Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, February 03, 2012

Bible Study - Christ the Center - Center of Everything - Colossians 1 - February 5, 2012

Bible Study – CHRIST the Center – Center of Everything – February 5, 2012

This is lesson one (1) in our new series entitled “CHRIST The Center.”

Our focus scripture for this lesson is Colossians 1:9-23.

All of our lessons for this month will focus on Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colosse.

Our series of study will explore the centrality, sufficiency and preeminence of CHRIST in all things. The Christians in Colosse had the truth but some people had infiltrated their church and were trying to add to that truth.

In our society, we see many people who are turned off by the organized church. It is easy for the brick and mortar churches to come under attack because they all are filled with a blend of people. Some are true born-again mature Christians, some are non-Christians who are seeking truth, some are new Christians building a relationship with CHRIST, some are playing the game and posing as Christians for various reasons – social reasons, to meet the man or woman of their dreams, business reasons, political reasons and the list goes on. Some Churches’ ministers preach safe messages and have blocked the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians have placed the Holy Spirit in a box and put the lid on. We only speak of the Holy Spirit in safe company and fail to rely upon the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Christian churches may not be all they need to be but even when the Bible is read, taught and preached, it will produce results. GOD’S Word is powerful and produces results. Christians must know GOD’S Word to be able to discern truth from error. If a Christian hears error being taught, it may be time to confront the pastor or teacher or move to another place to hear truth taught.

Spiritual growth, with its ups and downs, is part of the sanctification process. Sanctification is the process of bringing Christians’ flesh nature, which they inherited from Adam, Eve and all their ancestors, under the control and authority of GOD. Christians will never be perfect as long as they are tethered to their physical bodies. Yet, GOD’S goal for every Christian is for them to be made in the image of HIS SON, JESUS. This is accomplished through the renewing of the Christian’s mind provided he/she is willing. GOD never overrides our right to choose.

Our study focuses on the preeminence of CHRIST. GOD put HIM in charge of all things. HE is The Truth which many people search for through all sorts of avenues – religions, meditation, doing things, denying themselves, self-sacrifices and the list goes on. Once a person takes that step of faith by accepting CHRIST as his/her Savior, then truth is confirmed in the eyes of their hearts and becomes a reality. The passion of CHRIST begins to make sense because the born from above believer has been moved from the darkness of living in sin to walking in HIS marvelous light. CHRIST is the light of the world and there is no darkness in HIM.

Let’s read Colossians 1:1-8: (Lead-in to our focus scripture.)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our[1] Lit the brother:
2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae. Grace to you and peace from God our Father.[2]

The Apostle Paul was writing to the Christians in Colosse from prison in Rome. This letter was written during Paul’s first imprisonment. Timothy was there with him. Paul mentions Epaphras who had introduced the gospel to the Colossians and most likely founded the church in Colosse. Epaphras had visited him in prison. Some believe that Timothy may have been writing the letter while Paul dictated it.

Epaphras had given Paul and Timothy an update on the church in Colosse. It was a good report regarding their faithfulness in serving CHRIST but the church had been infiltrated by those who were distorting the gospel. Paul responded to this concern in this letter to the Christians in Colosse. He needed to remind them of the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith, which had not changed.

Paul asked Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver this letter along with two (2) other letters that he had written. One was to the Christians in the church at Ephesus and the other to Philemon. (Onesimus was a slave that belonged to Philemon but had run away. Paul led him to CHRIST and talked him into returning to Philemon.)

Why Beliefs Matter. Other mss add and the Lord Jesus Christ


3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints
5 because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about [this hope]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. in the message of truth, the gospel
6 that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth.[3] Or and truly recognized God’s grace
7 You learned this from Epaphras, our much loved fellow slave. He is a faithful minister of the Messiah on your[4] Other mss read our behalf,
8 and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.

“We” in verse 3 likely referred to Paul, Timothy and Epaphras. Paul did not put them down for being infiltrated but he was presenting truth and truth exposes error. Paul reminded the Christians in Colosse that the gospel of CHRIST, which is truth, had not changed. It was the same as they had received from Epaphras. In fact, this same gospel was spreading all over the world and changing lives.

The church in Colosse had been infiltrated by those who had attempted to blend paganism and secular philosophy with Christian doctrine. In essence, those who had infiltrated the church were saying that having a personal relationship with CHRIST through faith was not sufficient for salvation.  A person needed to do more. People are always trying to add something to Christianity. Salvation is simple, yet so hard for many to take that step of faith needed to receive it. The Gnostics thought that knowledge was required to lead a person to enlightenment. GOD’S plan is faith. GOD does not rule out study and gaining knowledge. Study is important. Study combined with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit goes beyond human ability to comprehend and understand.

What makes a person a Christian? It is his/her faith in CHRIST. It is a person believing and accepting the fact that CHRIST gave HIS life for him/her to pay the debt for sin. GOD set the penalty to pay the sin debt, which was death. I used to argue with GOD. I asked HIM, “Why couldn’t I die for my own sins?” HE said, “You don’t qualify because I demand a perfect sacrifice but whereas you don’t qualify, MY SON JESUS does and HE died for you. Can you accept that?” I could not argue with that. Many of us try to work out our own way to salvation.

It is impossible for a person to earn the right to become a Christian through good deeds and works. The very best in any human is not good enough for a person to be acceptable to GOD. Isaiah 64:6a - 6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; HE demands absolute perfection. Whereas no human measures up to GOD’S standard of perfection, HIS only SON, JESUS, does. JESUS was born as a human, lived upon earth, tempted in all ways as we are, yet remained sinless and gave HIS sinless life as a sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe upon HIM. When a person asks CHRIST to forgive him/her for his/her sins and asks HIM to come into his/her life, HE does. CHRIST in you is what makes you a Christian, not the church or the Christian organization you may join. When you accept CHRIST as your Savior, you experience the miracle of rebirth. You have been born into GOD’S family. You have become, in that instant, GOD’S Son or Daughter and nothing you will ever do will change that fact.

Salvation is the beginning process of sanctification, which lasts a lifetime. Christians choose to what extent they want to grow Spiritually. A Christian needs to grow through Bible study, prayer, finding a place of worship where truth is taught and yielding their will to the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian never takes away his/her right to choose. Our flesh wants to rule and wars against our born-again Spirit. GOD’S desire is to remake us through the renewing of our minds by getting to know HIM, building the right relationship with Him and obediently serving HIM. This is an awesome journey. Yes, you will have some tough times. I have found it is often during those times are times of greatest Spiritual growth.

Paul was reminding the Christians in Colosse to recall the fundamentals of the Christian faith that they had learned from Epaphras. There are times in our journey that we have to be reminded of the basics of Christian fundamentals.

Let’s read Colossians 1:9-12: (Why Beliefs Matter Continues)
Prayer for Spiritual Growth

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing [to Him]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. , bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.
11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you[5] Other mss read us to share in the saints’[6] Or holy ones’ inheritance in the light.

Since the moment that Epaphras had given Paul and Timothy the report regarding the Spiritual growth and the problems the Christians in Colosse were facing, they had been in constant prayer for them. The substance of their prayers was for them to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” The reason they were praying so specific was “so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing [to Him]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. , bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.”

The pursuit of knowledge was the hallmark of the Gnostics. Pursuing knowledge for the sake of gaining knowledge did not lead one to truth. The Christians in Colosse had found truth in CHRIST and they needed to walk worthy of that knowledge in complete confidence as GOD’S child.

How does a Christian measure their walk with GOD?  Paul gave us a clue. Are we bearing fruit and growing in knowledge of GOD? When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened. They made a choice between allowing GOD to be the authority in their lives and allowing their flesh to rule their lives. They chose to follow the desires of the flesh. Their flesh nature needed to be brought under the authority of GOD. We inherited this flesh nature. All humans need to be brought under the authority of GOD but it is their choice. The only way this could be done since the fall of mankind is through an extreme makeover. This is why salvation results in the miracle of rebirth when a person accepts CHRIST as his/her Savior, but what about Adam and Eve? The coming of CHRIST was thousands of years away.

Some Bible scholars believe when GOD fashioned clothing for Adam and Eve made out of animal skins that it was the first animal sacrifice and shedding of blood due to sin. Could it be that this shed blood was a place holder for them until CHRIST gave HIS life for the remission of sins?

Genesis 3:21 -
21 The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife.

Those before CHRIST, through faith, were looking forward to HIS coming, the forgiveness of their sins and redemption from sin. Christians, since the passion of CHRIST, through faith, are looking back to the cross. Christians have the added assurance, power and confirmation of the indwelling Holy Spirit in their lives. Therefore, Christians can walk with GOD with great assurance that their final destination is heaven.

So why don’t Christians walk with this great confidence? Often, it is out of fear and lack of trust. It boils down to not having the right relationship with CHRIST. We depend upon our intellect to figure it out and fail to step when GOD leads us to take a step of faith to serve HIM. How do I know? It is because I have been there. It is impossible to figure it out. If that is where you are, take a step of faith and place yourself completely in the hands of CHRIST. Then ask HIM to be the strength of your life and to lead and direct your life.

As Christians, when we have been born-again and experienced the miracle of rebirth, that is only the beginning of our walk with GOD. HE wants HIS children to bear fruit and grow in knowledge of HIM through worship, study of HIS Word, prayer and faithful service. But it is service as HE leads us, not what we decide to do for HIM.

Knowing Who CHRIST Is Vital to all Christians.

Let’s read Colossians 1:15-20:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;[8] The One who is preeminent over all creation
16 because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased [to have]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. all His fullness[9] Eph 3:19 dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross[10] Other mss add through Him whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Paul was reminding the Christians in Colosse of the preeminence and centrality of CHRIST in everything. He began with the fact that JESUS was the exact image of GOD. When you see JESUS, you see GOD. As you may recall JESUS’ disciple Phillip asked JESUS to show him the FATHER. JESUS’ response was captured in John 14:8-11:

8 “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?[5] Jn 10:30,38 The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works.
11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe[6] Other mss read believe Me because of the works themselves.

Paul referred to CHRIST as being the “firstborn.” Bible scholars believe that was a metaphor for “preeminent one.”  We know that CHRIST was present with GOD before the world was created. We know that according to scripture that CHRIST was the creator and has always existed. The reference to “firstborn” was used in verse 18 means that since HE conquered death, HE is preeminent over death. HE was the first to be resurrected as proof that HE paid the penalty for sin because HE conquered death.

Paul continued with statements supporting and reminding the Christians in Colosse that CHRIST created all things both seen and unseen. CHRIST is GOD and HE holds all things together. The order of the universe and earth are under HIS control. HE is the head of the true church, the body of believers. This is not the brick and mortar churches but the true body of believers.

GOD, The Father, was pleased to be one with CHRIST and gave HIM full control because HE reconciled everything by giving HIS life. Through the shedding of HIS blood to once and forever break the barrier that sin had placed between GOD and the world, JESUS opened the path for the all to be reconciled with GOD. Just as Adam and Eve made a decision to disobey GOD, all humans must make a decision to accept GOD’S provision for redemption and complete salvation, which is accepting CHRIST as their Savior. Salvation restores a person as GOD’S Son or Daughter and makes him/her complete.

CHRIST reconciled everything on earth and in heaven through HIS obedience and giving HIS life for the remission of sins. HE gave HIS life because HE loves every person but the choice is up to each person whether or not he/she accepts HIM as his/her Savior.

What CHRIST Has Done.

Let’s read Colossians 1:13-14, 21-23:

13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,
14 in whom we have redemption,[7] Other mss add through His blood the forgiveness of sins.

Only Christians understand what it means by being rescued from darkness and transferred into the kingdom of CHRIST. CHRIST gave HIS sinless life to pay the penalty for sin, which was death. CHRIST redeemed all who believe in HIM from sin and death. All are redeemed from darkness and transferred into the light of the kingdom of CHRIST.

Let’s read Colossians 1:21-23:

21 And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions.
22 But now He has reconciled you by His physical body[11] His body of flesh on the cross through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him—
23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith, and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. [This gospel]* The bracketed text has been added for clarity. has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a minister of it.

Paul admonished the Christians in Colosse to remember who they were before they received CHRIST as their Savior and to recall the lifestyle they were living. They were alienated and hostile to the things of GOD and walked as evil people in darkness. Through the passion of CHRIST, all who believe in HIM have been reconciled to GOD. Since they had asked CHRIST to forgive them for their sins and for HIM to come into their lives, they have direct access to GOD. This direct access to GOD was only the result of CHRIST paying the penalty for sin through HIS shed blood and death. GOD declares all who accept CHRIST as their Savior to be righteous and gives them the gifts of eternal life and HIS grace.

In verse 23, Paul used the word “if.” The word “if” seems to indicate that Christians can lose their salvation. It means just the opposite. When a person is truly born-again and not playing the game of being a Christian, he/she will never change the fact that he/she is GOD’S child.

Christians can lose their rewards for not being obedient but they will never lose their salvation. Those who are led away from the Gospel have never experienced the miracle of the rebirth. People can act like Christians and say all the right words but have never been born-again and the sad thing is they know it. GOD never plays gotcha. HIS Spirit always knocks on the door of the hearts of all who need salvation. But people can resist HIM to the point that their hearts become hard and they cannot sense HIS urging. HE will send many to witness to them. Don’t let that happen to you. Ask CHRIST to forgive you and ask HIM to come into your life right now. HE will and HE will never leave you or forsake you. Please become HIS child by asking CHRIST to forgive you of your sins and to come into life right now or if you have not been living the abundant Christian life, confess it and ask HIM to restore the joy of your salvation.


Post a Comment

<< Home