ˇ°CHRIST IS THE COMPLETE ANSWERˇ± By Pastor Yau
Text: Colossians 2:8-15 June 22, 2014.
1) Questions demand answers: From the dawn of history, man had pondered questions of ultimate reality. He had sought for explanation of the universe around him and the meaning of his own existence. Questions like ˇ°Who am I?ˇ±, ˇ°Why am I here?ˇ± and ˇ°Where am I going?ˇ± are universal in the human race. Worldly philosophy ineptly tried to answer these questions. Since the meaning of philosophy is ˇ°love of wisdom,ˇ± each person could become his own philosopher, because each person has his own worldview and wisdom to answer the above questions. Yet, there are those who are specialized in the academic discipline pf philosophy, both from the east and the west, who had contributed in different ways to answer the above queries in their own way at their own time. Some of the Eastern philosophers became founders of many religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism, and other Eastern ancient religions.
2) Questions left unanswered: With both philosophies and philosophers from the East and the West, there isn't any solution that will answer those basic questions of life. Western philosophy mostly ended up in intellectual pursuits in denial of God and the exaltation of the human mind; while Eastern way embraces the pursuit of life after death, and the creation of religions which mainly focus on the personal discipline, hoping to meet the requirements of the many deities. Neither of the East nor the West philosophy offers definite answers to these questions: Where did this world come from? Why are we here for? Where are we going after the journey on earth is done? Since the human mind is so limited to comprehend inquiries like these, it was diverted to pursue political and technological developments. This is why we see most of the political and technological changes come as a result of the human mind in the West, while Eastern philosophy ends up in creation of religions from the Middle East, the cradle of many ancient religions, to Asia and the Pacific. But technology or religion couldn't answer the questions we ask as human race. No one should wonder the earnest search for the meaning of life in the modern society because man can't meet the needs of his heart by himself.
DANGERS THE CHURCH FACES: (Colossians 2:8-10)
1) Need to be watchful: ˇ°See to that no ne takes you captives. (2:8) ˇ°See to itˇ±, blepo in Greek, in imperative form means ˇ°make sureˇ± and is a command God's people must be attentive, alert to and obey. Throughout the 2,000 years of Christian history, God's church has been under attack by all kinds of false teachings, deviations and outright heresies. In every generation, there are new theories, methods, temptations from all sides of the world trying to alter, add or subtract, dilute, penetrate or smear the gospel truth of Christian faith. From the number of churches and believers once were faithful to the teaching of Jesus, but had been captured by false teachings since the early church time, we can see the real and present danger God's churches are facing. Paul uses the strongest form of word to warn us to be alert and careful, not to become victims of Satan.
2) Need to see the danger: ˇ°That no one takes you captives.ˇ± (2:8b) ˇ°Captiveˇ± is a compound word that means ˇ°be carried away by forceˇ± like kidnapping or as spoils in a war. This kind of danger is real in history: God's church and people had been carried away from God's word either by negligence or their own choice. All you can see today is the fact that many once faithful main-stream denominations in Christian circle have adopted false teachings of the world in the wave of liberalism, they have departed from the word of God and his truth. The danger of being captured is real and we need to see that.
3) Need to see their true color: ˇ°Through philosophy and empty deception, to the tradition of of men, to the elementary principles of the world.ˇ± (2:8b) Every generation throughout history, Satan has devised different schemes to entice God's people and churches to stray away from the Bible. In recent centuries, the most fearful weapon Satan and the world used is liberalism. This is often misunderstood as ˇ°liberator for freedomˇ±, but it is a movement to move away from the authority of God to follow the trend of man. More and more once mainstream churches are now in the liberal camp. The most serious is the ecumenical movement which includes all religions of the world for the promotion of social justice, poverty and the poor, totally disregard the commission of spreading the gospel as the Lord has mandated us to do.
CHRIST IS THE COMPLETE SALVATION: (2:11-12)
1) Christ defeated legalism: ˇ°In him we were also circumcised with a circumcision made without (human) hands, in the removal of the body of the fresh by the circumcision of Christ.ˇ± (2:11) Circumcision was a command in the Old Testament as a symbol of removal of sin from the human body. It is an outward demonstration that man was born with a sinful nature and needs cleansing. Generation after generation, all Jewish men, representing human beings, need to receive that ceremony to acknowledge the sinful nature and the need of self cleansing to be able to access God.
The influence of legalism is still strong, sometimes, rampant in Christian circle. Some well meaning Christians still believe that man needs to DO something in his body, physical life or self inflict suffering to cleanse himself so he may be able to access God These people forgot that ˇ°it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and is not from yourself, it is the gift of God, but by work, so no one may boast.ˇ± (Eph. 2:8-9)
2) Christ is the sole salvation: ˇ°Having been buried with Christ in baptism in which you were also raise up with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead.ˇ± (2ˇ±12) The main theme in this verse is not about baptism but is about the work of God, raised Christ from the dead. For Christian, physical circumcision isn't necessary because we were circumcised without human hands. Since the purpose of circumcision is for the removal of sin in the body, the sinful nature of man, we have been cleansed that sinful nature by Christ and were given a new nature created in righteousness. The Bible says, ˇ°If anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.ˇ± (2 Cor. 5:17) That is why the Bible says here, ˇ°we have been circumcised with a circumcision without human hands.ˇ± To us, circumcision is not physical but spiritual, not by hands of man, but by the hands of God.
CHRIST HAS COMPLETE FORGIVENESS: (2:13-14)
1) Forgiveness not from human work: ˇ°When you were dead in your sins and in your uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. Ge forgave all of our sins.ˇ± (2:13) In 2:11-12, Paul emphasized that salvation is complete apart from any religious ritual. Here he emphasized that forgiveness of sin is also complete part from any human work. Forgiveness of sin is the most important doctrine in the Scripture because it is what guilty sinners to make right with God. Instead of trying to accumulate good work on our own in a helpless condition, God forgave our sins and made us alive with Christ. The forgiveness of sin isn't done by our own hand but the hand of God through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
2) Characteristics of forgiveness: There are many important characteristics in the forgiveness of sin. A few is listed here for your appreciation:
a) It is totally by grace, nothing to do with man.
b) It is complete: No sin is too big or too sinful God can't forgive.
c) It is certain: God has promised and he can't change himself,
d) It is motivating: God forgives us, so you need to forgive others
Each of these characteristics could be developed to a full sermon. They are listed her for your meditation and appreciation. God forgives, so must we.
CHRIST HAS COMPLETE VICTORY: (2:15)
1) Christ had defeated all powers: ˇ°And having disarmed the powers and rulers and authorities, Christ made a public spectacle of them.ˇ± (2:15) Paul used the imagery of the triumphant return of a Roman general, parading the streets of Rome with his defeated captives for all to see. The victory of Christ over the schemes of Satan to condemn us is sure, so we are certain of his forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life. Disarmed means complete stripping off of all the powers of all enemies of God. This includes kingdom of darkness, humanistic and legalistic bondage and all false doctrines.
2) Christ won victory by the cross: ˇ°Triumphant over them by the cross.ˇ± (2:15) Triumphant both on salvation and forgiveness of sin doesn't come free. It costs the blood of Jesus on the cross to pay for the debt s we owe for our sins in our nature and actions. The seemingly defeated Christ on the cross, God raised him to live in a complete victory that guarantees our hope of for-giveness of sin and eternal life with him.
The death of Christ brings transformation, pardon and victory. That adds up to complete forgiveness and salvation. Paul said, ˇ°May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.ˇ± (Galatians 6:14)
1) There is a spiritual warfare: Throughout the 2,000 years of history, spiritual warfare hasn't stopped in attacking Christian faith and Christians. It comes in many shapes and forms from ancient time to modern days. Political powers like Pharaohs in Egypt and kings like Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in ancient time and presidents in modern days who denied God and his authority set laws to limit or ban the worship of God or the right to follow His laws in the Bible. People in power play the role of god over their people. There are also false religions and their dangerous teachings to fool the mind of innocent men and women. They promote humanism, liberalism, materialism, even Satan worship to lead people stray away from God. We Christians need to be alert and careful not to be fooled by these enemies of the truth.
2) Treasure the gifts of God to us: Many Christians, after years of committed obedience to God and his teachings of Christian living, have strayed away to secularism and worldly philosophy. We need to be serious to keep the treasure God has entrusted to us, and be thankful of God's grace and his gift of salvation. Any negligence of God's grace and his teaching can only lead us away from His path into many setbacks and spiritual failure. Be always thankful for his gifts and be diligent in his walk, so we may be true lights of the world and faithful witnesses of the gospel.