In this sermon, Pastor Neil introduces us to Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and explains what it means to be stalwart believers. Here are some excerpts:
Part of the relevance of the Letter to the Colossians for us lies in the fact, as the author of one recent commentary on Colossians, David Garland, says, that “the situation facing the Colossians is … similar to ours today. They faced opponents who challenged and belittled the sufficiency of Christ and their hope [in Him]. Christians today live in a secular society, which regularly scoffs at Christian faith. Many Christians in the West” – meaning us – “have become increasingly uncertain of (our) faith and consequently hold it uncertainly.
The acids of criticism can eat away at the foundations of a weak and vacillating faith. There are also fewer cultural forces to keep people in the church. When confronted with the laughter and scorn of the modern-day scoffers, nominal church members may be tempted to capitulate. They will abandon their faith or trade it in for the latest craze.” We see that happening across America, as well as Canada and throughout Europe. “In Paul’s language, they return to the darkness where the rulers of this age hold sway.
“When Christians do not understand (our) faith, (we) are likely to water down the gospel and accommodate it to cultural expectations. (We) will cut out any offending articles of faith or append (fallacious) ones more in accord with the fashion of the age. Paul wrote to the Colossians to help them grasp ever more firmly who Christ is and the rich glories of all that God has done in Him.
“When Christians have little confidence in (our) faith, (we) will be overly tentative with (our) claims and easily shaken by challenges. Paul hoped to fortify the Colossians in their assurance of the hope they had in Christ. The letter affirms that God’s creation has a divine purpose, which is brought to fulfillment in and through Christ. It affirms the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ as the fullness of God and as our Creator and Redeemer.
When Christians do not live with a deep sense of gratitude for what God has done for (us) in Christ, (we) will become engulfed in anxieties and will be tempted to look for security in something other than Christ. Paul repeatedly urged the Colossians to be thankful for the victory already won for (us) by Christ’s cross and resurrection. Salvation can be found only in Christ, and Christians do not need something else or something more. The cross brings redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and triumph over all the powers that would oppress human life. Every believer is made complete when placed under the complete claim of Christ, and all the spiritual curses of our world find their only cure in Him.
“When Christians live no differently from those around (us) who do not know God or who defy God’s commands, (we) bring discredit to (our) faith and cause others to think that (our) claims are false. Paul argues that Christians must not only be solidly grounded in (our) faith. (We) must also be … above reproach [in our conduct]. Discerning, confident, grateful, and ethical Christians lead lives worthy of the Lord, are pleasing to God, and will bear spiritual fruit in a spiritually blighted world. Paul intends in this letter to help form this kind of believer” (David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary: Colossians/Philemon, 32-33)…
…I am thankful for all my sisters and brothers in Christ who are part of our church family and who follow the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully. The Message paraphrase refers to the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colosse as “stalwart followers of Christ.” I like that. A stalwart is someone who stands firm and strong, someone who is loyal and trustworthy, someone you can count on to keep on keeping on. I am grateful for the leaders and members of our church family who have demonstrated perseverance in the faith, whose love for one another and for others outside the church is a reflection of the love of Jesus, and who look forward to the hope that is stored up for us in heaven.