Col. 2:20-23 - A Life Freed by Christ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 01 May 2007 14:35

Colossians 2:20-23
A Life Freed by Christ”
Tim Black

  1. Introduction – our temptation to asceticism

    1. Anorexia. Girl at college who was

      1. skinny as a rail

      2. went jogging a lot

      3. sitting at the dinner table with a plate of food in front of her, closed her eyes and kept them closed for a long time. She wasn’t eating much.

      4. I asked her, “Are you ok?” She said she was under a lot of stress right now, but was ok. The way she said it it was clear she didn’t want to talk about it. After she said that, she closed her eyes again and kept them shut. I didn’t know how best to help her, especially since she didn’t want to talk about what was wrong. Since then I’ve wondered whether she was struggling with anorexia, which is where a person starves them self in order to lose weight.

      5. There are a lot of young women and even some young men who are taken captive today by the practice of anorexia.

    2. Asceticism.

      1. Defined. In the Colossian church people were being taken captive by the practice of asceticism. You can see this in v. 23—the false teachers were “promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body.Asceticism is the practice of denying your body of what is good and pleasing, in order to gain access to spiritual realities which are more important than the body.

      2. Greed is idolatry. As I’ve thought about how this passage relates to us today I’ve struggled because I can’t say I know an out-and-out ascetic. Do you? But think about this: I can’t say I know an out-and-out idolater, either. Someone who really worships idols. But do you remember what Paul says is idolatry in Col. 3:5? Greed! Greed is idolatry! Well, I know someone who has been greedy. It’s me. That means I’ve practiced idolatry. At least some aspect of what idolatry is, I have done.

      3. Anorexia is asceticism. Now tell me, what is the opposite of anorexia? Bulimia. The bulimic eats and eats and eats until they know they’ve eaten too much, then they let it back out the way it came in. What is the opposite of greed? Asceticism. Greed says, “I want, I want, I want!” Asceticism says, “I’m NOT gonna want, I’m NOT gonna want, I’m NOT gonna want!” It closes its eyes and it sits there, saying, “I’m not gonna eat, I’m not gonna eat, I’m not gonna eat.” You see, anorexia contains some aspects of asceticism. Some parts of the asceticism Paul condemns in this passage are still alive and well today. The truth is that from the beginning of time people have tried to solve spiritual problems by turning to physical, bodily solutions. By turning either to asceticism, or to greed and indulgence. By either denying their body, or indulging its every desire.

      4. You see, you have spiritual problems that need to be fixed. Paul lists a good number of them in Colossians 3:

        1. Colossians 3:5 sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness

        2. Colossians 3:8 anger, wrath, malice, slander...obscene talk...[and lying]

        3. Do you have any of these sins in your heart? In your life? Then you need to “put them away,” to “put them to death,” as Paul says. How can you put them to death? How can you get rid of them? The world will tell you to deny your body, or overindulge it. Do you lust? The Western hedonist’s solution is for you to indulge in sexual immorality, and Eastern mysticism’s answer is to become an ascetic monk. But what neither will tell you is to put on Christian contentment and seek a Christian marriage, trusting Christ for the strength to do so. Do you fall into fits of anger, or do you suffer from an addiction? The world’s solution is either to feed your addiction and give the other guy what’s coming to him, or repress your anger and stop cold turkey. You deny yourself or you indulge, but in the end you aren’t stronger than the addiction, and you aren’t stronger than your anger. The only one stronger than these spiritual problems is Jesus Christ. Hold fast to Him.

      5. These twin false solutions of asceticism and overindulgence have a long history which has influenced you. As I tell you about this history, make a note to yourself if you have taken part in any of the following ways of life:

        1. Ancient Greece

          • Hedonists & Epicureans – pleasure is the only good. Epicureans said you should avoid baser pleasures and seek higher ones.

            • The foundation of their philosophy was an explicit rejection of the fear of God and the fear of Hell, and in the place of God they said all that exists are atoms in motion. These atoms are the kinds of things Paul has in mind when he speaks of the “basic principles of the world.”

          • Cynics – pleasure is evil

          • Stoics – develop an indifference to pain and pleasure

        2. NT

          • Essenes

          • Jewish legalism & Pharisees

          • Judaism today is not very ascetic

        3. Ancient church

          • Gnosticism

          • Pagans throughout the world

            • Hinduism – Mahatma Gandhi, and the Sadhus

            • Buddhism – Gautama Buddha

            • Islam – Muhammad, Sufism

            • Native Americans (holy men go on vision quests)

        1. Middle ages

          • Monks/monastic orders

            • Desert fathers – hermits, valued solitude

            • Asceticism became heroic.

              • Simon the Stylite – lived 37 years on top of several pillars

              • St. Francis of Assisi

            • Vow of poverty, chastity, obedience. Scourged themselves.

            • Catholic practice of Lent

        2. Modern era

          • Secular

            • Magicians like Houdini and David Blaine overcome the physical world, and sometimes make us wonder, “Maybe they have spiritual power?”

              • David Blaine

                • Standing for 35 hours on a 22 inch platform on a 90 foot pole

                • Most recently, lived 7 days underwater

                • Lived 44 days in a glass box without food

                • Encased in a block of ice for 61 hours

                • Buried alive for 7 days

            • Inordinate concern about the body

              • Hypochondria

              • Sports teams – practice – drills called the Indian Run, IronMan, etc. Wrestlers lose weight to get into a lower weight class.

              • Bodybuilding (raw eggs, 11 egg omelets, protein shakes)

              • Health/fitness magazines (aerobics)

              • Endurance sports, energy drinks, Bakefield dietary supplements

              • Beauty magazines

              • Fad diets – anorexia/bulimia

              • Medical news

              • Home remedies – “feed a cold, starve a fever”

            • Wikipedia’s examples:

              • A “Starving Artist” is someone who minimizes their living expenses in order to spend more time and effort on their art.

              • Eccentric inventors sometimes live similar lives in pursuit of technical rather than artistic goals.

              • Hackers” often consider their programming projects to be more important than personal wealth or comfort (some, including Richard Stallman, have minimized their expenses by living in their offices).

              • Rehab programs for modern day addictions to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, fast food, gambling and sex.

              • Many professional athletes abstain from sex, rich foods, and other pleasures before major competitions in order to mentally prepare themselves for the upcoming contest.

          • Christian

            • Quakers & Amish – simple clothing & lifestyle

            • Arminian circles - Prohibition & Fundamentalism – don’t drink, smoke, dance, watch movies, play card games, watch TV.

            • Reformed

              • Theonomy – OT food laws – pork

              • Scottish Presbyterians – Exclusive Psalm-singing

              • Cloth head coverings

              • Christian liberty – fascination with and pride in drinking beers & wines, smoking pipes & cigars. Southern Presbyterians!

      1. Import. So have any of these ways of life influenced you? If I haven’t made you uncomfortable yet, if I haven’t made you defensive yet about one practice that you do, I haven’t done my job. I’m not trying to tell you that every one of these practices is completely wrong. But what you have to understand is that if you look to one of these practices alone to solve your underlying spiritual problems, you are going to absolutely fail. Rehab won’t fix your addiction. Because your addiction stems from the evil desires of your flesh. And only Christ can put those desires to death. The “basic principles of the world” are not going to save you. In fact, one of the true “basic principles” at work in a man of the world is these lusts of the flesh which he cannot put to death.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2007 14:38
Col. 3:1-4 - Set Your Mind on Things Above PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 01 May 2007 13:49

Colossians 3:1-4
Set Your Mind on Things Above”

  1. Introduction

    1. John Bunyan tells a story about “a man with a muck-rake” (who doesn’t seek the crown hanging above his head)

      1. The character named the Interpreter shows a woman named Christiana “a room where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered to give him that crown for his muck-rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and the dust of the floor.”

      2. ...his Muck-rake doth shew his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks and the dust of the floor, than to what he says that calls to him from above with the Coelestial Crown in his hand, it is to shew that Heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now whereas it was also shewed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things when they are with power upon men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.”

      3. Chris. Then said Christiana, O deliver me from this Muck-rake.”

      4. Inter. That prayer, said the Interpreter, has lain by till ‘tis almost rusty. Give me not Riches, is scarcely the prayer of one of ten thousand. Straws and sticks and dust with most are the great things now looked after.”

    2. Straws and sticks and dust with most are the great things now looked after.” What do you “look after” in your life? What are the “great things” in your life? In this passage Paul exhorts you to “Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth.

    3. Sermon Outline.  We will consider this exhortation under the following three headings:

      1. Seek the things that are above 1

      2. Set your mind on things above 2

      3. Because Christ is your life 3-4

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 May 2007 13:53
Col. 2:16-19 - A Mind Freed by Christ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:22

Colossians 2:16-19
A Mind Freed by Christ”
Sermon Outline
Tim Black

  1. Introduction

    1. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind...

      1. Freed from error: Jewish Legalism & Pagan Religion vv. 16, 18

      2. Devoted to Christ vv. 17, 19a

      3. Growing in Christ’s wisdom v. 19b

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:23
Col. 2:16-19 - Study Guide PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:16

Colossians 2:16-19 - “A Mind Freed by Christ”
Study Guide

Passage Outline

A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind...

  1. Freed from Error: Jewish Legalism & Pagan Religion

    1. Jewish Legalism v. 16

    2. Pagan Religion v. 18

  2. Devoted to Christ

    1. Not to Ceremonies & Self-Righteousness, but a Spiritual Relationship with Christ v. 17

    2. Not to Speculation & Lies, but Christ and His Wisdom v. 19a

  3. Growing in Christ’s Wisdom

    1. The Place of Growth: Growing in His Body v. 19b

    2. The Means of Growth: Growing in His Nourishment & Fellowship v. 19c

    3. The Nature of Growth: Growing in His Godliness v. 19d

For Discussion

  1. According to Lev. 23:37-38 and Ezek. 45:17, how were “food and drink” and a “festival, new moon, or a Sabbath” connected? Of what general category of activities is Paul speaking here, and what does that imply about why we should “let no one pass judgment” on us regarding them?

  2. Is Paul saying that the Old Testament Sabbath need not be kept in the New Testament? Consider the distinction between the weekly Sabbath in Lev. 23:3 and the feasts listed in Lev. 23:4-43, which are also called “Sabbaths” in Lev. 23:24, 32, and 39.

  3. If the Old Testament’s ceremonies were a “shadow” and Christ is the “substance,” why were the Jews right to keep those ceremonies, and why would New Testament Christians be wrong to do so?

  4. What can we learn from the “shadows” in the Old Testament?

  5. What are the characteristics of pagan religion in v. 18? Are they the same or different from modern Charismatic Christianity?

  6. What pagan ideas are we tempted to follow today?

  7. Is fasting a Christian counterpart to asceticism? In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? In the spirit of 2 Cor. 10:5, how could we “take every thought” of asceticism “captive to the obedience of Christ?” Consider Matt. 6:16-18.

  8. What does Paul indicate is the key problem with both Jewish Legalism and Pagan Religion?

  9. What are some practical ways we can turn away from error and devote ourselves more fully to Christ?

  10. If we have turned away from the world’s wisdom and are devoted to Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will grow in Christ’s wisdom. Where should we seek to find that growth? What is the means of that growth? What is the nature of that growth? See v. 19.

  11. What are the 3 “means of grace?” How do you grow through each one?

  12. In what ways does fellowship help us grow as Christians?

  13. What are some practical ways we can seek out Christ’s nourishment and fellowship? Growth in Godliness?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:23
Matt. 27:57-28:15 - The Battle for the Bones of Jesus PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:21

Matthew 27:57-28:15
The Battle for the Bones of Jesus”
Tim Black

  1. Introduction - “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

    1. The Documentary

      1. Title: “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

      2. Produced by James Cameron, the director of a documentary on the “Titanic.” Directed by Simcha Jacobovici, a Jew.

      3. Aired March 4, 2007 on the Discovery Channel.

    2. Its Facts

      1. Tomb was discovered in 1980 in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot.

      2. It contained 10 ossuaries, which are “bone boxes,” which contained the bones of people who had been buried in the tomb. Six of the ossuaries were inscribed with the name of the person whose bones were contained in each box. The names are written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and most are written legibly enough that I can read them. Those names read:

        1. Matia / Matthew

        2. Jose / Joseph

        3. Maria / Mary

        4. Yeshua Bar Yoseph / Jesus, son of Joseph (poorly written)

        5. Mariamene e Mara / Mary (could read Mary and Martha)

        6. Yehuda bar Yeshua / Judah, son of Jesus

      3. Mark 6:3 says that Jesus had several brothers, and lists them as “James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.” Jesus also had sisters, Salome and perhaps Miriam.

      4. After the bone boxes were taken out of the tomb and examined, the bones were reburied to respect the wishes of the Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

    3. Its Claims

      1. The documentary takes these facts and claims they indicate this was the tomb of Jesus, and that it contained the bones of Jesus. The documentary proposes the following conclusions:

        1. Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, though He may have risen from the dead in a “spiritual” way.1

        2. Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb (assuming she was Mariamene).

        3. Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife.

        4. A stone box labeled “Judah, son of Jesus” belonged to their son.

        5. Mary the mother of Jesus was buried near him, as was a relative named Matthew.

        6. Claims to give tangible historical evidence for the mere fact of Jesus’ existence.

      2. The key argument in support of these claims is that it is statistically improbable that so many names which scripture indicates are the names of Jesus’ family members would appear in a tomb together, unless it was in fact the tomb of Jesus’ family. The statistical argument runs like this: Scripture does not say Jesus had relatives named Judah or Matthew who might be buried in the same tomb with him, so they are left out of the equation. The remaining four names were had by 1/190, 1/160, 1/20, and 1/4 people in Jesus’ day, so by multiplying those fractions together, and correcting for possible error, conservatively, we would expect these names to occur together only in 1/600 tombs.

    4. Its Evaluation

      1. This statistical argument is flawed.

        1. First, because these names are common names. The director claims the name used on the ossuary for Mary Magdalene, Mariamene, was rare, had only by 1/160 people, but in fact it is just a different form of the far more common name Mary, had by 1/4 people. This in itself drastically decreases the odds that this was the tomb of Jesus.

        2. Second, because Jose could be Jesus’ father Joseph rather than His brother Jose. In that case, the probability of finding a bone box named “Jesus, son of Joseph” next to a bone box named “Joseph” is very high. It is no surprise to find these two bone boxes next to each other; they are not statistically independent of one another. This second flaw in the statistics reduces the odds that this was the tomb of the Biblical Jesus in a similarly drastic manner.2

        3. Third, the presence of names in the tomb which scripture does not indicate are relatives of Jesus serves to further reduce the odds that this was the tomb of Jesus.

        4. The documentary is unwilling to take these further statistical considerations into account.

      2. There are many other arguments both for and against the claims of the documentary. Notable arguments against the documentary:

        1. Illegible writing. The inscription that is claimed to read “Jesus” is the hardest to read, and may not actually spell “Jesus” but rather some other name.

        2. Incorrect theology. Why would Jesus’ followers write on His bone box that He was the “Son of Joseph” when they knew Joseph was not His biological father?

        3. No support by archaeologists. Top archaeologists consider the movie’s claims preposterous. The original discoverer of the tomb denies that it could be the tomb of Jesus.3

        4. Other burial places more well attested. There are other more historically trustworthy locations for the burial place of Jesus—at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and of His mother Mary—either beneath the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, or in Ephesus.

        5. Dr. James H. Charlesworth, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary says:

          • 1) The scribbling is not an inscription, it is a sloppy graffiti.

          • 2) The name “Jesus” before “son of Joseph” is the most difficult name to read among all the names in the tomb.

          • 3) All archaeologists and historians know that the names “Jesus” and “Joseph” are two of the most common names in first-century Jerusalem.

          • 4) The ossuary is remarkably ordinary without any ornamentation; this may indicate that the remains placed inside belonged to someone rather common.

          • 5) After Jesus’ crucifixion as a common criminal, some priests wanted to stop (even kill) those who were claiming that Jesus was the Son of God because God had raised him from the dead. They could have produced the bones of Jesus rather easily and thus thwarted those who claimed that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

          • 6) The so-called “Jesus tomb” is not far from the place where Caiaphas’s ossuary was recovered. The “Jesus tomb” is decorated and elegant and would have been clearly visible before 70 CE when Roman soldiers destroyed the area. The priests who sought to stop the Palestinian Jesus Movement would have known about this tomb, regardless of who was placed inside.

          • 7) The authors of the Gospels report that Jesus was placed in a tomb prepared for the family of Joseph of Arimathea; there is no New Testament evidence that Jesus’ family had a tomb.”4

    1. The broader problem

      1. In recent years marketers have started a new tradition of coming out with these sorts of critiques of traditional Christianity right before Easter.

        1. Last year it was Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code novel and movie.

        2. In previous years it has been a resurgence of interest in the Gnostic gospels and TV programs claiming that Jesus was merely human.

        3. Other fantastic claims that have been made:

          • Jesus was a woman.

          • Jesus was a space alien and is buried in Japan.

          • Jesus survived the crucifixion and is buried in the Kashmir region of India.

          • Jesus was insane.

          • Jesus was a Buddhist.

          • Jesus was a Muslim.

          • Jesus was a Mormon.

          • Jesus was a magician.

          • Jesus was a Gnostic.

          • Jesus was the son of Mary and a Roman solider.

          • Jesus never existed.

          • Jesus was never executed.

          • Jesus was married and had children.

          • Jesus was a social revolutionary when he was not a mere Mediterranean peasant.

          • Jesus was an itinerant visionary whose real teachings exist only in distorted, fragmented form.

      2. Why do people do this? It is because there is a battle for the bones of Jesus.

        1. That battle is a physical battle, an intellectual battle, and a spiritual battle. Our passage today has 4 sections:

          • Jesus is buried 27:57-61

          • The guard at the tomb 27:62-66

          • The resurrection 28:1-10

          • The report of the guard 28:11-15

        2. In the first and third sections the text focuses on the actions of believers. In the second and fourth sections the text focuses on the actions of unbelievers. The believers bury Christ’s body and witness His resurrection. The unbelievers seek to prevent Christ’s body from being stolen and to explain away the resurrection. This juxtaposition of the contrasting and conflicting actions of believers and unbelievers indicates there is a battle. And it is a battle for the bones of Jesus.

1“If Jesus’ mortal remains have been found, this would contradict the idea of a physical ascension but not the idea of a spiritual ascension.” Quoted from http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/theology/theology.html.

2By my very unscientific reworking of the statistics, the odds are not 600 to 1 for, but 13.2 to 10 against, this being the tomb of Jesus.

3“The official report written by the archeologist Amos Kloner found nothing remarkable in the discovery. The cave, it said, was probably in use by three or four generations of Jews from the beginning of the Common Era. It was disturbed in antiquity, and vandalized. The names on the boxes were common in the first century (25 percent of women in Jerusalem, for example, were called Miriam or a derivative).” Quoted from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17328478/site/newsweek/page/2/.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:27
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