Mike Gerhardt, Colossians 2:1-5, Be Encouraged, 2-10-19. A student won a Science Fair first prize. He urged people to sign a petition demanding the elimination of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide. He showed it can cause excessive vomiting, it's a major component in acid rain, it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state, accidental inhalation can kill you, it decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes, it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients. He asked 50 people if they supported the ban: Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and the only one knew that the chemical was H2O=water. The title was How Gullible Are We? Paul wrote to fight false teaching, to encourage them not to be gullible, and to avoid mystical teachings! What Paul knew he learned from Epaphras a leader and evangelist in Colossae who was led to Christ by Paul in Ephesus. He visited Paul in Roman prison. This letter was delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus. Many of us follow our international workers abroad. We may not meet those to whom they minister, yet we care for them through the reports and prayer requests. Paul wrote: I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, & for all who have not met me personally. Paul put the Laodiceans with the nearby Colossians. The Lycus River Valley had 3 cities: Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae. It may be that Epaphras founded all three churches. Paul used struggle or better great conflict to describe his feelings. Greek is agon from which we get agony. It's an athletic term referring to the strenuous effort of a runner. What was his struggle? I see it as a struggle in prayer. Paul wanted to go to Colossae himself to confront the false teachers, to eradicate their false teaching. He was in prison and unable to be there physically! There was nothing he could do but pray. He was unable to go, yet he was able to leave it with God. Paul wrestled in prayer for them. I think it is good to remember that when circumstances separate us from those whom we long to help, there is always prayer, our first work. William Carey changed missions and the face of India 200 years ago. Yet few know of Carey’s sister. She was paralyzed for 50 years. For much of that time, she was even unable to speak. With great effort and much discomfort, she allowed herself to be propped up in bed where she wrote long encouraging letters to her brother and prayed for him several hours per day for 50 years! She knew the best way to help was to pray. Who do you pray for? Be encouraged (verse 2): My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart. KJV: that their hearts might be comforted. The Greek parakalein means to enable another to meet difficult situations with confidence. He wanted the Church to be encouraged to cope with any adverse situation it might encounter. Every Christian needs encouragement! The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant, demanding and not one to give compliments. Yet Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age, a young lady asked him what, if anything he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment, I’d give more encouragement. Do you encourage those around you? Be united in love (verse 2). KJV knit together in love. Without love, there is no real Church. Methods of Church government and ritual are not what matters most. The one mark which distinguishes a true Church is love - love for God and for others. When love dies, the Church dies. God desires his people to be organized into loving fellowships. In friendly churches, you get a nice warm welcome and then Bye! See you next week. What we really need are churches where people discover loving fellowship; friends who will give them time and support! We can talk about love and unity, but true love is seen in action! Be understanding (verse 2): So that they may have the full riches of complete understanding. Paul mentioned the riches of Christ earlier in this letter. Many Christians live like spiritual paupers when they could be living like millionaires. Hetty Green went down in history as America’s Greatest Miser. She died in 1916 with an estate valued at $100 million. She ate cold oatmeal because it cost too much to heat it. Her son had to suffer a leg amputation because she delayed so long looking for a free clinic. She was wealthy yet she lived like a pauper. Many Christians are living like paupers when they could be living in the riches of Christ. When you became born again in Christ, you were born again rich - you became a spiritual millionaire. Look into the spiritual bank to find the wealth that God has put there in Jesus Christ. William Hearst invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. Hearst found a description of some valuable items that he felt he must own, so he sent his agent abroad to find them. After months of searching, the agent found the treasures. They were already in Hearst’s own warehouse. Paul wanted the Christians at Colossae to realize they did not need extra experiences that the Gnostics were teaching. Everything we need is found in Jesus Christ. Be knowing (verse 2-3): Amplified: That they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, which is Christ the Anointed One. In Him, all the treasures of divine wisdom comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God and all the riches of spiritual knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden.
We think of the word mystery as a puzzle to be solved. A mystery was something God had hidden but now he has clearly revealed. Luke 24 where two men walking on the road to Emmaus. A stranger started telling them about the death of Jesus their Messiah. Then the stranger who was the risen Christ said to them: How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. The mystery of Jesus was always there in the Old Testament. God has clearly revealed it for all to see.
The whole of scripture points to Jesus. God wants his children to have: understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. All true wisdom is in Christ. Apokruphos meant hidden from common sight, and therefore secret. The Gnostics taught they had secret knowledge, a knowledge that the ordinary person couldn’t understand. The truth of Christianity is not a secret which is hidden for the select few but is revealed for everyone to see. Be firm (verse 4-5): I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. We must have the power to resist seductive teaching. Paul warned of those who would use deceptive and enticing words (used for a lawyer's persuasive arguments). Be unmoved by fine-sounding arguments. Paul uses a military illustration. We must display a soldier's discipline. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. The words orderly and firm are military terms to describe an army that is solidly united against the enemy. Not everyone can be a five-star general but the general can't fight alone. Standing firm is the soldiers in battle formation presenting a solid front to the enemy. Jesus Christ is our treasure. Do you understand the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ? I hope to encourage your heart and mind to know Jesus who is your all in all. A few years ago, was the old quiz show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? The program was about winning a million dollars! Some ordinary person was asked a series of multiple-choice questions that got increasingly harder and were worth increasingly more. If you needed help, you could call someone you designated as your lifeline. You could even listen to the opinions of the studio audience. But eventually, the spotlight was all on you. You're the contestant. When you finally gave your answer, the host asked this tension-building, unnerving question, Is that your final answer? If Peter is standing at the pearly gates and asks: why should I let you in? You give him a religious answer. He may follow with: Is that your final answer?