Sermon Notes: Maturity: The Church’s Work Colossians 1:9-14

The wise Abraham Zavala dropped some sociological knowledge on the Caballeros de Mesa Wednesday morning, which helped me grow in patience with God’s process of transforming generations and his process of growing into maturity. 

It takes between 3-5 generations to grow out of poverty into sustainable wealth if the right set of skills and values are learned. It also takes 3-5 generations to lose sustainable wealth because those who have it take it for granted and don’t practice the good habits that were taught to them.

We are in a place where we are striving to grow out of the mindset of cultural and consumer Christianity in the post-Christian south where therapeutic moralistic deism masquerades as Christianity. 

This is not going to happen tomorrow. It may take 3-5 generations. Teaching and practice with patience and steadfastness are going to be mighty valuable assets.

Those who left the slavery of Egypt could not escape the slavery mindset and wanted to return to Egypt because it provided food for slave labor rather than press into the hunger of freedom and the work necessary to sustain freedom through with faith-filled action. That generation had to die in the desert before their children inherited the land, and that next generation still wrestled with their parent’s legacy for years in idolatry and a host of other issues. 

We have to be in kingdom work for the long haul.

Some are going to want to go back to Egypt. 

There will be some Joshuas and Calebs that want the promised land of the Kingdom of God, but it will require some times of wandering in spiritual and cultural deserts until that metaphorical Jordan is crossed. 

Strive. The promised land of the kingdom of God is worth the labor. 

We learned in Colossians 1:24-29 that according to God’s commission, Paul’s goal, our Jordan river, is to present back to God everyone mature in Christ who will strive for that goal. 

God seems to have two big ways to get us to that goal of maturity. 

Romans 8:1-17 tells us about these two big ways to get us to maturity. It reminds us that sin has been put to death, and we have to actively put sin to death by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

  1. God’s supernatural work of grace to kill sin and empower growth (the parable of the seed).
    1. Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. 
  2. The other is the disciplined pursuit of maturity by the Christian in response to God’s word. 

Through the powerful gospel, the power of sin has been broken in all who have believed, yet we have remnants of sin hanging out in us, and these remnants have to be resisted. 

Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. – John Owen

So, what are some nitty-gritty ways we can live in God’s grace to empower growth and kill sin to strive toward maturity? 

The Bible is loaded with these, and Paul’s letter to the Colossians will unpack some for us. 

Colossians 1:3-14

The theme of Colossians: 

​​Colossian’s theme is the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ as the Head of all creation and of the Church. – R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ, Preaching the Word (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989), 13.

Now, lets look at these nitty-gritty ways to live in God’s grace and kill sin. 

  1. Keep believing the gospel, love the saints, and live from hope. 1:3-8; 13-14
  1. Here Paul uses the apostolic “shorthand” for true Christianity in the Trio of “faith, hope, and love”. 
    1. You’ll see “faith, hope, and love” throughout the New Testament used as a “Trinity” of virtues that mark true Christians. 
    2. Paul puts hope last in this instance as the generating “thing” to move living faith and love into action. 
  2. Paul wants the Colossians to live from hope.  
    1. All over the gospels, Jesus teaches us that our hope in reward in the kingdom is a good and viable basis of our labor of faith in and love for God now. 
      1. Store up your treasures in heaven!!!
      2. Luke 18:29-30 (CSB) 29 So he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left a house, wife or brothers or sisters, parents or children because of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more at this time, and eternal life in the age to come.”
      3. It is no sin to live in the hope of future grace. 
    2. Titus 2:11-13 (CSB) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
    3. Hope in God’s future grace to us provides God’s power for living. 
  3. Paul wants the Colossians to strive toward maturity by exercising living faith. 
    1. Paul is not referring to their initial saving faith as he refers to it in verses 6-8. 
    2. What they have heard about the Colossians is their ongoing faith and love that springs from hope. 
      1. Colossians 2:6-7 (CSB) 6 So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, 7 being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
      2. Faith / believing is not a “one and done” action. 
        1. Saving faith happens when you get saved.
        2. Faith then is practiced daily as we learn to hear and obey the Lord. 
        3. Living faith springs from hope in God that his kingdom is here and coming in power and will bring about our good and his glory. 
  4. Paul wants the Colossians to strive toward maturity by loving in the easy ways and hard ways. 
    1. Easy – showing favor and serving and spending easy time together. 
    2. Hard – refusing to let each other wreck ourselves for the deceit of sin. 
    3. God wants us to have strong Christian affections of faith, love and hope. 
      1. “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.” –  C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), pp. 1, 2.
  1. Be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through wisdom and spiritual understanding. 1:9 
    1. Paul and his team are praying that this church would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. 
      1. Paul wants the church to know God’s will in all things. 
        1. What they don’t have is an instruction book that lays out what God wants for every detail of every day. 
        2. We still don’t have that. 
        3. We have God’s word that reveals who God is and what his will is in the big picture of his kingdom, and yet he does not address what college we are to attend or if we should go to college. 
        4. How are they and we supposed to gain the glorious knowledge of God’s will in all things…toward maturity?
    2. Through wisdom.
      1. Literally, the “whole of wisdom”. 
        1. This is learned skill in the affairs of life. 
        2. Wisdom will be a growing skill as we navigate day to day and week to week and month to month and year to year in the fear of God and navigating life with the fear of God. 
          1. This is the grind of learning from mistakes and not repeating errors. 
          2. This learning to turn from sin to righteousness.
          3. This is the catalog of learning to live a skillful life. 
          4. This is perseverance in living well. 
    3. Through spiritual understanding.
      1. Literally the “comprehending that pertains to the soul”. 
        1. Proverbs 20:27 (ESV) 27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.
      2. We learn God’s will as we learn our soul and God’s searching us out and growing us in the knowing of ourselves. In this we learn God’s personal interaction with us. . 
        1. This is emotional growth into spiritual maturity. 
        2. We will not grow in spiritual understaning until we grow emotionally. 
          1. Knowlege alone is not spiritual understanding. 
        3. As we get to know how God knit us together, we will get to know God and his will for us intimately and how he made us to fit into the whole of the fellowship. 
  2. Walk worthy of the Lord Jesus, fully pleasing to him. 1:10-12
    1. Peripateo” – to walk; to live in a worthy manner. 
    2. By knowing God’s will (this is the main verb of this long sentence), we now learn to live in a worthy manner. 
      1. If we refuse to do the hard spiritual work of knowing God’s will, we may live in an unworthy manner. 
      2. Sometimes, and truly most of the time, God’s will is evident. 
        1. We just don’t want to do it. 
    3. There is a way to walk beside Jesus in a manner that is worthy, and thus a way to tread next to Jesus in an unworthy manner. 
    4. How do we walk with Jesus worthily?
      1. Bear fruit in every good work. 
        1. Jesus taught us that if we abide in him and do the faithful work of abiding in him, he will produce fruit. 
          1. So, we bear fruit by living by faith, loving well, doing this in hope, and get to know God’s will in wisdom and spiritual insight, we learn to abide in Jesus. 
      2. Grow in the knowledge of God.
        1. When we live in faith, love and hope and abide in Jesus, we will get to know God’s will, and we will begin to know God in deep personal relationship. 
      3. Be strengthened by God’s power and might. 1:11
        1. When we get to know God, we gain strength through the gift of God’s power.
          1. God’s power gives us endurance and patience. 
      4. Joyfully give thanks that we inherit the world together with the church.  1:12
        1. The humble joyfully give thanks because they get a precious gift they didn’t earn from God who loves them. 
          1. Matthew 5:5 (CSB) 5 Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.

Application

  1. Fight for faith, love and hope.
    1. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 (CSB) 5 For this reason, when I could no longer stand it, I also sent him to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing.
      1. The tempter will make every effort to seize your faith and when he does that he will get your love and hope. 
      2. You have to fight for these. 
  2. Strive to get to know yourself and grow emotionally and thus know the will of God for you and how you can live together on mission in full health. 
    1. Often, the failure to do the emotional work of emotional growth results in our hurting ourselves and hurting others because we want people to do for us emotionally what we won’t or maybe can’t do for ourselves in knowing God and God’s will for us. 
    2. We want somebody to reveal God’s will for us, and it just doesn’t work that way.
      1. God wants to show you his will for you and how you fit into the whole, and this is challenging faith growth. 
      2. Far too many people project onto others failures of others and themselves and then blame others when they don’t measure up or don’t meet expectations they don’t know are put on them. 
      3. Far too many people bring the need for parenting they didn’t get to other people who are not their parents. 
        1. These hurting folks refuse to let God do the hard work of scrubbing out the hurt in self-reflection and accountability for healing. 
      4. We can’t expect others people to do what only God can do in our lives.
        1. This may take deep accountability with a sister or brother. 
        2. This may take some professional counseling. 
        3. But all this is good, spiritual growth in knowing God and his will for us personally and then it works itself out corporately.
    3. We won’t know God’s will completely until we do the spiritual work of letting the Holy Spirit search us, lay us bear, wrestle with God, come away with a holy limp, and then work that limp out together in fellowship. 
      1. Only you can wrestle with God personally as he grows you up.
        1. God wrestled with Jacob alone to make him into what he ordained him to be for eternal purposes and his family. 
        2. But he had to do that alone with God, learning his will, in order to be with others on mission.  
      2. If you’ll be patient and do this hard work with God, it will result in maturity and blessing to the whole. 
  3. Walk worthy. 
    1. Be self-aware enough to know if you are walking with the Lord in fellowship with one another. 
      1. This is first done one-to-one. Start at home.
      2. It’s easy to overlook this one and try to skip to others. 
    2. This takes time spent daily with the Lord not just in structured prayer and bible study, but in constant and trained awareness of God’s presence and how he is at work in me and my family. 
      1. Then we are healthy for others. 
  4. Give thanks through worship. 

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