COLOSSIANS: THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GODLY CHURCH”

COLOSSIANS 1:1-14

 

A picture shows a woman standing at the base of a statue of Christ.  The woman is holding a crown in her hands.  She has a thoughtful look on her face as she looks up at the figure of Christ.  The caption reads-“Who will wear the crown?”

 

Who wears the crown in your life?  I hope it is Jesus!  For Romans 10:9 says,

 

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

 

That verse says that we need to declare that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved.  Sometimes we talk so exclusively about Jesus being our Savior that we may tend to forget that he is to also be our Lord! 

 

Jesus not only wants to be the Savior of our souls, he also wants to be Lord over our lives.  Jesus doesn’t want to just be a part of our lives.  He desires to be our life.  Paul declared, “to live is Christ.”  Jesus wants to be at the center of our lives and to be in control of our lives.  Becoming a Christian means that we wave the white flag of surrender and hand ownership of our lives over to Jesus.

 

This morning I am beginning a new sermon series called, The Lordship of Christ.  This is a series through the Book of Colossians.  The Book of Colossians focuses on the Lordship of Christ and how his Lordship impacts different areas of our lives.  Colossians 1:18 says this about the Lordship of Christ-“so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

 

My message today comes from Colossians 1:1-14- READ TEXT.

 

This morning we are going to look at the characteristics of a godly church that is sold out to and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Here’s the first one:

 

1.A CHRIST-CENTERED FAITH

 

In verse 5 Paul talks about hearing about the Colossians’ faith in Christ Jesus.  Our faith needs to be rooted and grounded in Christ.  This means that we believe certain essential truths about Jesus.

 

First, we believe that Jesus was virgin born and was God in the flesh.  This is what the apostle John wrote about Jesus in the first chapter of his Gospel, as he describes Jesus as the Word:

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:1,14

 

Jesus’ existence did not start when he was born in Bethlehem.  His earthly existence did.  But Jesus has always existed with God before time, before the creation of the world, before his virgin birth.

 

And because Jesus was born of a virgin, having an earthly mother but no earthly father, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was divine.  He was God in the flesh.  Colossians 2:9 says:

 

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” -Colossians 2:9

 

How much of God dwelt in Jesus? “All the fullness of the Deity” did.  Jesus was fully God.  100%.  Jesus’ ability to perform miracles, cast out demons, raise the dead and arise from the dead Himself prove his deity.  Jesus was fully God in the flesh.

 

But Jesus was also fully man.  He grew hungry in the wilderness, and he was thirsty on the cross.  His physical body was so in need of rest that he was able to sleep in a boat during a storm at sea.

 

Jesus was fully God and fully man.  And because he was both, he could do something which is the second thing we need to believe about Jesus.

 

He died a substitutionary death on our behalf.

 

 We all know what a substitute is.  We all had a substitute teacher in school from time to time.  In athletics, the coach will substitute one player for another.  A substitute takes the place of someone else.

 

Jesus was our substitute on the cross.  He took our place on the cross.  He took on our sins on the cross.  The prophet Isaiah wrote:

 

“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.” -Isaiah 53:5-6

 

On the cross, Jesus took on our sins and he died our death.  For the Bible states that the wages of sin is death.  And Peter tells us why Jesus took our place on the cross:

 

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” -1 Peter 3:18

 

Jesus died to bring us to God.  Our sin broke our relationship with God.  By taking on the punishment for our sins, Jesus paved the way for our relationship with God to be restored.  This leads to the third essential truth about Jesus we must believe.

 

We must believe that his death is the only way we are saved and going to heaven.  In verse 6 Paul talks about truly understanding God’s grace.  A true understanding of grace is to fully believe that Jesus’ death and only his death saves us.

 

In our passage for today, Paul talks about God qualifying us for heaven.  Usually when someone qualifies for something, he/she qualifies based upon their own efforts and achievements.  But we do not qualify for heaven based upon our good works or our moral goodness, for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   We do not qualify ourselves for heaven.  God qualifies us. We qualify for heaven solely upon Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Someone said it this way-“When it comes to my salvation, God did his part and I did my part.  I did all the sinning and God did all the saving.”  Others may express it more eloquently, but none can state it more clearly.  Someone else put it this way-“If you are trusting in Jesus 99% and yourself 1%, you are trusting in yourself too much.”

 

Here is the 4th essential truth about Jesus that our faith in him leads us to believe: that he arose bodily from the grave.  In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul gives us the essence of the Gospel:

 

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

 

At the very heart of the Gospel message is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Referring back to our opening Scripture, Romans 10:9, it says that if we believe in our hearts that Jesus arose the dead, we would be saved.

 

Why is the resurrection of Jesus such an essential truth to our faith?  Well, if Jesus had not risen, we would have believed in a dead Savior and our hope of going to heaven would still be buried in the grave with him. 

 

But, Jesus is risen from the dead!  He appeared to over 500 people at the same moment following his resurrection.  And since we have a risen, living Savior, we have, as Peter states it, a living hope of going to heaven when we die.

 

Here is the 5th essential truth that our faith in Jesus calls on us to believe: that Jesus will return a 2nd time.

 

In Acts chapter one, Jesus meets with his disciples one last time following his resurrection.  He tells them two things.  One is that they shall be his witnesses but first they must wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them.  Then he ascended into heaven.  As they were watching Jesus ascend, two men, angels, appeared to them and said:

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” -Acts 1:11

 

Jesus will return from heaven in the same way he ascended into heaven.  His return will be visible.  His return will also be audible.  There will be a loud command and a trumpet blast.  There will be no doubt when Jesus returns!

 

Why will Jesus return?  Jesus came the first time to be the Savior of the world.  When he comes the second time, it will be to judge the world.  He will come to redeem for all eternity those who are saved and to condemn the lost to an eternity in hell.  That is why it is so eternally important that we place our faith in Christ in this life.

 

The first characteristic of a godly church is to have a Christ-centered faith. Here is the 2nd characteristic of a godly church…..

 

2.AN INCLUSIVE LOVE

 

In verse 4 of our text for today, Paul mentions the Colossians’ love for ALL God’s people.  Likewise, we are to love all of God’s people, not just some of God’s people.

 

That is the type of love that Jesus exemplified.  Jesus rubbed elbows and broke bread with the down and outers of society as well as with the up and comers.  He ate with the tax-collectors and sinners and was criticized for it by the religious establishment of his day.

 

People with the dreaded disease of leprosy had to socially distance themselves from others in Jesus’ day.  The belief was that leprosy was highly contagious.  But Jesus ate in the home of Simon the leper.  And in Matthew 8, we read that a man with leprosy came to Jesus to be healed.  And the Scripture says that Jesus reached out and touched the man and healed him.  Jesus loved everyone.

 

How much do you love God?  You love God only to the extent that you love God’s people, all God’s people, for John wrote:

 

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.  For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” – 1 John 4:20

 

So, let me ask you again.  How well are you loving God?  How well are you loving all God’s people?

 

When we become Christians, God enlarges our heart’s capacity to love people.  Our sinful, human nature is prejudice and exclusive.  But Christ living in us gives us the ability to be impartial and to be inclusive as far as our love is concerned. 

 

A retired minister from Niles, Michigan that I had the privilege of meeting years ago died on January 15th.  We both ministered to the same congregation, but at different times.  His name was Jack Van Arsdall.  One of the best things remembered about Jack in his obituary was this-“He never met a stranger, being willing and interested to greet every new person, and learn about them.

 

Jack definitely had a love for all God’s people.  And so should we and we can.  Romans 5 says that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 

 

An inclusive love.  Here is the third characteristic of a godly church…..

 

3.A CHRIST-HONORING LIFE

 

In verse 10 Paul speaks about living a life worthy of the Lord so that we may please him in every way.

 

The Westminster Catechism says that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” We are to honor and please God by how we live our lives.  We are to live our lives in a way that is worthy of our Lord who died for us.

 

Paul wrote that we will live a life worthy of the Lord as we are filled with the knowledge of God’s will through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives us. The place to receive that knowledge and wisdom and understanding is from reading the Bible.  The Word of God shares with us how to live a life worthy of the Lord.

One thing that I believe will help is to apply the principle of honoring and pleasing God to everything we do.  We run everything through that filter.  Will this honor God and please him?

 

Will my thoughts and words be pleasing to God?  May our prayer be the prayer of Psalm 19:14:

 

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

 

Will my actions honor God and be pleasing to him?  Will I not conform to the culture around me but be transformed to be more Christ-like? 

 

Pastor Barry Cameron wrote-“Everybody wants to make a difference in the world; only a few people want to be different from the world.”  In fact, the only way to make a difference in this world is to be different from the world.

 

Paul goes on to say that we live a life worthy of the Lord as we bear fruit in every good work.  Matthew 5:16 says:

 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

 

God will be honored when we serve him and minister to others.  And one day God will express how pleased he is with us when we hear him say- “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

 

One fruitful good work that Paul mentioned in our passage is the fruit of bringing others to Jesus.  Someone wrote- “The fruit of a Christian is another Christian and the Holy Spirit has been given to motivate us in carrying out the Great Commission.”

 

The late Paul Harvey tells the story of Joe Cressy, a fisherman, who entered an annual fishing contest in Wisconsin.  The contest had a $10 entry fee and if you caught the tagged fish, you would win a $50,000 prize. 

 

Joe Cressy entered the contest every year and never caught a fish.  So, one year he decided not to pay the entry fee.  He just fished in the contest, and well, you know what happened.  He caught the tagged fish.

 

Now some people might put the fish in a bucket of water, go pay the entry fee and then come back later with the tagged fish.  But Joe Cressy was raised to be an honest man.  He went to the tournament officials and said, “I caught the tagged fish but I didn’t pay the entry fee.” 

 

He didn’t collect the $50,000 prize money.  A local taxidermist offered to mount the fish for free.  The fish hung on the wall in Joe’s house as a trophy to his integrity, a reminder that $50,000 could not buy his character.

 

May our lives be a trophy to the goodness and grace of God.  Barry Cameron also wrote-“By the lives we live, by the words we say, the places we go, the things we do, the people we are, we are communicating to a watching world if Jesus really matters or not.”

 

Christians who live a Christ-honoring life is another characteristic of a godly church.  Here’s the fourth and final one we will look at today:

 

4.EXPRESSIONS OF JOY AND THANKSGIVING

 

Are you COVID weary? As we enter into the third year of the pandemic, I think we all are and have been for some time.  But in the last 2 years, have you expressed any  joy and thanksgiving?  You might respond, in light of the pandemic, that there’s not much to rejoice in and be thankful for.  And you would be wrong.  You would be wrong because you have the wrong perspective.

 

First of all, the Bible commands us to be joyful and give thanks regardless of our circumstances.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 outlines this:

 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

It is God’s will that we rejoice always, even during a pandemic.  We are to give thanks in all circumstances, even if dealing with COVID happens to be our circumstances. 

 

It is possible for us to do so because God has commanded it.  God would not have commanded it if it were not possible for us to express joy and thanksgiving during difficult circumstances.

 

The apostle Paul demonstrated that it is possible.  He wrote in Philippians 4 to “rejoice in the Lord always.”  Paul wrote that while sitting in a prison cell.

 

Joy and thanksgiving are not the byproduct of having no problems.  Joy and thanksgiving come because of the presence of God.  We just have to maintain the proper perspective.

 

Paul lists a couple of things here in Colossians that we can be thankful for and rejoice in even during the difficult days we are currently in.  The things we can always be thankful for are the forgiveness of our sins and the hope of heaven.

 

Fred Nitche said, “If a man has a why for living, he can endure any how.”   The Christian’s why is heaven!  Like the late Don DeWelt, every one of us as Christians should be able to proclaim that we are happy on our way to heaven!

 

In upstate New York there is a cemetery that has an unusual headstone on one grave.  The headstone does not give the name of the deceased.  It includes no date of birth nor date of death.  There is only one word inscribed on the headstone:  FORGIVEN.

 

Forgiven!  The hope of heaven!  That is something to always give thanks for and rejoice in!

 

Ultimately, being forgiven by God through the death of Jesus Christ is the only thing that matters.  It is the only way to have the hope of going to heaven when we die.  If you need to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior please call the church office-757-887-5536.  I would be happy to talk to you about having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

Lebanon Christian Church

409 Yorktown Road

 

Newport News (Lee Hall), VA 23603

 

Phone: 757 887-5536

 

  

CCS #8003



 

Graded Classes
Nursery - High School
Sunday 9:30 AM
Adult Bible Fellowships Sunday 9:30 AM
Morning Worship Service Sunday 10:45 AM

Children’s and teen Bible School will resume in September.

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