Warning Signs | Don't Reject Christ's Superiority, Day 3
We are called to an “all or nothing” obedience to Christ’s supremacy, allowing Him to rule all areas of life.
VERSE OF THE DAY
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
What religious beliefs are most influential in our culture? Why are these ideas so popular?
Why do you think people choose to believe these specific things about Jesus, but not the entirety of who He is?
As followers of Jesus, we believe that knowing Him and accepting salvation through Him is the only way to enter into a relationship with God.
This belief is scandalous to many who see it as narrow-minded.
What weight does the supremacy of Jesus hold in a world where tolerance and pluralism reign?
The apostle Paul, during his missionary career, understood he was introducing the grace and hope of Jesus to people impacted by a wide variety of influences and trying to sort out their beliefs.
In Colossians 1, Paul argued that Jesus is the sole source of redemption, and He alone is worthy of worship and obedience.
Read Colossians 1:1-8
'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. ' Colossians 1:1-8
Paul identified himself as Christ’s apostle to indicate his authority (Col. 1: 1).
He addressed the believers as being set apart as saints and faithful brothers in God’s family of grace (1:2).
He prayed that God would give them His grace (unmerited favor) and peace (wholeness).
Paul thanked God every time he prayed for the Colossian Christians.
By identifying God as the Father of Jesus, Paul stressed Christ’s sovereignty and proved his superiority over everything.
Paul thanked God for the believers because he had heard about their faith in Christ and their love for all the saints.
“Faith” here is the sense of trust in and commitment to Christ.
“Love” here is the distinctive Christian term for persistent, self-giving good will (agape) that acts for others’ best interests.
“Saints” here is a synonym for Christians
These believers’ commitment to Christ was giving active love for all other Christians, which came from the hope of Heaven.
“Hope” here is the idea of living with certain assurance, not wishful thinking.
Because of the unchanging and absolute nature of the message to the Colossian believers they had learned of this hope and were called to hold onto it and not become victims of false teachings.
1:6. “The message of truth” is the good news of Christ’s servant ministry; His voluntary, atoning death on the cross; and His victorious resurrection.
This good news of grace was bearing fruit wherever it was being shared.
The revelation of God’s grace in Christ is offered to all people.
“Minister” here is deacon, or “servant.”
The Holy Spirit working within the Colossians’ was producing God’s kind of love (agape).
Paul asked God to fill the believers with the knowledge of His will.
“Knowledge” here is the Greek term for “full knowledge” that comes from a personal relationship with God.
Paul stressed that God revealed His will in Christ. The Colossian Christians had partial knowledge of that will; they needed complete knowledge.
“Wisdom” here is the grasp of general principles
“Understanding” (insight) here is the application of those principles to specific situations—making wise decisions.
“Spiritual” here stresses that true wisdom and understanding come through the Holy Spirit.
What did Paul cite as evidence that the Colossians had responded positively to the gospel?
How did the gospel radically change the Colossians? How does it radically change every Christian?
Paul thanked God for the believers because he had heard about their faith in Christ and their love for all Christians, specifically acknowledging their faith, hope, and love which was evidence of the gospel’s transforming power in their lives.
How are faith, hope, and love related? Why must hope exist before the other two?
How, according to this passage, does the gospel continually grow and renew the Christian? How have you seen that dynamic of growth and renewal happening recently in your life?
Read Colossians 1:9-14
9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14
Paul informed the Colossian Christians that he constantly prayed for them.
He reminded them that through Christ, God had rescued them from paganism and had brought them into His beloved Son’s kingdom.
Through Christ, God had freed them from slavery to sin by forgiving their sins.
Paul wanted the Colossae church to understand that Jesus is the center of everything.
1:10. The purpose of wisdom from God is so believers might live in a way worthy of the Lord that honors Him and reflects His character.
Believers should follow Christ’s example in their attitude, word, and deeds.
With four words conveying continuous action, Paul described what Christlike living involves
Continuously bearing fruit in every good work; kindness and generosity deeds prompted by God’s working in the lives of believers.
Believers should grow in knowledge of God to experience a deeper personal relationship with Him in which they understand and implement His character into themselves.
Believers should be strengthened by His power, enabling them to persevere with endurance and patience.
Believers should continually give thanks to God.
1:13-14. God deserves gratitude because He had rescued the believers from darkness and delivered them to the kingdom of his Son.
By identifying the kingdom as Christ’s, Paul stressed the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.
Another reason for consistently expressing thanks to God was His providing redemption in Christ.
Christ’s voluntary self-giving on the cross provided release from sin’s slavery to all who would place their faith in Him.
His substitutionary atonement made redemption, or forgiveness of sins, possible.
What does it mean to “walk [or live] worthy of the Lord” (v. 10)?
Colossians 1:11-12 is considered Paul’s second prayer for the church in Colossae. What do these verses teach us concerning the power of the gospel at work in our lives?
How have you experienced the promises Paul described in Colossians 1:10-12?
Why do you think Paul chose the word “rescued” (v. 13) to describe the way Jesus redeemed His followers?
With respect to your own story of redemption, what has changed since you embraced Jesus as Savior?
Read Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20
1:15. Paul employed a hymn to emphasize Christ’s sovereignty. Heretical teachers in Colossae contended Christ was merely one of many powers between people and God. In 1:15-17, Paul refuted their teaching by presenting Christ as Lord of the universe.
Paul asserted that Christ is the image of the invisible God.
The Greek term rendered “image” conveys the idea of a perfect representation.
Because God is Spirit (see John 4:24), the human eye cannot see Him. He has made Himself known perfectly in Christ.
The phrase “the firstborn over all creation” does not indicate that Christ was the first created being. In the Old Testament, the firstborn son occupied a position of honor, privilege, and supremacy; he was first in priority. Here, the term expresses Christ’s preexistent Deity.
1:16-17. Christ is Lord over creation, for by Him everything was created. Christ is vastly superior to all created powers.
The phrase “before all things” emphasizes Christ’s preexistence.
He was the Agent of creation, and He also maintains it in the sense of giving it stability.
Christ sustains creation and gives it harmony.
1:18. In 1:18-20, Paul stressed Christ’s lordship over the church, His body—His people who actively extend His ministry in the world. The preexistent Lord over the universe is also the church’s head—the Source of the body’s life, who governs it and gives it unity.
“Beginning” here identifies Christ’s priority in time and power as the Originator of new life made possible by grace and salvation.
“Firstborn from the dead” refers to Christ’s resurrection as the revelation of the new quality of life He gives: resurrection life that extends beyond death. Christ’s victory over death proved that He has first place in everything.
1:19-20. The term “fullness” could mean “full measure” of Deity, meaning that Christ is fully God.
God’s purpose is that through Christ He may reconcile everything to Himself. Everything includes humans and the universe (see Rom. 8:19-23).
“Reconcile” here has the sense of restoring a relationship and creating unity.
Christ alone (through His sacrificial death) was God’s chosen way of bringing about reconciliation.
God made peace possible through Christ’s blood—His death on the cross.
“Things on earth or things in heaven” refers to the whole universe, material and spiritual.
Looking at Colossians 1:15-20, what phrases clarify Jesus’ true identity?
How do these verses speak to Jesus’ centrality in and supremacy over creation?
What does the church look like when Jesus is the head? What does it look like when He is not?
How does it make you feel to know that God loves you enough that He sent His Son as a sacrifice for you (vv. 19-20)?
Paul noted that Jesus reconciled everything to Himself through His death on the cross (v. 20).
Because of Christ, everyone has the opportunity to repent of their sins and enter into a relationship with God.
In order to effectively reconcile all of creation back to God, Jesus had to have the authority to do so. Because He is the fullness of God, Jesus has that authority.
Christ’s death and resurrection created the most pivotal moment in the history of God’s creation.
Read Colossians 1:21-23
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:21-23
1:21-22. The Colossian believers’ salvation demonstrated God’s purpose “to reconcile everything to Himself ” (1:20). Once, their evil actions—wicked lifestyles—showed they were alienated from God. Their former works issued from the sphere of evil in which they lived.
Outside God’s rule of grace, they had been hostile to Him in mind.
“But now” here stresses the drastic contrast between the believers’ former lives and their current relationship with God.
In Christ’s voluntary suffering and death for others, God made salvation available to all who would place their faith in Christ.
God’s purpose in offering reconciliation through Christ’s death was to make believers holy, faultless, and blameless before God.
As people reconciled to God through Christ, believers have a responsibility to remain faithful and committed to Christ, and not fall away from the gospel to embrace idols and false teachings.
We need to emphasize the genuineness of the gospel that the risen Christ has commissioned us to share as His servants.
Why was it important for Paul to remind the Colossian believers of their past lives?
How does reflecting on who you were before Christ impact your relationship with Him today?
What does it look like for you to remain grounded and steadfast in your faith?
Our lives and faith should be grounded and fixed on the supreme foundation of Jesus.
Jesus offers certain salvation and we have no reason to be swayed from the hope of the gospel.
How do the truths about Jesus from Colossians 1 impact the way you love and live personally, in community and in our world?
What does it mean for you to say Jesus is supreme in your life? What patterns or attitudes need to change for you to experience the full benefits of His supremacy?
Colossians 1:21 reminds us that we all have great stories. What’s your story of redemption? Consider writing it down and sharing it with someone this week.
Pray that God would help you see that your salvation through Jesus should impact everything around you, most importantly how you live and relate to others.