Passions of a Godly Life
Colossians 1:1-8, 2:1-4, 3:12-17
We have been looking at different aspects of a passionate godly life. Many Christians today find their spiritual lives dry and unfulfilling. That is not the life Christ intends for any believer to have. Our life in Him should be passionate and full of life every single day. We have been looking different passages in the book of Colossians. In fact, I challenged you to read Colossians and spend some time mediating on it. Because, in it, I believe we find different things that are a part of this passionate life lived for God.
We found in Colossians 2:6-7 that our life, or our walk as it says, our daily activities, are to be done in faith. We live each and every moment of our day in a walk of faith. It is a walk that is rooted deeply in Christ, a faith that is built up continually in Christ, and one that has become established, not wavering in my belief in Him. It is a faith that is “abounding” or overflowing in our lives with thanksgiving. That doesn’t sound dead and lifeless, does it?
Then we found in Colossians 4:2-4 that part of that abounding life in Christ includes a passionate prayer life. A prayer life that is steadfast, or more concisely, continually devoted to a lifestyle of communication with the Father. It is something we cherish, and we are watchful, in that we are giving it our strictest attention. It is what we do in thanksgiving. It is never dead or lifeless.
In Colossians 1:24-29 we found that suffering is a part of a passionate life in Christ. People who suffer and even die for the cause of Christ have cause for rejoicing. Why? Because as we suffer for the sake of the gospel message, we fill something that is lacking. What is that? It is our conformity to the Savior. As we live for Christ, proclaim Christ, and at times suffer for Him, our passion for this godly life becomes more and more intense. As this passion grows, we become more like our Savior and fill what is lacking.
Last week, we saw in Colossians 2:8-14 that a passionate life is the result of a vigilance in staying true to the truths of God’s Word, the passionate godly life is the outcome of fullness in Christ, the passionate life is marked by the removal of the sin barrier between us and God, and finally that we are made alive by Him. That’s fullness in Christ!
Faith, prayer, suffering, fullness in Christ are all a part of the passions of a godly life. If we see our spiritual life as dead and lifeless, we need to seek out why it is because that should concern us deeply. Where do we stand with our faith? What does our prayer life look like? Do we suffer persecution because of a passion for the Lord? Does the fullness of Christ flow out from our lives?
Many Christians may not realize it, but today is Pentecost or as the Jews call it, Shavuot. The Feast of Pentecost was established in the Old Testament at Mount Sinai. In Leviticus 23:15-22, God tells His people to count 50 days from the Sabbath of Passover and they are to bring a wave offering of the new grain to the Lord as an offering. This was one of three festivals that God required that all Jewish males make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Thus, it was referred to as a latter first fruits festival when they would bring a “first fruits” offering of the summer wheat harvest to the Temple. It was also a celebration of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. The date of this feast was the date the Jews choose to celebrate God’s giving of the Law 1,400 years earlier at Mount Sinai. So, Pentecost was not just a celebration of the grain harvest, but a celebration of the covenant relationship they have with God. For the Jewish people, this festival was a lively, vibrant celebration of what God was doing in and through them.
But what is so powerful about this day is that God not only established His covenant with Israel on this this day almost 3,500 years ago, but God established His new covenant by sending His Holy Spirit upon all believers which marked the beginning of the church almost 2,000 years ago. Today is the beginning of the New Testament Church as we know it. Happy Birthday Church!
This would be a great day to read Acts 2, which records what took place today about 1,986 years ago. After the coming of the Holy Spirit and Peter’s powerful sermon, 3,000 souls came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and this was the beginning of the Church in Jerusalem. I would encourage you to read the first 6 or 7 chapters of the book of Acts as you we celebrate what God has done for us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. But my intention is not to look at the historical beginnings of the church this morning, but how the church fits into a passionate godly life for the believer. Since my focus has been in Colossians for this series of messages, that is where I want to focus today. We will be looking at several passages in the book of Colossians which talk about the life of the church in the life of the believer.
Church with Passion (Colossians 1:1-12, 2:1-4, 3:12-17)
The Apostle Paul was passionate about church. That seems logical since he started many churches during his missionary journeys. But his passion went well beyond the churches he started. The church at Colossae is an example. The Apostle Paul was writing this letter from prison in Rome around 60 A.D. to a church he did not start. As far as we know, he never visited the city of Colossae. Colossae is 100 miles east of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. But what Paul says about the church in Colossae indicates not just his desire for this local body of believers, but the passion believers should have for each other in the church. Doing church with passion.
~ Faith and Love (1:1-5a)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
The reputation this body of believers in Colossae, a reputation heard all the way over to Rome, was that they are a people of faith and love for each other, Paul says. We already talked about a passionate faith in Colossians 2:6-7, so I am not going to talk much about that. It is a faith that is rooted, built up, and established in Christ. Paul heard about their faith as a prisoner in Rome.
But not just faith, he heard about the love they have for one another. This is a powerful characteristic for a church. When others in the community and even in other places comment about the love believers have for each other, it speaks out like a megaphone in the streets. This should certainly be the natural outflow of the life of Christ in us. Let me read a passage which is very pointed concerning our love for each other as believers.
1 John 3:14-15 (ESV)
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I have talked to people who describe either their church or another church they have been in with all kinds of descriptive words, but not very often do they use the word love. Paul says he has heard about the faith and love that the church of Colossae has for all the saints. A body of believers in the local church should be known for their love for one another. In my hometown, the church I attended as a young person had a reputation. It was known in the community for its splits and how they weren’t able to get along with each other. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples.
John 13:34-35 (ESV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Our community knows how we treat each other, how involved we are with each other, how much we care for each other. Our love for the brethren is a tell-tale sign that we are Jesus’ disciples. Part of a passionate godly life is a passion for the local assembly of believers called the church. If you love something, you are passionate about it. Are we known for our faith and love as a church in our community?
~ Fruit Bearing (1:5b-8)
Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing-- as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
He mentions their love again! But notice what Paul says about the Word of Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as bearing fruit and increasing among them. It seems as though Epaphras was the one who brought the gospel message to Colossae and that ever since they heard the message, understood the grace of God in it, and received it, they have been growing or increasing.
That is what happens in a local congregation of believers. When someone gets saved and has a passion for the Lord, God begins His transforming work, and their life is changed. It is a continual increasing in their walk of faith. I believe that Paul implies two things here. The people in the Colossae church were growing in their relationship with the Lord and they were also bearing fruit through the testimony of their lives to others. People were coming to know Jesus through the life of people in the church.
I believe this is so important for us to see. The power of the message of the gospel is seen not just in an individual’s life, but in the life of the church. If there is no spiritual growth among the saints, or salvations taking place, we should ask why? Is there something that needs to change in our lives or in how we function as a body of believers? Is there fruit resulting from not just our interaction with others in the community, but with those who walk through the doors of this building?
We should be passionate about our love, our faith, and our life in this church family. Are we bearing fruit and increasing?
~ Understanding and Knowledge (2:1-4)
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
He mentions their love again! Church families are to be knit together in love. Paul is very concerned about Colossae and Laodicea. Though Paul is in Rome, his heart is very concerned about some false teachings that were infiltrating the churches. He struggles inwardly for these two churches and many others where he has not been able to go to and teach in person.
But notice how he describes the unity of the church in standing for the truth of Scripture. Their hearts should be encouraged even though they may be struggling with false teachings entering the church. They need to be knit together in love. In other words, the people in the Colossae church should not be divided over these heretical teachings. Finally, Paul hopes that they will reach the riches of a full understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Jesus Christ.
The church should stand together on the truths of Scripture and continue to study until they have come to a full assurance of what they believe. This is why we, as a church, have a statement of faith. These are the things that we have come together in unity about with full assurance! When people become members of the Chapel, they are being knit together with the rest of the body in what we believe. We should encourage and help one another understand the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that can be found in Christ. We are to be so tightly woven together in what we know of the treasures of Christ that no one can deceive or delude us with persuasive arguments. I mentioned this briefly last week in that we are to be vigilant about the truth of God’s Word.
Are you beginning to see why the church family is a vital part of our passionate living of the godly life? We need each other to help us live passionately for Him. We are encouraging one another in knowledge and understanding. We are bearing fruit and increasing. We are known for faith and love. This is a living and active body, not a dead and lifeless ritual.
~ Bearing and Forgiving (3:12-15)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Wow, what a list of character traits of the church family. Did you notice that he included love again? In the verses just before this, Christians are told to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, wrongful passions, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk from your mouth, and lying. But in the part we just read, we are to put on things that make the church family unified. These are the behavior, attitudes, and values God expects in the church family. Basically, we are to put on Christ. The church should be clothed in Christ likeness. We know that it is not something we do perfectly, but as we put these things on, it becomes more a natural part of our lives.
Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other.
Not only are we to demonstrate our life in Christ as individuals, we are to put Him on display in how the church family interacts with each other. When we are passionate about godly living, hearts of love and compassion toward others in the church becomes evident to others in the world.
We often talk about how others should pay attention to this passage. We see the anger and hatred in our world that is so prevalent, and we want them to be more loving. But here Paul is talking about the church. Think about it, with all the hatred and animosity in our world, don’t you think people would be drawn to an environment of bearing and forgiving.
~ Teaching, Singing, Thanking (3:16-17)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Life in the church family is so much different from our world, or at least it should be. We should be teaching each other, admonishing each other in all wisdom. We should be singing together in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We should be filled with thankfulness in our hearts. Everything that we do, should be done in the name of Jesus.
There is much we could say here but let’s just let the words of Scripture sink in for a moment. Let me ask you something. Does this sound dry and lifeless? No, for every believer, the church family should be a vital part of living a godly life with passion.
When we are a part of a church family, we have a place to practice our faith and love. Because there will be times when our faith is challenged, but the church family is a powerful resource for being victorious in that. Also, not everyone in the church family will be easy to love. As we learn to love in the church family, our love will be put on display to others around us.
Being a part of a church family gives us an environment to see how God can use us to bear fruit and increase. Which in turn helps us to bear fruit with others in the world. Every believer should be hungry and thirsty for knowing God better. There is no better place to reach the full assurance of understanding and knowledge than a church family.
Learning to bear and forgive others can be learned and practice in the sphere of the church family and then show this love and forgiveness to others in the world. And what better arena than the church to help God’s Word dwell in you and a place that you can express exuberant praise and glory to God?
In a day when the church is seen as dead and lifeless, I think we may have forgotten the role the church family plays in our living passionately for the Lord.
Faith with Passion (Colossians 2:6-7)
Prayer with Passion (Colossians 4:2-4)
Suffering with Passion (Colossians 1:24-29)
Fullness with Passion (Colossians 2:8-14)
Church with Passion (Colossians 1:1-8, 2:1-4, 3:12-17)