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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is Lord!


Epaphras had given his heart to Jesus when Paul came to his town preaching and healing!  Epaphras lived in Ephesus and sometime around 65 A.D. Paul spent three years in Ephesus spreading the word that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and Savior. Signs and wonders accompanied Paul’s preaching and many people through the power of the Holy Spirit were healed of diseases and physical problems. And along with Epaphras a large number of Ephesians who heard Paul’s preaching accepted Jesus as their Savior and formed a Christian church in Ephesus.      


The town of Colosse was near Ephesus and today the ruins of both these ancient towns can be found in modern Turkey.  The Bible tells us that Epaphras traveled from Ephesus to Colosse and shared his new Christian faith with the people there and many of the Colossians (people living in Colosse) gave their hearts to Jesus and formed a Christian church there.  These were exciting times.


 Everywhere Paul went on his missionary journeys people were believing in Christ and coming together and starting churches. And these new churches were changing life around them but also causing disruption.  The new believers were loving and taking care of one another and giving to the poor.  But also they had stopped worshipping and sacrificing before the village idols which often caused the townspeople to become angry.  The parents and grandparents of these first Christians had brought them up to worship idols so when they confessed Jesus they had to make a break with the religion of their families and their people.  Following Jesus often carried with it a heavy price.  And often these brave new converts were thrown out of their families and some were imprisoned and killed. 


These new believers who heard Paul’s message were the first Gentiles (non-Jews)  to carry the torch of the Christian faith.  These first Christians did not have a copy of the Bible or any church tradition to follow.  But God did not leave them to walk the Christian walk on their own.  The Holy Spirit guided them with a strong hand and with signs and wonders and healings and miracles in their gatherings!  And the Lord spoke to these new believers through visions and prophecies and the word of wisdom and knowledge.


  Paul had taught these new Christians to “confess” their faith in Jesus Christ.  And these early Christians first learned their new Christian faith by their “confessions.”  “Jesus is Lord” was the church’s very first and earliest confession.  When a believer confessed that Jesus is Lord (God) and Savior then others would know that she/he was a Christian.  Confessing that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God and Savior and also the center and circumference of all that exists was the test of authentic Christianity for the early church.    


If Jesus were not the Son of God and instead just a great man - maybe even a super-star- then He would not be able to save and redeem us from sin.  In His sovereignty (being Son of God) lies His sufficiency (His being able to save us from our sin).  If we throw out who He is (Son of God and Savior) then we throw out what He can do (save us).  And thus we throw out our Christian faith!


The new believers who lived in Colosse were meeting together and growing in their Christian faith when several false teachers arrived and started trying to mess up their faith in Jesus as Lord.  These false teachers were probably learned men who had studied religion abroad.  They stroked their beards and laughed at the new believers in Colosse.  And then they began to ask questions and make fun of their faith in Jesus as Lord!


“You don’t really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, do you?  You really believe that a virgin could get pregnant?  Ha ha!  Are you that dumb? Ha ha ha!”  “You say that Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead?  You believe that? Ha ha! You folks have never gone to the big city -  studied Greek philosophy!  You’re all backward –unsophisticated – uneducated!  Educated people would never believe in Jesus being God!  You believers in Jesus need to get educated – go to seminary -    ha ha ha!”  “You believe that Jesus is the only Way.  If you were mature you would realize that one religion is as good as the other.  You immature folk need to grow up!  Ha ha ha!”


Soon the new believers in Colosse were confused and wondering if these so called educated religious scholars were correct and maybe Jesus wasn’t Lord and Son of God after all. Maybe they were “backwards and immature” for believing their Christian faith.


Epaphras had brought these people to Jesus and now he was worried about them.  These false teachers were trying to mess up his new converts.  Epaphras was so concerned that he traveled to Jerusalem to find Paul and beg Paul to help.  And when Paul heard that the Colossian believers were being laughed at for believing that Jesus is Lord he became very upset.  And this is how the book of Colossians in the Bible came to be written.  Paul wrote a letter to the Colossian believers holding up Jesus Christ as being the Son of God and Savior and telling them that “in all things Christ must have the preeminence.”  (Colossians 1:18b)


Paul prays for these new believers in Colosse.  He prays that they might be comforted and strengthened and given spiritual understanding and love.  And then in his letter  he begs them to not listen to the false teachers.  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”  (Colossians 2:8)


And then Paul holds up Jesus Christ in his letter to the confused Colossian church.  And not just the Colossians but these inspired words as part of Holy Scripture are also written for us. Christians down through the ages have been strengthened and comforted spiritually by God’s Word spoken through Paul concerning our Savior, Jesus Christ being God.  Let’s listen: 


“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.  He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He (Jesus) may have the preeminence.”  (Colossians 1:13-18)


Paul continued:.  “For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness should dwell and by Him (Jesus) to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.  God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Colossians 2:19-20,27) 


And Paul writes more.  “For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.  As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”  (Colossians 2:9,6) 


Paul is telling the confused new believers in Colosse that Jesus Christ is the visible image of God (Col.1:15) and through Him all things are created (1:16).  He is declaring that Jesus is the Sustainer (1:17) and the Head of the church (1:18) Paul states that Jesus reconciles us through His death (1:21, 22) and that He lives in us as our hope of glory (1:27).  He goes on to say that Jesus is the source of all the treasures (2:23) and that we are alive in Him (2:11-13) and that He pleases the Father (1:19:20)


Just as false teachers attacked the new believers in Colosse back in 65 A.D. and laughed that they believed that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior, we will be attacked today by false teachers insisting that Jesus is not God but just another great teacher.  Today there are church leaders and authors who write “Christian?” books  proclaiming that Jesus is just a great man and not God the Son.  And there are educated church people who will laugh at the Bible and say that only uneducated people can believe it.  These scoffers arrogantly dismiss centuries of scholarship by the Evangelicals and the Catholics proving the authenticity and historicity of the Bible.  Not to mention the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies which have already been fulfilled.


We have a costly faith and we need to be watchful and vigilant and protect our precious faith in Christ.  Protect our faith from the slings of false doctrine and the arrows of doubt that will inevitably be aimed at it. 


There are things that we can do to grow in our faith and keep it strong. Protect it from these dangerous germs - these false doctrines!  We can stand firm.  Pray. Study the Bible and have an answer for why you believe.  Be part of a church of loving people who also believe that Jesus is Son of God and Savior.  Join a church that believes that the Bible is the Word of God.  Paul wrote to the Colossians that “Christ in you is the hope of glory.”  Those words are for you and me too.  Let Christ live in your life, love Him, talk with Him and obey His Word.  And make that first confession that those early Christians made your confession too and never let it go.  Always hold it high in your life – “Jesus is Lord!” 













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