Maundy, Thursday… Friday

Last Supper

I always wondered why they would call it “maundy Thursday”; thinking they were saying “Monday Thursday”.

The term comes form the Latin mandatum meaning commandment. Thus coming from the saying from Jesus “I give you a new command.”

In John 13:34, Jesus gave His disciples this just after the Last Supper. But notice in verse 31, Judas was not present. Some scholars have noted that this mandatum was highlighting the foot washing event that took place before the “supper.” Furthermore, Jesus wasn’t giving a “new” command but rather emphasizing His teaching of “Love one another.” Which was at the heart of all of His teaching. Also notice the sequence of the events in John 13;

  1. Washing of feet- verses 1-17. The example to ALL
  2. Jesus explaining the meaning to SOME verses 18-20.
  3. Jesus predicts His betrayal. verses 21-30
  4. Judas departs. v 30.
  5. Jesus gives the New Command or mandatum.


The New Command is for believers. We are to LOVE one another by “serving” in front of ALL. So that ALL may know whom we really serve- Jesus!

Maundy Thursday!

-Chaps RainH2O

How to Change Your Attitude

Birchman MA2 Mid-week devotional
Have you ever had a horrible week? I mean one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go right and you feel that you are about to lose your Christian witness? Yes, me too. Thankfully we have access to the “fruits of the Spirit”. I had to be reminded of these in recent days.
In Galatians chapter 5 Paul reminds us that the things of the Spirit and the things of the flesh are at enmity with each other. What we are more inclined to do when adversity is experienced is to follow these fleshly desires; immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, HATRED, STRIFE, JEALOSY, OUTBURSTS OF ANGER, SELFISH AMBITIONS, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS, ENVY, drunkenness, carousing, and (just to include anything that hasn’t been mentioned but should) anything similar. (Galatians5:20-21a). We may not do all of these but our flesh desires these. I like the add-on statement “and anything similar”. The military has a clause referred to as the General Article 134. This GA is there to cover something that isn’t necessarily detailed as against the Uniform Code of Military Justice but should be due to it disrupting “good order and discipline”.
If we are led by the Spirit, as we should be, we should exhibit the “Fruits of the Spirit”; “love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians5:22-23). Paul goes on to tell us that if we belong to Christ then the fleshly desires are “crucified” along with its passions and desires.
So why then do we let the fleshly desire surface? Again, I have to be reminded constantly that since I am being led by the Spirit the fruits should be exhibited.
That is all! Carry On!
D. Shannon Rainwater

Why do we do this?

Mid-week Devotional 3/18/2015

Last week I had the privilege to tag along with the Priority group for the annual Spring Break trip “Beach Reach”. I have to admit that I was a little intimidated. Here I am a 40-something year old hanging out with college age kids. “Am I going there to be like a father figure to them, or perhaps would they accept me as a student like they are?” Obviously I didn’t know what to expect. More importantly, why did God allow me to go?

After being there a few days and getting into the routine it was obvious why I was there. I was to share the gospel with those that needed it. It was completely different from any gospel sharing experience I have ever had. We were going to those who needed it and unashamedly asking them about their personal experience with Jesus. Awkward? YES! It was very awkward but we learned to embrace the awkwardness!

We met all types of people! Most were Catholic and knew how to answer the questions we were asking. Some said that they know what the answers were but really didn’t understand what they were saying. One of the questions that I remember being asked the most was “You guys are doing a great thing but why are you doing this?”

The answer is simple. We love Jesus. I was talking with one particular student from New Mexico. He listened to the Priority 11024640_893598440691711_4683458641178799629_nstudents as they tell him what Jesus did for us. Then he asked “Why do you people do this? Why do you tell people this message knowing that you get opposition?”

Have you ever been giving a really great gift? Perhaps a new car? After you received it did you go show everyone? Of course you did! Were you worried about people not liking your gift? Most likely not!

It’s like in the example of the Samaritan woman at the well. The story found in John chapter 4, illustrates the interaction between Jesus and a woman who was gathering water from the city’s well. Many truths can be drawn from the interaction but when you focus on when she found out that she was talking to the Messiah, she dropped everything to go tell the men in the city (verse 28). She even left her water container right there at the well. After the men heard what the woman had to say they came to investigate. They too believed and in turn told others (verse 39 – 41).

We have been given so great of a gift that we must be compelled to share this with others. This week ask God to bring others in your life that you may share the Gospel with. Pray that He will soften the heart of the hearer and to have the boldness to get past the awkwardness.

By the way, the student from New Mexico accepted Christ. He is featured in the picture hugging one of the Beach Reachers.

That is all! Carry On!

D. Shannon Rainwater

Fear God

Mid-week Devotional 3/4/15

Next week we send a group to South Padre Island for an event known as Beach Reach. Please be in prayer for these young men and women who give up their Spring Break to go and share the gospel with those who are there on vacation. Some specifics to be in prayer for are:

  1. Safety
    2. Clarity of the gospel
    3. Boldness of every single person
    4. Effectiveness
    5. Conversions
    6. Unity in our group as well as with the rest of BR
    7. Good weather
    8. Energy

For this week’s devotional I would like to ask a question. What is meant by the phrase “The Fear of the Lord”? It appears with a few variants for a total of 144 times with 19 of those from the New Testament. So if we examine all of these references, we will only begin to understand the meaning of the phrase. The most common reference is Proverbs 1:7. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” Let me share something with you that might put this into perspective. If we were to fly to the sun in an airplane, it would take 21 years to get there. If we were to fly the same airplane to the 14-151-hubble_1nearest star, Alpha Centauri, it would take us 51 billion years. And we didn’t even leave our galaxy. When we consider that there are billions of other galaxies (see the picture to the right), we start to realize how small we really are. Click here for the video.

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said in 1 Kings 8:27 “Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.” God is not just bigger than the entire universe, He measured it all with the span of his hand! (Isaiah 40:12.

Our God is an awesome God, and it is only right that we “fear Him”!


That is all! Carry on!

How are you doing on your NY Resolution?

I saw this post on Facebook from a former pastor of mine. I thought that this was a good illustration as to our relationship with Scripture.

“As I check under the hood of my car, one of the things I check is the battery to be sure both cables are clean and secure–one is positive and one is negative; if either one gets loose or disconnected, the car will not start. The Bible, a true relationship with God has both a positive and negative aspect, without good connections to both, we are going nowhere. Positive: “Do all to the glory of God.” Negative: “Avoid the very appearance of evil.” Likewise the railroad has two tracks–try to run on one and you have a great train wreck! We must maintain a proper balance.”

About this time of year most people have fallen out of keeping their “New Year’s Resolutions”. Number one on the list of common resolutions that people try to keep is… to lose weight. Sadly, many businesses know this and you probably have noticed that they spend most of their advertising money during the end of the year and run through the beginning of the year. Can you guess what is the number one resolution that most people give up on before February 1st? That’s right… to lose weight. (see note at bottom)

Can you guess what the number two most common resolution that people try to keep is? Yep… to read the Bible more. Sadly the second most common resolution people give up on is… read the Bible more. The difference here is that you hardly see any advertisements on Bible sales or reading plans. Why is that? (Yes this is a rhetorical question)

I believe it was Dr. Phil that has said that it takes an action to be performed 21 times (on average) to form a habit. This means that if a person makes a commitment to lose weight, he would have to eat right and exercise for 21 days in order for the habit to form. The problem is what type of people usually make this kind of resolution? Right again… out of shape people. Why do you suppose that most do not make it to the 21 days? Right again… because it hurts, it’s too hard, or inconvenient. Don’t worry most who do not succeed will just wait until the next new year to make the resolution again.

But think about this. Doesn’t the same happen to those who try to keep the resolution of reading the bible more? How many times did we read through Genesis and thought “Hey I can do this”. It was probably when we got to somewhere around Leviticus before we started thinking that it was irrelevant or boring? Didn’t make it the 21 days huh? Why do most people give up on reading the bible and keeping their resolution?  (Again, rhetorical)

I think that the biggest difference is that Dr. Phil isn’t taking in consideration that those who are successful in keeping a regular Bible reading schedule don’t make resolutions to read the Bible more. It’s not out of habit, it’s out of a relationship. Should we read the Scriptures to get a check mark so that we can brag? Or, do we read the Scriptures because we want to know more about the creator of … well everything?

*Note- The actual number one resolution is anything health related. (Quit smoking, take better care of oneself, eat better, lose weight, etc.) The actual number two resolution includes the category of self-improvement. (budget, get out of debt, learn new language, read Bible, etc.)

Reformed Chocolate

In basic chocolate making, the chocolatier must ensure that the batch doesn’t come in contact with any hint of water. If it does the chocolate will become grainy and dull. A common source of water may be from using a double boiler to melt the chocolate. The boiler acts as a diffuser to spread and “soften” the heat from the stove’s burner. Often and if the chocolatier isn’t careful, the steam will work its way into the batch and turn the fats of the chocolate into a grainy unusable glob of goo.

This past Sunday we studied the reign of Josiah. He searched the whole kingdom for anything that would offend God. Not only did he tear them down, but he burned them then took the ashes out of the city. Perhaps he did this after he heard the scripture story of the Passover event. Perhaps he heard that the people were to search the whole house for any leaven. If any was found, it was to be burned up and thrown out. Talk about reform! Josiah really wanted to obey God’s word!

When we think of the church reformers such as Luther, Zwingli, Hus, and Wycliff, it was the Holy Scriptures that drove them to please God and reform the church. It was only after they understood the Scriptures that they realized they needed to rid their lives of anything that was displeasing to God. In a sense, they too “searched for the leaven”.

Think about the stuff in our lives or homes that can be considered “leaven”. Just as leaven permeates the dough and water ruins the chocolate, sin and the items that cause sin permeate and interfere with our relationship to God. We have a challenge to search our homes and lives for those things. We may not know where to start but we have the examples of the “Reformers”. They started with the precious inerrant, authoritative Holy word of God.

This Sunday we will be looking at 2 Kings 24:1—25:21. Be prepared to share experiences of who displayed the same traits or behavior (good or bad) from generation to generation. To what extent was the trait or behavior learned or copied, and to what extent did it seem more genetic? What trait or behavior would they like to be passed along within their families?

Biblical Spot-checking

Good evening or Good morning depending on what time you may read this. Each week I am impressed at the work that God is doing in our church. I am equally impressed at seeing the spiritual growth that the members are exhibiting. I believe that God places the right people in our lives just at the precise moment to give us a glimpse of either His glory, plan, or love.
My attention has been brought to the need of a Mid-week devotional that doesn’t just reinforce the lesson from the last Sunday but to informs you of the lesson ahead. This will give us a chance to interact with the lesson(s) on a more frequent basis and could be used as an accountability tool. Don’t worry, no one will be excommunicated if you haven’t completed your quiet times or Boldcourse.
20150211_221252My mom stuck a note in my bible one day. She must have found it in my seabag when I was home on leave from the Navy. When I found the note I was a little embarrassed. You see, I stole the bible from my dad because I didn’t have one and I started to go back to church. I didn’t go church on a regular basis after I left for boot camp but I would return after a few weeks.
The note said “This BOOK will never deceive you, never forget you, never leave you, never ask too much of you. But man will over and over again. Get your strength from your Bible. 9/15/91 Mom”
I kept this note and place it in every new bible I get. When I look at it and read the words it is as if I am reading the note for the first time. I admit that I do not read my bible everyday nor read it often enough. When I do, this note proves itself not a lie.
How often do we find ourselves being deceived, forgotten, alone, and overwhelmed? Where do we turn? What is our source of strength? The importance of frequent Bible reading cannot be stressed enough. It has once been said that God “listens to our prayers and talks to us through his word.”
Navy Search and Rescue swimmers have weekly “spot-checks” to keep them ready for anything. These “spot-checks” could include just about any scenario imaginable. Simulations such as Aircraft systems malfunction, in-flight fires, unconscious pilot, or even an in-mission quiz on basic seamanship would be given at any time without notice. What if we had “spot-checks” on what we learned in our quiet times? Sunday School? What if God conducted these “spot-checks”?
I am looking forward to this Sunday as we discuss the theme of REVIVAL from the passage 2 Kings 22 and 23. Be prepared to discuss a personal experience where you have witnessed a significant change whether it was at work, school, community or church.
Carry On!
D. Shannon Rainwater <

Biblical Evangelism

Evangelism in America has almost reached a point that it is taboo to practice. According to The Barna Group 30% of Christians that are converted in America never seek out to tell one person about their faith. Is it because that they are not truly saved? Perhaps is it because of a false teaching about evangelism? Maybe it is because of a fear that the people will reject them or that the evangelist may seem intolerant of the other person’s belief? In any case, Christians are commanded to go and tell others about what Jesus did and who he is. But just how are Christians to go about doing this? Are they to develop a relationship with people before deciding the correct time and method? What about the outline of the message? Should the gospel presentation start with the creation story and explain about the fall of man? Or, should the Old Testament law be the sole method of introducing the high standard of God? What about the response? When is the appropriate time to ask the person for a decision? When does baptism take place?
According to some Evangelicals such as Ray Comfort, the modern day gospel message has deteriorated and steered away from the biblical practice. Comfort further says that this modern gospel have led to false conversions. Some have even gone so far as to say that the message does not need to be preached but that God has already “picked” who has been saved. Some have stated that the Great Commission was given to the Apostles and that the commandment was never meant to be passed on to the next Christians. The fact remains that the Great Commission is applicable and is expected to be obeyed. Many misconceptions of the gospel presentation can be summed up by a careful examination of the gospel presentation events within scripture. The timing of the presentation, the relationship between the presenter and the hearer, the content of the presentation, the timing of the invitation, and timing of the baptism will be briefly examined in this paper.
Relationship and Timing Issues in Evangelism
In the question of whether or not the evangelist needs to first develop a relationship with the person being evangelized, one must consider the passages in which a relationship was not achieved until after or not at all. Jesus did not develop a personal relationship with the people he encountered but instead presented spiritual things as though it was the most important topic. He intentionally turned the conversation to raise the question in the hearts of the hearers of who He was!
In John 3:1-12 Jesus was met by a Pharisee named Nicodemus. He was obviously a learned man and had power among the Jews because Jesus referred to him this way. However, Nicodemus didn’t want to be seen with Jesus so he met with him under the cover of darkness. The relationship building at this point was merely a coincidental familiarity. They both recognized each other but had no intimate dealings. Nicodemus used the respect that one gives to an authority by calling him Rabbi. Jesus used what he knew of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees and brought up the answer to the unasked question. He knew that Nicodemus was well educated and told him what seemed absurd to lead up to the evangelistic topic. He used being born again to parallel the difference of flesh and spirit.
In John 4:1-42 Jesus had no prior relationship to the Samaritan woman and yet he turned the conversation from the things of this world to the spiritual. He used what He knew about Samaritans and made an opportunity to testify about himself.
Paul’s timing was the same as Jesus. In Acts 16:6-15, Paul was on his way to the river just outside the city gate where he stopped to talk to a group of women. Lydia was in the audience and listened to his speech and became “a believer in the Lord.”
Again in Acts 17:16-34 Paul was being heard concerning his testimony. He was eventually asked a question about the subject matter and he proceeded to relate something familiar to them. Paul used the monument to the Unknown God to tell them about Christ. He again did not wait to begin a relationship.
In Acts 24:1-27 Paul was put on the spot by the High Priest and eventually the Governor. Paul still wasted no time and used the opportunity to tell the Governor, Felix, the reason he is preaching the way he does. It is here that we see that Felix is the one who sends for Paul to listen to the things concerning “the subject of faith in Christ Jesus”.
In all of the above cases, the relationship was never based on a building of a long term friendship first then presented with the gospel. It always began with a finding of a commonality between the speaker and listener. Then the conversation always turned from the carnal to the spiritual. It can be concluded that all encounters of Christians need to start with some type of link between them and the hearer then transition to the spiritual things.
The Evangelistic Content of the Gospel
The content of the gospel is in sorts a finicky subject. The theology and the doctrines of the content cannot be disputed, however, the sections can be picked from. In other words, the hearer of the gospel may not respond best to hearing that he is a sinner doomed for eternal torment. Instead the hearer may respond to the reason that Christ is being preached. Although each part of the gospel such as the unattainable standard of God, is important as any other part of the gospel. The order may not be as important but the exclusion of Jesus who he was and what he did is central and must be included in every presentation.
In Mark 1:14-15 Jesus proclaimed the gospel by stating that the time has come and that they should repent and believe. Jesus was telling his hearers that what they have been hearing about has come true that very day! He didn’t try and get them to have a sense of lostness and hopelessness before he gave them the good news. He simply said that the good news is here. Jesus was the fulfillment of what they were looking for.
Paul clarifies the gospel to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 by saying that what he has told them in the past is not as important as the central message of the gospel. This can be found in the last part of verse 3 and all of verse 4. Christ died for our sins and that He was buried and raised the third day, just as what was prophesied in the Old Testament. Paul had no real outline of evangelism other than his revelation given to him by Jesus. Instead he used the parts of the gospel that the hearers needed to hear at that moment. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, Paul expands the gospel message to include the sacrifice of Christ along with the transformation the new believer experiences. He centralizes that it is because of Christ that the sinner is made righteous and that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because he “knew no sin”.
The evangelistic content of the gospel, no matter how it is presented, must include the person and work of Jesus. The order of presentation is not important but rather it meets the needs of the hearer. In the above passages of scripture the centrality of Christ is the obvious main content and will always meet the need of it hearer.

The Evangelistic Invitation
Invitations are sometimes either left out or done improperly. The call to make a decision after the gospel presentation is always found in scripture. The few verses that follow illustrates that the hearer must make a decision at that very moment. It may seem to put them on the spot but looking back at scripture Matthew 13, the devil snatches the understanding up if the gospel isn’t fully understood. Therefore the hearer possibly will remember the encounter and either have a bad experience or continues in this misguidance.
Jesus called for an immediate decision in Matthew 4:17. He said that the kingdom of heaven is near and that they should repent at that particular moment. Likewise, two instances in the book of Acts called for an instant decision to be made. First in Acts 3:11-26, Peter took advantage of the audience’s attention after the healing of the lame man. He called for the crowd to repent and turn from their ignorant ways. The second instance was when Paul was brought before King Agrippa to defend his case found in Acts 25:23 – 26:32. He gives a lengthy testimony and then in verse 27 Paul calls for the king to make a decision. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Paul preaches that “now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation!” He pleads with the hearers that it is an urgent act.
In each of the above instances the invitation was immediate and given with a sense of urgency. The call was that of the hearer to turn from their way and stop doing what they were doing. They were to repent and do it at that particular moment.

New Believers and Baptism
Baptism and the timing of the act has sometimes lost its scriptural significance. Some churches have taken baptism and demoted it to merely a work that a new Christian must do. Although it is almost always followed immediately after the moment of salvation, the mode is often performed incorrectly. The timing of baptism, according to the instances found in scripture should always follow immediately after conversion.
The passage regarding the new believers in Acts 2:37-47 illustrate that they were evangelized in such a way that they wanted to be identified with this new belief and so the baptism was right after the conversion. The two instances of the Ethiopian Eunuch and the Roman jailer found in Acts 8:26-40 and Acts 16:16-34 respectively both illustrate that the need for an immediate baptism was felt following the conversion.
The sense of urgency was almost as if the new convert couldn’t bear to not be identified with Christ. So therefore the first act of obedience was an immediate baptism. The conclusion to the matter of the timing of baptism is that it is always follows the conversion and repentance.

New Believers Who Prove to be Unfaithful
Ray Comfort is known for his sermon “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”. In it he talks about the false conversions and gives his analysis of the reason this happens. Whether he is right or not, the bible is clear that there will be false converts along with the actual converts. The bible also gives some indicators as to what will happen to them and how to spot them.
The person who hears the gospel and does not make a decision or doesn’t understand it may be unfaithful. Illustrated earlier in this paper, Matthew 13:1-23 tells of the parable of the gospel being sown and the roots not being fully strengthened. Then the devil comes and “snatches” the understanding and the new convert is unfaithful. In this same passage, the cause of unfaithful is illustrated as weeds. The weeds are allowed to grow along with the good grain but burned up at the harvest.
Some new believers became believers for the wrong reasons and motivations. Acts 8:13-25 tells of a man named Simon who used to practice sorcery. He saw the apostles laying hands and the person receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Simon’s motivation was that he wanted to take part in this and offered to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then Peter rebuked him and told him that it couldn’t be bought and that he needed to repent and pray that his heart would be changed. Simon was even described as being a believer and that he was baptized, yet he was missing the Holy Spirit which indwells all believers.
Not all who were in the early church were true believers. The case of 1 John 2:19, the church was described as having some who left the church. John said later that if they had been part of us they would have remained with us and in the church.
New believers prove to be unfaithful by being deceived and snatched away if the gospel isn’t fully explained to them. Some unfaithful converts have not had their heart changed and become Christians for the wrong reasons. Perhaps for monetary gain or fame like Simon. Unlike the unfaithful believers in 1 John, the faithful remained with the church. What did the local church do? They let them leave because it proved that they did not belong to them and that whatever testimony they had was not valid and couldn’t led others astray.
The modern gospel message and the evangelism techniques have long been debated. The timing of the presentation, the relationship between the presenter and the hearer, the content of the presentation, the timing of the invitation, and timing of the baptism have all been examined in this paper in accordance with the scriptures. The conclusion is that the evangelist does not need to develop an intimate relationship with the hearer before being given the gospel presentation. The appropriate timing of the presentation is always at the present. The content of the gospel must be centralized with Christ and ended with a call for a response. Baptism is always found to follow the conversion and is usually immediate. False converts will always be among the true believers and they need to be sought out and either called to repentance or left out of the church as a testimony.

Colossians 2:8-15

I was born in a Christian home. My parents were Nazarenes and that is what I identified as. I really didn’t know what that meant but none the less that was my childhood. One of the distinctions of being a Nazarene is that Nazarenes was part of the “Holiness” movement in the early 1900’s. They branched off from Methodism and into a more Pentecostal and Armenian viewpoint. So naturally my view of salvation was that I could receive Christ but unless I achieved “Sanctification” I could literally lose my salvation and thus having to start over again. Well I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s during the time of the Cold War and nuclear arms race between Soviet Russia and   the United States. I was frightened that during the night while I was sleeping World War III was going to break out. So I had a plan. I knew that I was sinful and if you knew me as a child you would agree. My plan was that as soon as I heard the bomb sirens going off I had roughly thirty minutes to say another salvation prayer to guarantee my passage into heaven. It wasn’t until I had joined the Navy to realize that there was another way to look at this thing called salvation.  Except I could not rationalize science and evolution into the Gospel and since I could not rationalize it, I ignored the issue. The philosophy didn’t fit.

As you are turning to the book of Colossians chapter 2, I want to give you a little background. Paul wrote the book of Colossians while he was in prison.  He was combating a heresy that was creeping into the church. It was known as the “Colossian Heresy”. In order to grasp some of the points Paul makes in his letter, a rudimentary understanding of the basic tenets of Gnosticism is required.  Gnosticism wasn’t a separate religion; rather, it was a philosophy that was blended with components of existing religions.  Apparently, elements of Judaism/Christianity were combined with Gnostic beliefs soon after the Church began; creating the heretical teachings that Paul combats in his letter to the Colossians.  The basic belief was that all matter was evil and since Jesus came as a human. He was both not fully human and only “seemed” that way, OR, he was just an appearance. So Paul starts the letter to them right away by explaining that he truly is writing to “the Saints of Colossae” (v. 2). He then describes that they have already heard the gospel and received it. So we know that they are Christians and they heard the Gospel and that they know who Jesus is. However, there was a philosophy that was being spread around and that was this syncretistic Gnosticism.

In chapter 2, Paul gives one of the best Christological passages in the entire Bible. In the text tonight we will see the warning that Paul gives the Colossian church. Then we’ll see the reminder of who Christ is. And then we’ll see the benefits of being “In Christ”. Let’s start reading in verse 8 and continue until verse 15.

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the heads over every ruler and authority. You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and in the un-circumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.

When I was going through Combat Rescue Swimmer School we had instructors that would tasks the class with seemingly impossible feats. One such was that we were running on the beach in full fatigues and boots and one sailor just happened to glance over at a dried up old dead fish. Naturally the instructor yells “Circle around!” So we circled around staying in formation and he holds up the crusty creature and hands it to the first person in ranks. “We are Rescue Swimmers gentleman! This fish could have lived if we were on time. Now it’s up to you to make this fish live!” he exclaimed. He then tells us that we cannot stop running until the fish showed signs of life. The lesson we learned that day was that we as Rescue Swimmers save lives at the risk of our own being taken. It was in a sense a warning. That is why we received “Warning Orders” when we went on deployments.

In verse 8, Paul is giving the church a “Warning Order”. He is essentially saying that the church has been put on alert. Look at what he says there, “Be careful that no one takes you captive”. This is not a suggestion! To be put on alert is like saying that this is happening and it is real! This active voice that Paul uses is calling not just for the elders of the church, who in fact should know better, but for every Saint to have this discerning attitude as habit.

Be on alert for what? Be on alert so that no one takes you captive as in being taken hostage! Paul is warning them to be careful because they are being taken hostage and they don’t realize it.

How can someone be taken hostage without knowing about it? It’s very subtle and discreet. Paul tells them it’s by philosophy and empty deceit. The philosophy that Paul is referring to is that “Heresy” I told you about earlier. But then he tells them what the basis of this philosophy was. He gives us three marks to which to look for and this can apply to anything.

First, Paul says that it was based on human tradition. The Pharisees were known for their traditions. Jesus referred to them and the traditions. One particular was the washing of the hands. Nothing inherently wrong with washing hands and you should do it often. I am an avid watcher in the bathroom in restaurants, especially, toward servers. I educate those who do not heed the sign that clearly says “Employees MUST wash hands”! But the Pharisees took the washing to another level and brought it in with the rituals. Paul is telling the Colossians that the philosophy they were hearing is not a new philosophy and that they were adding it to the Gospel just like the Pharisees.

The second mark was that it was based on demonic influence. These “elemental forces” were understood to mean demonic. In Galatians 4:3, Paul says that we were “children in slavery under the elemental forces of the world.” The language Paul uses here is more in military terms and literally means “things lined up in a row, such as in an army of soldiers in ranks in a hierarchy.” Naturally our armies do not line up as described here, such as the evolution of war. But the Romans and most ancient armies would take their army and line up in a long line. This was a very intimidating sight. Especially if the numbers were great and that was the idea behind the formations. If you were on a battlefield and saw how many people you had to fight it would affect you. If it worked right it would persuade you into giving up or fight scared.

The third mark was that this philosophy was NOT based on Christ. You can always spot a cult or false teaching by the way it views Christ. “Evil always focuses on demoting Jesus”. I’m sure you can probably think of a few right now that demotes or change the work of Jesus. Maybe you are thinking of one that says that Jesus is only one of the ways. Or, perhaps you might be thinking of one that says that Jesus was only a man and never claimed to be God. I stand here to tell you that Jesus IS who He Says He is. C. S. Lewis once said that Jesus was a lunatic, a liar, or Lord.

Remember, Paul is writing to Christians here. They already know who Jesus was. It is the sly lies that have infiltrated into the church that Paul is warning them about. So, the scene Paul is giving the church of Colossae is that they are being put on warning because this philosophy that has crept into the church. After he warns them of what they are facing he reminds them of who Christ is.

First, we must remember “entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ.” Look at verse 9. When we think of the “fullness” of God we must think of the essence and nature of God. Jesus was, by this statement, FULLY or 100 percent God and FULLY or 100% man. You may say “How is this mathematically possible?” I do not like it when people say “I’ll give it 110%!” That is impossible! You cannot give more than what you can give. My instructors in RSS understood that but required 100% one-hundred percent of the time. Never-the-less Jesus was and IS both wholly God and wholly man.

It is important to know this because if He is “filled” with God’s nature and essence we are “complete” in Him. In verse 10, Paul says that they have been “Filled by Him.” The word used here for “filled” is a nautical term meaning that the ship is “ready for the voyage”. In other words the ship needs nothing else to be able to set sail. There is nothing else we need for salvation! Jesus has already provided it all.

Jesus is the “fullness” of God and we are “filled” by Him because, look what it says there at the end of verse 10, “everything is under Christ’s authority.” This is known as the “Continual Headship of Christ” He is the “Head” over everything! This is another military term Paul uses and it gives the emphasis of the Chief as in rank. Earlier in Colossians 1:16, Paul says that “all things were created by Him and for Him.” If they are His creation He (Christ) is the authority over all.

So now we have been warned. We have been reminded of who Christ is. Now we turn our attention to the benefits of being “In Christ”. Let’s look at the benefit of the “Fullness in Christ.” In verses 11 and 12 Paul tells the Colossian church that they were “circumcised with a circumcision done without hands” and that they were “buried with Him in baptism.” These were two seemingly conflicting that give the same conclusion. Circumcision was first given to Abraham as an assurance that God would fulfill His promise and Baptism was an act that reminds others that God will fulfill His promise. But if we look closely we see that the picture that Paul was giving was that in circumcision was the symbolic of the “cutting away” of something that is useless! Only he describes it as a spiritual circumcision “done without hands”. It was a circumcision of the heart. When Jesus was crucified, the sin that he assumed on our behalf was removed or cut away and discarded. In Romans chapters 5 and 6, Paul says something similar in that we are dead to sin through this circumcision.

While the circumcision stands for the death of Jesus and the cutting away, baptism stands for our new life. Baptism always is described as “walking in newness of life”. Being baptized we are symbolizing our new life to those who are observing. Spiritually, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in imparting new life from Christ. It is the new life, being born again, and also described as a new creature and being in the “FULLNESS’ of Christ.

Paul reminds us that not only are we to remember the benefits of the fullness in Christ but also remember the benefit of the Forgiveness in Christ. Verse 14 is perhaps the plainest anyone can give the gospel. First, the condemnation is removed. Romans 6:23 we see that the earnings we receive for our sin is death. We have all sinned and we all are going to pay for that sin. Death is the ONLY payment acceptable. In the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they noticed that they were naked. This disobedience was sin. By this act sin entered the world and death followed. The Bible records that Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin but it wasn’t good enough. God Himself had to kill an animal and shed its blood so that Adam and Eve’s nakedness was covered. What a great foreshadow as to what Christ did. Picture that every one of us has a certificate of debt. According to what Paul says here is that God took that certificate and everything that comes with it and nailed it to the cross. That, my friends is FORGIVENESS!

Paul is telling these Colossians that if they have been circumcised and baptized experiencing the “fullness” of Christ and if they remember the “forgiveness” they received because of Christ they can experience the Freedom “In Christ”. Look at the last verse of our text. He, Jesus disarmed these rulers and authorities. These are in reference to the “elemental forces of the world” or demonic powers in verse 8. Again Paul is using a military term here. He is describing something that the Romans would do when they defeated an army. When the battle was over, they would march the captives home. Then, in all pomp they would parade in a show leading with the Generals and leaders who thought up the tactics. Then the brave soldiers would be next with the bravest in front. Then lastly, the defeated would be forced to parade in front of the crowd. It wasn’t done to humiliate the captives as much as it was to show the citizens that they no longer had to worry about the enemy. They are defeated!

What a great picture Paul ends this thought with. First, the church of Colossae was infiltrated with a false teaching. And Paul barely and indirectly addresses the Colossian Heresy. What he does is much like the Secret Service who is responsible for detecting counterfeit currency. They don’t study fake money to be able to spot it. Instead they study the real thing. In fact they study it so well, that if a fake is briefly flashed to them, they could tell it. Imagine, if we study the Word of God like that, we can spot a false teaching quickly.

In this passage Paul spent a considerable amount of time on the person of Jesus. Have you noticed the marks of a false teaching in what you believe? Do they take away or add to the person and work of Jesus? Or, perhaps you now understand that you can do nothing for your own salvation and you are still holding on to your certificate of debt. You are waiting on something else. Don’t wait! Let God nail it to the cross.