The book of Colossians is a much needed book for this day simply because there are some many voices out there telling you that you need something else besides what you have, that you need another, further experience and you need a further knowledge and if you only had this thing it would make you more complete. Colossians' main theme is you are complete in Him. Because you have Jesus, you've got it all. And so it's much needed because people would seek to tell you that what you have in Christ is good, it was a good start, but it's not enough. With some of the stuff going around in Paul's day, they were saying you know, look, Paul taught you a lot of nice, good little things. He gave you a good start but it wasn't enough. We have deeper knowledge. We have more truth. The full knowledge of God. And Paul contradicts those teachings in the book of Colossians. The church at Colosse was situated on a little valley and it's hard to describe it. It's sort of like if you're driving through those miles of desolate wilderness on your way from Arizona into New Mexico and you pass by settlements that are called cities and then, especially toward the evening, as you drive up on the hill and you're going in toward Albuquerque that's set out like a gem, sparkling lights, a good-sized city set out in the middle of the desert. It's set in a little valley all by itself. Colosse was set out in a little valley called the Lycus Valley along with two other churches, one called Laodicea, do you remember that? The book of Revelation? And another called Hierapolis. Three little towns that were in this valley about 100 miles inland from Ephesus. Ephesus was on the shore and if you went 100 miles in, you'd come to Colosse.
Paul never had traveled to Colosse although he'd wanted to. He had only heard by the mouth of a guy named Epaphras that great things had been going on, that there had been a revival in this town, the gospel has been preached and it's bearing forth fruit, and the news came to Paul and Paul wrote a letter, he was determined to go there, but you never read about the city in Acts because Paul never did go there. He never found the city and we read in the first few verses how they heard the gospel from Epaphras. Epaphras was a native Colossian and Paul was in Ephesus for three years as sort of a pastor, building up the church, raising up local leadership, turning it over to local men. And it says that while he was preaching in the school of Tyranus that the whole world, both Jew and Greek, in that area heard the gospel. One of the converts was a guy named Epaphras who in turn went back to Colosse, preached the gospel, became pastor over a local church, and so the work was founded through one of Paul's converts. And there's a pattern here that I see for effective evangelism. Evangelism in the past has sort of been the idea that the great white American hero will go into the foreign land and we will set up our American churches and we will have them look like we look and sing the songs we sing and talk like we talk and it becomes a cultural conversion often, not a Christian conversion. Paul's method was to go into the country indeed, but then to, as he preached the gospel, train up local leadership and plant locals and move on to another place. Many people getting saved, taking men and women under his wings, and training up local leadership. 2 Timothy 2:2: training up men who can train others instead of just staying there himself. And I think that is true in a cross-cultural setting. Now a lot of you know we're involved in a lot of different parts of the world cross-culturally. Our main focus is training up the national church, coming alongside of them, training up those men to do it in their own country. It's much more effective. And that was Paul's method. Paul's method wasn't to go in and take over. Paul's method was to go in and serve and train and raise up. And so we see this here modeled in the church of Colosse and it's a very beautiful model.
There's a large Jewish community in Colosse but the church was mainly made up of people like you and me--Gentiles. Remember the focus of Christianity has gone from Jerusalem to Asia Minor and now finally up to Rome. The focus of the church is getting away from the Jews and mostly to the Gentiles because the Jews have hardened their hearts, Paul has gone outside Jewish boundaries and preached to people who were non-Jews. Most of the early church was Jews. Most of the church later became Gentiles. How many Jews do we have here tonight? Full-blooded, pure-blooded Jews, raise your hand. One? Alright. How many that are half and half? Great. Love it. Well the rest of us are Gentiles. We see that the gospel has gone out of the boundaries of Palestine and is reaching on other parts of the world. There's a crisis taking place and that's why this book is written. Paul has been in Rome, in jail. Paul did more ministry in jail than most people do out of jail. The Word of God was not hindered even though he was in prison. Well, he was in prison in Rome; he met a slave who had run away from his master. The master's name was Philemon; the slave's name was Onesimus. Paul met him, talked to him, Onesimus became converted. Paul wrote a letter back to Philemon saying would you forgive this guy, put his sin to my account, I'll pay you back. Let him serve the Lord. Also, Epaphras had come from Colosse and they were sort of all together during this time. In fact, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were written right around the same time era, all basically simultaneously. Epaphras had told Paul that there was some weirdness going on in the church, some new doctrines that were tickling people's ears. And so Paul wrote a letter to counteract, to stand up against, the doctrine called Gnosticism.
Gnosticism was a mixture of Jewish legalism that turned into eastern mysticism mixed with some modern philosophy. Let me try to describe it to you. First of all, the word Gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis which means to know. The Gnostics were people who felt that they knew more than everybody else. It was sort of spiritual snobbery. They had the inner ear and the inner goings-on of the gospel. If you really want to know the secrets and the mysteries of what God is all about, you have to be initiated into our little group. The Gnostics believed that the world in which we live in, everything that is material was evil and is evil and that God was good and because God is good and material is evil, God certainly could not have created the material world since it's evil. So what happened, they taught, is that God created an emanation who is a spirit being, a god-like being, who created another emanation and another emanation, and after several created emanations, there was one emanation that was so far from God that created the material universe. And they attacked the person of Christ. They said He was not God come in the flesh. He was simply one of those emanations that have come from God. He was one of the many teachers, many good guys, that floated on the scene but He was not the unique Son of God or God in the flesh. Paul wrote the book of Colossians to counteract this teaching.
In fact, he says over in verse 18 that in all things, He, that is Christ, may have the preeminence. The Gnostics taught that God was distant. Because He created the emanations and He wasn't personally involved in His creation that God was distant. Jesus Christ came to portray the exact antithesis of that--that God is close, that He is near to all those that call on His name. That He's a loving, intimate, heavenly Father. That He's not distant. That He's not packaged away up in heaven aloof and alone. That He dwells amongst His people. That He cares for His children like a warm, tender father. That's the God Jesus came to portray. That's why if you want to see what God is like, you look at Jesus as He tells Philip, if you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. Now we have in verse one: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." A classic Pauline introduction. Grace and peace. We've talked about them in every New Testament letter. Some have called them the Siamese twins of the New Testament. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God". One thing Paul was certain of and that was his calling. He knew what God called him to do and where God called him to do it. It is important that we are certain of our function in the body of Christ. If we took a poll and asked, what are your spiritual gifts, what are the gifts of the Spirit outlined in the New Testament, which ones do you have? How do they function and when do they operate in your life? I bet a lot of us have a stumbling kind of a time explaining that. Paul knew what his gifts were and he knew how they functioned and when they were to function. He knew he was an apostle, he was called by God, it was by the will of God, and I believe that for a healthy body to function in a healthy manner, we need to know our gifts and to know how to use them. And the biblical use of those gifts so that we don't fall into abuse. It's important to know the will of God. And I suggest that you don't step out in serving the Lord, that is in a ministry sense, until you know that God has called you and I'll tell you why. A lot of people are out there serving God and they come back frustrated because they don't see anything happening--no fruit. Because a lot of times people place themselves. They go, I want to do what that guy does and I'll be just like him and I'll follow his calling and his election. You can't pattern yourself after anyone except the way God made you. And it's important that you know exactly where that is because a lot of times people will place themselves in a service or in a gift, a particular function in the church and they get so bummed out and so frustrated because they don't see any fruit and then they get all mad at God. Why'd You lead me into this, God? God's saying I didn't lead you into nothing. You ran ahead of Me. Slow down. Know that will of God. Now I do admit, I think you need to know it by stepping out in areas of faith and watching those gifts being tested and watching the fruit. But Paul knew his gift.
"To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse". Paul was writing to people called saints. He was not writing to people who had been dead and canonized and put on cards. Saints, in the New Testament, are living people. You're not a saint because of what you do; you're a saint because of who you are in Christ. The word saint is a word that means to be set apart, to be sanctified. You're different. Because you're a child of God, God sets you apart and He calls you a saint. That is, you're to be different than the world. Different appetites. Different attitudes. Different ways of looking at things. Handling life differently. You are a saint. Now that doesn't mean you're perfect. That's not what the word means. It simply means God has set you apart for Himself. I like that title--saint. I like it when God calls me a saint. Saint Skip. It's got a cool ring to it. Saint Don and Shirley. Saint Chet. Saint Gino. "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul always puts grace in front of peace. And I love the illustration that I've heard for so many years and that is: the reason Paul does this, he doesn't say peace and grace because they'd be out of order, you can never experience the peace of God within your life until you've experienced God's grace. God's grace means unmerited favor. God's blessing conferred upon your life and you don't deserve it. That's what grace is. When a person experiences God's grace, their life is so peaceful. I know so many frustrated Christians living under such legalism and such bondage and they're running around, they have no peace because they've never experienced God's unmerited favor. They think God doesn't love me today as much because I didn't read four chapters and I didn't pray as long as I did yesterday. God loved me more yesterday because I was more faithful and I earned His love yesterday. They may not verbalize that but that's their thinking and the way that they live. You don't earn God's grace--it's a gift. You don't earn a Christmas present, do you? It's a free gift and when a person admits I am a creep, but God I thank You that You love me the way I am, that You pour out Your blessing and favor upon me just the way I am. And because of that I have peace with You, Lord. It's such a peaceful thing, such a peaceful feeling to know that I'm accepted by You not based on what I do, not performance-oriented, but just because of what You've done and who You are. And if we could learn that lesson of grace, there would be a lot more peaceful people running around.
"We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you". Now remember Paul's in jail and he's giving thanks. Remember Philippians? He was in the same prison as he was when he wrote Colossians and he said rejoice in the Lord always. I'm gonna say it again--rejoice! The guy was just so in tune with God that the circumstances did not rob him of joy. He was giving thanks. he didn't start out his epistle and say I'm rotting in prison. Won't you guys pray more for me? What's wrong with you guys? Get me out of this joint! It was rejoicing. It was thanksgiving because he submitted to the fact that he was in prison by God's will. It's a lesson that I think many forget. Oh, God would never allow bad things to happen to me, would He? After all, I'm a child of the King! Being a child of the King I would never have a life filled with this kind of anxiety like being in prison. He knew it was God's will and God used him to sit down and write letters. He was so active. He was going from town to town and God said, in effect, Paul, I've got a whole other ministry, a whole other avenue. I want you to write some letters to people. I'm going to use them. And hence we have this letter. "We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". Notice that Paul went directly before God. He didn't have to go to any emanation. We give thanks to God, not we give thanks to this emanation and this emanation until finally pass the letter back to God. Directly to the throne of God.
"The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints". Faith and love. We heard that you have faith in God and how was their faith demonstrated? By loving everybody else. By loving the brethren. We've heard about your faith. Epaphras has told me. I've been in prison and he came and told me all about the kind of work that's going on there in Colosse. It's been noted. It's come to my ears. But I've also not simply heard of your faith, but also of your love for all the saints. One of the marks of a maturity is when a person becomes grateful for the work of God in someone else's life. Now we're all grateful for God's work in our lives. When God blesses me, I get excited. But a real mark of maturity is when the excitement is for someone else's blessings. The mark of a mature church is when they see another church in town experiencing revival and they rejoice. They don't go oh, bummer! What a drag! The Spirit of God's moving! It's not moving here! It's almost become like a franchise competition, instead of a body and a oneness. Great--He's building up all of us. It's all the body of Christ. And he heard of the faith, he heard of the love, he heard of the good things, and he was rejoicing. The Scripture says that we are to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those who weep. Don't you find it easier to weep with those who weep than to rejoice with those who rejoice? Someone comes up to you and they're experiencing a trial and it's easy for us to our arms around him. We're not going through it. Brother, I want to pray with you. But he comes up and he says God just gave me a new car, a new house. He blessed me with a new job! Oh... great. I rejoice. Paul could rejoice. He knew that if God was building that person up, that he was building him up. It was all in the church. Even though he was in prison. I love his attitude. Because of the hope.
Now notice faith, love, and now hope. "Because of the hope which is laid up for you [or placed aside for you permanently] in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth". Paul is talking about the gospel that has gone out into all the world and is bringing forth fruit. You know what I rejoice for? I'm not back in Paul's day, but in our own sense I can rejoice for what God has done here. Many of you have had the vision to go out into other places, other mission fields, fields where people haven't plowed, fields where people have plowed. Even as the church at Ephesus was helping planting the church at Colosse, I think that the major big urban churches in our country should really be devoted to helping out the littler churches that are getting started. That's something God has laid on our hearts. That's why we've started the church in Tucson and Belen and Gino up in Santa Fe and different places, out in Bernalillo starting something with Bobby. I think that there's a real important model for us. In starting works and in helping, coming alongside other, smaller works, but it's been your faith, it's been your love, it hasn't been Skip that has been known. People hear of Calvary Chapel here. I hear about the things going on there. The way you reach out in the convalescent homes. You that have gone down to Mexico, the reports that come back. That's reaching out all over the world in little parts. We have a brother who takes the tapes here and takes them into China. He teaches English as a second language and one of his methods of teaching is having them listen to English diction on tapes so the native Chinese listen to the Bible study tapes to listen to the pronunciation of words and they get the gospel. It's great. How creative! Brother left for the North Pole. He puts the tapes on the radio and it's the only radio transmission in all of the South Pole and all those people on those lonely nights, long nights, have nothing to do. They turn on the radio and they get the gospel. And it goes out. I have a letter on my desk. I was gonna bring it and read it tonight, from a man who works on the Navajo reservation. My heart goes out to him. He has heard of this fellowship and he lives in Arizona and several times he will drive from Arizona to Albuquerque for Sunday morning service. And he wrote me a letter and he says I have really never experienced a true spirited balance of ministry like I have here. Could you send someone out to the reservation and minister? It will take a weekly drive of five hours or more. If they could come out on Saturday night, we'll set up something. We'll find a place where they can teach the Word Saturday night in a Bible study, get up Sunday morning and do another teaching and worship. If you could please send someone out here, I'd be so appreciative. I'm letting several people I know about it who I feel would have a calling in that area. I haven't heard yet but I trust that the Lord will raise somebody up. As the news gets out, God is raising up more people to go out and to spread what God has given them here.
"Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth". Now remember, we're dealing with a time era, the early church and the gospel touched the known world without having built one seminary, without having one building program, without having one muffin sale, the gospel went out into all the world. Why? Because they were leaning heavily on the power of the Holy Spirit. They didn't have all the tools. They didn't have the equipment that goes along that makes a ministry big. They didn't have the mailing lists. And those things are ok but they can diminish our intensity to lean upon God's Holy Spirit. Think how much work was accomplished in those days with simple people who just said I'll go, God--send me! And they went. And God says I'll use you because you're open. Not because you necessarily have the ability, but you've got the availability and I'll move My lead through you if you submit to Me. I love that. Then there came a time when we thought we really didn't need the Holy Spirit. We've got our tools now, God. Thank you for the model, Holy Spirit, but now we know how to work. We'll set it up and do it ourselves. I've found some statistics. In 1935, 27% of the world has heard the gospel. In 1965, 20% of the world has heard the gospel. It is believed that by the year 2000, at this rate, 5%, only 5% will have heard the gospel. See how marvelously we've done with our own methods, our own ability? Because of the tremendous population explosion especially in areas like China and India, China a billion, India almost a billion, we're talking about almost half the world's population in two countries locked side by side. God is waiting for people to say here I am, Lord, send me, I'll stand in the gap, I'll go, I'll share, I'll be effective, Lord, right where I am at work. I want to see these people saved. And that's how the Word of God goes forth. You want to be used by God? Just be available to God. Lord, what is my gift? What have You called me to do? Let me function in that area to build up the body of Christ. I'll go out.
Verse 7: "As you also learned [or also translated, were discipled] from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit." Now Epaphras was the one who became the pastor of this church. He was the one who led the revival in Colosse. Paul had been in Ephesus. Epaphras was over at Ephesus, was converted under Paul's ministry, split back to Colosse, shared the gospel, became the pastor of this church. Epaphras trained them. Part of the Great Commission is training and discipling. I feel that we do a disservice to go into a city, hold a crusade, and have a bunch of saved people with no place to put them. It's like leaving orphans out on the doorstep with no place to be locked into and fed. It's important that when a person comes to know the Lord, there's a solid place to build a foundation, to be trained and discipled in the oracles of God. To build a foundation, to be rooted and grounded. "Who also declared to us your love in the Spirit." Now this church was known for its faith, its hope, and its love. The faith was something that was past tense. They had put their faith in God. They trusted Him and a beautiful thing happened. Love was dealing with the present experience. They were loving the body of Christ. Hope was dealing with the future. The future hope that they had in God.
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy". I'm into Paul's prayers. As I read the book of Ephesians, the book of Colossians, the book of Philippians, even Romans, because when Paul prays, folks, he prays for the heart issues. We oftentimes pray for symptomatic issues. Oh Father, deliver him, he's an alcoholic, deliver him from alcoholism. So what if he gets delivered from being an alcoholic and he's not a Christian? What have you accomplished? You have a sober heathen. He turns to drugs. Father, now deliver him from drugs. So he turns from drugs; what have you accomplished? He turns to something else; he turns into a Zen Buddhist. The heart issue is that he comes to know Jesus Christ, that Jesus fulfills his life, that he grows, that he gets rooted and grounded, that as he becomes a Christian has the knowledge of God's will, know how to apply that knowledge to his life, know how to live for Christ. And so he says several things. First of all, that you may be filled, better translated controlled, with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Now you can take this as a model and pray for other people like this. You can pray this prayer for me anytime. I'd love it. Pray that I'll know God's will. Pray that I'll be controlled by God's will. With all wisdom and spiritual understanding because you know a person can know God's will but if he doesn't have the wisdom and spiritual understanding what to do once he knows God's will, he can blow it also. Example: Abraham. He knew it was God's will that he should have a son. Lacking the spiritual insight and the wisdom, what did he do? He listened to his wife who said take Hagar the maidservant. You guys have kids and that'll be God's fulfillment. God said no, I'm not gonna fulfill My promise that way. My will is that you're gonna have a child through your wife Sarah. In trying to help God out, they really got way out of the will of God. Yes it was God's will for them to have a son, but it came in God's timing in a different way and that takes wisdom and understanding. So when you know God's will, wait for His timing. Ask God for wisdom on the application of His will in your life.
"That you may walk worthy of the Lord". How do you have a walk worthy of the Lord? The word translated worthy is better translated literally to weigh as much. If I have a Bible on a set of scales and I would put little weights on the other side to balance it out, these rocks weigh as much as the weight of this Bible. My walk is to weigh as much as what the Lord requires as the gospel. Another place Paul says let your walk be worthy of the gospel of the Lord. That the way you walk can have weight to it. It could substantiate the words you say. You proclaim the gospel. Live a lifestyle that weighs as much as what you proclaim. "Fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." You know? If we can keep as our center of attention wanting to please God, there's a lot of problems we're gonna avoid. I have had so many people, I've even asked this question sometimes in my life: is it ok to do this as a Christian? Have you ever had those questions? Hey, can I be a Christian and still get away with that? That's a horrible way to approach it. How can I still get into heaven, keep my ticket, but get away with everything else? What are the bare necessities? I want to just scoot over the threshold of heaven. I don't. man, I want trumpets. I want a grand entry. I want an abundant entrance as Peter says in 2 Peter. That we might have an abundant entrance into His kingdom. Why not reverse that? Instead of saying what can I get away with and still be a Christian, how about how can I please God? I want to please God today and looking for things not to get away with, but looking for things to please the One that has brought you into fellowship with Himself. How can I please God tonight? Who would you have me speak to and minister to that I might please you and build up your kingdom? That motivation, I'll tell you what it will save you from. It will save you from the roller coaster Christian walk--the ups and the downs. That central aim is to focus on pleasing the Lord. I want to please the Lord. It will keep you from that.
"Being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." If you want to increase in the knowledge of God, increase your study of the Word of God. For you know God as revealed by the written revelation of the Word. "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience," which means endurance in action. You know, patience is not a passive attribute. It's not I'm just gonna sit back in my easy chair and hang out and wait for God. Patience is more that of a soldier in the trench fighting. It's endurance in action. I'm persevering. But notice it says, "and longsuffering with joy". See it's one thing just to endure and have longsuffering. It's another thing to do it with joy. You can always grit your teeth and bare it. I'm gonna make it. But the real great experience is when you're going through it and you have joy. I'm not talking about happiness, I'm talking about joy. Is there a difference? Yes. It's not a matter of semantics. Paul talked in Philippians about fullness of joy. He was in jail. Either the guy was totally loony or he tapped into a secret that we need to learn. I mean, only a crazy man would be in prison rotting and say I'm so rejoicing, I have so much joy! Or his joy was not dependent upon what was going on around him. so often we mistake joy for happiness. I'm so joyful today. Why? I got a new car. What happens tomorrow when somebody bashes into it? You gonna say oh I'm so joyful? If your happiness is rooted in your possession of a car, you will be happy as long as your car's ok. happiness depends on outward circumstances. It depends on happenings. Joy is independent of circumstances and happenings. In the face of adverse circumstances is the experience that Paul had with fullness of joy. If you are depending upon your circumstances for your happiness, you will be a basket case because you are not always in control of your circumstances. And if I'm up only when everything around me is up, I'm gonna be up and down. I'll be happy one day, bummed out the next day. Longsuffering, patience with joy.
"Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us". I like that. He qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. The reason I like that is something that we tapped into this morning and that is we have, for such a long time, presented the gospel as a very me centered gospel where man becomes the center of the gospel. It becomes the gospel of the irresistible hot sale. Jesus is something you could never pass up! If you accept Jesus, you get the prize! And I'll tell you why I'm opposed to that so much is that Jesus accepts us. We make it sound like the world is revolving around us and now I'm gonna accept Christ. Christ has accepted us, folks. He's given us the privilege by forgiving us of sins to enter into an inheritance. He has made us fit not by anything we have done. We simply come to Him as humble sinners. The center of the gospel is the cross of Christ and you come to the cross with repentance and humility. And He accepts you and through His blood, He washes your sins away and you simply come and say nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. He's made us fit to be partakers. He's qualified us. "He has delivered us from the power of darkness". And that is a verse I have hung onto and I'll tell you why. Before I was saved, I was involved in the occult. Both Gino and I used to astroproject on the same astroplane all the way across the universe. We grew up together reading palms, praying to demon spirits--and they're real. And we met the powers of darkness face-to-face. When I became a Christian, I was delivered from demonic oppression. I have been delivered. People say do you have deliverance services at your church? No need to. People who come are Christians. We have been delivered from the powers of darkness. Oh, but somebody might have the demon of gluttony or the spirit of pride! No, those are works of the flesh. Those aren't demons that control you. It's the work of the flesh that needs to be crucified. We have been delivered from the powers of darkness. And we're gonna see why in the next couple weeks as we see what Jesus has done to Satan because of the cross.
He has "conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." I can see by the rate we're going this is so rich we're not gonna finish the whole chapter tonight. But you know He's delivered us from one kingdom and put us in another kingdom. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. He created all things. In the beginning of creation, there was one kingdom: the government of God. God ruled the world. It was perfect harmony. There was perfect righteousness. And then somewhere in times past was introduced a rebellion by one named Lucifer, one of the highest ranking messengers of God. He was the anointed cherub who covers. He was number one minus One. And that minus One bugged him a whole lot. He decided to do something about it. He said I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven. I will be like the Most High. God responded and said you will be brought down to the pit of hell. They will look at you narrowly and say is this the one who caused the world to tremble? Satan led a rebellion of a third of the angelic hosts. Because of their rebellion, they were pushed out of God's presence, out of heaven. They've continued to lead a rebellion establishing another kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. Satan has been seeking ever since to entice man, God's creation upon the earth, into the kingdom of darkness. Man was created upon the earth to serve God in a perfect environment. But given volition, given the power of choice, man chose to follow the usurper's advice. Hence, because of the Fall of Adam, every human being born from that time is born into sin with a sin nature. And that person must make a choice somewhere in his life to leave that kingdom and get over into the kingdom of light by the ticket that has been paid through the blood of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. When you do that, God takes you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
The trouble is that Satan makes the kingdom of darkness look awfully good and glittery and satisfying. Polishes it up so that you have people saying man I like being in darkness! I want to go to hell! All my friends are gonna be there! Have you ever heard people say that? We're gonna party down! Jokes on you. Satan makes it look so enticing. It would be sort of like a cruise ship and the cruise ship is out to sea and let's call the cruise ship the kingdom of darkness. Let's call the captain Lucifer. And the captain knows, because he's been hit severely on the bottom side of the ship, that the ship has about an hour's worth of floating time and it'll be plunged into the sea and he knows there's no hope. And so he goes to all of the crowds on the ship in the banquet room and he says ok you guys. The rules--we don't have to follow anymore on this ship. You who are in third class, you can stay in first class if you want. And forget about the rules in the banquet room. You can play football, Frisbee--do whatever you want, eat whatever you want--just have any kind of time you want. It's all yours. Do whatever you want. And people are all excited. Hey this is a great place to be, man! There are no rules! There are no restrictions! We can just glutton ourselves. We can fill ourselves and be satisfied. Not knowing that within an hour they will meet their doom. The kingdom of darkness can look so good. But the wages of sin are death. The free gift of God is eternal life. The good news of the gospel is that you don't have to go on in the emptiness of the flesh and living on the substitutes of the kingdom of darkness, but be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son Jesus Christ and have real satisfaction and purpose. You could say hey I like where I am, man. I'm not gonna get any closer. That's your choice and God will respect that choice and I'll respect that choice. But remember, if that's the choice you make, then this earth is the closest to heaven that you'll ever see. The reverse of that is that if you know Jesus Christ, this is the closest to hell you'll ever see. I would say it's much more intelligent to accept God's offer--be translated free of charge. Tickets are paid. And get out of the glittery but upcoming doomful kingdom of darkness.
"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." There are some key words in the Bible and sometime I'm gonna do a study on key words in the Bible. One of them is redemption. This word redemption means to release a slave by paying a price. To release a slave by paying a price or to buy back. It was borrowed from the ancient slave markets where someone could come in, release someone who was in the marketplace, could pay a price, and once he's paid the price, he can do anything he wanted with the slave. The slave could be his own or he could set the slave free. This means to go into the marketplace where there are slaves lined up, pay the full amount of money, and release all of the slaves free. That's what redemption means. One of the greatest stories I've heard, I read it somewhere, was a story of a little gingerbread man who was fashioned, who was shaped. This little boy had his gingerbread man and he loved this gingerbread man. Of course, this is fictional, remember? You'll see. And he loved the gingerbread man but he didn't need it and he just kind of checked it out every day and it was his companion. He loved it because it was given to him and he just treasured it. One day the gingerbread man ran off. Split. Took off down the street. Little boy was bummed out, ran after that gingerbread man, come back! You're mine! Because the gingerbread man, actually I got the story wrong. The little boy made the gingerbread man himself. Looked everywhere. Looked all over town, all the stores, asked all the little kids, hey man, you seen my gingerbread man? No. He's cruising down the street and he sees a pastry shop. In the window of the pastry shop is a little gingerbread man just smiling at him with a price tag on it: five cents. He rips into the store and goes, hey man, that's my gingerbread man. I want him back! Guy says you can have him. Give me a nickel. That's the price. Hey, but you don't understand. I made him, he's mine! Fine. If he's yours, pay me the price and you can have him. Kid flips out a nickel and gives it to him and he takes that little gingerbread man and he beats it up... no, he doesn't do that. He takes that gingerbread man and he stares at it in the face and he says, now you're really mine. You were mine first because I made you but now you're mine because I bought you. And redemption is that kind of an idea where God says you were Mine because I made you, but you ran away from Me. All of us, like sheep have gone astray. We have gone our own way. But now you're Mine because I bought you. He's redeemed us. We were slaves. There was a price. Jesus paid the price.
"Through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Forgiveness means to send away. He's taken your sins and shipped them off. He has sent them away much like the scapegoat in the Old Testament where they would confess the sins over the goat. Priest would confess the sins of the people. then they would take the goat and they would release it into the wilderness, to die in the wilderness, after the throat had been slit and it would bleed to death.