Rooted in Christ Week 8
"Final Thoughts"

Pastor Terry Inman

06-05-16

 

Paul’s concluding correspondence with the Colossians reminds me of the end to a good movie. We will title it, “Final Thoughts”.

 

We will begin by reviewing some previous highlights of this letter’s core themes. Then Paul insists on some actionable steps—being prayerful, watchful, thankful, and fruitful. (Col. 4.2-6 NIV)

 

This will help us remain ROOTED in CHRIST! Finally several people come to Paul’s heart and mind as he closes with personal credits. (Col. 4.7-18 NIV)

 

So lets begin with some highlights. Several times in this series we have referenced the theme verse in Paul’s personal letter from prison.

 

“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2.6-7 NIV)

 

This letter moved from the theological to the practical. First Paul refuted the heresies concerning Jesus Christ that were threatening the church.

 

Gnosticism was a hybrid of mystical Greek philosophies and extreme Jewish ritualism. It was a very complex and convoluted ideology much like our current new age movement—kind of like Confucius meets Oprah!

 

Gnostics taught, among other things, that Jesus was just one of many lesser gods. They thought humans were capable of transcending to a higher spiritual consciousness. They separated the spirit from the body.

 

It was a schizophrenic view of life. The spirit was pure and heavenly and the body was evil and earthly. The two were split so you could live immorally in the flesh and it didn’t necessary affect your spiritual life.    

 

Paul presents Jesus as the Son of God--not a lesser god but fully or totally God who embodies all of God’s supremacy and sufficiency.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1.19 NIV)

 

Jesus death totally satisfied the sentence for our sin and separation. When we make a choice to trust our life to Him, we are reconciled and given new life in Christ!   

 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Col. 2.9-10 NIV)

 

Christ is not “a god” He is totally “the God” and we are totally in Christ! This higher view of Jesus Christ will lift us to live up to His life.

 

Since, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3.1-2 NIV)

 

What we think and feel from above impacts our life below. To be ROOTED in CHRIST is to be fully integrated into all that He is. He is the supreme and all sufficient God. Jesus Christ elevates our beliefs and our behaviors.

 

Paul also exposed these faulty ideas about lifestyle. When we lower our view of Christ we also lower our standards of conduct. There is a not-so-new “extreme grace” theology impacting the American church today that emphasizes Jesus’ love and compassion over His truth and righteousness.

 

God’s grace is sufficient for the weakest of sinners, but Jesus didn’t die on the cross so we could live like the rest of godless humanity. He died to save us from spiritual death and free us from the harmful effects of sin.

 

Paul moved from theology to practicality. He said, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3.5 NIV) Then he lists five activities and five attitudes that we must discard—sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed.

 

Just when we think we’re doing well Paul ads these five bad attitudes—anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language.

 

It’s never enough to remove something we need to replace it. Paul’s adds a list of seven virtues we develop, when we are Rooted in Christ—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness. They are all expressions of love.
(Col. 2.12-13 NIV)

 

Last week he told us how these beliefs and behaviors impact our relationships in the home and in the workplace as husbands, wives, parents, children, employees and employers. This brings us to today.

Paul begins chapter 4 with some action steps—how to stay ROOTED in CHRIST. In verses 2-3 he mentions four things he considered actionable.

 

An actionable is something capable of being acted on. Paul insists that we be prayerful, watchful, thankful and fruitful.  

 

The first three actions steps are stated succinctly. Devote (give) yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4.2 NIV)

 

“Devote yourselves” to prayer is being continually prayerful. It is more than praying over lunch. It is being “mindful” of Christ in everything.

Devote means to be constant, consistent and fervent. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12.12 NIV)

 

The early persecuted Christian’s life depended on relentless prayer. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2.42 NIV)      

 

What are we devoted too? Next Paul adds being “watchful”. Literally “staying awake”. We are to keep spiritually alert. Jesus’ disciples were snoozing while he was agonizing in prayer just before His arrest, in Gethsemane. He tried to revive them three times.

 

Finally he said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt. 26.41NIV) Peter’s prayerlessness caused him to react and sever a soldier’s ear. Later that night Peter went to the opposite extreme. He denied he even knew Christ.

 

“Let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

(1 Thess. 5.6 NIV) To be “watchful” is to be spiritually alert and not overly alarmed! Being watchful is simply being attentive to what is happing in the natural and the spiritual world. It’s what I call praying onsite with insight!

 

The spirit is willing to help especially when our flesh is weak. The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8.26-27 NIV)

 

We are weak. We don’t always know what to pray. But we have the Spirit. He pleads our case when we don’t have the right words. He searches our hearts, our thoughts and our feelings and He intervenes with God’s will.

 

When we surrender our thoughts and feelings to the spirit we get the mind of God. We can hear, see and pray His agenda. We effectively pray the way Jesus taught us, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This is being prayerful and watchful.

 

Paul third actionable is being thankful. Jesus told the story about one in ten lepers who returned to express gratitude for recovery.

 

We don’t fully understand how important thankfulness is. It’s not so much that God needs a lot of appreciation. We need to acknowledge Him as our source of answered prayer. It builds our faith and reduces our fears.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4.6 NIV)

 

Expressing gratitude reminds us of God faithfulness in the past and assures us of his provision in the future. Thankfulness is a faith-builder!

 

Paul’s final actionable is being “fruitful”. First he asked his readers to pray for his effectiveness in sharing the gospel. Then he tells us how to influence the unbelievers or “outsiders” near us.

 

Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Col 4.3-5 NIV)

 

Paul has clearly articulated the “mystery” of Christ in this letter. To the Gnostics “mysteries” were the secretive revelations of the elite. To Paul “mystery” was the now revealed truth of the gospel Jesus Christ.

 

He was imprisoned in Rome but the gospel was not. He was praying for “open doors” to the good news right in the highest seat of human power-- Caesars Palace. What happens there doesn’t stay there!

 

He was also inviting their participation in the gospel through prayer. He wanted to preach with courage, and clarity. He wanted to be fruitful!

 

Paul also mentions how we can also be fruitful. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col. 4.5-6 NIV)

 

In chapter three Paul lists ten activities and attitudes unbecoming of believers. Maybe the good news was getting mixed with bad news.

Inconsistency in our lives distorts the world’s view of the gospel.

 

Paul calls for two things that will make us more fruitful. Act wisely and talk graciously! We should be tactful and tasteful not antagonizing and alienating. We are to talk and walk in a way that makes “outsiders” want to be “insiders”.

 

Paul ends His letter by rolling the credits. Do you walk out of a movie or do you stay and watch the credits? He mentions at least 10 people by name. Again demonstrating his warmth and love.

 

Tychicus and Onesimus are loved brothers that are delivering this mail and reporting on Paul’s activities in Rome. (Col. 4.7-9 NIV)   

 

Aristarchus and Mark, (Barnabas cousin) and Justus, are Paul’s only Jewish companions there in Rome. He sends their greetings. (Col. 4.10-11)   

Epaphras who informed Paul of the Colossians’ love, faith and trials also sends his greetings. Back home. Paul mentions he is hard working, “always wrestling in prayer and standing firm in Gods will” (Col. 4.12-13)

 

Paul’s close friends Luke, the doctor, and Demas send their greetings. Then Paul gives his personal salutations to the church in Laodicea the neighboring city. He includes a woman named Nympha who hosted the church in her home. (Col. 4.14-15 NIV)

 

He asked them pass his letter on to Laodicea. Then told a guy named Archippus to “finish the work” God gave him to do. (Col. 4.16-17 NIV)   

 

The Apostle signs off with a personal request. His scribe or maybe even his private jailer helps him lift his shackled hand to the parchment. He pens these final words. “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col. 4.18 NIV)

 

I hope you have been encouraged by this series and you will grow ROOTED in CHRIST. “Grace be with you” or may “the force” be with you!

“The head over every power and authority”our only Savior the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God!    



“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2.6-7 NIV)