A Study of Colossians 1:5b-9. Today’s study includes returning to the fundamentals, hearing and responding to the Gospel message, the importance of prayer, God’s will, and spiritual wisdom and understanding.
A Study of Colossians 1:5b-9 Returning to the Fundamentals
V.5b You have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel…
Every sport involves teaching the fundamentals. They are drilled into every player. And often, when teams suffer losing seasons, the coach returns to those fundamentals.
The Greek word for “gospel” is evangelion which means good news. It is the fundamental message of truth for the Christian faith. Everything in the Old Testament builds up to it. And everything in the New Testament builds upon it. Paul encourages the Colossian church to return to that fundamental and measure the truth of every new teaching against it.
We’re given the same charge today although we now have the entire Bible as our source of authority.
New philosophies, doctrines, and religious ideas surround us. So how do we recognize what is counterfeit? By knowing what is genuine. Therefore, we should not simply accept every sermon preached, Bible study taught, or media presentation as truth. But examine them through the lens of scripture.
V.6 Which has come to you, as indeed In the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing as it does among you…
The gospel message has transforming power. And people who respond to it by following Jesus Christ are changed from the inside out. Paul supports this in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Paul affirms the Colossian church for demonstrating evidence the Gospel is at work among them. And he uses the metaphor of bearing fruit to communicate that the Gospel message continues to produce new believers as it spreads throughout world and people respond to it.
And it’s a good reminder for us. Because sometimes our spiritual tunnel vision doesn’t see beyond our local church. But here we’re reminded that the universal church reaches far beyond those walls.
REFLECT & RECORD
What additions do you see to fundamental truths of scripture today?
How do you respond and based on what scripture?
Describe some spiritual fruit you’ve seen produced from Gospel transformation.
How was the Gospel presented to you? Describe the transformation that took place in your life.
A Study of Colossians 1:5b-9 Hearing and responding to the Gospel message.
V.6 Since the day you heard it and understood…
The Greek word for “understood” is ĕpiginōskō, and means to acknowledge, become fully acquainted with, and perceive. It indicates that people don’t always immediately and emotionally respond to the Gospel message. But rather, carefully consider and rationally think about it before reaching a conclusion. But then, everyone must decide to either reject or accept the Gospel and move forward by an act of faith.
The grace of God in truth…
Religious practices are a work-based tendency that dilute the Gospel message of grace.
Among other things, part of the false teaching Paul addressed included an observance of Jewish practices. Paul counters by emphasizing the Gospel is based solely on God’s grace.
Of course, people also push the message of grace too far in the other direction to the point of license. And Paul addresses that as well in 1 Corinthians 6:12.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.
V.7 Just as you heard from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister…
The Gospel didn’t miraculously appear to the Colossian church on a tablet dropped from heaven. Epaphras shared it with them. The Greek word for “minister” is diákonos and also translated deacon. In other words, Epaphras was a layman in the church who lived out Jesus’ instruction to “go and make disciples.” He’s an example that every Christ-follower has received the same instruction.
A Study of Colossians 1:5b-9 The importance of prayer, God’s will, spiritual wisdom and understanding
V.9 We have not ceased to pray for you asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…
The Christian life is not practiced in isolation but in community. And Paul demonstrates it includes praying for one another. The fact that he has “not ceased to pray” indicates it’s part of his regular routine. And his intercession for the Colossian church is a regular prayer concern. We should practice the same regular prayer pattern and concern for others in our lives too.
The Greek word for “knowledge” is ĕpiginōskō, the same word used for “understand” in v.6. The Greek word for “wisdom” is sophia and the word for “understanding” is synesis, whichconveys the idea of discernment and self-awareness. They all point to the fact that the Christian life requires, thoughtful and intelligent consideration around the truth of God’s word, in seeking His will, and involve a lot of prayer.
REFLECT & RECORD
What are some things you’ve seen added on to the message of grace? What impact have they had?
What is your prayer routine like? How often do you pray and how much does it include praying for others?
Consider what Paul said about knowledge, spiritual wisdom and understanding. How do you differentiate and apply them in your own walk with Christ?
A study of Colossians 1:1-5a. Paul’s letter to the Colossian church is a prison epistle most likely written from Rome. Today’s study includes Paul’s reason for writing to the Colossian church, his authority to speak for God, and the role of faith, love, and hope.
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: Paul’s reason for writing to the Colossian church
Epaphras founded the Colossian church. Paul describes him in chapter four as a servant of Christ in the church who struggled in prayer and worked hard for them. He visited Paul in prison to express his concern about a strange and harmful teaching that had infiltrated the Colossian church.
We’re not sure what it was. On one hand, it emphasized Jewish rituals like circumcision, following dietary laws, and observing holy days. But it also included a philosophy that acknowledged extra spiritual powers and mysteries beyond the gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, it questioned the sufficiency of Jesus Christ alone.
There were many false teachers and worldly philosophies then like there are today. Because since his first deception of Adam and Eve, Satan has used lies to lead us away from God. As he continues today. That’s why it is important for us to carefully study and understand God’s word. So we recognize what’s false by knowing God’s truth. Even then, Satan is quick with an excuse to rationalize our disobedience.
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: Paul establishes his authority to speak for God.
V.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…
Paul identifies himself as an apostle by God’s will. The Greek word apostolos means to be sent. And it was Jesus who established it. He commissioned his twelve disciples as apostles and sent them out to preach, teach, and minister. It’s recorded in Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, and Luke 6:12-16 and included the authority to cast out demons and heal diseases.
Although Paul was not one of the twelve disciples, he was commissioned as an apostle when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He immediately converted from church persecutor to missionary for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The apostles played a significant and authoritative role in proclaiming the gospel, starting churches, speaking with governing authority into church life and writing books of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
REFLECT & RECORD:
Describe the sources of authority in your life.
How were they established and maintained?
How have they changed over the years? What are your sources of authority today and why?
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: The role of faith, love, and hope
V.2 To the saints and faithful brothers…
Paul doesn’t address two different groups. But uses two descriptive words for the same group of people. The Greek word for saints is hagios which means holy and sanctify. It means a life that is set apart.
The Greek word for faithful is pisto, which means true and sure. And it refers to a commitment level. In other words, Paul describes the Colossian church as people fully committed to imitating Christ. And living in a manner that pleases God and is distinct from the culture.
V.4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…
Christianity does not avoid faith, but embraces it. And encourages followers of Jesus to exercise and grow in it. In fact, God requires it in order to please him.
The love that you have for all the saints…
Love is an exercise of faith and radical teaching that differentiates Christianity from all other world religions and philosophies. It should especially be evident among Christ-followers and Paul confirms its presence in the Colossian church.
V.5 Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
Hope empowers Christ-followers against overwhelming odds. And it’s based on the knowledge that everything on this earth is temporary. God promises eternal life for those who persevere in the faith.
REFLECT & RECORD
Do you consider yourself a saint? Why or why not?
Describe your commitment to a Christ likeness and life set apart from the culture.
Describe how faith, love, and hope work together in your life as a Christ-follower.
When Jesus walked on water, he both frightened and amazed his disciples. The story is recorded in Matthew 14:33-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:16-24. Here are some lessons it teaches us today.
When Jesus walked on water. The storms of life can shake your faith and fill you with fear.
After feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus sent his disciples off in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and he went off alone to pray. Later in the night, a storm arose and the disciples struggled in the boat against strong winds and waves. So Jesus walked out to them on the water.
Was this an impulsive, original idea by Jesus? Maybe not.
You alone stretched out the heavens and trampled on the waves of the sea. (ESV, Job 9:8)
Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? (ESV, Job 38:16)
Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. (ESV, Psalm 77:19)
These passages indicate Jesus had previous water walking experience, perhaps during creation, and this was just another casual sea stroll to demonstrate his divinity. Although when the disciples saw Jesus they thought he was a ghost and it frightened them even more. At least until Jesus spoke and they recognized his voice.
Isn’t this true for us? The storms we encounter in life shake our faith and cause fear? But notice, Jesus didn’t wait for the disciples to cry out for help. He saw their distress and went to their aid. It’s reassuring to know he takes the initiative on our behalf too.
When Jesus walked on water. Follow Jesus and you might get in over your head.
You have to love Peter. A guy who acts first and thinks later. He does at least recognize he can only walk on the water by Jesus’ power. And give him credit as the only disciple brave enough to get out of the boat. He does great at first while he focuses on Jesus. But then he begins to think about it. Second guess himself. Focus on his circumstances rather than Jesus. And begins to sink.
Although once again, Jesus grabs on and pulls him to the surface. And it wouldn’t be the last time Peter’s impulsive behavior led him into choppy waters. It’s a familiar story for us too. When difficult circumstances test our faith we tend to focus more on the circumstances than on Jesus. And may feel like we’re in over our heads.
But even when it feels like you are alone and abandoned, you’re not as David reminds us.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (ESV, Psalm 46:1)
In fact, God does HIs best work through us when we acknowledge our weakness and call on Him for strength. And when God demonstrates His power through our weakness, we are more likely to give Him the glory.
When Jesus walked on water. When you provide the faith, Jesus delivers the power.
Jesus chastised Peter for his little faith. But maybe with a smile? Because Peter demonstrated faith through his actions.
And this is exactly what Jesus’ half-brother talks about in James 2:14-26.
You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (ESV, James 2:18)
James isn’t saying to demonstrate good works to earn salvation. He’s telling Christ-followers now that you’re saved by grace through faith, you should demonstrate that faith by your actions.
Exactly what Peter is doing!
Of course, it wasn’t Peter’s first miracle rodeo with Jesus. He had just witnessed Jesus feed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Watched him command a lame man to pick up his bed and walk. Lazarus to wake up from the dead and come out of the tomb. And many others.
Yes, faith is important and Jesus said we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain. And so too, is the importance of prayer. But the lesson in this story is the importance of remaining focused on Jesus. Because even as people of faith, the storms of life make that difficult.
But when Peter’s faith failed in the middle of the storm, he called out to Jesus who pulled him from the swirling waters. And we can trust God’s faithfulness. He will do the same for us.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. And what is meant by sovereign? An almighty God who created the universe. Who rules over it and is actively working in it to carry out His purpose. Here are three assurances God’s sovereignty give us.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. God created and controls the universe
God is an infinite, eternal being who exists outside of the universe. Hebrews 1:1-3 says Jesus both created the world and upholds the universe by the word of his power. Some pretty weighty words, right?
The Greek word for “uphold” is phero which means to carry or bear. It indicates carrying something from place to place. In other words, God didn’t create the world, turn on auto pilot, and then sit back and watch it spin. And the universe doesn’t run on a hidden, built-in power supply. God actively and continually carries it forward.
Colossians 1:16-17 says, “in him all things hold together.” Acts 17:26-29 says, “In him we live and move and have our being.” And 2 Peter 3:7 says, “The heavens and earth are being kept until the day of judgment.”
The view that earth is doomed because of climate change and it’s our job to save it has no place in a Biblical worldview. Scripture assures us that a sovereign God secures the world until he brings this age to a close. And it affirms this truth: God always does what he says He will.
Until then, we are stewards of the earth and its resources. But we are not in charge. God is. So relax people of God.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. There is an eternal purpose and plan that God is moving forward
God has a plan for your life and this world. Sure. Things may look a bit chaotic and out of control at the moment. And maybe your life feels that way too. But scripture assures us that God is at work in ways we can’t see or understand.
Ephesians 1:11 says he, “works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
The Greek word for “works” is energeo and indicates that God brings all things about. Does that mean we’re puppets doing His bidding? Or He uses subliminal messaging to manipulate our behavior? No. Scripture consistently teaches we make independent choices with consequences. And we are responsible for our decisions. But God is a divine actor, not a passive spectator.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Even in the midst of evil and bad circumstances God will bring about good. Especially for his devoted followers. This is one of the reasons we’re encouraged to pray. Although we don’t understand how it works, scripture tells us prayer can change results.
Nothing that happens in this world takes God by surprise or derails Him from fulfilling His purpose. Because He is not subject to our decisions. We are subject to His. And His eternal plan will prevail. The only question is where we, by our choice, will land in it.
Three assurances from a sovereign God. This age and world will conclude when God decides. For something better.
Jesus told his followers he would return to earth in the future. And he gave them signs to watch for. Although there is debate among Christian theologians about many of the events, there is agreement on two of them. A final judgment for all mankind and the formation of a new heaven and earth.
It’s one of the many promises that give Christ-followers hope. One the apostle Paul tells Christians to always be ready to give a reason for. And another assurance the earth is secure in God’s hands. Because if Jesus plans to return to earth, then certainly, God will make sure it’s here for him.
But the best part? God plans to remake the earth into a new version that’s even better. So rather than live with fear, gloom, and doom, Christ-followers have something to confidently look forward to.
Finding your soul satisfaction. Have you? Because there’s a restless yearning in today’s world. Undefined, yet undeniable. An internal craving. Nagging dissatisfaction. A cry from the depths of the human soul that’s visible in human behavior. And the Bible speaks to it. Here are some thoughts on what it says.
Finding Your Soul Satisfaction. The disillusion of worldly pursuits.
In 1965, Mick Jagger sang about the angst we see today: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Even though he tried and tried and tried. And we’re still trying today. Doesn’t appear to be working out so well. Why is that?
Of course, the desire for soul satisfaction is not new. Neither is where or how people search for it. Here’s how Solomon described his efforts.
I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 1:14)
The Hebrew word for vanity means breath, vapor or fleeting. In other words, Solomon expressed the futility of seeking ultimate meaning from worldly pursuits. And he should know because he pursued and acquired more than anyone else on earth. EVER.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 2: 9-10)
Wealth, women, wisdom, success and power. Everything that tops most lists for human satisfaction. AND HE HAD IT ALL! He amassed possessions, pursued multiple interests and hobbies, and achieved every endeavor he set his mind to. But he still cried, “All is vanity!”
And we’re surprised when we pursue the same things without success? So what does that say about the source of soul satisfaction?
Finding Your Soul Satisfaction. Jesus cried out for it on the cross.
No other person walked with God as intimately as Jesus Christ because he was God in human flesh. He makes that claim in John 10:28-30 where he says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
But Jesus lost that connection for a brief moment when he carried the full weight of our sin on the cross and it separated him from God. The anguish of that separation was worse than the physical pain of the crucifixion as he called out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
However, it was a sacrifice Jesus willingly made for our redemption. It broke the power of sin and opened a path of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And it also reminds us that a soul satisfying relationship with Jesus Christ involves regular self-examination, confession, and repentance of sin. Because sin is always a barrier between you and God.
Finding your soul satisfaction. It’s in a personal relationship with God.
David also searched for soul satisfaction. But unlike Solomon, he pursued it through a satisfying relationship with God. And it wasn’t just a casual past-time. A once a week Sunday routine. But a desire for intimacy that he describes in Psalm 42:1-2:
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. And David goes on to explain why: For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (ESV, Psalm 107:9)
Despite all his sin. His victories and defeats. David knew God was the source of soul satisfaction. And he pursued that relationship with passion.
Jesus recognized the same spiritual thirst in the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:5-15 and offered to satisfy it when he said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reached a similar conclusion.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
And it all leads to the final question: As you seek soul satisfaction in your own life, are you following the example of Solomon or David? And how is it working out for you?
How the Bible deals with doubt. The Bible starts by speaking openly about doubt. Why? Because doubt is a confidence killer. The seed of uncertainty. Bane of belief. And we all experience it. Although when it comes to ultimate questions like does God exist? Is heaven and hell real? The stakes go up quite a bit. Here are some thoughts on how the Bible addresses it.
How the Bible deals with doubt. It’s okay to express it
Mark 9:14-29 tells the story of a man who presented his mute son to Jesus for healing. But unlike others who asked Jesus for healing, he didn’t express complete confidence. Instead, he says to Jesus “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus immediately challenges him. “‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
You can almost picture Jesus with hands on his hips, raised eyebrows and slight smile. If? What do you mean “if?” There is no such thing with an all-powerful God. But you need to believe.
The man immediately realized his mistake. And to his credit he didn’t fake it or make an excuse. He did believe but maybe not enough because he still had some doubt. But if Jesus required more belief to heal his son he asked Jesus for help there as well. “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Don’t we all do this at some level? We doubt because we’re not sure God hears our requests? We’re unsure of our worthiness. Possess a limited amount of faith.
And the good news is God doesn’t demand a fixed level of belief you must demonstrate before he responds. Like the minimum height requirement for a roller coaster you must meet to ride. At least he didn’t in this case. Jesus went on to heal the boy.
It’s comforting to know that God understands our humanity. And doubt is not a disqualification as Jesus’ disciple Thomas demonstrated.
How the Bible deals with with doubt. The Apostle Paul considers a “what if?” possibility
What if God doesn’t exist? Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Heaven and hell are fiction? These questions can present moments of doubt for followers of Christ. Rather than run away from these questions the Apostle Paul honestly speculates a “what if?” scenario in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 by confronting the possibility. What if they all AREN’T TRUE? And his answer is brutally honest. In that case, those of us who believe are the most to be pitied.
I wouldn’t take it quite that far and think he’s maybe exaggerating a little to make a point. Because he goes on immediately in V.20-25 to assert that Jesus did rise from the grave and in him, we too are alive.
However, Paul willingly presents one side of the intellectual argument. Not because he believed it. But to admit. Okay. If, you’re right…if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then all of my belief is in vain. I’ve been duped and deserve your pity.
And by honestly doing so, he opened up the other side for honest speculation.
What if they’re all true? Then what does that mean for non-believers? This is the paradox of doubt. It works both ways.
How the Bible deals with doubt. The answer to doubt is faith
Scripture describes three aspects of faith.
More than wishful thinking, but reasonably considers the evidence
In Romans 1:19-23, the Apostle Paul says that God’s power and divine nature are clearly visible in his creation. Those who refuse to acknowledge it do so as a matter of choice, but are without excuse. Furthermore, Jesus Christ was God incarnate. And his sinless life, death, and resurrection offer us redemption.
Embraces a sense of confidence and conviction
In Hebrews 11:1 the writer describes faith as the “assurance in things hoped for and conviction of things not seen.” The Greek word for “assurance” also means confidence. In other words, faith is more than blind hope, but a confidence that is deeply and profoundly secure in the heart and mind. And this confidence and conviction moves the believer forward.
Demonstrated in the actions of the faithful
Faith in the Bible is never passive. Simply an intellectual acknowledgement. It always involves action. Jesus told his disciples to “follow me” because he demanded an active demonstration of faith. To follow him meant to follow his teaching by practicing it in daily life.
James, likewise, told believers that “faith without works is dead.” And the faith of a follower of Jesus demonstrates good works.
For now we waver between faith and doubt. And God promises to reveal himself to anyone that sincerely seeks him. But the day is coming when doubt is cast aside and faith is replaced with absolute assurance. As we stand in God’s presence and behold his splendor and glory. Then every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
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