Collotions chapter 1, verse 15 we're gonna read from. Lossage chapter 1 verse 15. The son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn, overall creation. For in him, all things were created, things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible.
Whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body but church. He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything, he might have the supremacy.
For god was pleased to have all his fulness 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. 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 wholly in his sight. Without blemish, and free from accusation.
If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Father bless that word to us when Rob comes to open it out, to us. Please help us to listen and respond to it by your spirit in Jesus' name, amen. Well, good it good morning.
We actually meet in the afternoon in Becky Tree, so I have to make sure I say good morning. And if you could keep that passage of colossians out in front of you, If you put it away, please get it back out, and that'd be great. And we've read a little bit before the passage we're looking at today. We read from verse 15, we're actually only going to be looking at 3 verses versus 21 to 23. And actually, it's 1 long sentence.
You might have read some of Paul's letters before, and it's not unlike Paul, is it to write in long sentences with a number of clauses? But it is a magnificent sentence. And so we're going to be learning from it together. I don't know if you saw some of the pictures. Well, you didn't see you weren't at this event, obviously, standing on that pier, hopefully not.
And but this is off the coast of the UK during Storm Arwen. You can see the effect that the wind and the storm is having on the waves. I guess that probably doesn't trouble you that much, You're happily inland. The thames isn't that much of a threat, is it? But presumably none of us were in that lighthouse at the time.
So it's not going to bother us too much. It's not going to affect me. But if you looked at what the storm did inland, You start to get a bit more worried, don't you? Because that could have been your car. Sorry if it was all that caravan which is expertly balanced.
On on on the fence. That's amazing, isn't it? It is disturbing when you see stuff that is so fixed down. Suddenly picked up and moved to a new location, isn't it? It's really disturbing to see that.
Well you might be wondering why is this guy giving you the weather report. Has this got anything to do with what we've been we've just been reading in colossians and those verses 21 to 23? Well, you can decide, but I think it seemed to fit the description that Paul doesn't want for the new Christians in the church he's writing to. In Colosi, what he doesn't want. Take a look at some of the language he uses as he lands his mega sentence in verse 23, And already the end of his sentence is what he wants for them, isn't it?
It's where he's landing it. So if you look in verse 23, some of the language that's used if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Continue, established and firm and do not move. From the hope held out in the gospel. That's what Paul wants these new Christians he's writing to.
He doesn't want them to to be picked up and moved around by everything that they hear. And we're going to see that they were being blown about, not by strong winds, but by words. Things people were saying about them. What kind of things were they saying? Well, for this, we're gonna need to jump over the page and just listen out for the verbs in what Paul is saying.
So in in chapter 2 verse 8. It says, see to it that no 1 takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy. And verse 16, therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or Sabbath day. Do not anyone who delights in verse 18, sorry, do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels dysqualify you. Okay.
Some of those things that are listed there or that are listed are quite Jewish things, but you wouldn't have had to say them if they weren't actually if people weren't actually doing these things. This isn't hypothetical, is it? It wasn't like If they do say these things or if they do disqualify you, then this is what you're to do. People are actually saying these things. We're just thinking here about some of the things that might have threatened to move these early Christians to unsettle them.
To get them to question or to move away from the hope that they had in Jesus. I hope that they found in him. It was a kind of comments like You guys, you're not Jewish enough. You need to look a bit more like us. You don't wear the right clothes.
You need to behave a bit more like us. Eat the right food, attend the right gatherings. You don't use the right language or have the same routines or priorities as us. And Paul is writing to guard them against these things. He says, I don't want you to be moved, but it'd be blown around.
By what they're saying. We can see from those verbs that it's a bit more than going than just going to discourage them as a Christian, isn't it? That no 1 disqualifies you. The impact of what they're saying has the power to make them think that they're not Christians. That they haven't really been saved.
That's the seriousness of what Paul is addressing here. Well, what is Paul gonna tell them? And let me just jump on my slides. What is Paul going to tell them what that will help them? And what is he gonna say in verses 21 to 23?
Let's get on with this. Sorry, I need to wait for it to catch up. Can you skip on to the next slide? Can you do that from there? Grace.
Am I Christian? Here we go. What is Paul gonna do? Well, put it simply in verses 21 to 23, he's going to do a before and after photograph. Now you guys probably aren't as vain as we are over in Dagonum.
But I'm sure you must have done 1 of these where you've had some kind of change in your appearance. Maybe you've had trimmed your beard, maybe you've got a new jumper, maybe you've done your hair. And you take a before and after photograph, don't you? Well, Presumably, the result is a lot better as a result of that, but you post it on on Facebook. Maybe it's not even any of those things.
Maybe it's just that you've had a shower. And you're actually clean and you're wearing clean clothes. You know, that's a pretty good start, isn't it? And what Paul does the before and after photograph and this is the guy here. He's actually grown hair, which is remarkable.
None of those things actually work, by the way, the adverts they tell you. So the before and after photograph. He's going to do the before photograph in verse 21. And so let's look down at that. And he's gonna say 3 things that they once were.
3 things that they once were. He says once, you alienated from God and were enemies in your mind because of your evil behavior. It says that, doesn't he? Yep. I've gone for descriptions.
So these are the definitions I'm using here. On the next page. We'll get to that in a moment. The definitions of these things, he says they were alienated from God, so separated from God. That's the first thing he says about them.
He says you are God's enemies, and the third thing he says, is that they what does it say? Coming up, doing evil. So 3 things he says about them there. 3 things that you once were. And that's the key, isn't it?
Paul takes the exact things that people were saying about them now. You don't belong in our club. You don't belong to God even. He takes the things that they were saying about them now. You're doing wrong, what you're doing is evil.
He takes the things like God's still going to judge you for what you're doing now. And he applies them in the most wonderfully assuring way. He says, these are the things that you were. If they're describing you before Jesus, before you are saved, they're absolutely right, the cap fits. That is exactly what you were.
You were separated from God, not allowed in. You were god's enemies and you were doing evil. And then and because he says that's what you were, that's wonderfully reassuring it for these Christians, these new Christians. But let's see that from the words of the after photograph, in the contrast that Paul is making. So if you look in the after photograph in verse 22.
He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you wholly in plainness and above reproach before him. So those 3 things again. What Jesus has done will bring you into God's presence, the Father's presence, holy. So these people are holy, they belong to God. You see what he's doing?
He's doing that contrast. He's saying the people What people are saying about you is you don't belong. But you do. You're holy. You're god's people.
Whatever anyone says about you, you're God's people. You belong to him. You've been washed, you're unblemished as the original word, And interesting choice of word if you think about it for people who come against Jewish, up against Jewish things. Free from accusation. So not guilty.
There is nothing for which God can bring charges against you. So even though there's loads of other things that people are saying, hey, you guys are doing this or you're not doing that, and they're judging them guilty of it. There was nothing that God will judge and guilty of. You see, before and after photograph, they're just polar opposites, aren't they? They completely enter the spectrum.
And it's so encouraging for Paul to be able to say, that is what you were. Christian, that is what you were. And this is what you are now because of what Jesus has done. Well, I'm giving a bit of a spoiler But when you take a before and after photograph, it kind of presupposes that something happened in the middle. Right?
You get the picture of your hairdo, and a picture of you looking scruffy. Well, of course someone had to do something. Maybe you maybe you went to a hair salon. Something had to happen in the middle. That's the middle bit, isn't it?
What actually happened to bring about this change? What happened to bring about this change? Something must have happened to bring about this amazing change from people being God's enemies, enemies of Him. Separated from him, being in his family, his holy people. Can you knock it on?
This doesn't seem to be working. Yeah. There you go. That's all I needed. What actually happened?
Well, that's in verse 22. It says this. He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death. What Paul wants to focus on is the only thing that can bring about this transformation. The only thing that can bring about this change Jesus has reconciled you in his body of flesh.
Simply Jesus died. For sins. Jesus' death has this power to change people who are like that into people who are like this. And Jesus has done everything that was needed. And what they need to see again is what this means to them now.
Everything has changed. What made the difference is that God has made you God's friends again by his death on the cross. That's what that word, reconciles means. It means you've got trends again. And that's the only thing that can bring about this change.
So we've seen the before photograph, the cap fits. If what these people are saying about you is true of you then, it's a it's a right description. But but not now. And not now because of what Jesus has done. To bring you from there to here.
And it's irreversible. It's not going to change. So for Christians that are feeling like wobbly, like on this platform that I'm standing on. And all these words are battering at them. They can say, no, that transformation has taken place.
Jesus has now reconciled you. There is they can't go back. That has happened. Objective. It's not subjective.
It's not how I feel on any particular day. It has now happened. He has reconciled me. What a wonderful thing for these Christians, these early Christians, these new Christians from a culture very different to the 1 that they were stepping into. Well, what does this mean for you and for me?
What's it gonna mean for you and me this week or even today? If you're not yet a Christian and you're looking in to see what being a Christian is all about, it's a good question to ask, isn't it? You might sort of look in and you might think, well, the Christians seems to go to church. Is that what it takes to be a Christian? You know, Christians seem to get on well with 1 another.
They love each other. Is that what it means to be a Christian? A lot of these things can make you think, oh, if I do those things, then I will be a Christian. This says the only thing that can bring about, bring God's enemies to being God's friends. Is the death of Jesus.
It's his body of flesh given over on the cross for sins. To look at any of the results of that transformation, by the way, is is to get confused. Or to get the wrong end of the stick. Don't look at the results of the transformation. Look at what caused it.
Look at the cross. Look at what can take enemies of God who do evil and deserve his forever judgement and make them God's friends. If that's you, can I encourage you? Wherever you're coming from this morning? Whoever you are.
However you feel about yourself or however you feel about What others are saying about you, Jesus can bring about this transformation in your life. He can take you from being God's enemies, which is what you are now by the way. And make you god's friend. What about if you are a Christian? Well, we can go through times.
Can't we as Christians? Where we ask that question? Am I really a Christian? Maybe it's things prompted by ourself, our own thoughts about ourself, or maybe it's things prompted by what others are saying about us. And when we ask that question, am I really a Christian?
What are you gonna go to for your answer? What are you going to go to to get your answer to that question? Is it going to be your recent performance as a Christian? To answer that question. Is it going to be how others feel about you as a Christian?
Whether you fit in or not. We'll go back to that picture of the storm. What Paul wants for these Christians is not to be moved around. 1 day to be over here, another day to be over there. He wants them to be fixed to something.
Held firm by it. And it really is that Jesus has brought about this transformation that his death really has saved them. They are now reconciled. That will hold you firm if you're a new Christian. It will hold you firm if you've been a Christian for years.
It will hold you firm if you're a new Christian and you don't really feel yet that you fit in. Sometimes we can feel like that, can't we? Think. Yeah. There's not anyone really who I naturally get on with yet in the church family or maybe the people at the front who are preaching up don't really present me yet.
That might cause you to question. Can I be a Christian? I don't really seem to fit in. Or you can be because of what Jesus has done. If you realize that the same gospel, and this is where Paul gets to in verse 23, If you realize that the same gospel that changed the 1 who is writing this can change anyone and can change you.
Then that will fill your heart with joy. Make you realize that anyone can be saved. And this is Paul. So if you look in verse 23, at the end of the verse, it says, The Gospel, which has been proclaimed, in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Can you almost hear the surprise as Paul writes those words?
Of which I Paul. Do you know who Paul is? He killed Christians. He had blood on his hands. And he can say, this same gospel that you heard, which I proclaim to you and which is being proclaimed in all the world, has made me Paul.
Me, Paul. Do you know who I am? Do you know what I've done? Is made me not just a Christian. Fantastic.
Wonderful. But a minister, someone who can share the good news to other people. That is wonderful, isn't it? And this is where our true identity can be found. So it is something we can feel fixed by.
We don't have to feel 1 day we're over here, another day we're over there. This is who you are. If you're a Christian here today, this is who you are. Don't go to start looking for other things to assure you that you're saved. That would be to shift from the hope of the gospel.
That would be to be moved around. Don't do that. Go back to this to what Jesus has done for you. And this of course means that Jesus is the only hope for all of your friends too. For everyone here in Kingston, certainly.
Without Jesus people remain unchanged. And this 1 of the things, there's so much of a focus isn't there nowadays on outer transformation. So that is the thing that people get excited about. You see that on Instagram, social media, all that kind of thing. The outer transformation.
It means nothing. It actually means nothing. The 1 transformation that needs to take place is that Jesus would make you God's friends through his death. Take it from being an enemy of God to being his friend. So as you stand there next week singing those carols in the bandstand.
And you sort of think This is a bit weird. It's wet, it's cold. We're singing songs that are quite old, really. They're quite tuneful, joyful. But is this isn't this weird?
I mean, it is a bit odd to be doing that. Don't lose confidence that what you are singing about is the 1 message that people need to hear. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your great love for us. You are the head of the church.
That is you get to decide who's in. Thank you that you would call anyone to be in your family and your people. Thank you that you would give your life to bring us in. That you would by your death, be able to present us before the father as wholly, blameless unblemished. For eternity.
That is a wonderful thing. We pray that we would have that whatever we're thinking about our walk with you, that you would fill us with this reminder that we are now what has been done and needed to be done has been done. Would you help us to therefore have confidence to speak of you? In the different places you person. We thank you so much for this church family.
Thank you that together we remind each other that we are your people. And why that is that we have become your people. Please would you continue to make that the heart of this church? Astounded by your grace. And we pray this in Jesus' name, young man.