Transformed by Christ Alone

Brent Aucoin January 15, 2017 Colossians 1:11-14

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  • The New Testament book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul
  • The audience for the book was both the church at the town of Colossae and the church at Laodicea (Colossians 4:16). Because it is preserved inspired Scripture—we are the audience today!
  • Colossae is located in SW Central-ish modern day Turkey
  • Colossae was a part of a tri-city community within about 30 minutes of one another in a Turkish valley—Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. These cities are mentioned in Colossians 4:13 and other New Testament passages.
  • Paul had not personally visited the New Testament believers in these places
  • He was writing to reinforce and exalt the cosmic solution to the cosmic problem—Christ alone.
  • While the specific circumstances are different, His letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians share the same theme—Christ alone. 

“What have we then nothing to do? No Nothing!! Accept of Him who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”-Luther, preface of his commentary on Galatians

Colossians 1:6, 14 - …the gospel which has come to you….and (you) understood the grace of God in truth…in Him we have redemption the forgiveness of sins.

Four transformations that personally understood forgiveness in Christ alone brings to our souls. The question is do we see these transformations in our life in an increasing way and if not why not?

I. Character --from love of self to love of others

Colossians 1:4 - Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.

Colossians 1:6, 10 - …bearing fruit…bearing fruit in every good work

The apostle Paul in the books of Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians often means by the term “fruit”—a transformed response to the relationships where kindness and goodness prevails.

Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the spirit is love…

Ephesians 5:9 - For the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth…

Philippians 1:11 - Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness…

You cannot be both resting in the Gospel and unloving to another at the same time. These are irreconcilable states.

II. Purpose—living for another rather than self

Colossians 1:9 - …so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects.

Colossians 1:13 - He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.

A true reflection on the Gospel at conversion or in your daily life recognizes that living for self is a dark, enslaving, destructive lifestyle. This is why Gospel-centered living will reject living for self and choose a life-filled and light-filled purpose—living for their Savior and new king.

III. Stability

Colossians 1:11 - …for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience…

Ephesians 4:14 - As a result we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, be craftiness in deceitful scheming.

IV. Joy

Colossians 1:11-12  - …for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Outlined Manuscript

I am Pastor Brent Aucoin and I serve as the Pastor of Seminary and Soul Care Ministries.

Normally on Sunday mornings I am over at Faith West.

It is good to be present with you dear folks here at Faith East today.

Pastor Viars is serving our brothers and sisters in Christ in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He is participating in a Biblical Counseling Conference about Domestic Violence and conflict resolution. The Dominican Republic is one of the countries in our region with a high rate of victims due to domestic violence.  Because of the importance of this theme, many government officials have shown interest in attending this conference. Please pray for P. Viars and Newton and the other ministers of the Gospel in the DR.

This morning, as we launch into our topic, I ask you to think through a time where you have been deeply hurt by an individual.

There are some stories in our church family where unbelievable acts of wickedness from non-believers (sometimes even so-called believers) have been perpetrated against individuals who are hearing my voice now.

While not everybody has been abused severely by the hand of another, every one of us has been sinned against.

We know what it is like to be hurt. To be crushed.

Think about the hurt again today for just a moment.

Now, let’s say you come to me and tell me Pastor Brent here is what happened to me.

And I say, “So, just let it go.”

With shock in your heart you exclaim, “are you kidding me?” “What do you mean just let it go?”

“Where is the justice? You do not understand how badly they hurt me! I cannot just let it go!” “You are telling me to bear the hurt of what another did and simply let it go?”

And I say “yes…”

Your intense response reflects a cosmic problem

Did you know that?  Little o’l you are the epicenter of a cosmic problem (doesn’t that make you feel significant)

How on Earth or in Heaven can “forgiveness” happen?

How or Earth or in Heaven can sin be paid for.

You see, when I say, “Let it go” it almost as if the victim has to carry the weight of the perpetrators sin. Instead of the perpetrator paying for his own sin.

Here is my point even among our own human relationships

we understand that sin by an individual costs something

we understand that forgiveness or “letting” it go…doesn’t seem right

we all understand at some level the concept of justice

But justice is not forgiveness.  How can the two, justice and forgiveness, go together?

Now, consider this...there are those who have a problem with Christianity and they ask,

“Why did God’s Son have to come and die? God is God isn’t He?  Why can’t He just say you are forgiven?  God should just grant blanket immunity?”

Then my answer back to them is, “Is that what you did when your friend hurt you…”

You and I inherently understand that sin has a cost associated with it and when it happens between to people….that relationship is broken

I know when I say the word “forgiveness” that word has become so familiar to us that maybe we have lost it impact.

If God is just how on earth or in heaven can there be forgiveness.

How can He categorically say “You are forgiven”

Do you see the problem?

Do you see the tension?

But now, let’s take it up another notch.

Since Adam and Eve sinned …. And since Adam and Eve’s offspring --you and me--are not just sinners by action but by nature…meaning at our deepest core, we are hostile toward God—you want to do your own thing not God’s ….What we deserve is justice!

But our greatest need in this life is forgiveness

Our greatest need in this life is not air, food, water, shelter, money, pleasure, entertainment, but forgiveness...

Yet…the greatest cosmic problem in a just world is –how can forgiveness be granted.

The “victim” is God and you are the perpetrator…

You are asking God to bear the weight of your sin that separated you from your creator!

Unless God willing to do that….there is no other hope….God must want to find a way and then indeed find a way to be both just in dealing with the penalty of the world’s sin and at the same time able to forgive.

That is the greatest cosmic problem… of the universe.

If you have not come to see you need for forgiveness and the cosmic problem that creates…you will not be able to be impacted by the beauty of the answer to that problem.

If you have not come to see the depth of your need for forgiveness you will not be able to be transformed by the magnitude of the Solution.

With that in mind, turn to the book of Colossians chapter 1 and verses 1-14 this morning

That is on page 156 in the back section of the bible in the chair in front of you.

This year we chose as our theme, In Christ Alone

We chose that theme this year in part because 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Pastor Viars will be speaking to us about the reformation through this year.

A man by the name of Martin Luther started a reform of the church in 1517.

In terminology that I have been using up to this point, the church was basically selling forgiveness. —you bring me money, I pronounce you are forgiven by God.

Now that is a bit simplistic, but accurate. And you can see they really did not have a good answer for the problem of forgiveness either.

Martin Luther’s efforts were directed to focusing God’s people back on what the Scriptures said, “By Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as found in the Word of God alone, to the glory of God alone.

So we are celebrating this beautiful theme and our only Hope this year with the phrase “In Christ alone”

Today we want to focus on Transformed by Christ Alone

As we launch into the Book of Colossians let me give you just a bit of background information.

  • The NT book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul
  • The audience for the book was both the church at the town of Colossae and the church at Laodicea (Col 4:16). Because it is preserved inspired scripture—we are the audience today!
  • Colossae is located in SW Cental’ish modern day Turkey
  • Colossae was a part of a tri-city community within about 30 minutes of one another in a Turkish valley—Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. These cities are mentioned in Col 4:13 and other NT passages.
  • Paul had not personally visited the NT believers in these places
  • He was writing to reinforce and exalt the cosmic solution to the cosmic problem—Christ Alone.
  • While the specific circumstances are difference, His letters to the  Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians share the same theme—Christ Alone. 

As we read the text today, Paul starts out by thanking the Lord for the Colossians and what God is doing in their life. And then He prays for God to continue that work.

We can apply this text in multiple ways…for example  we can discern what we should be praying for or thanking the lord for as we model Paul’s prayer and thanksgiving…

But I want to press back a bit further….

I want us to see with fresh eyes, the transformation that the Cosmic Solution had on the Colossians for which Paul is thanking the Lord.

And then ask ourselves the question…is the Cosmic Solution to the greatest Cosmic problem having that same kind of transformative impact on me?

If not why not?

So as we read you are looking for how the Cosmic Solution of the Gospel in Christ alone transforms a soul….

  1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.3
  2. We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,4         since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [from here on through the text, please noticed what kind of transforming power the cosmic solution had on these dear folks…when the Gospel came to them was the result and what is the ongoing result) and the love which you have for all the saints; 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;7just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

      9    For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously

12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Friends in the last verses there 12-14….gives us the reason for the transformed and transforming Colossians…

In Christ we have the cosmic solution to the cosmic problem—we have the forgiveness of sins…

That reality understood changes everything

William Holland and Charles Wesley were devoutly religious young men in England in 1738.  Just over 200 years after the reformation.

You know Charles Wesley as a significant man in church history and hymn writer

He wrote hymns such as Christ the Lord is risen today. And Can it Be. Christmas songs, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Charles and William were devoutly religious men, but they were not transformed.

They went to church, they were “moral” young men and even called “The Holy Club”

They only made a world wide impact for God when they were transformed and converted.

In May of 1738 they came together to read Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians.

Charles Wesley was reading the preface about Christ being our redemption…Christ bearing the weight of our sins.

Then Luther goes on to ask in writing in the preface, “What have we then nothing to do? No Nothing!! Accept of Him who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”-Luther, preface of his commentary on Galatians

Those words came to be understood, not by Wesley then, but by his friend William Holland.

Holland writes

“Mr. Charles Wesley read the preface aloud…there came such a power over me as I cannot well describe; my great burden fell off in an instant; my heart was so filled with peace and love that I burst into tears. I almost thought I saw our Saviour! My companions, perceiving me so affected, fell on their knees and prayed.”

[http://www.graceanglicancalgary.ca/galatians-11-5-sermon]

Charles Wesley was around the Gospel even reading it he did not get it.

But his friend did!

Do you realize it is possible to be around the Gospel and even reading it but not really getting it?

Charles was a bit perplexed about what happened to His friend, but William seemed different and transformed.  

Three days later…reading the same writings of Luther, God granted Charles Wesley the same understanding and repentance.

Charles Wesley was converted on May 21 1738 and here is what he wrote

He wrote, “At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking.”

http://hymnswelove.blogspot.com/2012/01/story-of-amazing-love-and-can-it-be.html

And, he wrote..

“From this time forward I endeavored to ground as many of our friends as came into this fundamental truth, salvation by faith alone, not an idle, dead faith, but a faith which works by love, and is necessarily productive of all good works and holiness"[1]

Charles Wesley wrote over 5000 hymns and brought about great revival in the church during his time.

The Cosmic Solution of Forgiveness in Christ Alone understood brings transformation.

It did to Charles Wesley, Willamn Holland, Luther, and the Colossians

Col 1:6 “the gospel which has come to you….and (you) understood the grace of God in truth…14 in Him we have redemption the forgiveness of sins.”

In the short time we have left let’s look at

Four transformations that personally understood forgiveness in Christ alone brings to our souls. The question is do we see these transformations in our life in an increasing way and if not why not?

The first is a transformation of…

I. Character --from love of self to love of others

Briefly, Paul says

Col 1:4 “Since we head of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.

What is the very next phrase after “faith in Christ Jesus”?  “The Love of the saints”

Also, I think Paul means by the term “fruit” . . .

Col 1:6, 10 “bearing fruit….bearing fruit in every good work”

a different way of responding to people now.  Here is why I say that.

The apostle Paul in the books of Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians often means by the term “fruit”—a transformed response to the relationships where kindness and goodness prevails.

 

Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the spirit is love…”

Eph 5:9 “For the fruit of the Light consist in all goodness and righteousness and truth”

Phil 1:11 “Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness…”

The first evidence that you have received the Gospel and are receiving it daily…

It has the divine transformative power to change the way you relate to others…in love….

Why is that?

When we started our discussion today, I started by saying, forgiveness is a struggle for us.

Because it is asking the victim to bear the weight in some sense of the perpetrator.

And when it comes to our sin against God, we are asking Him to bear the weight of our sin. 

It would be like you going to prison for someone else!!

What would motivate that? 

The only answer is a divine love.

A divine love that knows the full consequences and penalty of what you have done….and then chooses to say, I will bear that for you.

Two days after Charles Wesley conversion he wrote…

And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain?

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be

That Thou, my God should die for me.

The divine love displayed in Gospel of Christ in the forgiveness of sins, when truly understood, transforms a heart to begin to love like God has love us.

When, Faith friends, we get glimpses of this…God’s love for us…God’s love that planned and executed the cosmic solution to the cosmic problem…I don’t have to demand or clamor for your love of me in the variety of ways that we do that

      I must have your approval

      I must find my identity in what others think of me

      I must have my spouse to love me

      I must have my children’s love

      I must have my friend’s love

The “I must have” your love and acceptance is a pride stance that destroys relationships.

When God’s love fills me, frankly, your love pales in comparison, and that then simply frees me to love one another.

Are you ready for a pastoral question:

Are there genuine moments of love in your heart for others?

If not the gospel has not come to you my friend!

If you are a believer, and you are not loving your wife, you are not loving your spouse, you are not filled with the love of saints….you are not at that moment grasping the significance of the Cosmic Solution to your cosmic problem.

You cannot be both resting in the Gospel and unloving to another at the same time. These are irreconcilable states.

Secondly,

When the Gospel truly understood comes to us like Charles Wesley or William Holland or the Colossians, we see a transformation of

II.Purpose—living for another rather than self

Paul says,

Col 1:9 “…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects.”

“Walking” in scripture typically is a metaphor for your manner of life. How are you living your life? And for what purposes are you living your life?

And Paul says…

Col 1:13 “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”

Being transferred to a different kingdom means living under a different king.

God’s Cosmic Solution transforms a person’s functional purpose in life.

Notice How Charles Wesley Captures this, in another stanza of his hymn “And Can it be”

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light

My chains fell off, my heart was free

I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

Amazing love! How can it be

That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

 “I rose, went forth and followed thee”

That was Wesley’s change of purpose, allegiance.

It is fascinating he equates his previous state with a dungeon and chains in the darkness

And that’s exactly the terminology that Paul refers to also as “the domain of darkness.”

A true reflection on the Gospel at conversion or in your daily life recognizes that living for self is a dark enslaving destructive lifestyle. This is why Gospel-centered living will reject living for self and choose a life and light-filled purpose—living for their Savior and new king.

Wesley though having all the trappings of Christianity before his conversion (going to church, even reading the bible), was on an insatiable quest to be good enough to merit forgiveness. It was all about Wesley’s righteousness.  Wesley was living for Wesley.

His living for self was manifested in a form of self-righteousness works religion.  But because of sin, he or you and I, could never be righteous enough. He had no not rest for his soul in trying to be good enough to selfishly earn forgiveness and be free from guilt.

That is why when he truly understood the gospel is not about his righteousness but Christ’s, he was free and he sang.

Today, are you self-aware enough to discern that you are living for a purpose.  All of us are.

And really there are only two options…

Living for Self….which is the dominion of darkness

And BTW: If you are continually finding your self sensing you are enslaved, chained, in darkness, do you realize those are all the characteristics of life lived for self? 

The only other purpose in life is

 Being transferred out of that darkness into the Kingdom of a new King and living for Christ…not for forgiveness, but because he has forgiven you….and solved your greatest cosmic problem!!

The Gospel, the cosmic solution, changes our purpose.

Third, 

When the Gospel truly understood comes to us like Charles Wesley or William Holland or the Colossians, we see a transformation of

III. Stability

Col 1:11 “for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience”

This is one of Paul’s major themes in his writings.

In Eph 4:14, he writes

Eph 4:14 “As a result we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, be craftiness in deceitful scheming”

I have mentioned this before because it is indelibly etched in my mind.

In the early years of my ministry here, I went wall-eye fishing with a then smaller pastoral staff.

Pastor Viars enjoyed fishing, and a group of men thought it was smart to go out on Lake Eerie wall-eye fishing.

When we were out about 60 minutes from shore we saw a thunderstorm brewing and said we better get back to shore before it hits.

Well, we didn’t make it.

Our little fishing boat was tossed here and there by the waves.

It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

When your hope is fixed on you being righteous enough to earn forgiveness…what happens when you mess up?  Waves rock your world

When you are living for the pleasures and treasures of this world, but the treasures and pleasures don’t come like you think… Waves rock your world.

When you are living for the praise of man…but you don’t get their love.  Waves rock your world.

But Stability comes in the assurance that I all of my sins are forgiven and I am living for another world. I cannot be shaken.

Notice the unshakable character of Charles Wesley’s last stanza in And can it be.

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

Amazing Love How can it Be

That thou my God shouldst die for me.

Are you finding yourself constantly shaken by this world?

Please examine in those moments where your hope is.

Fourth, 

When the Gospel truly understood comes to us like to Charles Wesley or William Holland or the Colossians, we see a transformation of

IV. Joy

Col 1:11 “for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of light”

The greatest cosmic problem that is manifested in my little life—that of my own personal forgiveness has been solved!

  • This can not help but be Good news
  • This can not help but be Good news forever if it solve my primarily problem for ever!

Unless….

You don’t really understand how bad the bad news is.

And you may not because you are still believing that you can overcome the bad news of your brokenness in your own way.

You have not come to an end of yourself in

  1. Seeing the darkness of the kingdom of self you are living
  2. Seeing that you have no ability to rescue yourself.

When you and I see the depths of our own brokenness and we cannot overcome it…then the good news will be eternal joy in our hearts.

Maybe another reformation may begin sweeping the world if we all regular rested here.

Faith Friends the Gospel believed transforms:

Character

Purpose

Stability

Joy

Are you seeing this qualities in your life. If not let’s talk and pray for an understanding of the Cosmic Solution to the greatest Cosmic problem we face.

 

 

[1] From Galatians through the Centuries, John Riches.

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video