— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise God! I appreciate the Lord just kind of taking over and guiding things this morning because He’s the One that needs to do it, isn’t He?
And, the Lord, if you haven’t discovered this by now, the Lord has ways of showing us how much we need Him and how little we can do on our own. Anybody else notice that? Yeah, but it’s His goodness, because anything that originates in us is not gonna be of any value, is it? Not in things that matter. We just need Him and we need Him to come this morning and help us.
I particularly feel my weakness, but again, that’s a good thing. Paul gloried in his, didn’t he? Yeah, and his reason was that he wanted the power…he wanted ‘His’ power to rest upon him. Well, that’s my desire this morning, and so I just put this in the Lord’s hands.
You know, Wednesday night I spoke for a little bit and the emphasis was on unity, but my mind went to the book of Colossians. And, I guess the main reason at the time was because that was kind of portraying where unity goes and how it’s expressed in a group of people and their interrelationships.
But my mind has kind of stayed with Colossians. And, I’m just praying the Lord will guide me through this because it’s like I’m seeing this picture of the whole thing and there’s a whole lot more in there than you can deal with in a message. But anyway, I’m just trusting the Lord will help me to focus on what He wants to be said this morning because it’s very much in harmony with what we’ve heard so far, and just how central it is that we look to the Lord and not to ourselves.
Paul, at this particular time, was in prison and it’s addressed…the letter says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother…” (NIV). So Timothy was evidently with him and sharing in what was said. But obviously the main…the thoughts that are there are the thoughts of Paul.
And Paul had never been to this particular place. He didn’t know the people by face. He was simply…he’d heard about them and he was thankful, and prayerful because of hearing about their faith.
You know, in this time…the Lord was beginning the invasion, if you will. That’s one way to put it. This world was turned over to humanity and humanity turned it over to the Devil, and this creation has been corrupted ever since. And God has always, from the beginning, planned an invasion that would result in an eternal kingdom that would survive all of this.
And so he began the invasion through His Son, and all that He did. And then the message of what His Son had accomplished was beginning to be spread throughout the Roman Empire, in particular. This particular city is in, what is today, Turkey. It doesn’t exist anymore, but it did then.
And there was another messenger, another, was it…Praise God, Epaphras, I believe it was, who was the man who was responsible for founding the church. And Paul had a burden for these people that they really get it, because the Gospel…and I believe it’s been way over simplified, in our day especially.
The Gospel to most people is all about believing in Jesus and having your sins forgiven…I guess I’ve said this many times, but…and then basically having your ticket punched to go to heaven one day. And then one day we’ll be there and it’ll be wonderful and all of that. But I’ll tell you, there has got to be a transformation if you and I are gonna be fit for heaven.
And so, we see on the one hand in the Gospel that, thank God…my sins have been blotted out. They separated me from a holy God. I couldn’t possibly have a relationship with Him without something happening about my sins. But He sent His Son to bear my sins, to assume my guilt and assume my punishment. And so, legally I can go free. He is free to forgive me if I will just turn from my sins and give my heart and my life to Him!
What a message that is…of hope, for people who look around and struggle through this world. I mean, you think about the struggles that we have. What about people who don’t know the Lord? Folks, this is a miserable world. Yeah, there are some who have a certain amount of pleasure out of it, but it is one long struggle ended by death, and there’s no power to change that. Boy, I’ll tell you what, the hope of the Gospel is amazing!
And the hope held out in the Gospel, again, is not simply that my sins will be forgiven and I’ll get to go there someday. It’s that when I get there, I will be a glorious being like the Son of God. I will be a child of God, glowing, filled with the life of God!
So, Paul, of course, is dealing with, how do you get from point A to point B? All right, now you’ve heard the Gospel, and his prayer as he expresses early in this is that I want you to understand. You’ve got a lot of things you don’t know. You’re coming to the table here with a whole lot of ideas that are from the world, and you imbibe them from your local culture.
And one of the things that was a factor in Colossae, in the city there, was that there was kind of an angel cult, I’ve heard it called, where basically, they worshiped angels. They had drunk in philosophies and things that the Devil had planted in there as, here’s the answer to life. You need to get wisdom from somebody who’s been there and has a higher view and they can tell you how to navigate this life and come out on top.
And so, here these people were coming out of heathen darkness and worldly thinking, worldly philosophy, and so, the burden of his heart was, God has called you to this. I want you to understand what He has called you to and how you get from this glorious beginning to the hope that He has planted in your heart that one day you will stand there in His likeness. How do we get there? How does God accomplish that invasion?
And you know, you look at a lot of his, especially Paul’s prison epistles when he had nothing to do but write letters, there’s a pattern, isn’t there? You look in the early parts of several of his books and you will find Paul elucidating, lifting up and…expounding, I guess, is the word I’m looking for…expounding the Gospel and what it really means of what God has done for us.
And then he will move from that gradually into, okay, now here’s how we’re supposed to live. Okay, you have this…you’re a husband, you’re a wife, you’re a master and a slave, in that day, and there are children involved…how do you relate to one another in the Body of Christ. There are all of these behavioral, social values, if you will, that come into play.
And so much of the Gospel, that is called the Gospel, is basically, believe in Jesus and then try to be good. And Mike expressed it very well, that…if you try to ‘do’ Christianity…a lot of people think they’re doing it, but this is not the Gospel. God did not call us to ‘do’ Christianity, as though it’s a lifestyle and a behavioral change kind of thing.
You can teach yourself and train yourself to behave like somebody who is really wonderful, but that doesn’t change anything in here. The Gospel is all about that brand new heart. It is a new heart and a new spirit. It is everyone knowing Him.
And so, Paul wanted…these fellow, these young believers to really understand the process. It’s not just that we want to get to these…how we should live and treat one another things, it’s how do we do that? What’s the secret of growing in Him. What is the whole process? Because it’s not just navigating our way through the world, man, this is an upward journey. We are pressing on toward a mark that God has set before us. We are traversing a path that He has marked out for us.
( congregational amens ).
Very individual, very personal, yet it jives together…weaves together into this glorious, eternal purpose that He has for us. And you can just hear Paul just exalting in the glory of it.
And, you know, the one thing that is central to the book of Colossians is the Person of Christ! It’s 100 percent about Jesus! There is no other answer! It’s not, here’s now you’re supposed to live, now get with it and get with the program! It’s Jesus is the answer to every single issue that Paul brings up.
And so, there’s a reason why he lifts up the Person of Jesus. You know, it’s awfully easy for us, reading about him as a man, to be thankful that He was humble and gentle and cared about people and performed miracles and did all the wonderful things that He did, but I’ll tell you, that isn’t where He started. He goes back way before the foundation of the world and Paul wants to lift that up. Praise God!
Let’s see where we pick this up. Well, I’m just gonna read some of this in chapter 1. I don’t want to get bogged down because I want to get to the central thought. But anyway, Paul expresses his prayer in verse 9. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you….”
That’s interesting. Paul’s not just conveying information, is he? He understands that this is a spiritual battle, not simply a mental one. There needs to be spiritual energy generated and he understood that prayer is literally bringing us into a relationship with God where life can flow through us out through our lips and actually go out and make a difference. Praise God!
Do you understand what prayer is about? That’s a subject all on its own. But, here’s Paul, not just instructing them, as though, okay, I’ll give you the information and that’s good. But I’ll tell you, I’m praying. I understand that in order for this change to happen in your heart and your life, God is gonna have to intervene. God is going to have to give you an understanding heart and mind so that you can begin to grasp these things that He wants you to know.
And asking, “…God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom…” not some other kind, “…spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this….” Now where’s he going with this? “…And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way.”
So you see the connection with having this genuine understanding of how the kingdom of God works and our place in it, and where we get the resources to do what we do. This is central to our being able to live out what he talks about at the end when he starts getting into how we behave. Praise God! Have you ever tried to live the Christian life on your own? It doesn’t work very well.
So anyway, “…please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” So it is a process. “…Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might….” Are you weak this morning? Has God made you aware of a weakness in your life? Yeah, I’ll put both hands up.
But you know…I’m gonna say this again. God does that for a very specific reason and it’s a good one! He shows us our weakness in a thousand and one different, very personal ways, but He does it so that that we will stop trusting in ourselves and get how the kingdom of God works.
He has everything that we need! Everything we need is in Him. He standing there…I mean, He’s seated at the right hand of the throne of God and He has everything. Praise God!
“…Strengthened…according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” How do we get it? It’s gonna have to be Him, isn’t it? “…And joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
Oh, Paul just can’t hardly get the words out, can he? They’re so rich, there’s so much that he’s trying to convey. You can feel the heartbeat just pouring out this incredible picture that he wanted…us to get and them as readers.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness….” Do you know if you’ve come to Christ, I don’t care if you’ve come from the gutter or the palace…outside of Christ, you live under the dominion of darkness. There is a god of this world. He has an army of wicked spirits. They are the real power behind this world and this world system, its way of thinking, its way of doing.
And every single person born into Adam’s race has a nature that agrees with that spirit and with that power. And there is simply no way to escape except God intervenes and it’s a supernatural rescue out of the power of darkness. Folks, you can’t just sort of turn over a new leaf and be a Christian. You’re gonna have to surrender to the saving power of Jesus Christ. That’s God’s answer for every single situation, every single need.
Okay, He’s “…rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Praise God! Now one of the things that I see Paul doing here, he is wanting us… he’s gonna lift up Christ as the answer to everything and that’s basically what he’s saying.
I don’t care what your need is this morning. The answer is Jesus! But in order to properly appreciate that answer, we need to see who He is. Let’s talk about who we’re talking about here.
“He is the image of the invisible God.” You know…there are other scriptures that say this same thing. God is invisible. No one has ever seen Him. No one ever will see Him. He is an omnipresent Spirit. He is not part of the universe. He exists apart from it, outside of it, within it. I mean, there’s no place you can go where He isn’t. This is an amazing Being, a Spirit Being.
But this Spirit Being has a Son. This Son is the very image. You want to know what God, what that unseen Spirit is like, you look at Jesus Christ, because the character, every attribute of God is there in His Son, and He’s lifted Him up! He is, “…the firstborn over all creation.” Okay? Listen to what he says here because this goes back to the beginning.
It says, “For by him….” Now you get the Persons involved here. This is the Father creating things, but how does He do it? Through the Son. It’s “…by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Whoa! There’s not a star in the most distant galaxy that can just take off and do its own thing apart from the authority of this One that we are here to worship today. This is the Son of the Living God. He spoke galaxies into existence. You think your little problems are too great for Him? Ron, do you think you’re the one that He can’t save?
Well, I think every one of us has probably had that feeling at some point. We’ve had that emotion, that voice telling us that that’s the case. I’ll tell you, we have Somebody who is able to save completely. We have somebody who has been elevated to the throne of the universe.
I’m gonna just refer to a scripture that I referred to the other day and I guess it fits in with this, but it’s in Ephesians. Just back up a few pages. Ephesians chapter 4. It talks about Him descending into the earth. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this. But it talked about Him descending into the earth and then ascending into heaven. But why did He do that? Why did God bring Him up there?
There’s a particular reason. “…The very one who ascended higher than all the heavens…” Verse 10, I believe it is. “…In order to fill the whole universe.”
You know I mentioned that God is involved right now in an invasion. This universe that exists right now has been corrupted by sin. The first step, of course, was for His Son to take care of the sin problem and to obey the Law and to take our guilt upon Himself and put it away. And in Him, God judged the world, when He went into the ground, having come off that cross.
But when He came forth, a new creation was born. When He ascended to the throne, it was for the purpose of being able to be a channel through which the Spirit of God could invade everything. So, where are we at now? We don’t see that yet, do we? We don’t see all things under His feet, under our feet.
What we do see, however, is Christ beginning to invade individual lives. If you have ever been brought by the power of the Gospel to the point of repentance of your sins and putting your faith in Jesus Christ and inviting Him to come and take your heart and your life, God just invaded. God invaded some part of this old creation and He’s transforming it gradually into part of the new creation.
And I’ll tell you, when He gets through with all of His sons and daughters, all of us brought to that place where we stand there in Glory, then it will be time to destroy everything else that you see and create a new heaven and a new earth.
Where is that life gonna come from? That’s the same life that’s in Jesus, that is in you, has been born in you and me is going to invade everything! Can you imagine a world just full of God and His power and His glory and His peace and His majesty…I mean, things we can’t even imagine right now. Praise God, that’s what’s happening!
But you and I are in that first stage right now, where God is invading and changing our hearts and our lives. Oh my, if we just could see and get a bigger glimpse of who this is, we’d run to Him. We wouldn’t wait. We wouldn’t worry about, am I good enough, have I done enough, will He hear me, does He care, does He have what it takes? I mean, a thousand and one voices will scream in your head and tell you how bad you are and how hopeless your case is, but I’ll tell you, Paul’s message to every single issue in our lives is to point us to Jesus Christ…
( congregational amens ).
…As the answer. Thank God.
All things were created. “He is before all things, and in him…” back in Colossians, “…all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.” I’ll tell you, a body shares the same life, doesn’t it? So that’s what makes the church. It’s not organizations and doctrines, and all this stuff that we have here. This is church-ianity.
But I’ll tell you, in the midst of this, there is a remnant of people who actually have been born of His Spirit. That’s the Body of Christ. But He wants that to find expression in a local area, a local place. That’s what this is about here.
So, “He is before all things…he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Oh, do we have a message to preach today! I’ll tell you, there’s only one thing that will cause someone to miss this and that is the hardening of the heart and resisting the call and the pull of God’s Spirit upon the heart. Oh, anybody who hears this, if God is convicting you that these words are true, and Jesus is who He said He is, and your situation, apart from Him is what God says it is, man, you better cry out to Him. God will hear your cry!
But He will not bless you in rebellion and in a life of self-will, wanting to do it your way! God is gonna reach your heart and bring you to that place of surrender. That’s the place Jesus occupied, isn’t it? He didn’t do His own will. He did what the Father showed Him to do.
Okay, and he talks about how we’ve been reconciled and how we need to stand firm in the hope of the Gospel…I’m skipping through here for the sake of time. But anyway, I want to come down…he talks about how…praise God! He refers to the Gospel as the mystery that has been kept hidden from the ages!
You know, this highlights something God says through Paul in another place. There’s no way the philosophers of this world can figure it out. Why do we take their wisdom? Why do we give any ear to the wisdom of this world? They don’t know. They don’t have the answers! Praise God! We need what God can only reveal, and only to the heart of the one who listens and hears His voice. There is wisdom that the world cannot possess. I don’t care what they do. Praise the Lord!
So anyway, Paul is talking about the mystery…and I’ll tell you, do you know what the mystery is? It says, “…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” Now it’s time to let people in on the secret of what’s been going on, what His real purpose is. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is…” What? “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
I don’t care who you are, again, whether you come from the gutter or the palace, God has one answer! If Christ is in you, in the sense in which he’s talking about here, He has come to live, He has birthed that brand-new life in you, then this is your hope! If He is not in there, I don’t care what religion you practice or how you live your life, you will perish with this world. This is the dividing line of the human race! It’s Christ in you! That’s the foundation of anybody having a hope of Glory. Praise God!