Andrew Fountain - The Source of our New Life: United with Christ


Sermon notes - The Source of our New Life: United with Christ

Colossians 2:8–23

  • Key: united with Jesus the head in death & resurrection / tradition of men
  1. Beware lest anyone carry you off as spoil
        through philosophy and empty deceit,
        according to the tradition of men,
        according to the elementary principles of the world,
        and not according to Christ.
  2. For in him dwells all the fullness of Deity in bodily form;
  3. and you have been made full in him,
        who is the head of all rule and authority.
  1. In him you were also circumcised
        with a circumcision made without hands,
        in stripping off the body of the flesh,
    in the circumcision of Christ,
     
  2. buried together with him in baptism,
    in whom you were also raised together with him
        through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
  3. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
    he made alive together with him,
     
    forgiving us all trespasses,
  4.     wiping out the record of debt against us with its decrees,
        that which was hostile to us, even this he has set aside,
    nailing it to the cross.
  1. Having stripped rulers and authorities,
    he made a public display of them, triumphing over them in it.
     
  2. Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink,
        or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,
  3. which are a shadow of things to come, but the reality [body] is of Christ.
  4. Let no one disqualify you [from the prize],
        insisting on [false] humility and worship of angels,
        taking his stand on [visions] he has seen,
        puffed up without reason by his fleshly mind,
  5. and not holding fast to the head,
        from whom all the body, nourished and knit together through the joints and ligaments,
        grows with a growth that is from God.
     
  6. If you died together with Christ
        from elementary principles of the world,
    why, as if living in the world,
        do you submit to regulations, 21”handle not, taste not, touch not,”
  7.     (which all concern things destined to perish with use)
        according to the commandments and teachings of men?
  8. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom
        in self-imposed religion, [false] humility, and severity to the body,
        but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

John & Anne Darwin

John & Anne Darwin

Image source: getty

  • A few years ago in the UK there was a report about a man called John Darwin
    • He drowned tragically in a canoe accident in 2002
    • Five years later he was photographed in Panama with his wife
    • He gave himself up and was charged with numerous charges of fraud and put in prison
  • Dying is a very convenient was of getting out of all kinds of problems
    • Any prosecution against you will immediately be dropped
    • your debts get wiped out
    • your police record and driving record are wiped clean
    • you can no longer be called up for military service or any other kind of duty
    • no laws of the land even apply to you any more!
  • Now being dead might not sound so good to you, but if you were immediately re-incarnated
    • as citizen of another country
    • maybe the heir of several billion dollars
    • that could solve a lot of problems, couldn’t it!
  • (Actually the Bible does teach re-incarnation—only one time, but more of that in a minute)
  • The theme of the book:

Truth that brings life

0. The Story so far

  • There are some damaging errors creeping into the churches in this area
  • Instead of answering them 1 by 1, Paul’s responds by making sure they understand the truth
  • He gives a beautifully compact and exquisitely constructed presentation of Jesus and salvation
  • He wrote it for more than just the Colossians —at the end he says “pass the letter on”.

Tree and Roots

  • The first half is the roots
    • Comes together in the trunk
    • and the second half spreads out and brings fruit

Truth that brings life

  • “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith” (2:6–7)
  • “…bearing fruit and growing” (1:6)

Quick overview

From the bottom up:

4:2–18 Among outsiders

3:18–4:1 In our extented family

3:8–17 Among Christian Community

2:20–3:7 Inner Spiritual life

2:8–19 Fulness: Union with Jesus, victory through him

1:24–2:7 Development: treasure hidden, now revealed

1:9b-23 Essence: Jesus, high over all, has made a new creation

1:1–9a Foundation: Truth is what brings fruit and power

Brief summary of first three layers

  1. We saw how the truth is like a seed that brings fruit
    • Just like in the old creation, God created the seed and it spread over all the earth...
    • Then he prays that they will be filled with this knowledge
      • not just information, but a penetrating insight that leads to a change of life
    • Last week I talked about the difference between knowing some facts and really getting what those facts mean
      • I told a story of a couple of thieves who tried to rob a restaurant armed with machetes
      • They must have seen the fact that there were 50 large bikes outside
        • But they failed to really engage with that truth…

Southern Cross Club

Southern Cross Club

Image source: Warren Lynam

  • and the robbery went horribly wrong
  1. Then we looked at [1:13–22] about our extraordinary, amazing, Jesus Christ
    • It is probably the highest decription of Jesus Christ in the entire Bible
    • Just to remind you, here it is in the form of a song:
  2. And having built this incredible, extraordinary picture of Jesus
    • Paul needs to build a bridge between
      • him, who is the beginning and the end, and has all things in his hands
      • and us, who have to get up on Monday morning and face another day
    • And the first part of the bridge was the revelation of the mystery
      • that this Christ is in us

1. Overview of the Passage

Outline of 2:8–23

  • (8–10) Beware of being cheated—because you have everything
    • (11–14) United with Christ
  • (15–23) So don’t be cheated—because you have everything
  • Read the passage:

Colossians 2:8-23

2. The heart of this passage

  1. In him you were also circumcised
        with a circumcision made without hands,
        in stripping off the body of the flesh,
    in the circumcision of Christ,
     
  2. buried together with him in baptism,
    in whom you were also raised together with him
        through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
  3. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
    he made alive together with him,
     
    forgiving us all trespasses,
  4.     wiping out the record of debt against us with its decrees,
        that which was hostile to us, even this he has set aside,
    nailing it to the cross.

Explain the verses

  • death pictured as circumcision
    • Even in the Old Testament, circumcision was a picture of dying and being born again
    • It was done on the “8th day”, the day after the Sabbath, the first day of a new week
      • picturing the start of a new creation
    • Israel were told that their hearts were to be circumcised
      • they were told this mean to have a new and living heart
  • bury—raised
    • death—life
    • “Together with him” Paul has actually coined new words here
  • when someone was crucified, they would nail a list of their crimes to the cross
    • Our crimes were nailed to Jesus’s cross
    • Not transferred to him, as a separate entity
      • but he put his arms around us and said “let’s do this together” and then he did it all
  • The core message of the gospel is union with Christ
    • Once I used to teach the Gospel in terms of scales
    • I once made a pair of scales to teach this to children
    • In one side goes our sin (heavy stone) and the other goes our good works (no substance)
      • Then we take the righteousness of Jesus and it balances it out
  • However much truth there is in this image, it is not how Paul presents the Gospel
    • Not a cold, legal transaction with scales,
    • but union with a living person
  • This is the same as being “born again” (=born from above)
    • The life of God is now in you
    • You are literally his child, born from him (although not a God)
  • Implications of being united with Jesus
    1. Our destinies are inseparably connected
      • Story of the sinking supertanker and the helicopter
        • Let’s illustrate this with two people
      • we are totally secure
    2. We actually have died
      • and we have been raised something else

3. What this means for us

Look at verses 8–10

  • Now, here we have a hint at what the problem was at this church
    • external rules and regulations
    • things they have to do, rituals, ceremonies, particularly from the Old Testament
    • many of these things were not wrong in and of themselves, they just belonged to a previous life
      • Sorting stuff out I found an old library card from when I lived in England
      • A tax form was sent to my old address, years after I had moved here—no longer relevant
  • Look at Paul’s answer: it sounds like he is almost saying we are divine
    • He is not, of course, but we are a new kind of being
    • filled with the fullness of Christ, who is fully divine

Look at verses 15–23

  • A legalist is overly concerned about outward things.
    • especially the sort of things that we can make rules and regulations about. That is why it is called “legalism”
  • I used to know a man many years ago who wouldn’t take public transport on a Sunday.
  • What does it mean “false humility”?
    • A friend of mine from Scotland told me a story about a church on one of the small Scottish islands that was going to have a new pastor.
  • Note that no one should never preach against legalism without warning of the opposite danger - lawlessness.
    • And this is Paul’s subject in the passage we will deal with next time.
  • But here the emphasis is not being robbed of your joy
  • What if you’re not sure you are united with Jesus?

4. How do we Experience this unity?

  • Primarily it is the work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to feel this
    • But we must give him the opportunity to do so
    • Constanly remind yourself of this passage
    • wear it like a bracelett
  • Let us read it aloud together (11–14)

(Andrew Fountain 2016-10-23)