Note: Due to a technical issue we were unable to record this week’s message.
This morning we are going to continue our study in the book of Colossians chapter 1. And this will be our fifth week in Colossians chapter 1! Which has to be some kind of record for us. We don’t often go slowly. I remember talking to a friend who was a pastor in ministry one time and I asked him what he was preaching on and he said, we are in week 72 of a study on the book of Luke. I was like oh… What are you doing Phil? Well we’re doing a six week study in the book of Revelation. Oh really, what chapter? (All of them)
IN the end there is no right or wrong way to do that – both of us are preaching the same gospel, it’s just that we usually cook along. So it’s unusual that we have spent five weeks in one chapter. But I think it’s been good.
This morning we are looking at one verse! Colossians 1:27. And we are going to jump right into it, right after I put my mystery bag over here. And let me tell you what’s in here.
It’s a mystery. That’s what is in here. Oh it’s not a mystery to me – I can see it, I’m looking right at it. I know what it is – but it’s a mystery to you because it’s something that is hidden from you and it has not yet been revealed.
But I’ll get back to our mystery in a few minutes.
I’m going to do something unusual this week. Instead of starting at the beginning of the passage and reading straight through, I’m going to read the words a little backward and just one or two words at a time. Because I think if we start with one word and work backwards – it’ll help us understand the passage better.
As a way of review and to catch up those who are just jumping into the series now – here’s what we’ve learned. We’ve learned that the book in the bible called Colossians- it was written by a guy named Paul. Paul was a leader in the early church, and really the church’s first missionary. He went around and started churches all over the Mediterranean.
Paul is writing to the church that meets in the town called Colosse. The church itself was only 4 years, but Paul had heard about them and so he writes to both encourage and compliment them, but also to assure them that they are heading in the right direction.
So he begins his letter by writing – Hey gang – I’ve heard about you. I’ve heard about your faith and about the love that you have for one another that springs from the hope you have in the gospel.
And then he kind of sums up what that word ‘gospel’ this fantastic summary of the good news of Jesus by writing,
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
This is the gospel. So when we talk here about people who have crossed the line of faith we are talking about people who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and are saying I believe you are who you said you are and I will follow you wherever you lead.
Which is important because as we study verse 27 today, it applies to those who would identify themselves as already crossing the line of faith. This message today is for those of us who already believe the message. Paul has a word for you apprentices of Jesus. And it’s a great one!
So let’s get to the verse and we’ll start with one word – the word glory.
And I start here because this word – it needs some definition. And it’s not very easy to define God’s glory. If I asked you to describe this bag up here – you could do that – it’s about this big and made of paper and it’s folded in such a way that you could put something inside of it.
It would be easy to define the word gift bag. But if I were to say define the word beautiful. Well that gets more difficult. How would you define beauty? Something that makes your heart happy? It makes you soul smile? I don’t know – you know it when you see it.
Well how do we define the ‘glory’ of God? It isn’t easy. If we were to go to a website like Biblegateway.com and we were to put the word glory into the search it would tell us everywhere that the word glory shows up in the bible. A great tool, by the way, for the initiated student. You’ll notice that the word appears 285 times in the bible – which means it must be an important word for it to show up that many times…
And so as we work our way through this word study what we will begin to notice is that there are certain words that seem to attach themselves to the word Glory, that give us a picture of what it means.
For instance, the word ‘Majestic’ or majesty often shows up in conjunction with glory. Like in Exodus 15, for example, one of the first times it shows up is in a song of worship written by Moses sister Miriam, who wrote,
Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
So when we think of God’s glory we think of Majesty. Another word that shows up a bunch in conjunction with glory in the bible is the word Splendor. Like here in 1 Chronicles 29:11 written by King David upon the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
So when we talk about God’s glory – and the bible talks about it hundreds of times, by the way – when we talk about the glory of God it involves majesty and splendor.
One more the word strength– Psalm 96:6
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
So when we speak of the glory of God – it’s the complete goodness, beauty, power of God.
Now three quick things that is helpful for us to understand about this glory.
- God’s Glory is something that is displayed.
What do I mean? Well – for instance – if you were to travel to New England today and you were to drive around and take in the sights of Autumn – you would see the most amazing display of beauty – the leaves, and you might say that you are taking in the glory of Autumn! The glory of Autumn is on display for all the world to see. And it might cause you to worship God who created it – Thank you father for this is glorious.
In the same way that the glory of autumn can be displayed – the glory of God is also something that is displayed. Psalm 19:1 says,
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
- The Glory of God radiates. It shines. In the Old Testament we find several examples. There was the time when God was delivering the ten commandments – he called Moses to come to the top of Mount Sinai – and God was giving Moses the law. God envelops the mountain – and this is what it looked like to those Israelites at the bottom of the mountain…
Exodus 24: 17 says that To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
And get this – this is interesting – when Moses came down off the mountain after spending time with God up there – his face radiated. And it freaked the Israelites out. It was like ET’s finger – except his whole face! Glowed! What was going on? the glory of God was reflecting in his face.
- When people see the glory of the Lord – they worship God.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen. -Luke 2:19-20
So the Glory – the splendor, the majesty, the strength and goodness and beauty of God – it is displayed, it radiates, and it causes people to praise God.
Okay – so now – back to Colossians. We are one word into this verse. I can’t wait to tell my preacher friend about this! We spent this week on one word! Behold my preachiness! At this rate though I’m never going to get to the mystery that needs to be revealed… so let’s keep going.
Let’s back up and add three words. The Hope of Glory.
Let me ask you this question. We don’t live in the OT times anymore. We don’t see the presence of God descending on a mountain top. We don’t see any fires filling the temple with God’s glory.
Are the days of the world seeing the glory of God gone?
Where is the hope that this world has of seeing the glory of God in their lives? Is there any hope that an unbelieving world would be able to see the goodness of God on display in their very lives?
Oh yes there is! There is the Hope of Glory! Praise God yes! There is Hope for glory for them!
How? You, are the hope of glory.
Specifically – and let’s make sure we include this – Christ in you, the hope of glory.
The glory – the majesty, and splendor and goodness of God in on display for all the world to see and it is on display in you! it radiates through your face! You believers – you apprentices of Jesus.
God has transferred us out of the kingdom of darkness – what? What kind of kingdom? Darkness. He has rescued you and transferred you and now YOU – are the hope of glory!
You are the light of the world. That’s what Jesus called you. As a matter of fact let’s go to that passage and read exactly what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Do you see all of the things we’ve been talking about in this passage? Glory of God – it is displayed! You mean like a light, put on it’s stand – like a city on a hill?
It radiates – your face might not radiate like Moses but you life can radiate like it, your soul can radiate with God’s presence.
It causes people to praise God – exactly what Jesus is saying – Jesus living his life through you, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Christ in you the radiating goodness of God -his strength and his beauty and his splendor – the majesty of Christ in you – the hope of Glory.
That’s the mystery – btw – it’s you! You are the mystery that has been revealed. There’s nothing in here except a mirror for me to blind you with the spot lights!
God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27
What’s he talking about? The Mystery – finally – I get to reveal the mystery – it’s a mirror! Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Even you non Jewish people – you Gentiles! You are included in God’s plan to rescue the world.
I remember when I used to play tag with all the neighbor kids on the street – if you got tagged you went to the Holmes’s front porch and you sat there until someone from your team stepped on the porch and yelled Jail Break! And then all of us would be free! We are alive again! We are back in the game!
Well Jesus came to earth – in essence – to yell jailbreak! Everyone can be free from the kingdom of darkness! Even you gentiles! No one saw that coming. Up to this point all the Jews thought the Messiah was coming to re-establish Israel as the worlds super power.
To the Jewish person the only way to God was by becoming a Jew. But Jesus revealed something – that no one saw coming – The Kingdom of God is wildly available. It’s available to all. The gates to the kingdom of heaven has been thrown open.
No more does one need to go to the temple to present an offering. Jesus has come -he lamb of God – he presented his body as a sacrifice once for all time and he sat down at the right hand of the father. It is finished. The sacrificial system is finished.
Whereas once one needed to present sacrifices and go through ritual cleansing, – it’s all changed – it changed the day Jesus was getting his feet washed by a prostitute who was crying all over his feet – And I’ll tell you that I don’t know if she was crying out of remorse for her actions – or that her tears were tears of joy – joy that even someone like her could be included into the kingdom of God – her past could not disqualify her from the love of God.
And so Jesus looks down and says – your sins are forgiven. Why Jesus? How can you say that? She loves me much. That’s his answer. Her sins are forgiven because she loves me.
That was the mystery revealed by Jesus. The mystery of the gospel – is this – Jesus in you.
Jesus revealed that which was previously hidden. The Jewish nation believed that the Messiah would be a political kingdom. And the mystery that Jesus revealed was that he wasn’t there to create a new kingdom. Jesus came to create a new type of humanity!
And this new type of humanity included you gentiles – (The word Gentile means everyone in the world who is not Jewish, btw)
Jesus didn’t come to create a new Kingdom on earth. He came to throw open the doors of the kingdom to the dregs of society. Whosoever will may come.
And when we cross the line of faith God begins to create within us the kind of humanity that radiates with the glory of God. A type of human who lavishly loves people without reservation or condition.
Let’s try to illustrate this mystery. These dots represent people. People who currently know nothing of God’s invitation to leave the kingdom of darkness and be transferred into the kingdom of light. It represents maybe your workplace – and maybe you are the only one there who is a follower of Jesus.
One heart makes a decision to follow Jesus – one heart surrenders their kingdom and freely enters the Kingdom of heaven. And now they are a child of light. The glory – what does glory mean? The majestic goodness of God becomes evident in the way this one single person lives and speaks, and acts. The glory of God is displayed in this building through the life of one radiating heart.
And the rest of the office building begins to notice a change in how this person lives. Free from anxiety. Full of peace and suddenly able to love on a different level.
His or her life is Radiating with the Christ and it draws someone in and suddenly someone else says – hey I want what he’s got. And now it’s growing.
What is happening? You are the light of the world. A light cannot be hidden – your life is shining and people are seeing your life changed in the way it acts and they also come to faith in Christ and praise our God in heaven.
Christ in you, the hope of glory. You are the light of the world.
Would you allow me to speak to you as Paul is speaking to his friends in Colosse – he wrote to encourage them and to affirm them that the way they have chosen is the right way.
And so – let me speak to you – my friend who works in a place where you feel like you are alone in your faith. You are dreading tomorrow – even the mention of it puts a knot in your stomach.
Christ is in you friend. You are the hope of glory in that place. Would you allow yourself to consider that God has strategically placed you there because he needs a child of light in that place?
I know it’s hard. I believe you that it’s hard. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean God isn’t in it. Remember we serve a suffering servant who is not afraid of a little pain in order to gain much in return.
Let me encourage you spouses out there who are married to someone you love deeply but they have no place for God in their life right now. And there is a special kind of pain for a spouse – you want them to come to share the same faith. Christ is in you friend. You are the hope of glory.
Did you know that there is a passage in 1 Peter chapter 3 that talks about this? And the basic idea is that most likely it will be the power of your life, not your words, that will speak loudest. The inner beauty that come from a life that radiates with the love of Christ.
Are you a new follower of Jesus and you feel like everyone knows way more than you and your friends and family aren’t quit sure what to make of your new faith – and it’s an awkward. Well Christ is in you – transforming and changing you – don’t quit. Don’t give up.
Let me speak to you – the one who is frustrated with the pace of your transformation – you want to be free from those sins that so easily entangle you. Well listen, so does Jesus. He wants you free to. Patience. Peace. Don’t give up working on your disciplines. Work strenuously to grow. Don’t believe the lie that the way you are now is the way you must always be.
Wherever you might be today – would you allow yourself to believe that Jesus is creating a new kind of human in you?
- It’s the kind of person who displays peace instead of anxiety. They don’t worry, after all, the Lord is their shepherd, they lack nothing.
- It the kind of person who is patient – they do not demand that everyone else operate on their timetable.
- They are kind. They don’t repay rude people with further rudeness – they don’t slander people or gossip – they don’t rejoice in others suffering.
- They are able to demonstrate self control, especially over their words, because our mouth is connected to our hearts, and so with Christ in control of our heart our words tend to build up, instead of tear down.
- And above all these virtues they put on love – which binds them all together in perfect unity. Above all else – they are known as people who love. They genuinely are rooting for other people – even people that are hard to root for.
Would you trust that God is displaying his splendor and majesty and beauty through you. Will you believe that? The transformation of your soul is God at work displaying his might. Will you allow yourself to believe that God is doing something beautiful in you?
It’s not us – it’s Christ in us – that is the hope of glory in this world.