Freedom from Falsehood to Faith (June 17, 2018)
Freedom from Falsehood to Faith
How many of you like “Do It Yourself” projects (DIY projects)? For those of you who do, what’s the draw? Is it that you know exactly what goes into the project? Is it that you can choose the quality and design of the materials that go into it – really making it your own? Is it that sense of accomplishment when it’s all finished knowing, “Wow, look at what I can accomplish!” It’s probably all of the above. There’s a completeness to it. A sense of satisfaction and fullness! And these days you can DIY almost anything! Home furnishings, fitness plans and diets, trinkets to sell, whatever!
But there are still a list of things that you probably wouldn’t want to DIY. Could you imagine building your own daily driver and hoping it holds up at 80 mph on the toll road? Maybe some of you could! Could you imagine building the home you are going to live in board by board, nail by nail and hoping all the plumbing and electrical works in the end? Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of worry to me. But, I’m sure some of you could still do it. How about DIY heart surgery? Wouldn’t it just feel great knowing that you fixed your heart and you fixed it the right way! Nope, better leave that to the professionals. And I don’t even thing that’s possible!
There’s one other thing that you should absolutely never DIY, even if you are an expert in that field. It’s DIY salvation. You shouldn’t even attempt this if you were the greatest pastor or biblical scholar there ever was. That’s actually what was trending in the Roman city of Colosse when Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians. But they didn’t call it DIY salvation. Rather, they touted it as a more complete and fuller faith. What they did is combine Jewish and pagan ideas with the trendy Christian gospel to produce what its supporters boasted was a “more complete” gospel. There was a strong interest in the Old Testament rituals, laws, and ceremonies – things that the people could really get their hands on and be a part of – get that feeling of something accomplished! You can see the appeal. Many Old Testament rituals carried a lot of meaning. And really doing something to earn your place among the faithful certainly satisfies our human need of accomplishment. They also sprinkled in pagan superstitions and interest in the spirit world to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. Add in the gospel of Christ partially because it was spreading like wildfire, but also because it was such a positive and uplifting message, and you’ve got yourself a complete package!
And that’s exactly what they claimed to position this “gospel” over the true Christian gospel; that it was a more “complete” more “sophisticated” gospel. That gospel message that you heard from Epaphras, who preaches the same gospel as Paul, that’s “Gospel Lite” that’s a simplistic gospel. “You need to get yourself into something a little more substantial to really feel and understand the complete power of religion.” They used their claim of “fullness,” “perfection,” and “knowledge” to demean the apostles’ teachings and promote their own. And in doing so, they also diminished the role of Christ in your salvation. Any time you diminish the role of Christ in your salvation – no matter how tiny of a sliver you take away from him – completely negates what Christ came to do. Christ plus anything equals nothing
What did the new “DIY salvation” do? It promised fullness, but left them empty. It promised strength, but revealed weakness. It touted success and accomplishment, but failed those who spent all their time and energy working to supplement their salvation. And we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen how the Pharisees were so wrapped up in earning their salvation by observing the law that they completely lost the main point of the law: love. Love one another as I have loved you. But with followers of this false gospel so wrapped up in themselves, there was no time or energy left to love anyone else. It took all they had to voraciously gobble up this newfound gospel “knowledge” and put it into practice so that they could be filled, that they had nothing left of themselves to share with anyone else.
Isn’t that what we are seeing more and more of today? It may not be a “DIY gospel” that people are promoting, but I would still call it a “DIY salvation.” It’s definitely not the gospel that they are promoting, but knowledge, culture, and maybe even what they call spirituality. And it’s not just out there. It’s not just “those guys.” We are affected by this mentality as well. What’s the one thing in your life that if it was taken away you feel empty and meaningless? What’s the one thing that if it was taken from you, you would feel like you were hopelessly drowning or lost? Is it those extracurriculars that although they are called “extra,” they have become a standard to your education? A standard that if you do not participate in as many as everyone else, well, then, you just don’t measure up when it comes to getting into the schools you want or the jobs you want. Is it those hobbies which started out as enjoyment, maybe even helped you become healthier physically, mentally, or emotionally, but now this hobby has gotten out of control and is really directing every decision in your life? Before you do anything you have to check the calendar or check your schedule to see if your hobby says it’s ok. These things that were meant to give enjoyment and satisfaction sometimes leave us gasping for air. These things that were meant to round out our lives now have become our lives to the point where we have no time for anything else or anyone else. And soon, we end up just like the Colossians who were so wrapped up in their “DIY salvation” that nothing they did was out of love for God or for others. It was just a way for them to climb over everyone else as they strive for their own fulfillment. I see it. I hear it hear. I’m one of them too. Even this place of rest, where God intends to fill us with peace and joy, has become another place where I have to carve out my slice and make it my own, rather than a place where I can come broken, and be made whole by Christ and in my relationship with one another.
In this letter to the Colossians, Paul says that he always thanks God when he prays for them because he has heard of their faith and love! What an amazing reputation to have! What an amazing reputation that has been carried from Asia Minor across the Aegean Sea, through Greece, and across the Adriatic Sea to reach Paul’s ears in Rome while he was under house arrest. These people were firm in their faith – despite the false religion that was taking hold. And they really lived their faith! Could the same be said about us here at Trinity? Are we so filled by the love of Christ that that love overflows in our lives as we live and worship together in harmony? Is our love for one another noteworthy? Would our brothers and sisters at Abiding Savior in Killeen, or Cross and Crown in Georgetown give thanks to God because our fruits of faith were so abundantly evident in the way that we loved one another? Or could we use some work in this area? Do we need to go again to God’s Word and root ourselves even deeper in our completeness in Christ?
In this letter to the Colossians, Paul does not debate the false teachers. He doesn’t have to. He simply overwhelms their errors by confronting the Colossians with the full riches of the gospel of Christ. Throughout the letter there is constant emphasis on the greatness of Christ and the fulness found in Christ. He knew that the more thoroughly the Colossian believers understand the person and work of Christ, the better equipped they will be to recognize the depravity of these falsehoods.
Those false teachers tout their gospel as complete and full? If you want to know fullness, look to Christ! If you want complete salvation, find it in Christ. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Col 1:15-16). “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Col 1:18). “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:19-20). “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free of accusation” (Col 1:21-22).
Wow! What else is there? What else is there to add to Christ Jesus when he is the fulness of God? What better plan of salvation is there except the one God has laid out and carried out? What more do you need from your Savior than to be reconciled, presented as holy, and free from any accusation? You have all of this in Christ your Savior who loved you and made you his own! Salvation is yours! Your hope in heaven is certain!
Keep this sure hope as your number one priority. Keep it at the forefront of everything you think, say, or do. And find your fullness in Christ. Because life is hard. There are many things in life that can take chunks out of you. There are many things in life that can make you feel like you don’t measure up. There are things in this life that will always make you feel like you need to be more and do more. But Christ is your all in all. He made you complete in God’s eyes – the full package: without sin, holy and blameless! And he fills all other aspects of your life as well! You won’t find in anyone a love like the one that Christ has for you. You won’t find in anyone a friend like you have in Christ who is with you through anything. You won’t find fulfillment in anything you do in life unless you are first filled with Christ’s love!
And once you are freed from all these pressures, once you realize that Christ is the only one you need and that a perfect place of rest does exist and is already yours waiting for you in heaven, then you can look at everything in this world in a new light! Those extra-curriculars may give you a good standing as you pursue your goals, but they don’t determine who you are or how good of a person you are. God made you who you are, and he has made you worthy of a new home that kings and princes would covet! Those activities and hobbies you enjoy are gifts from God. They are ways that you can give glory to God for the gifts and talents he’s given you! Those people in your life, you don’t have to find your fulfillment in them, because God has already made you full! And you can bring them fulfillment as you bear abundant fruits of faith – loving them because your God has so loved you!
Jesus has freed you from the falsehoods of needing to be made complete or full by supplementing your life with anything and everything. Christ has shown you how valuable you are to him! He has given you a better life in heaven by making you holy. And he has given your life meaning: love one another as I have loved you.