Updated: Jun 24, 2020
by Gabe Bernal
Read Colossians 4:2-4:18
Reread it again.
Beware of False Teachings
Almost 2000 years ago, Paul wrote a letter to a church he never physically visited because of the growing trouble of false teachings that were threatening the church there.
He did this because he knew the dangers of false teachings. Not only because it could lead us astray, but also because it is so easy to get trapped in them.
While Paul was probably warning against a specific false gospel and heresy, the truth he teaches in this letter apply to any false gospel that is trying to take hold of our hearts. I mentioned over half a dozen in this blog, and there are many more.
We need to be vigilant against false gospels. They surround us and bombard us with their message. But like you would never accept Monopoly money, we must never accept false teachings.
The problem is, just like all counterfeit notes are not as easy to spot as Monopoly money, we need to know the Word.
Know the Word
If you remember back to the first blog, I opened with an illustration about the US Secret Service and their original charter.
They were initially founded to deter the rise of counterfeit money in the wake of the American Civil War. The best method they found to detect counterfeit money was to study and know the real thing.
So they studied every inch of notes so that they knew every detail. Because of this, they were able to quickly discover fakes.
We can use the same method to study the bible. We don't want to bother with learning and studying false gospels because they change regularly, there is no way to keep up with the new falsehoods that the enemy and society will try and throw at us. We'll always be a step behind.
Instead, we study the Word. We study Jesus. We pay attention to the history and context, so we don't fall into one of the traps I alluded to throughout the blog.
1) we are more likely to water down the Gospel
2) we are more likely to accommodate Scripture to our cultural expectations
3) we are more likely to draw our own conclusions in what we read instead of learning what the author is trying to teach us
We fall into these traps over and over again. Hopefully, by studying the Word and genuinely understanding the timeless truths it teaches us, we can avoid these traps and help others avoid these traps.
Supremacy of God
Above all else, if we learn one thing from this letter, it needs to be the supremacy of God.
After all we studied, what we need to know and what we always need to remember is Jesus is preeminent. Jesus is the Author of Creation AND King of Kings.
Where is our focus when we come to church?
Where is our focus in the highs and lows of life?
Where is our focus when we start doing religious practices?
That is the ultimate test when we are confronted with life's complexities. Is Christ at the centre of it all?
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17)
We need to fix our eyes to Jesus and not try to accommodate Jesus to our world. Trust me, when we see Jesus for who He is - who He REALLY is - our lives will be transformed, we will never be the same! We become a new creation!
When we finally do that, focus on Jesus, we realize He is enough. We don't need to add anything to Christ, we don't need to change Christ. We can't. He is unchangeable, He is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Jesus is what we need to pursue. It doesn't matter if we live in 75 AD or in 2020 AD. Whether we live in ancient Rome or modern England.
Christ is supreme!
His teachings are relevant and true, where we are weak He is strong, and where we are strong He is stronger!
Old, Dead God
Before I close, there one last false gospel that we need to throw down.
God is dead
God is irrelevant
God has no power
Some people will read this and think this belief was fine for antiquity, but it is useless in the modern world. Or that these stories only come out of people trying to explain what can easily be explained now.
They say there is no power in what we believe. They say it's all just supernatural mumbo-jumbo.
But what I've experienced tells a different story.
There are hundreds if not thousands a year that are healed through prayer. Incurable, inoperable, untreatable. All better the next day.
Many people have become entirely different overnight because of Jesus. A true Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde act. Bullies, gangsters, murderers. Now saints and faithful followers of Jesus.
There are people with their entire world crumbling around them. Loss of material, loss of money, loss of loved ones. Find peace and hope.
I know someone who was a terrible public speaker and terrified of getting on stage, only to get in front of over a thousand people on a mission trip and eloquently share the gospel... then moments later have no recollection of their speech. They didn't even think they gave a message.
There are thousands upon thousands of stories. I'm sure you know some! Share them in the comments if you have one.
But all this to point out that we aren't just saying "Jesus is enough" because it sounds good. "Christ is supreme" is not just empty words that make us sleep better at night. This is the truth that we need to hold dear.
There is Hope in His name
There is Joy in His name
There is Peace in His name
There is Love in His name
Nik Ripken wrote in his book "The Insanity of God" about a man named Dmitri, a Russian pastor who was imprisoned and tortured for proselytizing in communist Russia.
While in prison, every morning would wake up and would sing a hymn. At first, the other prisoners would yell expletives and spit at him to stop, but he continued. After some time, the cursing and swearing would stop, but Dmitri continued singing the hymn.
One day, years later, Dmitri found a pencil and piece of paper in the courtyard. He snuck it back to his room and begun writing as small as he could read every Scripture he could remember alongside praises he had for God in the margins.
It wasn't long before his jailers found it and announced they were going to take him out to the courtyard and put him to death in front of everyone. As they began to lead him away, something unexpected happened.
Every prisoner in the cell block began singing the hymn Dmitri had been singing all this time. Like a heavenly choir, their voices sang in unison. The jailers leading him away instantly released their hold on his arms and backed away in terror.
One of the jailers asked, "Who are you?"
Dmitri looked at him, stood tall with his head held high and responded, "I am a son of the Living God, and Jesus is His name!"
With the cell block still singing, the jailers returned him to his cell.
Not long after that, Dmitri was released and he returned to his family and ministry. In the years to come, his son ended up becoming the chaplain for the prison.
After hearing stories like this, and through experiences I've had, you can't tell me there isn't power in the name of Jesus.
Paul ends the letter with final greetings from him and several others that Paul wanted to recognize and celebrate. Some we don't know who they are, some we have a hard time pronouncing their name (ha!), and some we do know.
Onesimus, one of the main parties in the letter to Philemon, is mentioned. Epaphras who we talked about at the beginning who is a fellow prisoner and possibly is the founder of the church in Colossae is also mentioned here.
Luke, writer of the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, is mentioned in this passage as well.
Fellow saints in Laodicea, which was only a few miles from Colossae, was not only mentioned, but the church in Colossae was encouraged to share this letter with them.
But I want to close with the first person Paul lifts up in these final greetings. Tychicus.
Tychicus was named as the person who was delivering this letter to the church in Colossae. He is also mentioned in Ephesians 6:21 as the one who will deliver that letter to Ephesus. He is also mentioned in Acts 20:4, Titus 3:12, and 2 Timothy 4:12.
I want to single him out because how Paul introduces Tychicus is how I want to introduce you, and how I want you to introduce me.
"He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord."
In my life and service as a Christian, if all I am known as is a beloved brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord, I will have served the Lord well and made good use of my life here on Earth.
If all I think of you are in those terms, I will always think of you warmly and be encouraged by you and your heart.
If all we do is try to live up to that description, the Church would be in revival.
I pray that we all live up to that description.