Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Reading: Colossians 2 : 8 – 15
At home in our first aid kit we have a variety of medicines to help with the minor illnesses / aches and pains that sometimes come our way: Aspirin, Paracetamol, Cough medicine, Germolene, Plasters, etc. Recently we’ve also added Panadol extra, and Solpadeine plus which are meant to knock out those nasty headaches and backaches where ordinary Paracetamol/Aspirin may be less powerful. At least that’s the idea behind the products.
As I read Colossians 2:8-15, I was reminded of those remedies, particularly the ones with the ‘plus’ behind them. It seems that the Church in Colossae was being invaded with a new teaching that offered ‘Jesus plus’.
Certain teachers were telling the Christians there that they needed ‘more than Jesus’…Jesus plus, Jesus extra.
We don’t know exactly what this new teaching was, but it was such a threat to the church that Paul says in chapter 2:8 ‘See to it that no one takes you captive’ with this teaching. ‘Captive’ could be rendered ‘Kidnapped’…it like being invaded by pirates! So, there is a real threat from this teaching, and one we need to be aware of today, if we’re to stay safe from this danger of ‘Jesus plus’.
Let’s look at some of its characteristics in Colossians 2. Paul uses some words that give us an idea of what these teachers were adding to the sufficiency of Christ. In Chapter 2 verse 11 he talks about circumcision, in verse 16 he talks about food regulations and religious festivals, in verse 20 – 22 he talks about man made rules that have the appearance of wisdom, but are, in the end, harsh and lacking in power. These were some of the practices that the false teachers were encouraging the new Christians to add to their faith.
We may ask ourselves what these practices have to do with us today, as they are outdated rituals that belong to the Old Testament.
A few years ago, I watched an intriguing film called ‘The name of the rose’. It was a whodunnit set in medieval times in a monastery where a monk had been murdered, a kind of old fashioned Bergerac mystery with Sean Connery playing the part of the investigating detective.
(Spoiler alert) In one of the scenes, the monk who committed the murder is seen whipping himself – clearly trying to atone for the terrible crime he had committed.
Down the centuries, the church has been captivated from time to time with rituals that use a Jesus plus approach, for example, the practice of penance.
But at a much more subtle level, we are all tempted to rely on our own good works to justify ourselves.
We may say we trust in what Jesus has done for us, but in our minds believe we need to add our own works as well.
It’s this ‘Jesus plus’ thinking that Paul warns us against. Why does Paul warn the Christians at Colossae, and us, so strongly?
To answer that question, we need to go back a chapter, to chapter 1 and verses 15-20. In these verses Paul tells us just Who Jesus is: ‘For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him’ (v 20).
Coming back to our reading this morning, Paul tells us: ‘In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness’ (2:9,10).
So, what is it about Jesus that means nothing ‘extra’ is needed?
Firstly, when we look at Jesus we are looking at God. Jesus is God in human flesh. Nothing ‘extra’ is needed. Indeed, there is nothing any ritual, or ceremony, or practice, or good work, or lack of good works could do to change who Jesus is and why He came to this earth.
But even more than that secondly, Paul tells us in Colossians 2:10, all that Christ achieved is already in our hearts if we have believed and trusted in Him. In Him we have all the fullness of God and nothing can be added…or subtracted from His finished work.
And as we lastly move on to Colossians 2:13-15, we see the wonder of exactly what Jesus has done for us, summarised in those final words from the Cross: ‘It is finished’.
What has Jesus done that can never be added to or taken away?
V13b: ‘He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross’
ALL our sins are forgiven.
How? Because the record of our debt (sins past, present, and future) have been cancelled.
Where were they cancelled? At the cross.
The legal debt that Paul talks about is an I-owe-you note, a legal demand for wrongdoing that requires punishment. There is a real sense in which malevolent spiritual powers hold against believers all the failures of their lives.
Martin Luther had a dream, or nightmare, where he was standing before God’s throne on the day of judgement. Books were opened, and Luther’s many sins and failures were being read out and Satan was there to accuse him.
The list grew longer and longer, as did Luther’s face until suddenly he stopped Satan in his tracks. He said to him, ‘There’s one entry there you’ve failed to mention…the day when I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ to cleanse me from all my sins’
At that moment, Satan departed.
Last week Peter Walker was speaking to us about the importance of encouragement. The greatest encouragement we can ever have is knowing that for once and for all time Jesus paid the price for our sins on the Cross.
The debt that we incurred was driven by nails into His hands. The legal debt that was ours was nailed to the cross.
Here is love beyond our wildest imaginations.
Jesus took away your sin and mine that Good Friday afternoon.
It has been wiped out.
Paul uses phrases like our sins being ‘set aside’….of Jesus ‘disarming’ the powers of their weapons of accusations against us…and ‘triumphing over them’ with total victory.
Because of what Jesus has done at the cross, the spiritual powers are now impotent. They no longer have any power.
Not only is this the most wonderful news we can ever hear, as it give us great confidence for battles with sin lost and won, temptations past, present, and future…it also shows us how absurd it is to think of ‘Jesus plus’…there is NOTHING I can do which will add to what He has already done.
‘IT IS FINISHED’
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour who by dying on the cross of Calvary conquered death and the power of sin over us. We thank you for your Holy Spirit who inspires and empowers us to resist temptation and be the people that you want us to be. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love,
defend us on every side,
and guide us in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be upon us and remain with us always.
Prayers for 3rd Sunday after Trinity 28 June 2020
Special Prayer for today
God our Saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and power, hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour.
From our reading today, we praise you Father that the fullness of your Deity lives in Jesus, so when we look at Jesus, we see you. Wonderful Jesus, you have done everything through your death on the cross to enable us to have all our sins forgiven and to have peace with God. One day every knee will bow before you when you return as Judge and King. We don’t see it happening yet – help us now as we pray towards that day.
We pray for world leaders and all in authority. We see a world where there is so little peace – countries at war, fear over the pandemic, ill-treatment and persecution of minorities, protests against injustice, laws being made which go against your instructions. In you, Jesus, are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. May we and our world leaders humble ourselves and ask for your help.
We pray for all who are seeking meaning and peace in the middle of the chaos all over the world, for those who are joining church services on line and searching prayer websites.
Holy Spirit we pray you will turn our hearts back in repentance to the One who came to bring peace.
Our mission partners, Julian and Catherine are among many who give themselves to translating the Bible into mother tongues throughout the world. This can be dangerous
and is exhausting. Thank you Father, for the virtual workshop Julian had last week helping teams translating Habakkuk and Malachi. Thank you that Misha is happier using zoom. Father we pray that Julian will find a suitable time slot next week to check
Zephaniah. Thank you too, that Anya and Jacob are now in their own flat.
We pray for those on our newssheet or known to us who are suffering in mind, body or spirit. Father please meet their needs and give them and their families your peace.
We pray for our leadership team making plans for the future of St C’s. Please renew strength as they wait on you.
In the words of Psalm 85 v 6 ‘Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love O Lord and grant us your salvation. May we all continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. AMEN!
Category: Prayers , Sermons , The Bridge