Colossians 1-4: The True Head of the Church

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent...

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church

Colossians 1:18 & 24

 

From the foundation of the church, men have fought over who is to be its leader. It seems that nearly every religious body that professes Christ as Lord has men who would be its master. The irony should not be lost on us whenever we see men trying to gain power in the church. The church is the body of Christ, for it was He who was crucified that this body might live.

 

But what do we see today? We see men mass together to vote on who will be the head of some of these so-called churches. We see conventions and conferences and assemblies where men meet together to see what the new rules should be for these religious organizations. It is hard to conceive that men could be so blinded by their own lust for power that they could actually believe they have the right to set even one rule for Christ's church, but they not only believe they have such authority, they have even convinced their followers that they have the right to claim it.

 

Years ago, I asked a good friend who had just come back from just such a meeting as to how it went. His reply was that, while Jesus was still Lord, it was by a much smaller vote. I think that he was only half kidding.

 

The fact is that God Himself has set Christ as the head over the church and there is nothing that men can do to change that fact, nor should there be. Further, it was God and Christ Who set the rules for this church, and no man has been given the right to challenge that authority, nor has any man been given the power to make even one minor change to any of God's rules for the church. The reason that we are reading the Word of God is because we believe that He is God indeed, and we are mere servants who are subject to His Rule.  

 

It can only be when we recognize that Christ is the head of His church that we can begin to be pleasing to the Father and the Son. Until then we must recognize that any man or woman who claims to be the head of a church is not only self-deluded, but a genuine threat to those who would accept their false claims.

 

Jesus is the head of the church. Everyone else who claims that authority should be recognized for the imposter that they are.

 

The readings for the next few days come from Colossians 1-4. Along with the rest of the Bible, they reveal truths about the church that can be found in no other place.

Philippians 1-4: To Live Is Christ

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:20-21

 

One of the hardest things in life is realize that the main part of our existence is not in this physical world, but the spiritual. It is a fact that God created each one of us with a soul that was designed to be eternal. His desire for us is to be with Him in Heaven for that eternity. Since this is the case, it makes no sense for mankind to put so much focus on our physical lives, and so little on our eternity.

 

I think that this, at least in part, is what the Apostle Paul was trying to reveal to us in the passage above. At the time of writing his inspired letter to the church at Philippi, Paul was in prison. He was also aging and knew, therefore, that his life was getting closer to an end. But whether his life was to be taken as a result of the perils that he faced or by the natural fading of his physical strength brought on by age, Paul knew that it did not matter. For him, to live was Christ, and to die truly was gain. For he, just like you and me, is eternal.

 

This perspective helped Paul through all of life's difficulties, including the one he faced of being in prison and in danger. In this same letter, Paul indicated that if he lived it would mean fruitful labor, but if he died he got to be with Christ, which was far better. Furthermore, which ever God chose for him, Paul was determined to live a life that was worthy of his calling.

 

Would this type of attitude help you? 

 

The reading for the next few days is from the letter to the church at Philippi. It is filled with perspectives that will help us all live lives that are more worthy of the calling we have been given.

Ephesians 1-6: A Return of the Dark Ages... or Enlightenment?

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

Ephesians 1:16-19, ESV

 

There was a period of history from the fall of the Roman Empire to about A.D. 1,000 that historians have referred to as the Dark Ages. Some historians extend this Dark Ages timeline to the 14th century.

 

The Dark Ages was an era of "backwardation" when men seeking power thought they could control (and sometimes repress) all knowledge, especially that of the knowledge of the Word of God. The church of Christ was largely transformed into a church of men who lusted after power and money. This control and suppression of knowledge filtered its way through all of society until mankind literally went backwards in everything including science, art, medicine, and especially religion. It is interesting how history repeats itself, isn't it?. 

 

For nearly everyone living during this era, the Dark Ages was a brutal existence. For a small percentage of the world's population, a remnant of sorts, the Dark Ages were actually a period of enlightenment. What was the difference between the majority who regressed and the minority who went forward?

 

It was the Word of God! History shows that while it was not until the Bible was translated into the common languages of English and German during the time of John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and Martin Luther from circa 1,400 - 1,500, that there was still copies of the Word of God available to common men in their own languages. For these people, the Dark Ages were not dark at all, for they had the Word of God to enlighten them.

 

And those of us living in the 21st century can have the same thing. For though we clearly live in a time when greedy men are attempting to suppress and control all knowledge, we have the Word of God to enlighten us. And while it very well may be that the majority of the world is regressing to a modern day, Dark Ages, those who have Christ do not have to participate.

 

When Paul wrote to the church of God at Ephesus some 2,000 years age, he prayed that they would have a spirit of wisdom, a revelation of knowledge, and that their eyes would be enlightened that they might know the hope that they had in Christ. This is the prayer that we need today. We already have God's revelation of knowledge complete within the Bible.

 

The only question for modern men is whether or not we will allow our hearts to be enlightened with this Holy Word of God that we may receive it with a spirit of wisdom that will give us hope in a world that seems to be growing darker and darker.

 

The readings for this week are from chapters 1-6 of Ephesians. They provide enlightenment for those who wish to see!

 

  

 

Galatians: What's Wrong With Changing the Gospel?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-9, ESV

 

You may have heard the saying, "We are all going to the same place, just by different paths". The implication is that any way you want to come to Christ is just alright. After all, God's grace is sufficient, right?

 

Now please don't get me wrong. I know that there are a lot of well meaning people who just want to get along and sincerely want to please God. Having said that, well meaning or not, the Word of God is very specific when it comes to changes: It is forbidden!

 

That may seem harsh at first, but consider what God has done for us. He has given us a plan that will not change. Many conmen within the ranks of preachers have claimed to have a "secret message" from God. Many of these false teachers have even said that the message they received was given to them by an angel. Cautious people then have to ask themselves, "What if they really did talk to an angel?"

 

The beauty of God is that he anticipated such evil in advance. He had the Apostle Paul write not once, but twice, that if someone preached a new Gospel - even if it was an angel - they were accursed. Accursed is a specific word that indicates an eternal condemnation. In other words, such an accursed being - whether man or angel - will be lost should they preach any other Gospel than the one found in the Scriptures.

 

Again, some men will say this is too severe, but it is exactly the opposite. There are no changes needed to the perfection of the Good News of Jesus Christ, therefore, no changes will be made. Since this is the case, we can go to the Word and be confident that we are getting the exact, unchanging truths that we need for salvation.

 

God didn't take any chance with His Word... will we?

 

The readings for this next week are from Galatians. This inspired letter contains powerful truths that all men need to properly serve both the Father and the Son. 

II Corinthians 9-13: His Grace Is Enough

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me;

but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

II Corinthians 12:7-10, RSV

 

Even the Apostle Paul had things that he wished he did not have to go through.

 

I think one of the hardest things for us to understand is why good people have to experience hardships. I was visiting with a man the other day whose grandson had been born with a crippling birth defect. His parents have spent thousands of dollars and traveled many miles to try and help their child. And while the child is getting a bit better, at the age of five he still cannot walk. He faces a life tat will be hard, indeed, a life that has been very hard already. Why would God permit such a thing?

 

The answer of course is that we cannot know. What we can know is that God loves this child and that He wants him to be with Him whole, someday, in Heaven. But until then the life of the child and the parents and grandparents will be filled with challenges that will sometimes seem unbearable.

 

But, the fact remains, God's grace is sufficient.

 

And that will make all the difference, if we will let it, and that makes the seemingly unbearable, bearable.

 

One of the reasons that we read the Word is that it helps us to understand a little better the tests that we are going through here on earth. This understanding will not make the difficulties of life easy, but it will make it bearable. And then, for the faithful, there will be Heaven.

 

Then we will see plainly that His grace has always been enough.

 

The readings for the next few days are from II Corinthians 9-13. They tell us how to rely on God that we might serve Him best.