October 7th, 2020

Dear Friends,

Today and continuing through Friday, we've selected three archived study sessions to share with the EDiBS family. Pastor Stark has been doing well and getting stronger, but has relapsed some this week. It has been determined that he needs a few additional days of rest before he returns to a normal schedule. We appreciate your prayers and well wishes for him, and he said to be sure and send warm greetings to you in the name of Christ.

Pastor hopes to return to on Monday. In the meantime, we hope you will find these sessions to be helpful and timely in your lives.

God's blessings!
The EDiBS Team

Colossians 1:3-8


Note: this is archived material.

Greeting everybody! Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of EDiBS, where we’re beginning our second day on the study of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Thanks for your commitment to be with us as we study through the Scriptures verse by verse; as you grow in your knowledge of God’s Word, we pray that your intimacy with the Lord Jesus will grow as well and that you’ll know the blessing of an ever closer walk with Him. Today we move past Paul’s greeting to the church at Colosse and move right into the substance of the letter, so let’s pray and get ready to go to our Bibles.

Father, we praise you for your glory and your grace - your grace shown to us in the person and work of your one and only Son. Thank you for this day and this time to study your Word. Bless us by it, change us through it, and equip us to be your ambassadors because of it. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Getting Started
As we get started today, we find Paul writing to the Colossian church with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving. Though he has never been there to meet with them personally, he speaks with a warmth that comes from being one with them in the fellowship of Christ. Our focus: praising God for faith.

Colossians 1:3-8
3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as a perfect church. I know that’s disappointing to some of you, especially to those of you who may be dissatisfied with your own particular church right now! But the church of Jesus Christ by its very definition is made up of imperfect people; people who sin, who don’t necessarily have their act together, who do foolish and insensitive and self-destructive and sometimes very hurtful things. Welcome to the real world of messy spirituality!

The redeeming value of the church, of course, comes from the Great Redeemer Himself: Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ who in His grace and His mercy not only cleanses His church by His blood, but who also brings peace to His people and sustains them by His good and gracious Spirit. Now - one of the beautiful ways Jesus sustains us is by continually changing us, right? Always, always, always we are being conformed to the image of Christ, transformed by the renewing of our minds, learning to keep in step with the Holy Spirit rather than walking according to the flesh. That fact makes the church not a place of perfect people, but a place of people in process. And that’s why even though your church surely has a problem here and there or isn’t exactly how you would like it to be or - God forbid - has people in it who regularly prove to be all too human, there is still reason to rejoice in what God is doing in your midst and still reason keep on keeping on, and more than anything there is in that situation all the more reason to immerse yourself in the Word of God and humbly place yourself under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Verse 3: I mention all of this today partly because I’m just sensing that it’s something I need to say to encourage some of you, but I’m also mentioning it as a way to introduce the verses before us. There are obviously problems in the Colossian church, problems which have prompted the writing of this letter from the apostle Paul. But notice the manner in which Paul begins his address: in verse 3 he praises God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - which, by the way is an important affirmation of Christ’s deity, which we’ll talk more about down the line a little bit - giving Him continual thanks for all of the good that is happening there. In fact, Paul will spend the better part of the first eight verses recounting the positive identifying marks of the Colossian congregation. Let’s go through and look at each one of them in turn.

Verse 4: Why does Paul give thanks? In verse 4 he indicates that he is doing so because of the church’s faith in Christ and the love that they have for one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. Faith and love, of course, are fruits of the Spirit, and the implication is that these things are found in abundance there.

Verse 5: In verse 5, Paul reminds his readers of the source of that faith and love: it’s not something that they’ve manufactured themselves, but rather, it springs from the hope that is stored up for them in heaven and that they have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel. I love that description: their faith and love springs forth, it wells up, it flows out of, the power of the gospel. And what is the gospel? We know the answer to that: it’s the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which brought us forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God, and victory over sin death and the devil. By the way, the Greek word for “gospel” was used in the Classical sense to indicate victory in battle, which is certainly a fitting description of what Jesus has done for us at Calvary.

Verse 6: Paul goes on in the next verse to say that not only has the gospel taken root and had an impact in Colosse, but that it is in fact bearing fruit and growing all over the world; another reason to pray, praise, and give thanks. Now, an important note for us here is to see that as Paul reminds these folks of when they first heard the gospel and understood it, he makes sure to emphasize the fact that they understood it in all its grace and truth. In other words, the gospel as they heard it was in its complete form, and in that form it was completely sufficient for their salvation. Again, we’ll talk more about that as we move through the letter.

Verses 7-8: Finally, in verses 7-8 we close off our time today by learning that, as we mentioned yesterday, Epaphras has been acting as the pastor/teacher over the Colossians, and it is from him that they have received the truth of God’s Word. Paul affirms him not only as a faithful minister of Christ, but as a colleague, and he indicates that it is Epaphras who has informed him of the conditions of the church there.

Wrapping Up
As we wrap up for the day, what a great way to be introduced to a great New Testament church: by learning first, over everything else, its strengths as a local body of Christ. Will we get to the problems later? Yes, but even then, the manner in which Paul deals with those problems will be very insightful for you and me. What are the strengths of your local church? What blessings has God poured out upon your congregation that rightly deserve your praise and thanksgiving? How might you point out those things to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and how might you celebrate them together? Think about that, and actually, why don’t you pray about that as well. May God use you as a positive, unifying voice in your local fellowship as you seek to grow in His grace and be conformed to the image of His Son! The Lord be your joy and peace; we’ll see you again tomorrow.
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