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ROOTED IN CHRIST
Who Am I?
September 24, 2017
Hurricanes in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. Earthquakes in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Mexico City. North Korea shooting ballistic missiles over the skies of Japan. Church, the world is in chaos. The world is broken. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. This is not the way God created it to be.
And while all this is going on I’m reading through 1 Thessalonians right now that says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
Has the world gone mad? Have we entered the last days? Is this the destruction that God is talking about in Thessalonians and other passages like it? I’ve been asked all those questions.
We’ll we know we’re in the last days. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the last days started with Jesus 2,000 years ago. And we do know that Jesus can come back at any time. But he could choose to wait another 2,000 years. No one knows the day or the hour of his return. But we do know that he is in control in the midst of all this brokenness. Jesus is sovereign over all things. And one day he will put Humpty Dumpty back together again. He will restore all things. Jesus is our hope.
Are you putting your hope in Jesus today? I hope so. Are you living your life in a way that’s worthy of the Lord? Are you joyfully giving thanks to God the Father for what he has done in your life? Do you know who you are as a believer in Jesus?
This morning we continue our series through the letter to the Colossians called Rooted in Christ. Last week, Matt got us off to a great start introducing us to this incredible little church that met in a home in the town of Colossae which is 120 miles east of the world-class city of Ephesus in the country of Turkey.
This was a small rural church, much smaller than Valley View. In fact, think Life Group, meeting in a home, mostly Gentiles, farmers actually, who had been led to Christ by a man named Epaphras. Epaphras first heard the gospel from Paul in Ephesus and now had returned to his home town of Colossae where he was a faithful minister. The church was small but powerful, well-grounded in faith, hope, and love.
Church, that’s what we want Valley View to be in these chaotic days. Paul’s vision for Colossae had nothing to do with buildings, budgets, and staff. It had everything to do with the depth of their faith, the reality of their hope, and the strength of their love. Strong churches can be any size as long as they’re filled with faith, hope, and love kind of people.
But these Gentiles were being pressured to follow the Jewish law and to add extra rules and regs to their simple faith. They were being told that Jesus is not enough. You need more than Jesus. So Paul is concerned for them and praying for them. And in Colossians 1 (p. 821) he pulls back the curtain and lets us see the content of his prayer. It’s a prayer we need to be praying for ourselves and each other.
Look at 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.
Stop right there. Whenever I read the prayers of the Apostle Paul, and they’re found in the beginning of most of his letters, I come up short in my own prayer life. Not only does Paul pray so consistently, we have not stopped praying for you, we continually ask God to fill you, but he prays with such depth.
Look what he’s praying for. He’s praying that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.
When I think of God’s will I think of decisions that need to be made like, “Should I go to this college or that college? Should I take this job or that job? Should I marry this person or that person? Should I stay in this house or move to that house?”
Those are all valid prayers, don’t get me wrong. And God loves to answer them. But they’re all about what we do and not about who we are. The will of God Paul is talking about here is not about what we do, but about who we are. He wants them and us to know our true identity in Christ. Paul is praying that we would have a high spiritual IQ. That we would have wisdom to see life the way God sees life and to apply his wisdom to real life situations.
Parents when you pray for your kids pray that God gives them a high spiritual IQ. When you pray for your spouse pray that he or she will see life the way God sees life. When you pray for those in your Life Group or others you know, pray that they will apply God’s wisdom to the real life situations they’re facing every day.
Let’s go deeper in our prayers for each other and for ourselves too. And as we pray that way we will live lives worthy of the Lord because God loves to answer them.
Verses 10-12, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Stop right there. We all need to be strengthened with God’s power so that we can live a life worthy of the Lord and bear good fruit. We all need great endurance and patience. God knows life is hard. I remember a friend telling me a number of years ago, “Life would have been so much easier if someone had told me at the start that life would be hard.”
Anne Beiler who started Auntie Anne’s Pretzels at farmer’s market in Downingtown that has since grown into a pretzel empire says, “Life is hard. God is good. Try not to confuse the two.” That’s true.
It’s easy to confuse the two, isn’t it? I know I have at times and over the years I’ve met plenty of people who have confused the two. Some have given up on God because they thought he’d make life easy if they became a Christian. They thought they’d climb into a bubble and their problems would dissolve. But that’s not the case. Life is hard for everyone. Remember, be kind to everyone because everyone is fighting a battle.
But as believers in Jesus we have the resources to deal with life head on. We don’t have to retreat into some kind of numbing addiction to alcohol or drugs or sex or pornography or work or exercise or shopping. We don’t have to live in denial. We are free to face life with the strength of God’s power that gives us great endurance, patience, and joy.
But we can only live that way if we know who we really are and what we have in Christ. Do you know who you really are? Do you know what you have in Christ? That’s what gives us joy and thankfulness.
Verses 12-14, He has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
That’s a mouthful of theology. I get that. But when we unpack these verses we see three things that describe who we really are in Christ. The first is that we share in God’s inheritance. What does that mean?
In Bible times an inheritance was the estate that a father passed on to his son or daughter if he had no sons. And if he had more than one son, the firstborn always got twice as much as the other sons. But you had to be in the family to get an inheritance. Dad couldn’t pass his inheritance on to a slave or to a child that wasn’t his. And that inheritance meant financial security for his boys. It gave them a jump on life.
As believers in Jesus Christ we’ve been adopted into God’s family, we are now his sons and his daughters because there’s no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free in the body of Christ. We all share in God’s inheritance. All God has will one day be ours. We’re going to be rich! That’s who we are!
But it’s not found in the stuff of this world which is temporary and has an expiration date. Even the most permanent inheritance on earth isn’t secure. Just look at the devastation brought on by the hurricanes and earthquakes this week.
We are rich in Christ. We have an inheritance waiting for us that nothing can destroy. Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. Nor has the human mind conceived of the things God has prepared for those who love him, 1 Corinthians 2:9. And we can’t be disinherited either. Our sin has been completely removed. God sees us as perfect sons and daughters in Christ.
Church, the best is yet to be! Our riches are waiting for us. And that gives us joy even in a chaotic world. First, we share in God’s inheritance. Second, we are citizens of a new kingdom.
When we were born into this world the Bible says we were born into the kingdom of darkness under the authority of Satan, the god of this age. But Jesus Christ has taken us out of that kingdom, terminated our citizenship, and translated us into a new kingdom under a new King, the Son he loves. Our citizenship is now in heaven, Paul says in Philippians.
My mom and her parents were all born in Germany and were citizens of that country until they came to America back in the early 1920’s. They went through Ellis Island in New York and eventually became citizens of the United States of America. And when they did they were no longer obligated to the nation of Germany. They couldn’t be taxed by Germany, drafted by Germany, or forced to obey German law. The Chancellor of Germany had absolutely no power and authority over them anymore. Why? Because their citizenship had been changed!
When we were born physically, the Bible says, we were born into Satan’s kingdom of darkness. We were under his evil authority. But when we were born spiritually, through faith in Christ, we became citizens of the kingdom of light, no longer under Satan’s authority.
We don’t need to listen to him anymore. We don’t need to obey him anymore. He has no more power over us. We are now in the kingdom of light and that gives us joy. That’s something to be thankful for even in a broken world!
We share in God’s inheritance. We are citizens of a new kingdom. And we have been redeemed from spiritual bondage.
Redemption in the Bible always means liberation from bondage. The most graphic example is the liberation of 1.5 million Hebrew slaves from bondage in Egypt. We call it the Exodus. In that case the oppressor was Pharaoh. He ruled the kingdom of darkness. The redeemer was Moses. And the sacrifice was the Passover lamb whose blood was placed over the door of every Israelite home so they could be free. Freedom always comes at a price.
But for us, Satan is the Pharaoh. Jesus is the redeemer and also the sacrifice. He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He paid the price we deserved to pay. And when we believe in Jesus our sins are completely forgiven and we are set free! That gives us joy. That’s something to be thankful for even in a world filled with pain.
We have a share in God’s inheritance. We are citizens of a new kingdom. And we have been redeemed from spiritual bondage. And no missile can destroy that truth. No earthquake can bring it down. And no hurricane can blow it away.
Church, these are all powerful images that are meant to give us great endurance, patience and joy in life. This is not dry theology meant for a seminary classroom. This is dynamic truth that’s meant to change our lives at the very core of our being.
God wants us to know who we really are and believe it so that we will walk worthy of the Lord and please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work. Do you believe it? Let’s stand for closing prayer.