Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Colossians 3:11-16

11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.

14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

The Original Intent

1) What does it mean to be “in Christ”, the One who “is all and in all? (verse 11)

The believer’s life “in Christ” was a recurring theme in the theology of the apostle Paul. (GotQuestions.org) Due to the original Greek text having no sentence break spanning verses 9-11, “in Christ” is supplied in our English Bibles for clarity.

It was so important to Paul for his mostly-Gentile (non-Jew) audience to understand the universality of the gospel message (Romans 10:11-13), as well as the supremacy of Christ (Colossians 1:17), he uses the word “all” 32 times and speaks of Jesus’ centrality 27 times in this brief epistle. The apostle’s compelling passion flowed from his conviction that God, in Jesus, had come to earth to reconcile all humanity to Himself. (Ephesians 2:4-7) Though Christ’s appearing as a baby was greatly removed from the glory and honor given Him in Colossians 1:15-20, the birth of the infant Jesus to parents of meager means would ultimately provide an eternal reconciliation to God for all who would receive Him.

On that holy night, when the Christ-child was placed in His mother’s arms, it was just the beginning of Mary’s many personal reflections of Who Jesus really was as the God Man. (Luke 1:28-29, Luke 2:16-19, Luke 2:33-35, Luke 2:46-51) Years after Messiah’s appearing, the apostle Paul would come face to face with Jesus in a much more dramatic way than the simplicity surrounding His birth. (Acts 26:12-18)

This encounter would drive him to spend his life declaring the worth of becoming united with an all-sufficient Christ. The best news of Paul’s message was quite radical to those who heard it; none were excluded from the invitation of reconciliation with the God of the universe! (Acts 15:17) Jesus came to receive everyone.

In modern terms, verse 11 marvelously states every Jew or non-Jew, every person who kept the law or not, every foreigner, every free person or slave, every uncivilized and uncultured person that exists has access to Jesus.

The Everyday Application

1) What does it mean to be “in Christ”, the One who “is all and in all? (verse 11)

“Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.”

IN HIM, the slave is our brother!
IN HIM, no one has the upper hand or the higher position or the closer connection.
IN CHRIST, everything has become completely and perfectly leveled for all people in all places for all time. Our salvation has brought us together as brothers and sisters in Jesus, and it frees us from bondage of sin that divides us and holds us captive.

The prophet, Isaiah, brought the good news to those who would hear it. (Isaiah 61:1-3) My Sister in Christ, I want you to know we are not enslaved by a label someone has given us.

We are free to love each other with no boundaries. I may have never met you face to face, but if you are in Christ, you are my sister because of Jesus. I also want you to know you won’t be left out when the gifts are distributed.

There is no “bad list” that includes where you’re from or something you’ve done that would deny you access to the good grace of Jesus. In Christ we have been given gifts of wisdom, forgiveness, faith, hope, understanding, endurance, strength, and righteousness. (Colossians 1:3-14) But the best gift of all is Jesus Himself.

We all come to Him from the very same place despite our nationality, our culture, our income level, our appearance, and even our past. In HIM, our sweet Lord Jesus, we have become forever family. Let’s fall on our knees and worship Him!

The Original Intent

2) How does our relationship with Christ change our relationships with others? (verses 12-14)

When Paul was changed by Jesus, he developed a deep kindred connection with believers near and far. Most of the Colossian believers had never met Paul in person, yet in his pleas and prayers, along with the prayers of his companions, we feel his longing and desire to know their friends in Colossae were thriving in Christ. (Colossians 1:3-14, Colossians 1:27-29)

Jesus broke down many barriers among the people in His day. He loved those others dismissed. (Luke 13:10-17) He loved those others ignored. (Mark 10:13-16) He loved those others hated. (Mark 2:14-17) Paul had adopted this kind of attitude from Jesus and extended it toward others, and he wanted all believers to experience this kind of love with each other. (Philippians 1:8-10)

Paul had experienced the grace of God so deeply, he could not keep from extending grace to others. (1 Timothy 1:12-16) Jesus’ life and death were much more than an example for us, but they weren’t less than one. The characteristics in verses 12-14 were personified in Jesus.

Paul encouraged the believers at Philippi to remember Jesus and follow His example in love, fellowship, affection and mercy. He goes on to remind them of Jesus’ humility and sacrifice. He tells them to “adopt the same attitude of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:1-11) Ultimately, we are to love others with the kind of love Jesus demonstrated on the cross when He forgave us. (Romans 5:8)

Paul makes sure we understand where the strength lies to live this kind of life. In verse 12 he says “Therefore, since Christ is all and in all, … and since in Christ we’re unified,” we have His power within us to forgive and love like He did!

The Everyday Application

2) How does our relationship with Christ change our relationships with others? (verses 12-14)

“Truly He taught us to love one another.” The Lord of all creation has been showing us the way of love since the first man and woman rebelled against Him and He held out grace, forgiveness, and the Hope of reconciliation.

“It was the first Gospel sermon, preached by God Himself, not in words but in symbol and action. It was a setting forth of the way by which a sinful creature could return unto and approach his holy Creator. . . . It was a blessed illustration of substitution—the innocent dying in the stead of the guilty.” (“Gleanings In Genesis” by Arthur Pink)

My sweet Sister, if Christmas is anything at all it is this: IN CHRIST JESUS, we have been filled with such sacrificial love that we should overflow with love toward others.

Many of the songs we sing during this season reflect that truth. I’ve sung songs that mention how Love has come down at Christmas. Some talk of the miracle of Love that was born. As believers, we embrace one another with the Love we receive from Jesus.

Have you noticed we seem to “see” each other a little more clearly this time of year? Maybe we just have more accessible opportunities to give to those in need. I’m thankful for the many services in our communities providing food and gifts for those we call “less fortunate.” But let’s all remember this: IN Jesus, we are all called to love and serve our brothers and sisters …all year long.

Together, let’s fall on our knees and worship Him and let our lives prove the authenticity of that worship!

The Original Intent

3) How does Christ’s peace “rule” in our hearts? (verse 15)

It’s important to determine what kind of peace Paul is writing about in verse 15. In Colossians 1:19-20, Paul tells the believers God was pleased to reconcile them to Himself. The Greek word used in verse 20 is apokatallassō, meaning “the act of restoring a relationship to harmony”. (blueletterbible)

The purpose of Christ’s death was to bring all created things into a harmonious relationship with God. Jesus established a relationship of peace between God and His world through His sacrificial death on our behalf. Paul reiterates this in Ephesians 2:14-18 as he speaks of peace and reconciliation to God and with each other.

Although not completely different, the peace Jesus speaks of in John 14:27 is a residing peace within us personally, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” This is a peace that characterizes Christ Himself and is kindly imparted to His people.

Returning to our phrase in its context, it seems Paul isn’t referencing a specific kind of individual peace, rather we should exhibit peace with each other since we are in Christ together. We notice this is likely the case as he is encouraging them “in one body,” meaning the church. (Colossians 1:18)

The meaning of the word “rule” conveys the responsibility of an umpire in an athletic game to render decisions about the plays, penalties, and scoring, with his final declaration of the winner. (preceptaustin.org) Paul is calling on the believers to conduct themselves in relation to one another in ways that will most effectively sustain the “peace of Christ”.

Paul repeats it in his letter to the Ephesians. (Ephesians 4:1-6) As we allow the peace of Christ to “rule” in our hearts, wisdom’s peace then directs our hearts toward humility, love and unity. (James 3:13-18)

The Everyday Application

3) How does Christ’s peace “rule” in our hearts? (verse 15)

“His law is love and His gospel is peace.” Without Jesus, we are all in the same situation, living without hope or life. It is Christ who brings us peace with God and peace with one another! (Ephesians 2:12-14)

In 1847, when Placide Cappeau wrote these lyrics, he offered an invitation to us to step into the Christmas story. Friend, I hope you feel the glorious weightiness of what Jesus did entering humanity WITH us. Love for one another and peace with another is ours in Christ. Jesus said the whole law can be summed up in one word: Love. (Galatians 5:13-14)

Jesus’ call to freedom, peace, and love reflects His mission. Jesus invites us to join Him in His mission of rescue and restoration. Just as the law of love supersedes all the rest, the peace of Christ rules our every thought, word and action. The gospel of Jesus brings love and unity to those who receive it.

During this season, we will likely experience everything from normal brokenness in humanity to encounters with irritating people and provoking circumstances. We will experience disappointments and emotions common to all image bearers of God. But in Christ, we can learn to steward our negative reactions and learn to respond as redemptively as possible.

Maybe someone in your circle needs you to “overlook an offense” this year (Proverbs 19:11), or embrace them with unexpected acceptance. This doesn’t mean we ignore deep conflict or sweep it under the rug, but it’s possible there’s someone in your life who needs extra grace this year.

And you have it to give. Do it! And let’s all fall on our knees and worship Him.

The Original Intent

4) In what ways are we to “admonish” one another during this season in which we celebrate the coming of Christ? (verse 16)

The Greek word translated “admonishing” (noutheteō) means “to give counsel about … a course of conduct.” Paul uses the same word in verse 16 as he does in chapter 1, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)

Our admonishments to one another aren’t meant to stir angry or opposing feelings in others, though that may occur. The goal is worship! Paul says in verse 16 we are to let the word of Christ in us be used to admonish each other to sing songs. Not everyone will be gifted by the Spirit to be a public teacher of God’s word, but all can engage in the work of teaching by confessing the Word to one another through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”

In Ephesians 5:17-19, the CSB (Christian Standard Version) uses the word “speaking” to communicate the same idea. It seems the apostle is instructing the believers to confess the Word of God to one another, even in their songs. The “word of Christ” likely refers to ALL biblical revelation concerning Jesus, meaning the gospel. (Colossians 1:3-6) Continuing his theme of community, Paul wants them to learn God’s revealed Word so they can corporately instruct one another about Him from their hearts.

Based on Colossians 1:15-20, Paul’s life embodied his instruction. Is this passage a hymn? Is it a poem? Is it a confession? YES! Paul could not contain his deep affection and appreciation for Jesus, his Creator and Savior. He confessed Him in his songs, in his preaching, and his living. It was this confession that led him to live a life of thankfulness. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The Everyday Application

4) In what ways are we to “admonish” one another during this season in which we celebrate the coming of Christ? (verse 16)

“Sweet hymns of joy, in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.” Let all that is within us praise HIM. Self-centered admonishing is never the will of the Lord. We are to encourage others in a way that assists them to look and see God’s glory.

To do this involves prayer, love, and patience as we lead others to an awareness of who God is and what He’s done for us. As we do this, we are teaching each other to confess everyday thankfulness. Our songs can be a vehicle for declaring the gospel, which is the good news of Jesus.

This is the season of JOY. Not the “falalalala” kind of jolly, but the wonder of Emmanuel for God in the flesh has come to us. We can gather together and sing our praises to God and confess our joy to one another.

Sisters, I admonish you to sing for joy this season. Together in Christ, let’s allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and cause us to be thankful people. Let’s allow the word of Christ to dwell among us and cause us to be thankful people.

But mostly, let’s fall on our knees and hear the angel voices. Oh night divine when Christ was born!

But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord!” (Luke 2:10-11)

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