Monday, June 8, 2009
Philippians and Colossians
Chapter 1: Paul’s purpose- the promotion, establishment and defense of the gospel.
“He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6 Believers will continue to grow in knowledge and discernment, knowing what really matters in contrast to what is really unimportant. Believers will bear fruit and in the end through God’s grace, be considered pure and blameless. Regardless of intent, the most important thing is that the gospel message is proclaimed and spread to everyone. Sure, it is possible that some spread the message who are not sincere, but do it out of rivalry or pride to get attention- but if the message they spread results in more believers, then that is what matters! Faced with two choices: life or death- each has its own purpose or benefits. “I have the desire to depart and be with Christ- which is far better- but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Philippians 1:23 Even though Paul would prefer the option of death, to fulfill his desire to be with the Lord, for the sake of the gospel, and of those who need to hear the message he has an important reason to remain alive.
Chapter 2: The Importance of Being Humble
Just as Jesus (in the form of God) was humbled when he came as a man submitting to death on the cross for our sake, we must also be humble; making sure to act as if we consider others more important than ourselves. Just as Jesus was glorified- we too will be blessed by our humility as well. ‘Hold firmly to the message of life”. Philippians 2:16, and remember that we are like bright starts in a dark, starless world. Therefore we must strive to live our lives according to God’s purpose. Seek the interests of Jesus Christ- not your own!
Chapter 3 and 4: Life in Faith and our Future Hope
Be on the look out for “evil workers” which are false teachers and hypocrites. In his earlier letters, Paul spoke about false teachers who twisted the gospel message and he also wrote about the “Circumcision party”, who required new believers to first convert to the Jewish religion and subsequently submit to the Jewish laws - including circumcision. Paul considers this simply to be a mutilation of the flesh- since it has no value in the purpose of salvation. We can not be saved by our works or by following the law, but by faith. The new circumcision is this: faith- it is a spiritual circumcision of the heart and spirit not of the flesh. So there is no point in boasting in your heritage or your works. Even though you may be disappointed that these do not count as an advantage- be sure of this- by placing your faith in God you gain so more which should more than compensate for your disappointment. Do not live as enemies of Christ as many do, who reject the gospel. They focus on worldly and earthly things. Their selfish desires and pursuits of the flesh control their lives. In this world there are many enemies of the gospel and just as we share in the glories of Christ, we will share in the sufferings too. “But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. Philippians 3:20. We must remember to persevere and not be discouraged, keeping our eyes on our future glory. We should always be encouraged by this and we have a reason to rejoice as well. “Don’t worry about anything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. “ Philippians4: 6 And finally, all believers must meditate on what is important to the Lord. We need to dwell on things that are just, pure, commendable and moral. Do not dwell or imitate the evils of the non believers - in this dark, faithless world- which are really the enemies of Christ because they rejected the message of the gospel. We need to concentrate on the fruits or manifestations of the Holy Spirit within us.
Our Hope in Heaven:
Believers in the gospel message look to heaven for their reservation of hope and happiness. The message of the gospel offers to all believers the hope of heaven. Heaven is our inheritance. Knowledge of God’s will through the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual understanding and wisdom we need to live in a way worthy and pleasing to God. We were rescued from darkness into the kingdom of heaven. We must remember to “remain grounded and steadfast in the faith” and not shift “away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard”. Colossians 1:23
The Importance of Jesus:
As the image of the invisible God, creator of everything in heaven and earth, head of the church of all believers, Jesus is the means by which we are reconciled to God. Paul, the messenger of the gospel has done his part in making known to all, the gospel, its lessons so that believers may mature in their knowledge. Jesus Christ, often referred to the mystery of God, is where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge may be discovered.
Chapter 2: Be Wary of False Teachings
We must be on guard against false teachings no matter how persuasive they appear to be. We must not be swayed by philosophies, theories and arguments which are based on human tradition and human reasoning. Through Jesus we are saved and it is not through worldly wisdom or works. While we were spiritually dead in our sins, Jesus’ death erased the debt that we would have been required to pay ourselves. The price that should have been ours to pay, was borne by Jesus when he died on the cross. Because of this, we should not be concerned about worldly teachings and traditions which are useless in attaining salvation. Therefore, when such worldly teachers and followers of manmade traditions criticize us and tell us what we as believers should do, we should ignore them. Those who believe in works and human traditions as they way, rely on ascetic practices- in order to give the outward appearance of authority and religion- when in actuality- they could not be farther from the truth. If anyone insists that you follow anything contrary to the message of the gospel- don’t believe it and don’t follow it. This includes when people try to tell you that you must worship angels or follow special rules. Also if anyone claims to have supernatural access to the spirit world or so called visions- don’t believe that either! We don’t have to follow special rules about food or any other tradition that is not found in the gospel message. These special rules to not compensate for your sins or fleshly indulgences. Don’t let false manmade practices and traditions and superstitions disqualify you from knowing the truth of the gospel message! Salvation can only be found in the gospel message alone- through God’s grace and not by what we do.
Chapter 3 and 4: Life as a Believer
When living your life as a believer, seek what is above: holiness, love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, thankfulness, gracious speech and patience and disregard your past sins which included the following: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, greed, anger, slander, filthy language, lying and malice. We are a new creation in Christ so we should act like it! Remember whatever good we do or say, it should be in the name of Jesus. In your personal and professional relationships, remember humility, compassion and honesty. And last, but not least, remember to pray that more may hear the message of Christ so they too may be saved. We should all pay attention to the ministry.