Colossians 1-2, Psalm 13
When I gave my life to Christ around 30 years ago, without the Word of God, I would have been lost. Almost concurrently with my beginning to read, we had a knock at our door from a nice person who was a Jehovah's witness and for the next couple of years met with a nice couple. Without God's Word their argument that Jesus was only a man could have taken root and destroyed my walk in Christ. My wife was Catholic, and my children went to Catholic school. I was the one in my house who was teaching my children Bible. Though I was raised Episcopalian, I would partake in communion at the Catholic church. One day at a neighborhood party, a group of our friends (who were Catholic) told us a story "about someone they knew" who had the nerve to partake in communion at their church despite being other than Catholic. Of course, that someone was me. Without God's Word I could have thought their was merit to this, but in the Bible there is no distinction based on denomination. All those who have given their hearts to Jesus should partake. When I pointed this out to my wife, we soon left. Then came the New Age influence into the house. With the rise in popularity of Oprah and the like, the stars of this movement in their books started to influence our household. They used the word God, so often, but their God in generic terms does not match the truth about the One True God in His Word. Many churches today, attempting to stay relevant negate portions of Scripture. One of the medical assistants in my office a number of years ago told me that her God would never frown on homosexuality. I asked her who her God was, because the God of Scripture has clearly voiced His thoughts on this issue. I then pointed them out. Interestingly, though she did not agree, she moved to Florida a few years ago, and just called one of the employees in our office and she told her to tell me, that she wasn't ready when I spoke to her then, but she has now given her life over to Christ, goes to a Bible based church, goes to a weekly home Bible study, and is part of the worship team. This is just a little of our family's history. I really don't know how anyone navigates through all that is out there without the Word of God.
In Colossians 2:15-17, Paul writes, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Realize when Jesus is called the firstborn it is not a chronological term meaning born after the Father, but a term of position and preeminence. Jesus is God and though there are those who want to deny this, they must erase a lot of Scripture to make this position stand. Paul warns them in 2:4, "Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words." He goes on in 2:8-10, to say, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Whenever we add to God's grace it is no longer grace but works. Likewise, whenever we add to the Biblical account of Jesus, we are attempting to change Jesus. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection stand on it's own.
Paul went on in 2:16-18, to describe those things which divide so many of us now, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,...". The list of all the rules and regulations over the past 2000 years are endless. These rules may sound good on the surface, and would be justified by those in positions of authority, but serve to divide and destroy the faith of millions.
In chapter 2 of Colossians, Paul combats intellectualism (philosophy, worldly wisdom), legalism (rules, rituals), mysticism (those who like to claim special powers or visions), and ascetism ( the strong harsh stance of denying oneself). We gain nothing from any of these stances. Jesus came to free us from the power of sin and death. In those days, Paul was dispelling the false teachings of the Gnostics and Judaizers. Today, most "religions" and "cults" like to begin with Jesus, but then add their rules, rituals, "deep hidden truths", etc. Jesus is 100% perfect, 100% worthy, 100% wise; you can't add anything to 100%. Anything that gets added really subtracts from the truth of Jesus. Worse than that anything that is added to this is essentially telling God that what He gave us in His Son was not adequate. The gospel is simple and pure. It is clearly presented in Scripture. Jesus never advocated religion, but a true relationship. We form a relationship with every loved one(spouse, child, etc) by spending time and getting to know them. Anyone who wants to deepen their relationship with Jesus, must spend time in His Word and get to know the real Jesus.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: