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Prepare

‘Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last.’ Using Dr Martin Luther King’s famous words, take a few minutes to remind yourself of the freedom purchased for you through the cross and resurrection.


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Bible passage Colossians 2:6–15


Freedom From Human Regulations Through Life With Christ
 6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

 9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Stick to Christ!
Having reminded the Colossians of the infinite scope of God’s grace in Jesus, Paul’s tone changes. He now starts urging his readers to apply this truth to every aspect of their lives. And he doesn’t mince his words.

Just as they received Jesus as Lord of their lives, he pleads with them to carry on rooting and building their lives on Christ and the gospel message. It’s up to them to guard themselves from the toxic ideas now circulating in their church. See to it that you’re not ambushed by weird teaching (2:8).

Avoid dangerous lies
Paul doesn’t specify the exact nature of this alternative message but he gives us a few clues. Their faith is in danger of being poisoned through a heady cocktail of pagan philosophy, religious ideas about the role of angels and an exaggerated emphasis on self-denial.

As far as Paul is concerned they need to take immediate action. It’s as though he’s saying ‘stop it now!’ He clearly believes that this new Christian community is sufficiently well informed to know the difference between the word of truth (1:5) and the lies being peddled in Colossae. We too face the same kind of dilemma.


Respond


Where can I see Jesus being exalted in the range of ideas, theories and culture which surround me?

Gethin Russell-Jones


Deeper Bible study


Reading this passage, give thanks for Christ’s triumphant work!

Jim Packer once used the illustration of the redwood trees in northern California. These magnificent trees are carefully fenced off, because they have a very shallow root system. As visitors march round the huge trees, the soil is loosened around the roots and they become very vulnerable. It wouldn’t take too much wind to topple them. Packer commented that, although there have been many signs of growth in the evangelical church, there is also an unmistakeable shallowness. It’s true in the West as well as in the majority world.

Paul was concerned that Christians should grow up into Christ. In today’s passage there is a magnificent sequence of statements that reveal the dynamics of such growth. First, Paul uses a metaphor: we should be ‘rooted and built up’ (v 7). By faith, I am united to Christ; I am safe in him and I cannot be uprooted. Now, Paul urges us to be built up, brick by brick. It is a call to determined spiritual growth, the only grounds for stability and fruitful flourishing. Such growth can only come from a life lived in union with Christ. The point is obvious, because Christ is absolutely sufficient and we have been brought to fullness in him (v 10). Paul underlines it again: we are united with Christ (vs 11,12) and so we share in all that Christ has done. That in turn leads to freedom in Christ (vs 13–15). We are liberated from our debts, we are forgiven and we are safe from God’s condemnation and righteous judgement.

Because of Christ’s triumphant work on the cross and because of our union with him, we are freed from the bondage of sin and self, energised and equipped to grow into Christlikeness. Being rooted in him means a life of stability and fruitfulness!

Jonathan Lamb


Theological background


Christ is the Head
The word ‘head’ was used in 1:18, and here, as there, covers the idea both of ‘origin’ and ‘supremacy’. Similarly the Greek word arche, translated ‘ruler’, means both ‘beginning’ and ‘rule’. Jesus was before all creation and therefore rules over all creation.

Archaeologists have uncovered the main street of Ephesus. It is flanked with two long rows of buildings decorated with columns. On the top of the columns are sculptured heads, presumably of all the dignitaries of the city. My spine tingled as I walked down that street thinking that Christ is above all of these! And above all of today’s political leaders.

Think of all the most influential and powerful people you know. Christ is the head of them too, whether they know it or not. Peter and John knew this (see their words to the authorities at Acts 4:11 and their prayer in Acts 4:24–30).

As he is our Head, we participate in him.

The significance of baptism
Baptism is the Christian equivalent of Jewish circumcision, marking the identity of those within the covenant. We are ‘buried’ in the cleansing water, and ‘rise’ out of it (v 12). In baptism we are stripped of our sinful nature, like taking off our clothes, and dressed in clean new clothes. ‘Put off’ is the word meaning ‘undress’ (v 11). 

Neither circumcision nor baptism have any efficacy in themselves, but they are outward symbols of a profound inner transformation.

The meaning of the cross
Paul set out the basic facts of Christian belief in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4: ‘Christ died for our sins … he was buried … he was raised …’. What he explains here in Colossians is that each of these events involved us! We are ‘in Christ’, identified with him at every stage.

It was God who took the initiative (v 13). He nailed our sins to the cross. Our salvation does not depend just on our decision.

He disarmed the powers that once controlled our lives, whether the ‘elemental spiritual forces’ of Colossae or evil of any form that formerly had power over us. He has made them all ineffective.

What once controlled your life? Think of the practical implications of verse 15.

In the words of John Wesley:

‘No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus and all in him is mine,
Alive in him, my living head
And clothed in righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.’

Annabel Robinson


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Audio


The splendour of the king (How great is our God)
Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves & Ed Cash
Copyright © 2004 worshiptogether.com Songs/sixsteps
Music/Adm. by kingswaysongs.com; for the UK & Europe
& Alletrop Music/Adm. by CopyCare
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com



Freedom – Johnny Parks
Johnny Parks & Claire Hamilton
Copyright © 2007 Thankyou Music


Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Wednesday, 08 November 2017

    Being shallow rooted, easily toppled by adversity, seduced by wealth, or diseased by false teaching or the values of the world around us, reminds us of Jesus' teaching about the seeds that sprang up from the sower's work. Some ways of growing deep roots are: constantly feeding on His Word, deliberately seeking to live in His presence, sharing in fellowship and teaching with other believers, and rejoicing in the glorious truths of our life in Him. Let's pray today for all the new believers and new churches in our world who are crying out for good teachers to disciple them - and those who do not have their own Bibles or are not permitted to read them. Father keep them strong and deeply grounded in you, and send them help. Amen Prayers for your angiogram today Peter, and for Hilary and Carol after surgery and all on the cancer journey, especially not forgetting Jane. May Jesus' great victory cover all our needs.

  • Sue Hanson | Wednesday, 08 November 2017

    Amen

  • Paul Brewu | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Beautifully put Rachel. I am reminded of John Wesley's hymn indeed. Praise God!

  • Kathryn Broughton | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Now in real time a dear Christian friend and her baby son are being held captive by people smugglers who are torturing her so her husband who has to watch horrible videos will pay a huge ransom. Since they became Christians from an Islamic background, they have suffered and lost everything except their faith. This week's readings have helped me endure the pain. Please pray for Rubia( 21) baby Andrew and the father James . They have been separated for 18 months and the kidnappers say they will kill both mother and child in days if they do not get the huge amount of money they demand. Lord have mercy.

  • Catherine Clarke | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    What sadness Kathryn, prayers will be said now and aded to our church prayer list. Rachael, thank you again for your clear and profound words. To all, Blessings, peace and the joy of our Lord, today and always.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    For the friends of KATHRYN being tortured both in body and mind, give them the grace to endure and may their suffering physically and mentally be more than compensated by the power of Holy Spirit within them.Heavenly Father, we ask that you would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in your name. Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death. Pour out your blessings on your persecuted church and even now please release your children and stay the hand of persecutors in Jesus name, Amen.

  • Kathryn Broughton | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Thank you Gilvin and Catherine

  • Angela Munday | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    My heart is overflowing Father God as I come before You with grateful thanks for the victory Jesus won at the cross. Jesus did this for everyone and our everlasting future with You. We know You are with RUBIA, ANDREW and JAMES in their suffering and we ask that the evil men do will be ended all over the world. We trust in Your provision for us as we live the lives You give us and not the one the 'world' wants to force upon us. ......"This is why the world does not know us; it has not known God." ( 1 John 3:1 ) AMEN

  • Linda Penrose | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Praying KATHRYN.

  • Lynda Spencer | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Praying, KATHRYN.

  • Eileen Smith | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Also praying KATHRYN

  • Chris Throne | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Praying for you KATHRYN

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    KATHRYN thank you for sharing, praying for you and this family.

  • Christopher Brann | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Father free Rubia, baby Andrew and James from the prison they are in. Give James his family back and by your Holy Spirit free Rubia and Andrew from those holding them. We also pray for those people holding them that there hearts may be changed from evil to following you.

  • Tim Berry | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    I am praying Kathryn for the protection of Rubia, Andrew and James by the name of Jesus as we are promised in John 17: 11. May they know His power and His peace.

  • Philip Archer | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    In the theological background section an assertion is made concerning the equivalence of baptism and circumcision. A number of us think that circumcision was replaced by the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to all believers regardless of gender. Baptism is the sign of the conversion that has taken place and an illustration of it. It does not achieve it.

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Kathryn, praying for Rubia, Andrew, and James.

  • Kathryn Broughton | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ. I am overwhelmed by your loving concern and fervent prayers for our young friends. Less than 2 hours after I posted that comment, the phone rang and it was a police officer in security speaking from Munich. I was overjoyed but he wanted to speak to my husband who was with James last week getting him settled in a safe house. There is no news as yet except that they are pulling all the stops out to try and find Rubia and Andrew. James is in a neighbouring country (not in EU ) and he is being urged to disclose his address so the local police can interview him but they might just as easily deport him back to Pakistan and he would never be set free. We know that from previous experience. The German police are also urging my husband, now back in UK,to get in touch with the local police here so they can interrogate him fully as James history is very, very complicated and his wife's becoming almost as unbelievable. SO.....Please keep praying; especially for God's grace and mercy and with thanksgiving for His presence surrounding all those who truly trust in Him. Thank you so much.

  • Morag Wilson | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    KATHRYN praying for Rubia, Andrew and James!

  • Peter Oliver | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Thank you to all those who prayed for.me about my angiogram nothing serious all praise to GOD.

  • Keith Dearden | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Great news PETER and praying now for RUBIA, ANDREW and JAMES.

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Rejoicing with you, Peter, in your good news. Prayer constantly flows from members of this site, for all who share their needs. It is remarkable. Thank You, Lord.

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Rejoicing with you, Peter, in your good news. Prayer constantly flows from members of this site, for all who share their needs. It is remarkable. Thank You, Lord.

  • Rosemary Fairweather | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Praying for Rubia, Andrew and James in Jesus name

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    PHILIP you are quite right Jesus told his disciples “And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘You heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 1:4–5) John's baptism was water baptism for repentance The Holy Spirit baptism is for empowerment that we may go out filled to all nations to preach the Gospel. Remember Apollos and Paul we learn that Apollos only knew John's baptism he needed more than study he needed filling with the Holy Spirit. PETER so grateful to the Lord for your good results. KATHRYN praying for you and your husband and for James Rubia and Andrew. Lord hear my prayer Thy power I claim, to love like Christ is all my aim, Move Holy Spirit, move in my life , I want in my loving to be like Christ, I want in my living to be like Christ, I want in my serving to be like Christ.

  • Hannah Strachan | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Praying along with everyone else for God to relieve Rubia, Andrew & James. PHILIP, with regard to your comment on the Theology Section it does say at the end: "Neither circumcision nor baptism have any efficacy in themselves, but they are outward symbols of a profound inner transformation". This agrees with your (and my view) that baptism doesn't achieve salvation.

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