Living In The Atmosphere Of Christ: Colossians Series #5

Jesus said, “I am the way the truth, and the life.” Jesus claimed to be life. He also said, “I have come that you and I might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.” Jesus said, “If you really want to experience life and know how life works, then you come to me and receive that kind of life.”

This message is being challenged in our day. There are some who are saying that Jesus is A life, but is not THE life. There are some who say that the Christian life is one way to live, but it is not the ONLY way to live. They say there are many approaches to God, many different ways to get to God, Jesus Christ is not the only way–he is just A way.

We are hearing several words today that we may not have heard before. One of them is the word, pluralism. In one way, pluralism is a quality word in that there is room for diversity in our land. But as it is being used today, pluralism is the idea that all religions are equally true; it really doesn’t matter what you believe just as long as you are sincere about it. Pluralism states your religion is just as valid and good as any other person’s religion.

Another word we are going to hear about often today is the word, syncretism. This word simply means that you and I can manufacture our own religion. That you can take a little from this religion, take a little from that religion, find something you like in another religion, and put them all together, creating something new.

Actually, these words are not new. These concepts can be traced all the way back to New Testament times. In the town of Colossae, there were those who were basically saying the same ideas you and I are hearing repeated in the 21st Century culture in which we currently live.

Colossae was in an area that was completely covered up with paganism, heathenism, and mysticism. There were teachers who had come to the believers in Colosse and were saying to them, “Jesus is fine as far as he goes, but you need something more.” They claimed that they were the ones who had the information that could get you that “something more.”

To this city of Colossae, the Apostle Paul has written a letter and, in this letter, he discusses how life works in this world. He shows us the fullness of Jesus Christ and the completeness of life when we come to know Jesus as our personal Savior.

I believe you really want to live life to its fullest. You, no doubt, want to understand the purpose and the meaning of life and how life can fit together and be meaningful and fulfilling. This is where Jesus comes in and this is where the Christian experience brings to you exactly what you need.

I. Our Jesus Connects Life

Many people don’t feel like they are connected to anything. Many people feel that they are disconnected. When you come to Christ, life gets connected.

In Colossians 1:2 we read, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse.” We are connected to a new relation–the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.

Probably when you come across the word, “saint,” you have thought, “I don’t know about me being a saint. I try to do right, I’m a pretty good guy, but I don’t know that I qualify to be a saint.”

Most of us don’t really know how to define a saint. When the Bible says “to the saints,” what does the Bible mean? To whom is this being addressed? Someone might say, “James, I know all about the Saints. They are a football team, and they play down in New Orleans.”

Another group says, “I know what a saint is. A saint is someone who lived a really good life and after they died, they were elevated by the Pope to sainthood. Like St. Augustine or St. Aquinas.”

Somebody else says, “I know what a saint is. A saint is somebody who lives a life above the way we normal live–a Mother Teresa. Actually, the word saint is a word that is used in the Bible to describe every born-again child of God!

The truth of the matter is there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are saints and there are saints. If you have received Jesus as your Savior, you are a saint. What does that mean?

The word itself really means a set apart one. “To the set apart ones.” Paul is not writing to the City Morgue in Colosse. He is not writing to the graveyard. He is writing to people who are alive. He is writing to people who have had a miraculous, dynamic, life-changing experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament, there were certain vessels that were used in the temple. These were set apart vessels. That’s the only way they could be used. Oftentimes, ladies have special china. Not just anybody gets to eat with that china. It is reserved for special occasions.

A saint is someone who has been set apart to God and for God. He’s talking about those who have been set apart from sin unto Jesus; set apart from darkness unto light; set apart from death unto life.

We are a church–a congregation of believers. If you are a born-again believer and have affiliated with a local church, then you are a member of the saints of your local church. You are a part of the family of God.

Let’s talk about the saints, the faithful brethren. It does not describe, necessarily, how you live. It describes your position in Christ. You have been set apart unto Jesus Christ. Here’s the good news. Those vessels in the Old Testament that were set apart could never change. They were always the same. They were inanimate objects. But you and I, when we come to Christ, are living people. The Bible says that we can become what God has set us aside to become. It means we can be what God has declared that we are in Jesus Christ.

The best way I know to describe it is to use the example of a football player. Here’s a guy whose position on the team is an offensive guard. Through his skill, training, and effective coaching and experience, he gets better at his position. By position, he’s an offensive guard, but as he continues to play the game and becomes better, he becomes more and more what a guard ought to be. His performance begins to live up to his position. That’s why the Bible says not only are we saints, but we are called to be saints. The Bible says we are called to live up to the level of salvation that God has given us in the Lord Jesus.

That’s how the Christian life works. It begins with a new relationship. We are set apart as saints unto Jesus. We are set apart as faithful brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Furthermore, in Colossians 1:2, we read about our new location. Paul writes, “we are the saints in Christ at Colossae.” See those little prepositional phrases there. “in Christ,” “at Colosse.” These were people who lived in Colossae. It was a little town in Asia Minor about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It’s in what we call modern Turkey. It was one of the triplet cities. Hieropolis is one of them. Laodicea is the other. Then, the last one was Colossae.

Paul has addressed this letter to the saints at Colossae. Colossae was their geographical location. Now, you have a geographical location. If you are affiliated with a local church, then your geographical location is the address of your local church. Yet, the Bible also says you have a spiritual location. You are located not only geographically, but you are also located spiritually. Spiritually, there are only two addresses where people reside.

In I Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Did you notice the two addresses spiritually? Everybody is located in Adam by means of their physical birth. You become located spiritually in Christ by means of your spiritual birth. You are in Adam. That means you are born into the human family. But the Bible says it is also possible to be located “in Christ.” When you come to Jesus, you get a brand-new spiritual location. You are now located in Christ Jesus. You are in the atmosphere of Jesus Christ.

Birds live in the atmosphere of air. Fish live in the atmosphere of water. Trees live in the atmosphere of soil. Saved people now live in the atmosphere of Jesus Christ!

Notice this little phrase “in Christ” is one of the favorite phrases in the Bible. You will read it over and over again in the New Testament. Of course, location determines destination. “In Adam, all die.” That simply means that by means of our physical birth, we are born into this world as sinners. You are a sinner because you choose to sin. You choose to sin because you have a sinful nature. When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the Garden of Eden. God told them they could eat of all of the trees of the garden except one and in the day, you eat thereof you will surely die.

Adam disobeyed God and when he did, the Bible teaches that Adam fell. When Adam fell, the whole human race fell. That’s why when you and I are born, we are born with a sinful nature, knowing how to sin. Nobody has to teach you how to sin. You come into the world with all the equipment necessary to sin. You don’t send your kids off to school to learn how to sin. You don’t take them to the schoolteacher and say, “Teacher, I want you to teach my child how to tell little white lies.” They come into the world knowing how to do that.

You don’t go to school and say, “Teacher, I want you to teach them to have a temper like my husband.” No. They come into the world with a temper like that. It’s our nature. Location determines destination. We are in Adam. We are born as sinners and that means that if we die in our physical conditions and in our spiritual condition as sinners, the Bible says the “wages of sin is death.” When you come to Jesus, you are now located in Christ. “In Christ all shall be made alive.” When you come to Jesus, who is the life, the Bible says that in Jesus Christ you now have life. Life now, life in the future. We have a new location.

Not only does location determine destination, but it also determines your daily behavior. It has much to do with how you live daily. We are living in a sinful world. We are living in the atmosphere of a culture that is an ungodly culture. How, then is it possible for a Christian to live the way he or she ought to live in this kind of culture? We are IN Christ Jesus. We are in a new spiritual location. In Jesus, there is every bit of the power we need to live the way God wants us to live. There is all of the strength that is necessary for you to be what God wants you to be.

Jesus connects us to life. We are saints, set apart to the Lord. We are in Jesus Christ. We have new potential, new opportunities.

II. Our Jesus Changes Life

People say, “I’d like to give my life to Christ, but I’m not sure I can live it. I would like to be a Christian, but I’m not going to come to Christ until I’m sure that I can live it.” However, I have some incredible news for you. I’m going to show you what God has provided for you to help you live the way you want to live.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:2, “Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” We read, “grace and peace.” What do these words mean? Why are they in the Bible?

In those days, they were very common words. For instance, if you were walking down the street in Athens, Greece, someone might walk up to you and say, “Charis.” You would speak back to them and say, “Charis.” If your name is Karen, that’s where your name came from. It’s the word, “grace.” It was a word for greeting.

If you were in Jerusalem walking down the street, you might see one person walk up to another and say, “Shalom.” The other would say, “Shalom.” It is the Hebrew word for greeting. So, Paul has taken the Greek word for greeting and the Hebrew word for greeting and he has put them together. “Grace and peace to you.”

Paul has taken these common, ordinary words and elevated them, and filled them with brand-new meanings. That’s what Jesus does with a life. That’s why you can live the way God wants you to live. Jesus takes an ordinary life and elevates that life and fills your life with brand-new meaning. That’s what Jesus does in a life. He gives grace and peace!

Grace is the word that describes God’s first approach to the human soul. Here’s the picture. We are sinners. We are sinking down in the ocean of sin. But God loves you and wants to save you. This word, grace, contains the very heart of God. Grace means God’s unmerited favor. It is that which caused God, who loves this world so very much, to send His very own and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Grace is God reaching down to us in the ocean of sin. Grace is God reaching down to us in the muck and mire of sin. You and I are saved not because there is good in us, but because there is grace in God.

We are not worthy to be saved. None of us are worthy to be saved. We are saved by the grace of God. We read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Grace is God’s first touch of your heart. He saves us by His wonderful grace. However, He doesn’t just save us by His grace, He provides for us the necessary grace that we need on a daily basis.

There was a season when Paul was experiencing a real struggle in his life.

Paul was saved by grace. You and I are saved by grace. Yet, Paul was going through a tough time. Any of you going through a tough time? Paul was going through a tough time. It was physical. It was emotional. It was spiritual. He was having a hard time and he was praying to the Lord, and nothing seemed to be happening.

Have you ever had that happen? You have a problem, and you are praying, and you don’t seem to be getting an answer. Things don’t seem to be improving. Have you been there?

In II Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says, “. . . My grace is sufficient for thee.” I have good news for you, the Lord’s grace is enough! God will carry us through.

Would you like to have some of that grace? I’ll show you how to get it. In Hebrews 4:16, we read, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” Literally, it means grace to help in the nick of time. God’s grace will always come through. That’s why, every day of our lives, we ought to come to the Lord and say, “Lord, I don’t know what today brings, but I claim some grace. Give me some grace.” Just when you need it, God’s grace will come through. You want grace? Only one place you can get it. If you need grace, you don’t go running off to the 7-11 and say, “I’d like to have a gallon of grace.” You don’t get it that way.

Next, Paul used the word, “peace.” You will notice these go together. These are twin sisters in the Bible. They are always together. Wherever Sister Grace shows up, Sister Peace comes along, too. You never find Sister Peace coming in first ahead of Sister Grace. It’s always grace, then peace, without fail in Scripture. That’s why many people aren’t happy in life. They want to be happy, but you can’t be happy until first you’re holy. You can’t have God’s peace in your life until you experience God’s grace in your life. People want to get by and make it through the day and deal with the problems and difficulties of their lives and they can’t do it because they’ve never experienced grace. Grace comes and then peace.

The word, peace, is Irene. It means to join together – to put together. God’s peace puts us together. Peace does not mean the absence of trouble. Peace doesn’t mean that you’ll never have any trouble. In fact, in Philippians 4:7 Paul says, “And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We lose our peace when our minds and hearts are torn apart. That’s what the word, worry, means. Worry means to pull apart. Peace means to put back together. When Jesus comes into your life, He starts putting you back together. Sin has blown you apart. Sin has torn you apart. Jesus puts you back together. Not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God. In other words, God is with you in your life. He gives Peace.

When you come to Christ you are in Christ through life. You are also in Christ in death. That brings the incredible, unbelievable peace of God in your heart. I believe in dying grace and peace. Isn’t it good to know that God’s grace and peace will be right there when you get ready to die? When you get ready to die there’s peace in your heart.

III. Our Jesus Completes Life

In Colossians 1:4-6, there are three words that jump out at us. We read, “Since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.”

Circle faith, love, and hope. Those three words summarize the basic ingredients that complete life. Psychologists tell us that three of people’s greatest needs are faith, hope, and love. We need something to believe in. Someone to love or to love you. Something to look forward to.

If you don’t have those three things in your life, then something is missing. The Christian experience brings these three ingredients into our lives and completes our lives. When you come to Christ, you now have a saving faith. Faith in Christ Jesus. Not just faith in faith. That’s where people miss it today. They just say have faith in faith. Doesn’t matter what you believe just as long as you believe something.

Imagine if you were in one of those tall buildings in New York City. You learn there is a fire. You have to get out. You look out of the window.

Somebody says, “Jump!” You ask, “Is there anything down there to catch me?”

They say, “It doesn’t matter if there is anything here, as long as you believe it is, just go ahead and jump.”

No, we are not to have just faith in faith. Not just faith in doctrine. Not just faith in belief. The question is — is it true? Our faith is to be directed toward a person. We are to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is saving faith. That deals with the deeds of the past. We all have a past. The problem with a past is the sin and guilt of the past. The question is what can I do about my sin and guilt? I have good news for you. Somebody has already done it for you. Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross. He bore your guilt.

In addition to faith, there is supernatural love. “The love you have toward all the saints.” This is not aros– sensual love. This is not philos–affection love. It’s agape–God’s love. It’s supernatural love. The Bible commands us as believers to love people. We get saved and we find we are to love “all the saints.” God will teach us how to love. In fact, He can provide it for us.

In addition to faith and love, we have hope. In Colossians 1:5, we read, “The hope which is laid up for you.” God gives a hope that cares for the doubts concerning the future. What a terrible thing to live and have no hope. What a terrible thing to have nothing to look forward to. To grow old and wonder if you are going to have enough retirement money. To wonder if you are going to be able to overcome cancer. How can you face death? To be young and have nothing to look forward to. When we come to Jesus Christ, He fills our lives with eternal hope.

Imagine that you have a fatal disease, and I am the doctor. I come to you and tell you there’s nothing you can do to live, but I have a miracle drug that will heal you. If you take this miracle drug, you’ll get well. You would be foolish not to take an offer like that, wouldn’t you?

Imagine that you have a fatal disease, and I am the doctor. I come to you and tell you there’s nothing you can do to live, but I have a miracle drug that will heal you. If you take this miracle drug, you’ll get well. You would be foolish not to take an offer like that, wouldn’t you?