The Hope of Glory (Sermon 7-17-2022)

We often say that Jesus paid for our salvation. We understand that there is no other way to be saved except through Jesus. Both of these statements are true. However, I often wonder if we really understand what these statements are saying or are we merely repeating something we heard someone else say. Has repeating these phrases become a ritual?

Rituals have a way of becoming barriers that begin to separate us from true worship of God. In the days when Jesus was walking on earth, He constantly had to strip away the various traditions and rituals that the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had built around worshipping God. So many rules were being taught and practiced that it was difficult to see the simplicity of loving God and loving our neighbor was the basis of the Law.

There are many churches on the landscape to day. Each church has a set of traditions and rituals that sets it apart form others. Where the various traditions and rituals started may make an interesting study for some other time. It is clear that some evidence of traditions and rituals started in churches before the apostles died. Jesus only built one church. In Matthew the 16th chapter, Peter answered Jesus with “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus acknowledged that Peter’s declaration of who Jesus is came from God the Father and based on that foundation, Jesus said I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. This conversation is found in Matthew 16:15-18.

So, what is the church? When we see the word church in the Bible, it is the Greek word ἐκκλησία or ekklésia (ek-klay-see'-ah). This is a compound word ek, "out from and to" and kaléō, "to call". It literally means those who are called out. The usage in the Bible is an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers. We read in Acts 2:47, And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47b) So, the Lord adds to the ekklesia (church) those who are saved.

Paul writes to the church in Colossi and he addresses some changes that had crept into the church. Somehow, Jesus was not given the place He rightly deserves and some traditions and rituals were beginning to alter the way Christians in Colossi worshipped.

After Paul speaks of his thanksgiving for the church in Colossi and talks of the good things that he hears concerning the church, he turns to addressing some things that trouble him. We will begin reading this morning in chapter 1 and verse 13 of Colossians.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NASB)

God has rescued (liberated, saved, or delivered) us from the domain of darkness. That realm of darkness refers to the realm of Satan or the evil powers. God does not just free us from that realm, He delivers us to another realm. We are placed into the kingdom of His son.

Our union with Jesus gives us our redemption and forgiveness. Redemption is a term that speaks of a release brought about by the payment of a price, was used of the deliverance of slaves from bondage or of prisoners of war from captivity. The price was paid. When we read: we have redemption, it is present tense. We already have this it is not something that we will have at some future date. We have redemption because our sins have been forgiven.

In this church, there were some who were teaching that Jesus was only a created being and that there were other ways to pray to God (through angels, other rulers, or other powers). So, Paul lays out three clear arguments about Jesus showing His relationship to God, to the creation, and the church.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:15-18 NASB)

Christ being the image of God is not just that Christ is a reflection of God rather He is the manifestation of God. John tells us in John 1:17 &18, For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

We see the glory of God in Jesus Christ: For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NASB)

Paul then expands to show Christ being over everything. He was an active participant in the creation. He existed before anything else.

Then Paul clearly states that Christ in the head of the church. There isn’t rom for anyone or anything else to come before Christ or to have an equal place with Christ.

Paul has ascribed unique supremacy to Jesus Christ. He has affirmed him to be image of God, Lord over creation, Head of the church—indeed, preeminent in all things. These next verses now state the grounds on which such supremacy is affirmed. The last phrase of implies that Christ has unshared supremacy because God has decreed it. This section states this in different terms, but still puts it within the context of the divine will. Two things that God willed are specifically set forth, one having to do with the fullness of God in Christ, the other with the reconciling work of Christ.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Colossians 1:19-23 NASB)

God is pleased and so, God wills that Jesus Christ is to have the fullness of God within Him. Jesus Christ. By the will of God, Jesus reconciled sinner to God through His sacrifice (actual shed blood on the cross). His reconciliation allows us to be presented to God as blameless.

This is the same message proclaimed by Paul, Epaphras, and others. It is the same message that had been proclaimed to the known world (Roman Empire). Paul calls for the Colossians to hold fast to that teaching and not to be led astray by others who are teaching other mediators than Christ.

In wrapping up this section of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Paul touches on the office of the preacher, the message he preached, his method of preaching, and the goal or aim of his preaching.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. (Colossians 1:24-28 NASB)

Paul frequently referred to himself as a minister of the Gospel of God or of Christ. In this passage, he focuses on the servant aspect in his suffering and self-denial as he works to ensure the church lacks nothing it needs to fulfill the purpose of God.

Paul says that his commission to this ministry came from God. He considers it to be a trust God has placed in his care. He is a steward and will be held accountable for how fulfilled that commission. Paul’s mission is to share the mystery of God. Mystery is used in the New Testament to indicate something that is hidden except by divine revelation. Now, following the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, it is revealed through the words of the apostles. It is the revelation that God has now opened salvation to all people through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

In Christ, we have riches that had been hidden from the Gentiles and Pagans. We have the riches of a relationship with God. This mystery extends far beyond our life on earth. The mystery is the unique relationship that believers have. We may think about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Jesus went beyond that when He told His disciples that He would live in them.

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23 NASB)

Christ in you, the hope of glory. There is no other means or way to attain the glory of heaven than Christ Jesus. There are no mediators through whom we may access God’s grace or mercy.

The preacher may share the good news of salvation through Jesus. Our ancestors may have lived a great life as a Christian and left for us a splendid example of living for Christ. We may think of dozens of other people who live for Christ and shared their views and insights. But Paul tells us: For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NASB)

It is only in Christ that we have the hope of glory.

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