Explore The Bible Study: The Gospels Power

7:30 AM

The good news of Jesus breaks us free from the power of sin and Satan’s control. Ironically, from a prison cell in the year a.d. 60, a man who wore the shackles of a prisoner, yet was free from the power of sin, wrote a letter to a group of believers he had never met regarding the power of the gospel. That letter is the Book of Colossians. The Explore the Bible Study: The Gospels Power, begins an examination of this letter and the power of the gospel as described by Paul in Colossians 1:9-23.

Epaphras, one of his most faithful coworkers, visited Paul in prison and brought him a report on the congregation at Colosse.  In many ways the report was good. However, it becomes evident in the letter that the Colossian believers might become the victims of false teaching. The heresy running rampant in Colosse attacked and undermined the identity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Paul desired to set the record straight.

Paul opens his letter with a prayer of thanksgiving (Colossians 1:3–8). His prayer continues in verses 9–14, but the focus shifts from thanksgiving to intercession. It is through his eyes we will get a fresh opportunity to consider through Paul’s eyes the enormity of the pardon that Christ offers each of us.

Christ’s Pardon enables believers to live a God-honoring life. – Colossians 1:9-14

The phrase, for this reason, refers back to the report given to him from Epaphras. He was thankful but wanted them to know, too, that he was praying because of some concerns that had come to his attention.

First, He prayed God would fill them with “the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

Paul uses the word "filled," meaning to be under its controlling influence. We are to be controlled by the knowledge of God’s will which comes through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. This is more than simple intelligence. "Wisdom" refers to the comprehension of truth, while "understanding" refers to the application of truth. Being controlled by God’s will means believers comprehend the principles of Scripture and then put them into practice. Paul desired for the Colossians to understand the times and to know what they should do as God’s people, the Issacharites, did in 1 Chronicles 12:32.

Paul then describes the goal of one who is filled (controlled) by the knowledge of His will in verse 10 -- Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him. Paul goes on to describe in verses 10-12 four results of one who walks worthy and lives a fully pleasing life before God:

  1. Bear fruit in every good work – What kind of fruit is he describing? (It could include all or one of these: the fruit of the Spirit, bringing people to Jesus, or good deeds, acts of kindness.) What’s most important is that we bear fruit that makes a positive gospel impact on our world.
  2. Grow in the knowledge of God – A life which pleases God is a life which is constantly exposed to the nourishment of God’s Word by which we grow in the knowledge of God.
  3. Endurance and Patience – How can we have that kind of endurance and persistence in our lives? There is a marvelous promise in our text. We can be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might. We can stand immovable, not because of our power, but because of God’s power. Endurance means to keep our faith when facing frightening obstacles. Patience means to keep our cool when facing frightful opponents.
  4. Gratitude – Because He loves us as a father loves his children, because we are a part of the family of God, we know He will supply our needs. The assurance of those provisions should create within us a spirit of gratitude.

In verses 13-14, Paul paints a beautiful picture of the power of Christ's pardon. 
  • God has rescued us and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. God has transferred us; he has moved us from one place to another. He has taken us from Satan’s dark realm and placed us into the bright light of Jesus’ kingdom.
  • We have been redeemed! - To redeem someone means “to buy them back and set them free.” Jesus’ death was the price paid to buy us back and set us free from sin. Because of Christ’s death on our behalf, we are set free from both the penalty and the power of sin.
  • We have been forgiven! - Forgiveness parallels redemption. Forgive literally means “to send away, to cancel.” Through the death of Jesus, God has canceled the debt of our sin. It was a debt we could never repay; but since Jesus paid the debt for us, God has forgiven the debt.

Paul wants us to know the truth about pleasing God so that we won’t be victims of the well-disguised lies of those who might lead us astray or weigh us down with the burdens of false doctrine or ideologies that cause us to forget the power of Christ’s pardon. Next Paul reminds his readers that Jesus and God are One.

Christ’s pardon is only possible because He is God - Colossians 1:15-20

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was countering a clever company of false teachers who sought to replace the Colossians’ enthusiastic devotion to Christ with only a mild approval of Him. They didn’t encourage anyone to forget Jesus altogether; they just said he wasn’t the only show in town. According to these false teachers, Jesus got equal billing with a vast number of emanating spirits flowing out of God. They said Jesus could be prominent, but He certainly wasn’t preeminent. In contrast, Paul—along with telling believers the truth about the gospel and pleasing God—tells them the truth about Jesus:

  • Jesus is the image of the invisible God: Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.
  • Jesus is the firstborn over all creation: Firstborn is a term of rank more than it is a word of time. The right of the firstborn was the right of privilege, priority, and rank.
  • Everything was created by Him: There is nothing in the created order that Jesus did not create (see John 1:3).
  • He is before all things: Jesus is eternally existent (an attribute that can only be true of God) because He is before all things.
  • He holds all things together: His power guarantees that the universe is under control and not chaotic.
  • He is head of the body, the church: Jesus began His church, and He is its source of life and vitality. Jesus is also sovereign over His church. The church takes its direction from Jesus and is under His authority.
  • He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead: He arose from the grave as we will arise from the grave at His return. Again, firstborn here has nothing to do with time but rank. Others preceded Jesus in rising from the dead. Lazarus is one example (John 11:38–44). Others were raised only to die again. Jesus was the first person to rise, never to die again. He is the first person to conquer death, and all other resurrections are based on His. The glorious truth for us is this: because of his resurrection, we are assured of our own resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–23).
  • God's fullness dwells in Him. Everything is reconciled through Him and His blood atoning sacrifice: Through Jesus, God reconciles to Himself all things. Reconciliation is the removal of hostility and the restoring of friendly relations to parties who have been at war. Paul also calls reconciliation making peace through His blood, which He shed on the cross.

Consider what can happen if you are unsure about any of these statements regarding Jesus. What does your doubt communicate regarding the gospel?

Christ’s pardon makes it possible for people to be reconciled to God - Colossians 1:21-23

Before the miracle of reconciliation, the Colossians, and all unbelievers, were at odds with God. They and we were alienated, that is separated and estranged. We were alone, outsiders, exiled, shut out, cut off, locked out. We were enemies in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Our entire thinking was, and our actions were hostile toward God.

  • What can happen if we forget that we were once enemies to God?
  • Do you think the church has forgotten that one who is lost is alienated and hostile toward God?

The greatest two words in this passage are found in verse 22: But now! 

The outcome of Christ’s reconciliation is a present peace and a future presentation of ourselves before God. The slate of sin has been wiped clean, and we look forward to the day we will stand before God, holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Imagine Jesus presenting you holy, faultless, and blameless before Himself. How does this picture make you feel about the power of the gospel? How does it make you feel about your own personal relationship with the Lord?

What Now?

The truth about the gospel and Christ is that the gospel changes lives all over the world, and Christ has supremacy over all of creation. We can’t be deceived or led to doubt because of what others might say about Jesus.

May we never forget that:
  1. Christ’s Pardon enables believers to live God-honoring lives.
  2. Christ’s pardon is only possible because He is God.
  3. Christ’s pardon makes it possible for people to be reconciled to God.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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