Lesson 2 - Chapter 1:3-8

Lesson 2 - Chapter 1:3-8

Lesson for July 26, 2015

The Book of Colossians

Chapter 1:3-8

Verse 3-8

“We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in Heaven, of which you previously heard in the Word of Truth, the Gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.”

Thanksgiving is based upon receiving something without earning it. This is the basic idea for all the Greek words for thanksgiving. You get something without earning it or deserving it or working for it, and therefore the true basis of thanksgiving is grace. The more you understand grace the better your concept of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, then, is simply grace orientation expressing itself toward God. And one of the ways we offer thanksgiving to God is through the priestly function of prayer, addressed to God the Father on the basis of the work of Christ on the Cross under the filling of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for faith is “pistis,” which can be a technical as well as a non-technical meaning. Here we have both the technical and the non-technical usage. The non-technical usage of “pistis”refers to the intake of the Word of God. So, faith transfers doctrine (you believe what you hear) to the human spirit so that it can be used for construction material such as a frame of reference, a vocabulary, norms and standards and divine viewpoint. Faith exhales the stored doctrine for application by faith (the Faith-Rest Technique, using promises, doctrines, principles, or concepts). The technical use of the word “pistis” refers to that which is believed, the body of faith or body of doctrine. Both are in view in our passage. Paul is thankful for the fact that they took in the Word of God. He is also thankful for their use of the Faith-Rest Technique. So the Colossians had demonstrated spiritual growth by means of study and application of Bible doctrine as taught to them by their pastor Epaphras. The type of love in these verses is impersonal love. Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love. It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. It is impossible to love all of the “saints” (believers) unless you are filled with the Spirit.

When we are properly functioning under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will adhere to the principles found throughout the Word of God. These principles will enable us to exhibit impersonal love toward others. This means that we will treat everyone with respect, not on the basis of our “pet prejudices” regarding race, social status, ability or what a person can or cannot do for us. We will refrain from gossip, maligning, judging, character assassination, etc. In other words, we will “live and let live.” The principle of treating everyone with respect also means that we will be tolerant, be thoughtful and be kind toward others. We will hold no grudges or resentment against anyone. (I John 4:17-18)

Several factors caused these believers to exhibit faith in Christ (after salvation) and impersonal love toward all believers: 1) hearing and believing the Gospel 2) a personal sense of destiny 3) hearing and applying the Word of Truth (Bible doctrine, i.e. the Faith-Rest Technique) 4) grace orientation 5) doctrinal orientation 6) filling of the Holy Spirit.

Because believers are in union with Christ, they are joint-heirs of an inheritance that belongs to Christ. They are simply shareholders in something that belongs to Jesus Christ. This inheritance is something that is above and beyond what we humans are able to comprehend. We are also told that this inheritance is reserved in Heaven with our name on it. (Colossians 1:12; 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; I Peter 1:4) A personal sense of destiny gives a believer capacity for life by producing spiritual self-esteem. Spiritual self-esteem means that you have discovered who you are in Christ. God never gives us more blessing than we have the capacity to receive. (James 4:1-8, Isaiah 30:18) God also never gives us more testing than we are able to endure. (I Corinthians 10:12-13; Romans 14:10-13) Capacity for life replaces the temporary pleasures of the world with the eternal happiness of God. (Galatians 6:6-10) Capacity is increased by spending a maximum amount of time in fellowship with God, consistent intake and application of Bible doctrine and using Divine Viewpoint Thinking.

The principle of Faith-Rest is from God, who is perfect. Therefore, the Faith-Rest Technique is perfect. No human deed or work can be added to a perfect provision from God. The believer must cease from human good and enter into a rest where he does no work. The Holy Spirit does the work. The requirement, therefore, for the believer is faith, not human works. Faith is the absence of any human merit, which means, that in and of itself, faith has no value or worth. The value or worth is in the object of our faith. The object of faith for the believer should always be God and His Word.

Faith-Rest is knowing, believing and applying the promises, the principles and the doctrines of the Word of God. (Isaiah 33:6) There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible for the believer. These promises do us no good unless we mix them with faith and apply them to our situation. (Hebrews 4:2) Claiming these promises eliminates mental attitude sins such as fear, worry and anxiety, which cut off Divine Viewpoint Thinking. Faith-Rest will restore Divine Viewpoint Thinking and stabilize the believer in times of pressure and adversity. Faith-Rest results in a relaxed mental attitude. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Grace orientation is of the utmost importance to us because it is related to daily thanksgiving. Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Grace is undeserved mercy and unmerited favor. Grace is the title of God’s plan and His policy for mankind. Orientation is defined as familiarization with a particular person, thing or field of knowledge. To orient means to set right by adjusting to facts or principles; to put oneself into correct position or relation or to acquaint oneself with the existing situation. Grace orientation, therefore, means to become familiar with God’s grace plan and grace policies by adjusting to the facts and principles found in the Word of God, which puts you in correct relation to God and others. You will never be grace-oriented until you understand that your personal sins don’t condemn you. Adam’s original sin, which was imputed to you at birth, is what condemns you (spiritual death). This means that God’s grace was operational when He imputed Adam’s original sin to you, because condemnation must precede salvation. This is just another part of God’s ingenious grace plan of salvation.

The word “doctrinal” means pertaining to a teaching, a body of principles or a branch of knowledge. “Orientation” means familiarization with a particular person, thing or field of knowledge. Doctrinal orientation, therefore, means to familiarize oneself with the teachings and principles of the Word of God.

We believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible in its original form. We believe that God so directed the writers of Scripture that His complete and coherent word was transferred to the pages of Scriptures in its original form without altering the literary style or personality of the author.

Bible doctrine is the word of God the Father. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) and the voice of God the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 3:7) The Word of God is profitable for doctrine (the body of teaching that we believe), for reproof (the Word of God is a mirror into our souls so that we can evaluate ourselves before God), for correction (once we evaluate ourselves and find there needs to be corrective action, the Word of God gives the correct course of action), and for instruction in righteousness (once we discover the right course of action, the Word of God gives us a blueprint of how to accomplish our goal). (II Timothy 3:16)

The provision of physical and spiritual needs is one of God’s grace blessings to all believers regardless of their spiritual status. Another of these grace blessings that God has provided for us is the freedom and the opportunity to be taught Bible doctrine. We learn Bible doctrine under the filling (control and guidance) ministry of God the Holy Spirit. (John 16:12-13) God has given to the local church certain men with the gift of pastor/teacher for the communication of doctrine, systematically. (Ephesians 4:11-16) We are also commanded to spend time in personal study of God’s Word. (II Timothy 2:15, Isaiah 28:9-10) It is important to remember that no one passage of Scripture stands alone. We must always study by comparing Scripture with Scripture. (II Peter 1:20-21)

The filling of the Holy Spirit is for every believer in Christ. The purpose of this filling is to empower the believer to live the Christian Way of Life. When a believer is living the Christian Way of Life, he brings glory and honor to Christ. All believers are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they trust Christ as their Savior. The first time we sin after salvation however, we lose the filling of the Holy Spirit and we are out of fellowship with God. In order to restore both the filling of the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God, we must simply name our known sins to God. (I John 1:9) We are then commanded to move forward with the execution of the Christian Way of Life, which the Scripture calls “walking in the light.” (I John 1:5-10) The filling of the Holy Spirit is potential, depending on the volition (free will) of the believer. It is also a command and literally means “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”

The Greek word for filling is “pleroo” and has four meanings, which all apply to the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit to the believer:

  1. To fill up a deficiency – Without the power and control of the Holy Spirit, the believer has no ability to learn and apply Bible doctrine. In other words, he is deficient of the doctrinal information necessary to execute the Christian Way of Life. (Colossians 1:25; I John 4:4)
  2. To be fully possessed – Since God the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in the Church Age, the potential exists for him to be fully controlled by God’s supernatural power. This means that the believer can reside in God’s plan by utilizing God’s system. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
  3. To be fully influenced – If the Holy Spirit is allowed to fill the deficiency and fully possess the believer’s life, then every area of that life will be influenced by the power of the Holy Spirit. If the power of the Holy Spirit is rejected, the believer is going to be fully influenced by Satan’s cosmic system. (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18)
  4. To be filled with a certain quality – There is no higher quality that the integrity of God. It is this quality that becomes resident in the soul of the believer as the Holy Spirit is allowed to control, possess and influence the soul. It is also this quality that leads a believer to spiritual maturity. (Ephesians 3:19, 4:10; Philippians 1:11; I John 1:4; Revelation 3:2)

Verse 8 is referring to the pastor’s report to the Apostle Paul who had authority at this time over all the churches. Even though Epaphras had done his job faithfully, there is a segment of his congregation who had responded to the false teachings of Gnosticism, and having responded to Gnosticism they had stirred up so much trouble that Epaphras had gone to Rome to seek counsel of Paul with regard to this matter. The Colossian epistle was written by Paul to correct the erroneous teachings, and to place the right pastor back in his right church. Even though the letter was written to the entire congregation, most of whom were living their spiritual lives and advancing to spiritual maturity, the false teaching had to be dealt with by Paul.

Gnosticism was a false teaching that assigned Christ a subordinate position to the God-head, and undervalued the uniqueness and completeness of His redemptive work on the Cross. They viewed Christ as an angel and their system included the worship of angels and other intermediators between God and man. What these false teachings taught was human viewpoint thinking based on “gnosis” (Greek for knowledge) and not “epignosis” (full knowledge or divine knowledge). Thus they could only use their human intellect to try to explain spiritual things. And, even knowing Bible doctrine is not enough, it must be applied. As we know, there is no understanding of spiritual matters or application of doctrine apart from the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. And this understanding, which we call divine viewpoint, is the mind of Christ. “Gnosis” knowledge alone produces arrogance, i.e. intellectualism. But, “epignosis” knowledge which is “gnosis” doctrine that is understood, believed and ready to be applied produces humility. And humility means teachability. These false teachers in their arrogance thought they had all the answers to spiritual matters and that their knowledge was superior to all other believers within the church at Colossae. Paul therefore wrote this letter to refute the Gnostics’ false teachings and encourage those believers living their spiritual lives to keep advancing.