Weekly teaching audio sermons brought to you from Calvary
Weekly teaching audio sermons brought to you from Calvary
A New Reality
Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven. The implications of this for believers are explored in the beginning verses of Colossians 3.
Complete in Christ: The Errors of Mysticism and Asceticism
(1) Dan said that three common elements of false teaching throughout Christian history are legalism, mysticism, and asceticism. He cited how the Heaven's Gate cult taught mysticism and asceticism. Can you think of other notable examples of false teaching that incorporates one or more of these elements?
(2) Dan defined mysticism as "elevating subjective experience over biblical revelation." What is the place of our feelings and our experience in our faith? How do we integrate our subjective experience with God's revealed truth in the Bible?
(3) The false teachers in Colossae were "insisting on ...the worship of angels," which probably means that they were teaching that believers had to go through spiritual intermediaries (the angels, or perhaps even themselves) to relate to God. How does that contradict the clear biblical truth that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between us and God?
(4) Can you think of contemporary examples of Christian teachers or leaders who claim "spiritual elite" status by appealing to visionary experiences? How does this present the danger of becoming "puffed up" (prideful)? How is this harmful to the church?
(5) How does elevating subjective experience over biblical truth "disconnect" the body (believers) from "Christ, the head of the body"?
(6) Dan defined asceticism as "seeking acceptance from God and a higher state of holiness through self-denial." When should we deny our bodily appetites and when does such denial become harmful asceticism?
(7) Read Colossians 2:23. Why does asceticism ultimately fail?
Complete in Christ: The Error of Legalism
We fall into the error of legalism when we substitute the "shadow" of law and tradition for the "substance" of Christ.
Sermon Discussion Questions:
In Colossians 2:8 Paul warns his readers about the danger of being spiritually hijacked ("captivated") by false teachers making empty religious arguments ("empty, deceitful philosophy"). Where do you see that happening today in our culture?
Paul notes that the false teaching in Colossae was based upon the Jewish "traditions" that had expanded on the Old Testament instructions about Jewish feasts, Jewish holy days, and the Sabbath. Dan explained how these "traditions" were intended to "put a fence around the law." What does that mean? How do we see that today in some church contexts?
Dan stated that "legalism" is measuring someone's standing before God or their devotion to God by their compliance to a list of rules or standards rather than by their faith in Christ and their life in the Spirit. What do you think about that definition of "legalism"? Would you change it or add to it in any way?
The false teachers in Colossae were legalistically judging the Colossian believers by whether they complied with Jewish traditions. Have you ever been in the position of being legalistically judged like that? How can legalism "hijack" a believer's spiritual life?
Paul teaches in Colossians 2:17 that the error of legalism is its focus on the "shadow" rather than "the reality [that] is found in Christ." What do you understand this to mean? Why do we so easily get focused on "shadows" and get distracted from the "reality"?
How does Paul explain how Jesus has fulfilled the "shadow" of circumcision in Colossians 2:11? What does that mean for you as a Christian?
Built Up in Christ
Paul "struggles" in prayer for the Colossian believers. Who has the Lord burdened your heart to pray for like this?
Paul prays that their "hearts may be encouraged" as God's love for them becomes real to them not just intellectually, but as something they feel. Can you think of times that the reality of God's love for you has encouraged your heart?
Discuss the elements of Paul's prayer in Colossians 2:2. How could you pray these same things for the people you identified in Question 1?
Discuss what it means to "receive Christ Jesus as Lord"? What is the significance of receiving Him as "Christ"? What is the significance of receiving Him as "Jesus"? What is the significance of receiving Him as "Lord"?
How does the Hebrew metaphor of "walking" help us understand what it means to follow Jesus Christ? What does it mean that Jesus is "the path"?
Discuss the images Paul uses of being "rooted" in Christ, "built up" in Christ, and "established" in the faith. What does it mean that Jesus is "the soil," "the foundation," and "the cement"?
Discuss the meaning and application of John Henry Jowett's statement: "Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic."
Your Pandemic Mission
What did you learn about Mission Aviation Fellowship from the pre-sermon video? (You can learn more about the Pederson's ministry with MAF here: https://www.maf.org/pederson.) Garth Pederson is currently a 'mobilizer' for MAF, looking for people interested in exploring missions opportunities with MAF. Do you know of anyone who might be a good candidate for MAF that you could put in touch with Garth?
Dan made the statement that, as we listen to missionaries and hear about their commitment to making Christ known among the nations, it causes us to examine our own commitment to making Christ known to those around us. Do you find that to be true? Why or why not?
Colossians 1:25 indicates that Paul understood himself to be a ‘minister’ (the word simply means ‘servant’) ‘commissioned’ by God. Discuss whether you see yourself as a ‘minister’ in this sense. Look up the ‘Great Commission’ in Matthew 28:18-20. Who does this ‘commission’ apply to? How does it apply to you?
In Colossians 1:26-27 Paul describes the gospel message as a ‘mystery.’ Dan said that Paul is using the Old Testament (Jewish) understanding of what a ‘mystery’ is, as seen in Daniel 2. How does Daniel 2 use the term ‘mystery’ in describing King Nebuchadnezzar's dream? How does this help us understand why the gospel is a ‘mystery’ to the unbelieving mind?
In Colossians 1:28 Paul teaches that ‘proclaiming’ Christ involves ‘warning’ (or ‘admonishing’) and ‘teaching.’ Commentator N.T. Wright explains that the ‘warning’ here is the idea of the setting of someone's mind into proper order, with the implication that it has been in some way out of joint. This involves straightening out confusions someone may have about the gospel and addressing ideas that are muddling their mind, so that positive ‘teaching’ (communicating Christian truth) will be received. How does this describe what we are to do in sharing the gospel with people? What confusions about the gospel and muddling ideas did you have that had to be overcome before you could understand and respond to the gospel?
In Colossians 1:24 Paul speaks of the suffering he has experienced in faithfully carrying out his ministry. He is not comparing his suffering to the redemptive suffering of Christ that saves us. But Paul is teaching that our faithful ministry of making Christ known to others will 'cost' us something. That 'cost' may be very great, as in the case when Christians are persecuted and martyred. But for many of us it may simply involve the burdens, anxieties, and sacrifices involved in sharing the gospel with others and helping them grow in Christ. What examples of such suffering have you seen that are the direct result of someone making Christ known? How does God use a Christian's suffering to make Christ more fully known?
In Colossians 1:29 Paul speaks of where the power to endure in ministry must come from. Have you experienced 'burn-out' or 'compassion fatigue' as you have ministered to people? How can we rely more on Christ's ‘energy’ working through us as we minister?
Continue in the Faith
Sermon Discussion Questions:
Charles Naylor (1930) wrote that "Adversity, pain, sorrow, and disappointment are the lathe upon which God shapes us. They are the grinding-wheel which grinds and smooths us. They are the polishing-wheel which makes us shine." How have you experienced this 'shaping,' 'grinding,' 'smoothing,' and 'shining' in your life? How did this 'test' your Christian faith?
Look at the activities of Paul and Barnabas as they returned to visit the men and women they had earlier led to faith in Christ in Acts 13:43 and Acts 14:22. Why do you think they urged these new believers to "continue in the faith"? Do new believers need to hear that kind of encouragement today? Why?
You probably know of people who seem to start out well in the Christian faith, but then haven't "continued in the faith." What are some of the common reasons you've heard from people about why they are no longer actively following Jesus?
Colossians 1:23 teaches that we "continue in the faith" by being "grounded" (also translated as "established"). That word has the meaning of being firmly built on a foundation. Look up Isaiah 28:16 and I Peter 2:6. Who is the "sure foundation" these verses are referring to? What does it mean to be "grounded" in that "sure foundation"?
Colossians 1:23 teaches that our ability to "continue in the faith" is threatened if we are "shifting (dislodged) from the hope of the gospel." In first century Colossae, false teachers were trying to "dislodge" the Christians there from their sole reliance upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does such false teaching exist today? What forms does it take?
Look up Philippians 1:6, a key verse about "continuing in the faith." What are the promises of God in this verse? What encouragement does it give to help us "continue in the faith"?
(For individual reflection and prayer) Who do you know who is really struggling with "continuing in the faith"? How can you commit to pray for them?