Know Christ!

July 31, 2022

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Colossians 1:1-14

Colossians 1:1-14

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Someone picked the right numbers on Friday to win the Mega Millions. The person who won will get over a billion dollars paid out over the next 29 years. Different paths lie ahead of the winner depending on his or her knowledge of what to do and what not to do with that kind of money.

A variety of people faced with the same path will walk down it differently depending on what they know. Jesus made this point in our Gospel reading from Luke 10, when he told the parable often titled, “The Good Samaritan.” Jesus told the parable because an expert in the law wanted to test Jesus’ knowledge, so he asked him, 25 … “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered the question with a question to get the expert in the law to reveal what he thought was necessary to which,

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Luke 10:27

This was correct, 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” And it was this question that Jesus used to reveal this man’s lack of knowledge. Not lack of knowledge of who his neighbor is, but lack of knowledge of love. Jesus’ illustration spoke of a man who had been attacked by robbers and left for dead. A priest passed by but did not help. Then, a Levite, who also passed by without helping. Finally, a Samaritan saw him, stopped, bandaged his wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn, paid for his care and told the owner to look after him until he could return to pay whatever other expenses would come. Jesus then asked,

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:36-37

Jesus knew this expert in the law had a lot in common with the priest and Levite but hated any Samaritan. This added to Jesus’ point to the man, that it does not matter what you know about your neighbor that leads you to show love. It is what you know about love.

More specifically, it is important to know Christ’s love. In our New Testament reading from Colossians 1, Paul wrote against a false teaching that was taking root in Colossae. Some were teaching that there was greater knowledge, something beyond the gospel and in addition to Christ. The heart of the matter was that Christ was not enough. So, Paul’s letter emphasized that Christ is enough. We read from Colossians 1,

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you.

Paul and his fellow missionary pastors gave thanks to God for what he had done in Colossae. The Colossians had faith in God and love for God’s people which resulted from their hope of eternal life in heaven. This hope is the gospel to which all believers pursue deeper knowledge of, not knowledge of other things to add to it.

Like the Colossians, you and I are faced with promises that there is something more than the love of Christ. You have heard it from other people, books, tv shows, podcasts, blogs, so called experts in religion, life or spirituality that there are more complex prayers, secret words, traditions, practices, rituals and worship styles that will bring you closer to God. You have heard that there are lifestyle, clothing and dietary habits that bring someone closer to God. You have heard about trips, places and experiences, even dreams, signs and encounters with spiritual beings that bring greater knowledge. Do not abandon Christ for such things. It would be like the man from Jesus’ parable who was robbed, beaten and left for dead on the road quickly thanking the Samaritan for bandaging some of his superficial wounds, but waving him off and refusing his offer to put him on the donkey, take him to the inn, put down money and promise to come back to pay for his whole stay to get back to full health because something better was probably out there. Abandoning Christ means abandoning his love, forgiveness and mercy, which means abandoning the hope of eternal life in heaven.

The clear gospel was preached to the Colossians, so that they would not continue searching for more or greater knowledge. These words were also written so that you would not search for something more. You have all you need to be saved from sin and death, to have a relationship with God and to inherit eternal life from God the Father as Paul wrote in Colossians 1,

12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul highlights three truths to show you have all you need from God. One, he has qualified you to be in his kingdom. You are enough and do not need anything extra because Christ gave you his righteousness and earned you a share in the inheritance of eternal life. Two, he rescued you from darkness. Sin set this world on fire, burning up all that is good. And you were stumbling around in the smoke hitting and crashing into things, stubbornly moving around despite the danger, falling over hurt and headed for certain defeat, until God pulled you out of the darkness. Three, from the wreckage of the darkness, he brought you to the kingdom of his Son. You are loved by God and saved by him through Jesus’ redemption. Redemption means to buy back, like redeeming a coupon. The coupon rather than the money you worked for gets you the item. God the Father qualified, rescued and brought you back into his kingdom through his Son, Jesus Christ, as we hear in 1 Peter 1,

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

When you know all God has done for you in Christ, the only thing left to know, is to know Christ better.

God wants you to know more. Paul was never content that any believer remains where they are in faith. He always wanted them to progress in their faith as we read in Colossians 1,

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

This knowledge of God’s will is to know his love. It is to know the action he took to save us and make us his own. You are his own, brought to spiritual life through the gospel. From the gospel, faith, hope and love are alive in you. God produces willingness in you to follow his will. This prayer recorded in Colossians is true for you. And one application is love for others as Jesus taught in his parable about the Samaritan. Examples of showing love were also recorded in our Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy 24, 17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Or, 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you show unconditional love to others they learn of God’s love. When you do not consider who to love, but how to show love to all, then you are carrying out God’s will.

Someone picked the right numbers on Friday to win the Mega Millions. Different paths lie ahead of the winner depending on his or her knowledge of what to do and what not to do with that kind of money. A variety of people faced with the same path will walk down it differently depending on what they know. Christ gave you all his love when he saved you. With the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, truth and power that come from Christ’s love, there is nothing else to chase after. Knowing Christ means growing deeper in understanding that each sin added to your debt, was also paid by Christ. Each new person you meet is already known and loved by Christ. When your knowledge of Christ is low, your love for others is low. When your knowledge of Christ’s love for you is high, your love for others is high. The depth of Christ’s love for you keeps your faith in him and fills you with love for others. Our prayer is the same as Paul’s recorded in Colossians 1,

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you.

Give thanks to God because you also know Christ. Amen.

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