Colossians 1:1-8 “Gospel Patina” Sermon Text 1.12.2014

 

Colossians Series

Overarching Theme: He Is Preeminent In Everything (1:18)

Sermon 1

Colossians 1:1-8

“Gospel Patina”

 

Welcome in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit:

 

Colossians 1:1-8

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

 

Introduction:

 

Whereas my Resplendent Bride has had troubling eating due to complications from cancer: I usually eat my meals in the lounge so as to spare her the sights and smells of my meal.  The hospital lounge is shaped like a “L”, on one side of the “L” is an area where people can sit and stare at each other or, if they prefer, stare at a television.  On the other side of the “L” is a kitchenette with a sink and microwave.  This area has a wobbly table that remains wobbly despite my best efforts to shimmy it with lounge magazines.  This area aside from being the kiddy play area, also has a television.  I take my meals here, along side the Tonka Bulldozer and Mr. Potato head.

 

There is nothing on television of merit aside from Antiques Road Show.  Antiques Road Show and I have become good friends.

 

The premise of Antiques Road Show is that junk experts travel from city to city, whereupon denizens of said cities arrive with their junk hoping against hope that their junk is in fact: not junk.

 

Whilst in Boise Idaho one of the appraisers spotted something special from across the room.

 

The painting was so grimy that one could not even read the artist’s signature, but the appraiser quoted the New York Gallery owner Ira Spanierman in saying that the work was “Signed by every stroke of the brush.”

 

The owner told a story of a painting that had long been in the family only to find itself in the basement for 30 years before being returned to a place of prominence in the kitchen.

 

And so it was that the $300,000 Sanford Robinson Gifford painting came to reside in a place of bacon grease, waffle mix and sippy cups.

 

But this is not a sermon about not knowing what you have under your very nose. No, rather, this is a sermon about “Patina”.

 

What caught my attention is what the appraiser said next: that had the woman cleaned the painting it would have been worth less at auction.  Apparently auction houses like their long lost paintings dirty, as it is proof that it has been off the market for years.  This painting’s patina had covered the artist’s signature, yet increased the painting’s value.

 

Other times someone will bring in a knife or a sword.  The appraiser will ask with abject horror, “Did somebody take steel wool to this civil war relic?”

 

The owner will smile with pride, “Yes, it was dirty.”

 

The smile disappears once they are informed that their elbow grease and steel wool have depreciated the family heirloom by stripping it of its patina.

 

Patina can mean oxidation, a quality that comes with age, or a glossy sheen that is acquired with time.  It can be a figurative sort of thing, as in a patina of gravitas. There’s nothing gravy about gravitas.  Some look at Patina and say “eew, that’s like, old and stuff” others see patina and see something that is of timeless worth.

The Gospel has a patina that only comes from calling the dead to new life, in Christ for 2,000 years.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not need to be freshened up. It doesn’t need our help. The Holy Spirit works better without it.

 

Some will lay a guilt trip on Christians, saying, “God needs you in order to accomplish His will on Earth.”

 

Thankfully the truth is God’s plan for the ages is not dependent upon us.  God does not need to use the Christian to accomplish His will yet makes our obedience to His will available as a conduit of blessing.  The Church is God’s “A” plan for raising the dead through the proclamation of the Gospel.

 

When we reject God, He doesn’t cope by putting His sweats on and binging on Hagen Daas and Netflix.  He doesn’t go on a “Grey’s Anatomy” bender.  That’s you, not Him.  Don’t confuse Him with other people.  He’s not other people. He’s God.  God uses people as His means of spreading Good News of Christ making peace through the blood of His Cross as well as the preeminence of Christ in all things to the world.  He gives you a part to play.  He didn’t have to. That’s good of Him. This is grace. This is good news because: firstly, anyone who has tried to save themselves will tell you that law keeping is the road straight to hell and despair in no particular order, and, secondly, while the world teaches people that they are Preeminent, the truth is we’re not preeminent and we’re actually rather bad at being preeminent.

 

1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not need our improvements.  The only thing we can do to help the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to not help it at all.  We do this by not changing it. 

 

Colossians 1:1-3

 

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

 

  1. Notice Paul’s humility in allowing Timothy to appear in the credits.
  2. Colossae was once a thriving trade town.  By the time the Church in Colossae was started Colossae had been eclipsed by other cities.  Why start a church there?  Why is Paul even writing them?  Because all people matter.  We would do well to weigh souls as well as count them.  Why are you in Glenwood Iowa? I am asked that on occasion.

 

Whenever people imply that cities are somehow at the center of God’s will to the detriment of other places I am reminded of a piece of dialogue delivered by “Sam Seaborn” in the show “The West Wing”,

 “I never knew where the Tommy Hilfigur Party was, and I didn’t know what to do once I got there.”

 

What are you doing in Glenwood, Iowa? Do you like country life?  Do you like the scenary?  Were you born here and never considered leaving?  Or would God use you to share good news of forgiveness in Christ, and rest for the world-weary?  Every life matters.  Every City and Town matters.  Every tribe and people group matters.  Christ once said that a shepherd would leave the 99 to find the 1.  Do you believe this?

Paul was thankful for the Church in Colassae because they had heard the word of truth: the Gospel of Jesus Christ just as Christ Himself preached it.  They had believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just as Christ had preached it.  They bore the fruit of faith, love and hope as the result of salvation through the blood of the Cross of Christ, just as Christ had preached it.  They didn’t change anything, because their hope in heaven: the unchangeable Lord Jesus.

2.  The Gospel has a valuable patina because it is the good news of our unchangingly faithful God. Did you notice how saturated with the name of the unchanging Triune God Colossians 1:1-8 is?  

v.1 Christ Jesus

God

v.2 Christ

God Our Father

v.3 God The Father

Our Lord Jesus Christ

v.4 Christ Jesus

v.6 God

v.7 Christ

v.8 The Spirit

 

That’s just the 1st 8 verses of Colossians.  It makes you wonder how so many sermons can go so long without mentioning Him.

The Triune God is all over this passage and He never changes.

 

Hebrews 13:8

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

Malachi 3:6

8For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

(Observe how the whole God not changing thing is connected to the whole us all not dying thing. Grace shines and soars and draws us near in the Old Testament as well as the New)

According to the epistle of to the Hebrews promises are only as good as the promise maker.  He who promises life in His son is true and faithful, therefore His Gospel will save so long as we don’t turn it into something deadly.

 

3.The efficacy of the Gospel is dependent on not scrubbing the Apostolic patina off of the Gospel.

 

 

Colossians 1:4-8

 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

 

1.)  Paul is thankful for the spiritual fruitfulness he is hearing about in this town. Notice the process Paul describes here.

a.)  V.5 The Colossians Heard about the Hope laid up in Heaven in the word of truth, the gospel.

b.)  V.6 It has come to you , or it came.

Since the day you heard it.

You Learned it.

 

These are all passive words.  The Colossians were receiving, not creating.  They were receiving, not innovating.  They were receiving, not improving.

 

They weren’t ruining the value of the Gospel by messing with its patina.  They believed the Apostolic message.

 

A word on v. 4-5

 

4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.

 

If somebody should preach:

 

 “See, the Colossians had a public faith and loved the saints, Do that too so that other people will want to be Christian like you.”
 

That’s not the Gospel of Jesus.

 

The Gospel isn’t:

“Be awesome so that people want to be awesome like you.” 

That will drive you off a cliff called reality.  The truth is, you’re not awesome, and nobody needs to be like you. No one needs you as a savior because saviors don’t need to be saved.  People need God.

 

The Gospel is not you, the Gospel is the person and work of The Lord Jesus.   The Gospel is not you being the best “you”, you can be today.  The best “you”, you can be today is a sanitized sinner, a dirty bowl washed on the outside only, a white washed tomb full of the rotting cadavers of the dead: going through all the externals involved in inviting everyone to make believe, with you, that you’re okay and that I’m okay.

 

The Good news of Christ is that God knows our frame, that we are but dust and that he will not chide us forever, he will not be angry with us forever.

 

Remind yourselves of the Grace of God found in Psalm 103:1-14

 

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

 

The first sermon I preached at First Christian Church was in 2007.  It was from Genesis 1 and Psalm 103 and I told everyone that we were a bunch of dirt-bags… But Jesus.  Some didn’t like that.  I stand by it.

We are dust.  With God all things are possible: even blood washing dust clean.

God have mercy on the Preacher who would use Colossians 1 v. 4-5 to preach the un-gospel of “Do better”

The Gospel is v 5 “Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” 

The Gospel is Jesus.  Jesus is the hope. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.  The Gospel is not Jesus died for you so you best shape up because you owe Him.  The good news of our Lord is not “best shape up before He regrets the Cross”.  The Gospel is that Jesus gave Himself for you so that the Spirit can start the work of making you more and more like Jesus, and when you fail, the Cross is big enough to cover that as well.

So you see, it’s all unmerited gift, unmerited continuing work, and unmerited forever adoption into the God’s family.

If you’re rubbing the Jesus patina off the Gospel and replacing it with works righteousness slime: you’re not helping.

Guys do it all the time, by talking less about what Jesus has done and more about: you.

They say:

You Take care of that hidden sin in your life and then you won’t be sick any more, and you have more faith in yourself and then you won’t be broke, you need to do better, then God will bless, because God. don’t. bless. mess. so you need to get it together and you need to sow that seed, and you need to get to church and you need to be a proverbs 31 woman and you need to be a manly head of your household”

 

And then that’s when God will, quote, “Show Up”

 

Really? What does that even mean?

 

What book are they reading?

 

He never left.

 

I have people come into my study all the time: members and non members alike.  Feeling betrayed by God because they’re still sick, and their marriage is still falling apart, and their loved one doesn’t love them anymore, and they’re still worried about money, and they did everything thing they were told to do.  They started praying in the  “right way” and they scoured their hearts hunting for hidden sins, and they did better and they did more.

But they were still sinners living in a sinful world looking for relief in themselves and other sinners rather than Jesus. And, the pain is still there.  And, when they go looking for someone to blame they begin to reproach The Lord Jesus,

They begin to reproach His Word and they begin to reproach His Church, even though they got the dastardly formula of self-salvation from a wolf on TV.

 

If you are really into doing, and simply need to do something: Turn off TBN.  Turn it off and block it.

Do you want to do something?  Start paying attention to what has been coming out of the pulpit of First Christian Church for years.  Because we preach Christ Crucified for sinners so that the weary and heavy burdened may find rest in Jesus. You didn’t hear about novel formulas of prayer from this pulpit, nor did we instruct you to take a brillo pad to the heart: scrubbing yourself raw with reproach is the dead man’s attempt to earn God’s favor.  God never asked for it.  He asks that you trust His Son when His Son says, “It is finished”.

We preach Christ Crucified for sinners that they may have life and rest in Him forever, that’s what comes out of the Bible, and that is what issues forth from this pulpit.  This Gospel does not need any help from us.  The Gospel no more needs a Brillo pad to brighten it up to modern sensibilities than your heart needs a Brillo pad to sanctify it.  The Gospel as well as your heart needs the blood soaked patina that comes from the Lamb of God.

 

The critic may well say, “but who are you First Christian Church?  Doesn’t it matter that those who preaching you challenge are on TV? You’re not.  Doesn’t it matter that their preacher’s books are sold in the local Wally world?  Are yours?”

 

No, but we do not scrub off the Gospel Patina from the Word of God.

 

The modern Church says, “Let me just reach over there, real quick and wash the blood off the Gospel… people don’t want to hear about all that holy blood shed for the darkness of mankind stuff these days.

 

But, that’s not what Epaphras does.  V. 7 says that the Colossians learned all this from faithful and beloved Epaphras.  Day in and day out he was a man who kept saying the same things. 

 

Having friends who say the same things over and over again, the same things year in and year out is dreadfully dreary and boring.  Unless that friend is reminding you of the truth of God’s Word, year after year, day after day, in season and out.  Then that dreary friend is the best friend to have.

 

You know what you need more of? Boring friends who remind you over and over again that what God has for you is forgiveness of sins in the Lord Jesus.  That’s refreshing.

 

 Conclusion

 

The Gospel patina is not something that needs to be fixed.  Gospel patina is best left alone for it increases the value to eternal pricelessness.  God doesn’t need our help.  Jesus saves the same way He always has: through His shed blood and the gift of repentance.  Repent, and trust in His death and resurrection and not only will you be saved in the end, you can have peace and assurance of pardon now.  He is our light and salvation, whom shall we fear?

Amen.

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