Let’s talk, Christian Apologetics and what it has to do with you. Christian Apologetics is that branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Some consider it to be . . .
~ View copy of sermon – (Colossians 1: 15 – 28)
Sermon Title: ROOTED PEOPLE / Colossians 1: 15 – 28
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Colossians 1: 15 – 28
Preached by Rev. Dr. Harold E. Kidd
“If you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul became a minister.”
I recently returned from my Study Leave trip to Dallas, Texas in attending the Annual E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference. This year’s conference theme was focused on: Preaching Ephesians: Equipping the Church.” One of the workshops I attended was on Christian Apologetics lead by Dr. Eric Mason, of Philadelphia, PA. A primary area of Dr. Mason’s expertise is in Christian Apologetics.
Christian Apologetics is that branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith. Some consider it to be a field of theology which holds that every Christian should be ready and equipped to provide an answer to anyone concerning their belief in Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. As we survey the New Testament literature all of the authors were defending the faith: Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, to name a few. They were defending the faith handed down to them in the midst of a culture that was filled with heresies, religious pluralism, false doctrines as well as false prophets who had infiltrated the churches.
Declared Paul in Ephesians 4: 13-14, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man (woman), to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive.”
Paul also made the declaration in Romans 1: 16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3: 15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
John the beloved disciple wrote to believers under heavy persecution near the end of the first century, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life (Jesus)”1John 1:1
In our text for today, taken from Colossians 1, Paul is again writing as a Christian Apologist. Paul wrote the letter of Colossians to combat errors in the church and to show believers how we have everything we need in Jesus Christ. Whereas Romans is Paul’s complete summary of all Christian Doctrine. What we believe. Colossians is Paul’s Christological treatise on all the blessings we have received in Jesus Christ as heirs of the Kingdom and joint-heirs with Christ.
Writing from prison in Rome, Paul combated false teachings which had infiltrated the Colossian church. The problem was “syncretism,” believers combining other ideas from other philosophies and religions such as paganism, strains of Judaism, and Greek thought with the Christian faith.
Such heretical teachings brought confusion and division within the Colossian church resulting in division. In chapter three we find Paul addressing these internal conflicts by reminding them and us of how we are to communicate and live as Christians, even in seasons when we do not see eye to eye. Amen. “Bear with one another,” he writes, “and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians represents one of Paul’s many letters written to address internal church problems. Problems resulting from issues related to disagreements in understanding of theology, Christology, the resurrection, angel worship, the second coming of Christ, conforming to a worldly culture, sexual immorality, relationships among believers, traditions and ceremonies, and law versus grace, just to name a few.
And what we learn from Paul’s many letters: Colossians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, is that problems and conflict are inevitable within any church and we might add any family as well as relationship. Amen. And how we choose to handle them and respond to them has everything to do with our spiritual development and maturity in Christ. And many of the problems Paul addressed in his letters had basis in the reality that people were not growing in Christlike character because they had not yet fully come to understand how Holy Scripture under the influence of the Holy Spirit has a positive impact on our personal transformation and behavior. And transformation in the outter circumstances we are dealing with, and some of them on a daily basis, does not begin to happen without some transformation that firstly begins in us. Amen.
And so here in the verse 23 out of which this message is taken he writes, “If you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul became a minister.” The word if is a conjunction introducing a conditional clause. Presupposing that if you do this, of if this happens this will be the result. If is used to talk about the result or effect of something that may happen. For every action there is a reaction.
If it rains in a downpour, and one is caught in the rain without an umbrella or no covering, they will get wet. If we take good care of our health, there is a better percentage that we will live a better quality of life. When there were all kind of vices out in those streets of Oakland, looking for some young black males, Big Mamma use to say to my brother and I as we were growing up, “If you fool with trash, it will get in your eye.”
So given the problems resulting from issues related to their many disagreements, Paul was in effect informing the believers at Colossians; “If you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel”, you will be able to resist the temptation to give in all of these false doctrines heresies, worldly ways of living and problems that are plaguing the larger culture, that have infiltrated the church, and have a negative impact on your life and relationships with each other. I wish I knew how to make it plain.
Paul uses the word grounded. Signifying something that is established and firm. Grounded suggests stability. Electrical circuits are connected to ground or a ground wire to minimize the possibility of an electrical shock, or the buildup of static electricity. Paul used the word ‘grounded’ to remind these believers at Colossae as well as to us, that when we ground our lives in Jesus Christ; no matter what shock comes to us, no matter the contrary winds in society or in personal life that could easily come without a moment’s notice and blow us away, no matter the hardships and disappointments, because we are grounded in the Lord and His word, we will be able to stand and withstand the blows of life.
Like a hurricane or a tornado, sickness can blow you away. Financial reversal can blow you away. Death and tragedy can blow you away. Being the victim of a hate crime or discrimination, or injustice can blow you away. The Spiritual and moral confusion in this world today when everyone seems to being what is right in their own eyes and very few view God as the final authority, can blow you away, mess up your mind as well as your soul, and can lead to heartbreak hotel if our faith is not grounded in Jesus Christ.
Being grounded in Jesus Christ, cannot have full effect without being grounded in His word and living by His word. In this world where all kinds of crazy and anti-Christ things are sweeping people away into a vortex of spiritual and moral confusion, God calls us to be his apologists. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope that is in us with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)
As we survey the history of the church, believers have always needed to give a defense of their faith in the midst of controversies, and every wind of doctrine. “The first strand of confessional theology are the creeds and confessions of faith, whereby the church acknowledged and clarified what it believed, often in the context of significant controversy and sometimes violence over dogma and interpretation. (i.e. the Nicene Creed (325), Augsburg Confession (1530), and Westminster Confession (1646).
At other times in history the church developed confessional statements in the midst of some political mistreatment and abuse of human beings. This form of confessional faith believed that silence of the church in the face of evil is in fact complicity with evil. (i.e. Barmen Theological Declaration (1934) in Nazi Germany and the Belhar Confession (1986) during apartheid South Africa.” (See Dr. Frank Thomas – The Choice, pg. XII)
Whether fashioned in the form of New Testament literature, a confession or creed, these precious documents were written in giving a defense for the hope that is in us through the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. So where does this lead us in our own day and time? We are called to ‘always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
We can only do this through a consistent personal study of scriptures, participating in a group study of Scripture, and availing ourselves to opportunities where we may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, then putting what we have learned into practice. In James words, “being doers of the word.”
One of the insights that came out of one of our presentations during my Study Leave was given by Scot Lindsey of Logos Software. They have a million-dollar industry on producing software for Pastors, Lay Persons, Students and Professors on everything related to biblical resources. Lindsey shared with us that in their research to develop more user- friendly software, they discovered that for persons who study the word once or twice a week there is relatively no change in their life. Three or more times a week, we are on our way somewhere in God’s transformation process.
Scripture study in readiness to give defense to everyone who asks us a reason for our hope in Jesus Christ, builds biblical conviction, courage to stand for Jesus in the face of heretical teachings, cultural values and mores that are at their core anti-Christ. May we all make it our aim to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, as men and women who are not ashamed of the Gospel rightly dividing the word of truth. Shunning profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” 2 Timothy 2: 15