Friday, February 8, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life!

“It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra… The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season… It stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.”1 This writer is one of the many viewers. The film is mentioned because life is filled with challenges. We shall always have struggles. It is how we live through and come out of struggles that make an impact on others. “Rejoice in the Lord always…” Philip 4:4a I love the theme of the film, but it does not go far enough in our journey as Christians. The question is whether we are rooted and anchored in Christ, our Creator, Redeemer, and Head of the Church, to meet those challenges victoriously. “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that… (nothing)… shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:37, 38a, 39b A wonderful life begins when we imitate Jesus. The lesson text is recorded at Colossians 2:6-15. The devotional reading is recorded at Romans 8:31-39.

During the period of Paul’s writing of this Epistle, he was in prison. There were many false teachers in Colosse who were threatening to undermine the Christian doctrine of the church started by Epaphras. Paul writes this letter to offset the teaching of the false teachers. The Gnostics were the most prominent heretics in the early church. They denied the true humanity of Christ. The Gnostics separated matter from thought, believing all matter was evil and the possession of knowledge was all that was needed for salvation. They did not believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. They were considered intellectual and ignored the truth of Jesus Christ. Judaism was also present. This was now a system of ceremonial observances by which Jews hoped to achieve righteousness before God. Many times the Jews would place a greater priority in the observance of the ceremonies and would lose sight of the spiritual goal of righteousness before God. It was this reason that they were not able to see Jesus had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. (See Matt 5:17) Today we must be sure the church with which we align ourselves studies and believes in Christian doctrine versus false teaching.

Paul begins chapter 2 of Colossians by stating he struggles for them because he has a deep affection for them as Christian brethren even though they have never seen his face. He knows they have experienced trials and persecutions as Christians and want them to remain together in love and unity. They are reminded they were given the full mystery of God, the Father, as He revealed it in His gospel through His Son, Jesus Christ. With knowledge of the full mystery which was unknown in days past, Paul admonished them not to allow any man with flowery words change what they knew. He spiritually agreed with them that they would remain steadfast in their faith in Christ. Col 2:1-5

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Col 2:6-7 As the Colossians had received the doctrine of Christ Jesus, Paul strongly encouraged them to continue to embrace it and live a life pleasing unto Him. He then explained in verse 7 how the new believers were to “walk” in what they “received (in) Christ”. First, they were to be “rooted” in Him, such as a good seed that would spread far, wide, and deep, being grounded in the truth and bearing much fruit. Ps 1; Matt 7:16-23 Second, “…and built up” in Him, such as to grow up to be a habitation for God through the Spirit; increasing in spiritual understanding of the foundation (Christ) and then building the house (church) upon it. Matt 7:24-29 Third, “…and stablished in the faith” which was simply stating the believers were rooted in faith as they had been taught. Heb 11:1 Finally, Paul explained what believers should do to keep away all the distractions when they were faithfully keeping their walk in Christ. They must not grumble, but have hearts overflowing with thanksgiving and contentment in every situation. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philip 4:6-8 The grass always seems greener on the other side, but it never is. All believers must remember that Jesus is Supreme and has access to every cattle on a thousand hills. Ps 50:10 There are many things for which to give Christ thanks.

‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.’ Col 2:8 The trickery and deceit of satan can be found when false teachers undermine the doctrine of Christ with the doctrine of man. These false teachers use words and actions to cause the unsuspecting persons to accept a religion of man. Paul did not want the believers of Christ to be stripped of their faith by religious philosophy(ies) of man and arguments that would not lead to the truth (Christ). He cautioned them as to returning to the tradition of men which was invented by men but had no true foundation in the Scriptures. Further, he cautioned the Colossian believers against the “rudiments of the world” (basic principles) which refer to Jewish rituals, ceremonies, and ordinances by which men hoped to obtain God’s favor without Christ.

‘For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:’ Col 2:9-10 These verses written by Paul are beautiful. They address the issue of the supremacy of Christ and the believer’s relationship to him. The Gnostics believed God could not have done anything such as become a human being and still be a God. They felt matter was evil and God as Spirit would not mix with this matter calling himself Jesus of Nazareth. How could that be? Only knowledge of their mind was needed for salvation in their opinion. NOT TRUE! If the believers allowed themselves to be allured by these man-made doctrines, they would lose their souls. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 Christ, our Creator, lived in the human body of Jesus of Nazareth. He is all God and He never gave up His deity while He dwelt in the human body. As deity He is all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent), and all-present (omnipresent). 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 4:14-15 It pleased God, the Father and Author of the plan of salvation, to have His Son given exaltation as Head of the church, in whom was given preeminence over all things in heavens and earth, and in whom dwelt all divine attributes of fullness of “who” God is. Believers do not need to supplement what they have received in Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 They are complete in Him. God supplies our every need according to His riches in Christ Jesus. Philip 4:19 Why would a believer seek favor with God without Christ? The very essence of the nature of God is contained in Christ, the Head of the Church, to whom the believer is to go for spiritual enlightenment…not man’s empty ideology. The believer is to understand and remember how much Christ, the Creator of the Universe, loves him and stay connected because they are incomplete without the Head. A church is not necessarily a physical building. However, it is a body of believers upon which Jesus stated, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18 The church shall be victorious against satanic forces with Jesus at the helm. This is the work of Christ. Paul informed the Corinthians that it did not matter what part they played in the body of Christ, there must be no schisms, and they each were an important member. 1 Cor 12:14-27

‘In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:’ Col 2:11 Circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Every Jewish male had to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Gen 17:9-13 This represented a spiritual putting away of the flesh. Yet many of the Jews did not take heed to Moses’ teaching at Deut 30:6 that it was necessary for them to be circumcised in the heart by God to receive His spiritual favor. Verse 11 addresses the subject of circumcision. The law required the circumcision of the flesh. Circumcision of Christ required the circumcision of the heart. Every believer is circumcised by the “circumcision made without hands”, Christ on the cross.

‘Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.’ Col 2:12 When Jesus died on the cross to the living world, the believers in Him die to sin when they are baptized, whether baptized by immersion or not. Just as Jesus was raised to a new life by the glory of the Father, the believers are raised with Him through faith to a newness of life. See Rom 6:4

‘And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;’ Col 2:13 The Colossians were not God’s chosen people (Jews). They were Gentiles uncircumcised in their flesh, in sin and dead in sin. They were spiritually dead until they heard the gospel. The Colossians believed in Christ, were made alive (quickened) with Him, and He forgave them of all their trespasses.

‘Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;’ Col 2:14 The “handwriting of ordinances”, ceremonial laws, Ten Commandments, etc were laws. They were against and contrary to the believers because they were unable to be kept. They were removed when Christ redeemed the believers from the curse of the law. Gal 3:13 The handwriting of ordinances was nailed to the cross. When Christ paid the redemption price through His grace and mercy for the believers, a paid stamp was marked on the handwriting. The debt was taken out of the way of the walk toward eternal life.

‘And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’ Col 2:15 The sting of death was sin with the grave as the victor, but Christ died, was buried, and rose as the first-fruit never to die again. Law finds its strength in law. I Corin 15:20, 55-56 Since the curse of the law was against the believers, the power of satan was against them. Christ, our dying Redeemer, bruised the heel of satan as God promised in Gen 3:15 and conquered the devil and his evil spirits (spoiled them) by dying. (see Rom 16:20) Christ had the power, as God, to stop the suffering and halt the death process. He endured it to give the human race an opportunity to eternal life and access to God, the Father, with whom the relationship needed to be mended since sin had entered the world. Christ openly paraded the grand victory over all the powers of hell so that all could see.

We should not fall prey to traditions or false teaching of philosophy which has no basis in Christ. Have you recently been approached or listened to a teacher of a religion who mentions the word “Christ” and wonder as to the depth of their belief regarding His supremacy? Be very careful. Remember you must be rooted and grounded, built up, and established in the faith in Him.


Written by Deborah C Davis

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