Colossians – Foundations
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:27–29 ESV)
We are now coming to the end of this chapter, and I hope you can agree that there is so much here for us to learn and put into practice.
Foundations seem to be a word currently used by many Christian books and even an Apple TV series.
We need solid grounds, build our faith on the Rock, and that Rock is Christ. Christ is our Foundation, he is the cornerstone the builders rejected, but it is the one we, his body, the church we set our hope, trust and we stand firm on Christ’s Foundation.
Paul never visited this church, a church planted by a team of people led by the bondservant and minister of the Gospel Epaphras.
Paul is kind and generous with his comments on the work and ministry of the church and with Epaphras. It is a church that loves the presence of God, and they know how to love in the Spirit and where the Gospel is bearing fruit and reaching the world.
Paul prays for this church, a prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit and in which he asked that this church would know the power, strength, the force of the Spirit of God so that they will persevere and have patience in their journey of faith.
The Gospel is at the very centre of chapter one, and Paul unpacks the Gospel as he gives us three essential principles of what the Gospel is all about.
The Gospel tells us that:
• Christ is Lord over Creation
• Christ is Lord over the Church
• Christ is the sole owner of salvation
Last week, I said that to understand what Paul says about his ministry and the suffering of Christ and the church, we need to see it as Paul introducing his ministry, his credentials.
Paul’s suffering is not meant to understand that he is fulfilling what is lacking in Christ’s suffering, but it is more about his call as an apostle, a call that was marked by suffering.
However, we need to allow the word of God to encourage us; though this is for Paul only, we can also take comfort that Christ understands suffering, and he carries our burdens and heavy yokes. He comes alongside us, and he is Christ the Suffering Servant, the one that Isaiah described in this way:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
(Isaiah 53:3–7 NIV11)
This is the mystery that now has been revealed, and it is the crucified Christ whose invitation to come to him is wide open to Jews and Gentiles, to men of faith and no faith at all.
There are no longer selected few who can access this divine truth, but it is for you and me for all the saints. It is no longer a secret, and It will never be.
This is powerful. Our faith in Christ is never a matter of privacy, as some would like us to understand and live by. To say that our faith is private is to deny our allegiance to Christ. It is to deny him.
So let us look at this mystery that is now revealed.
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
(Colossians 1:27–29 ESV)
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(Colossians 1:27 ESV)
The hidden but revealed mystery is that the gentiles and Jews are no longer two but one new humanity.
“by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
(Ephesians 2:15–16 NIV11-GKE)
He is the Hope of Glory, and we are his! This mystery is the glorious riches that now are ours in Christ.
The glory of the Lord is tangible, and it is the weight of his Glory. It is the vast richness of his presence. We don’t lack anything; we are complete in Christ. There is no need for anything else that can save. There is no other way to be saved, healed and delivered, only through Jesus.
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 ESV)
For over a year, I have been saying that the Gospel is not just for salvation, but it is what sustains us here on earth, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
The Gospel is to be proclaimed, with words and with deeds, with power, with your story.
The Gospel is a message of warning.
It is a matter of life and death. It has eternal consequences! You let Jesus Christ be your Lord and eternal saviour, or you don’t. If you don’t, there is nothing or no one who can save you. He is the mystery that has now been revealed.
The consequence of rejecting the Gospel is evident in the Scriptures. The most famous Gospel verse ever mentioned is John 3:16, but we forget that vv17-18 are very important too:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
(John 3:16–18 NIV11-GKE)
The Gospel is a message that has to be taught, and it is a teaching full of wisdom. The wisdom of God is revealed in the Gospel, and it is not just proclaimed by it needs to be taught.
The Gospel when is taught and the wisdom of God is presented, then we become mature in Him. We are in the process of evolving, moving towards Jesus, becoming like him!
“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:22–25 NIV11-GKE)
What is the wisdom of God? The knowledge of God is that the last one should be first, that the servants are leaders and where no one remains slave, we are all free in him.
This is the upside-down Kingdom, where a King comes into the world inside a stable.
A King enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey and a King crucified outside his city. A King who became the King of kings after his resurrection. There has not been a King like Jesus in the history of humanity who has defeated the ultimate enemy, death.
“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29 ESV)
Paul tells us that the Presence of God empowers his mission and commission. So when Ananias prayed for Paul, he laid hands on him, and Paul’s blindness was healed, and the power of God powerfully came upon him.
He suffers for Christ, and he also suffers for the Church of Christ, the same church that he is called to serve.
He works hard, struggling! I love his sincerity, his honesty. This is the apostle Paul, a man anointed by the Spirit struggling for the Gospel and for that Gospel seed to take root in the hearts of men.
This is the way he struggles: He struggles with the power and energy of God!
Power and energy. Power is the energy released, and we cannot have energy if there isn’t power.
This comes from knowing the assuring presence of God. We may struggle and be in pain at times, yet we are under immense power when we do so!
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)
“having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
(Colossians 2:12 ESV)