Colossians: Introduction

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Sermon notes for PRV’s new study through Colossians. Audio file can be found here.

Introduction

  • Today (originally taught on January 5, 2014) we are starting a new series
  • Working through the book of Colossians
  • This book has popped up several times over the past month or so,
  • Looks to be in line where God is taken us

Theme

  • The theme, or overall message, of the book is
    • “Christ is Lord over all creation, including the invisible realm. He has secured redemption for his people, enabling them to participate with him in his death, resurrection, and fullness.”
    • Colossians is one of the most Jesus centered books of Paul’s
    • Focused on teaching the believers at Colossae that Jesus is the King and ruler of every area of their lives
    • Paul was also encouraging them to participate with Jesus
      • Embracing the good news that we have died with Jesus and been resurrected into a new life through Him
      • Now we can join with Jesus in changing the world for His sake
      • This, to me, fits with us in our journey with  Jesus
      • It is easy to forget that we are new beings through the power of Jesus’  blood
        • When we  bowed our knees to Jesus and gave our lives to  Him, the old stuff of the past was wiped away
        •  We are now new
        • With a new mind, heart, passion and mission
        • With a new year upon us, we need to stand  strong in this reality
        • We also need to embrace the part in Jesus’ mission that each of us have
        • We were not saved – set free from the evil one’s chains simply to live a good life
        • We were called – are called – to work with Jesus in changing the world
          • Setting things right
          • Crying with people, rejoicing with others
          •  Telling folks about the good news of God’s active and dynamic rule and reign.

Public Reading

  • Colossians 1:1-14

First Things

  • The author of book is St. Paul and St. Timothy
    • Timothy, for those who don’t know, was a disciple of Paul
    • Mother was a Jew, father a Greek
    • Timothy traveled with Paul for a few years
    • Would become the bishop of Ephesus a few years after this letter
    • It was written around 62 AD (about 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus)
      • St. Paul was in prison at Rome
      • The audience, as previously mention, was the church in Colossae
      • St. Paul never visited the town – nor did he start the church
        • The church was started by a gentleman named Epaphras
        • Seeing how Colossae was on the trade road to Ephesus
        • About 100 miles west of Colossae
        • It was likely that Epaphras heard about Jesus from the church in Ephesus
          • Acts 19:10 said that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” from Ephesus
          • Brought it back to Colossae

Stories of the Kingdom

  • In verse 4 we hear about how Paul and Timothy have heard about the church in Colossae
    • they give praise to God for them
    • they also pray for them
    • I don’t know about you, but I love hearing stories about what God is doing throughout the world
      • Stories of the Kingdom
      • Last week Emily and I attended Holy Trinity Anglican Church with Emily’s parents and sister
        • This is a church plant under the leadership of the Anglican Church in Rwanda Africa
        • They describe themselves as “ANCIENT, EVANGELICAL, and CHARISMATIC”
        • After the service I was talking to the Rector /pastor
          • I told him how much I was enjoyed the service
          • That I have been following the movement of the Lord within the Anglican Church for the past decade
          • He was shocked and surprised – asking, “Who would follow the interworking of another church?”
          • That is just the thing: if Jesus is there, then I’m for it
            • Yes, I love the Vineyard
            • This is my tribe – my stream within the bigger river of God
            • But we have been called to bless the larger church of God
            • Whether we agree with them or not
            • If they are following Jesus, then I’m for them
            • Just like Paul, I pray that (verse 9) they may be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Church plants

  • There’s another very important concept in this passage
  • It is the concept of spreading the good news of Jesus through the starting of new churches
  • The entire church in Colossae wasn’t started by a super star
    • It was started by an largely unknown man who heard about Jesus and told others
    • We need more folks like Epaphras
      • Folks who can’t keep Jesus a secret
      • Who start new churches
      • Now some people may ask why we need new churches
      • Here are some reasons
        • It’s Biblical
          • Jesus told us in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations”
          • The book of Acts is about God’s people planting churches
          • People talk about being a Acts 2 church, well then, let us plant churches
  • It’s Needed
    • 1 out of every 3 adults (33%) in America is unchurched. This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past 6 months. This represents approximately 73 million adults, plus roughly 27 million teens and children for a total of 100 million Americans. (2012 numbers)
    • Others numbers I’ve heard is close to 80%
    • This alone wouldn’t be enough to start new churches as much as it is a reason to get out there and tell people about Jesus
    • Here’s how this works in with new churches
      • Churches established at least 10 to 15 years earlier gain 80 to 90 percent of new members through transfers from other churches and denominations.
      • 60 to 80 percent of new members in new church starts come from the un-churched.
      • We have seen this ourselves – with most (not all) of our new converts coming in the first few years
  • It’s Healthy
    • It is healthy for the sending church
    • It lets the sending church think outside of themselves
    • It allows them to play apart in God’s mission to the world
    • Each local church has been told by Jesus to not only transform their local community, but the world at large
    • This to me, is what Jesus meant when he told us ALL to “go and make disciples of all nations”
    • We do it here AND there – both/and not either/or

Practically

  • You all have heard me mention the need for church plants before
  • You all know Emily and mine passion for loving people and telling them about Jesus
  • You all know our heart for the world
  • Today you have a chance to be practically involved in this
  • We – Emily, Jadon and myself – would like to request you all to send us out this year to start a new church
  • This is a desire that, while it has always been in the background, started in the Fall of 2012
    • It grew steadily over 2013 with things become certain in October 2013
    • This has been a hard choice for us as we love this community and you all specifically
      • After tons of prayers, talking to our mentors, and family we finally realized that this was what God was doing
      • We have been talking to the church elders about this as we are aware of the challenges that come with this decision
        • Yet we are confident that you all – that PRV – is strong enough and established enough that you all can continue on without us
        • This year will be tough with a lot of major decisions, but that is ok
        • Jesus is on the throne and is actively involved in every decision

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