’t a list of action items. Godliness is not to be attained through a list of rituals. Godliness is not a matter of eating or washing.
What is godliness? 1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Around the web
An important talk for men.
1 John 2:16-17
Increase my faith, O merciful Father,
That I may not swerve at any time form your heavenly word.
Give me an increase of hope and love, together with a careful keeping of all your commandments, that no hardness of heart, no hypocrisy, no lust of the eyes, nor any methods of the world, may draw me away from obedience to you. And, since we live now in these most perilous times, let your fatherly providence defend me against all violence and harm.
GAME DAY WITH TRINITY
Join some folks at the Trinity Church Office for board games from 10AM-4PM on Saturday, May 18. Open house format; Snacks provided, bring your own lunch. Bring a game to play, or try one out there. 14623 NE North Woodinville Way, Suite 201.
THE CHURCH AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Worship service (not a protest); Wednesday, May 29 from 5:30-6:15pm, at the Planned Parenthood in Everett. 509 – 32nd St., Everett 98201
FREE BOOKS IN THE MONTH OF JUNE
Free books available, coinciding with a new sermon series in June: The
Meaning of Marriage, Decluttering Your Marriage, Father Hunger, Militant Motherhood, and Raising Little Ones.
June 9, 5:30-8:30PM at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell. More details to follow.
Beloved of the Lord! I hope this finds you all healthy, well and grateful! As we consider the good gifts of God and all His manifold graces, let us not lose sight of the giver. The Lord isn’t less interested in your pleasure than your piety, but in your comprehending that He is both!
He is Godliness (1 timothy 3:16) and at His side are pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11). May you know this truth with every breath you take!
Filling up the edges
As John languished in the dungeons of Machaerus, a totally unexpected and fascinating relationship developed between Herod and him. Mark 6:19-20 describe it:
And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
When the gorgeously robed tetrarch met the hair-coated prophet, there was a confrontation. John held nothing back. As a result, though the king held every advantage, he “feared John.” Why? Because goodness is awful. Or put another way, goodness is terrifying to evil. Someone has said, “The truth will make you free, but first it will make you miserable.” King Herod stood at the outside fringes of this reality in uncomfortable fear.
This has been the initial experience of many who have come to Christ. Confronted with righteousness, perhaps through the witness of the Word or a friend, they saw something of their sin and glimpsed the righteousness offered by Christ. At once they were repelled. Then, drawn by that righteousness, they entered a gracious discomfort that eventually brought them to Christ.
While Herod feared, he was also being drawn to Christ. “He was greatly perplexed,” says verse 20b, “and yet he heard him gladly.” What pleasure could there be for Herod in this? Why would bologna like the meat grinder? Perhaps John was a breath of fresh air amidst the social climbing and scheming intrigues of the palace court. John cared not at all about court etiquette or whether Herod or anyone else liked him. He was an original, his own (and God’s) man. Herod could not say that about himself.
Herod may have liked listening to John because he felt that listening would somehow atone for his condition. Similarly, some today think they are good Christians because they listen to the truth and even give assent to it. Very likely John’s preaching elevated Herod’s aspiration to better living. Perhaps he made some attempts at self-reformation, did a good deed, pardoned someone, played with his kids, or gave to a beggar. But he was “a double-minded man” (grossly evil, but with some good impulses) and thus “unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Whatever the case, he returned again and again to “take it on the chin” from John. In fact, even though he often wanted to kill John (Matthew 14:5), he also protected him from the murderous intents of Herodias. Herod’s conscience was being stirred by this man of God. We might even say that his conscience was coming alive. Unfortunately, this was not to be for long.
Stag birthday parties were common to the Herodians,5 and Herodias knew what to expect: a drinking crowd that would become increasingly sensual and nasty as the evening progressed, and increasingly demanding of “male entertainments.” From what we can tell, the evening was well along and the crowd was sufficiently under the influence when she made her move, using her teenage daughter Salome.6 “For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests” (v. 22). Normally this dance would have been by the hetarai, the professional court dancers and prostitutes, but Herodias put forth her daughter. Her sensuous, voluptuous dance, unheard of among women of rank, was outrageous. Young Salome pleased Herod and his guests. This was a treat indeed.
Pleased, the tipsy tetrarch shouted, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you” (v. 22). Then he promised her with an oath, consciously aping the style of the king to Queen Esther (Esther 5:3): “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom” (Mark 6:23). You can imagine the cheers from the men: “All right, Herod. Yeah!” They began to wager on what she would ask. A pair of matched stallions? A pearled dress from Rome? The trap was perfectly sprung.
And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist . . .”
Then Salome added her own gruesome idea: “. . . on a platter” (vv. 24, 25). Like mother, like daughter! Suddenly Herod was sober, and the room was silent. This is what Salome wanted? That scheming Herodias!
“And the king was exceedingly sorry” (v. 26). He was in genuine grief. This word was used only one other time in the New Testament, to describe Jesus’ pain in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:34). For a moment at least Herod’s conscience was mightily torn! On the one hand, John was a good man and had done Herod much good; Herodias had deceived him. But then again, what would his friends think? These tribunes would carry news of his reneging back to Rome, and the whole Imperial Court would laugh. He could not have that. There was only one choice.
What a tragedy! Herod’s conscience had begun to live, and he stifled it because of what he feared others would think. Realizing what was at stake, this seems incredible. But there are many today who are doing just the same thing. How many people’s consciences have been awakened to eternal things and their own sinful plight, and yet they have buried it all because of what they feared their friends or family or fiancé or spouse or fellow-students would think. Some spend their entire lives basing their decisions on what other people think. There are politicians who for twenty years have not made one decision according to conscience, but rather according to what they think the people want. There are business people who spend their entire day reckoning their decisions with a visualized corporate ladder before them. There are students who sell their souls to escape ridicule. More people than we realize have lost eternity because they feared what others think. Is the opinion of others keeping you from following your own best instincts and the witness of the Holy Spirit? If so, do not be fooled.
Around the Web
Check out your Elder Covey, remembering some of His illustrious service to God’s Kingdom.
Fixing my eyes on Christ HEBREWS 12:3
Grant, Almighty God,
since you have appeared in the person of your only begotten Son and have revealed in him your glory made visible; and, since you show us the same Christ through the window of the gospel: Grant that I, fixing my eyes on him, may not go astray, nor be led here and there after evil lies, the misleadings of Satan, and the allurements of this world. Instead, may I continue firm in the obedience of faith and persevere in it through the whole course of my life, until I am at last transformed into the image of your eternal glory, which now in part shines in me, through the same Christ our Lord.
Wednesday, March 27, 7-9PM at Tami Gamble’s home.
GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE
Friday, April 19, 7pm at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell
Isaiah 53:11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah prophesied that the suffering servant would look upon the anguish of His soul and be satisfied.
The doctrines of Calvinists are the doctrines of grace, but we too often focus on the doctrine of total depravity. We too often draw false conclusions from current events. We see with eyes of flesh – of death, despair and estrangement and not with the eyes of faith – love, hope and peace.
We do not consider the whole counsel of God’s word if we forget or miss or neglect the promises.
One of the promises is that after His passion and after his resurrection, Jesus would look at the fruit of the cross and be satisfied.
He is not reluctant to gather with us. He is not ashamed to sit at table with us. He is not ashamed of our table manners. And has we receive free grace. As we receive the fruit of his cross we can’t be less satisfied.
We are learning new table manners; repentance, peace, gratitude, the fruit of the spirit. This table is not the reward of the worthy. It is a conduit of grace, of satisfaction. It is a means for God to make us worthy. Take and eat and see that the Lord is good.
We don’t work to earn our bread. We are weak, trembling and in need. We are given bread so that we are strong enough to work.
Jesus provides that bread. And We need to learn to be as satisfied as He is, in it. He is satisfied with the table as it is set, with what is set on it and with sharing it with you.
Therefore, it is possible for us to join him, eat of it and be satisfied as well.
So, Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.
**In order to learn how to write decent Communion meditations, I am imitating others. This is was a rewrite of Pr. Wilson’s (So come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, Morning reading, January 1st.).
I am going to introduce a phrase into to our Communion liturgy before Covey and I distribute the elements. The phrase is “Come and welcome, to Jesus Christ.”
First, the scriptures instruct us that coming to this table means we are coming to the table of the Lord Jesus Christ’s (1 Cor. 10:21).
When we come to this table we come to Jesus Christ. As we approach and take what is freely offered to us in Christ, we are shaped by God’s grace, we grow up into the perfect man, the Lord Jesus. This is not a mere ritual. It is a memorial, but it is so very much more than a mere memorial. It is effectual. It’s is food and food is for strength and growth and celebration of a harvest.
Eating at this table together is one of the means God uses to accomplish His purpose of remaking us. He commands us to come and eat and by obeying we become what God made us to be. When we come to this table in faith we are coming to Jesus. To become like Jesus.
The word “Welcome,” is equally important. Covey and I do not examine you before we give you your food. There is no catechism. There are not armed guards or metal detectors.
If you are baptized and in good standing within the Church of Christ, then you are welcome. This table defines a relationship. And that relationship is one of love, generosity, compassion, familial goodwill and joy.
Furthermore, you are not given bread and wine because you are a ‘good,’ person. You are given bread and wine so that you will grow up to become a good person. You are welcome here, not because of what you have done, but because of what God, by His grace is doing to you.
Lastly, the word ‘come,’ is an open invitation to everyone. For those not baptized, it is an invitation to the water. For those unrepentant it is an invitation to repent. The only barriers to this table are found within the sinfulness of the human heart. Christ on His cross provides cleansing for every human heart and now crowned, He offers Himself – fully and completely – to all.
So, Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.
**In order to learn how to write decent Communion meditations, I am imitating others. This is was a rewrite of Pr. Wilson’s (So come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, Evening reading, January 1st.).