Thursday, February 28, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-28 [Highlights from Colossians] Understanding the heresy threat

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day....
18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize...
20 why... do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" Colossians2:16-23

The Colossian Church was being threatened by false teaching. In chapter two (v:9-23) Paul deals with this...

But before we get to Paul's "cure" it will be helpful to understand the "disease." The false teaching that threatened the Colossian church was two-fold.
On the one hand there were elements who came from a Jewish background and stressed Jewish customs and cleanliness laws. In essence they were saying: "It's great that you have Jesus as your Saviour - but remember He was Jewish and so you should be a good Jew too."
On the other hand, there were those who came from a mystical philosophical background who argued that salvation was a state of mind and that you were "saved" by abstracting yourself from the world.

On the one hand, legalism, on the other hand a kind of ethereal philosophical separation from the material world.

You see elements of these false teachings here in ch.2
- What we eat and drink
- Celebrating certain days as a matter of salvation
- Doing things for show
- Emphasizing side issues
- Making additional rules

Today we make the same mistakes:
We like to turn Christianity into lists of "do's & don'ts."
(e.g. "Christians don't smoke." )
We often make big doctrines about side issues and forget the main thing. (e.g.speaking in tongues)
Or we make it so abstract that our lives don't change at all.

Years ago a one of my Bible Study leaders put it like this: "The moment Jesus isn't enough, the moment that we need Jesus PLUS rituals, or Jesus + traditions or Jesus + philosophy or Jesus + anything, we are in trouble."

In ch 2 Paul is having to having to do some MINUSing so that we are left with Jesus alone.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-27 [Highlights from Colossians] World view...

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians2:8

Paul is about to tackle the false teachings that threaten the church in Colosse... but before he does that, he reminds his readers of an important principle...

When Adam and Eve sinned, they unleashed darkness and brokenness into the world. Our world system is soaked through with the selfish ambition of Adam and Eve trying to be like God, with the jealousy of Cain toward Abel, with the arrogance of the tower-builders of Babel and the lack of judgment of the post-flood Noah and his son*. Joseph bragged and his brothers raged. And we haven't even left Genesis!

Our world continues to build on the shaky foundations of trying to be our own gods while ignoring the One True God. But for some strange reason, although we know that society has built its house on sandy foundations, we continue to pay attention to its "wisdom!"

But that's because you and I are also affected and infected by a sin-sick world. We must choose - rationally and sometimes courageously by faith - to ignore the arguments that look so logical, but are built on sand. We must build on the Rock.

(We will look what the Rock looks like tomorrow.)

* (After the flood, Noah got drunk and lay around in an indecent state and his son laughed at and mocked his father)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 22, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-22 [Highlights from Colossians] A Tree

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians2:6-7

A tree with good roots will grow big and strong (be "firmly established") and will abound in good fruit.


If we are _rooted_ and _built_ up in CHRIST:
- Rely on Him to be our Saviour and Lord
- Consider His example as our inspiration
- Find our identity and security in what He has done for us

And if we then begin to live (_establish_) our lives in FAITH:
- Trusting Him to guide us
- Taking risks to love like He did
- Stretching ourselves to live in obedience to His promptings and guidance

We will discover that our lives _abound_ in THANKSGIVING:
- life becomes more meaningful and fulfilling
- we have more joy, peace and contentment
- we become grateful people...

So, it begins with Christ, grows up through courageous acts of faith and results in Thanks-filled lives.

Have an awesome weekend!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 21, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-21 [Highlights from Colossians] Step by step

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Paul is moving into the section of the letter where he deals with the false teachings that threaten the congregation. Before he gets into the threats, he lays the foundation: Get the basics right.

Going back to basics is always one of the best things we can do when things are going wrong. Bill Hybels talks about a team they had put together for a sailing regatta: all were very talented sailors, but somehow things weren't working. Eventually he suggested that they have a back-to-basics session where their quietest but most experienced sailor took them step by step through the basic sailing manoeuvres. After this their team, the only amateur team in the regatta, came second overall!

Paul wants the Colossians back-to-basics as they face their threats. We'll look at these verses today and tomorrow. For today we are going to look at two words Paul uses: "Received" and "Continue"

The word Paul uses for "received" (or "took") is a very relational word. It is the same word used when Joseph "took" Mary as his wife, when Joseph "took" Jesus to Egypt, when Jesus "took" His disciples with Him to Jerusalem. In the Gospels the word is almost always implies "with" - Joseph took Mary "with" him, Jesus took the disciples "with" him. Paul uses this same word almost exclusively to denote receiving the Gospel and it seems that he is implying "being with" Jesus. One could translate it: "Just as you started being-with Jesus..."

The word for "continue" is actually "walk." It implies the process of putting one foot in front of the other. Step by step.

So, when false teaching threatens, we should go back to basics:
"Walk WITH Jesus, step by step..." The basic building block is that faith is a relationship - a journey - with Jesus.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-20 [Highlights from Colossians] What Paul wants for his congregation...

I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians2:1-3

Paul wants, no, he struggles, for three things for the congregations at Colosse and Laodicea:

That they will be:
- encouraged in heart (1)
- united in love (2)
- so to have a complete understanding of Christ. (3)

1. In Hebrew and Greco-Roman culture the heart was a place of conviction and not emotion. The heart was at the core of life and Paul wanted their devotion to Christ to be at the centre of their lives.

2. He longed for them to be united or knit together in love. The word he uses for "united" also implies coalescing, coming to the same conclusion and concluding together. Paul wanted them to conclude that they belonged together in the love of Christ.

3. For Paul the wonder of the gospel was that the mystery of God was made plain in the mystery of Christ. Christ is the fullness of God clothed in flesh. Once we wrap our heads around the idea that Jesus is Emmanuel (GOD: WITH us!), there are great riches available to us.

This is what Paul wanted for the church: Christ at the centre, Christ's love knitting us together, Christ's truth (mystery revealed) understood by us. In the Greek there is a sense that each step builds on the previous one...

The sad thing is that this doesn't just happen. We must respond to the message. Some 30-40 years later John would write down a letter from Jesus to the church in Laodicea: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" (Rev3:15)

It seems the church in Laodicea didn't get it... Not even step 1...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-19 [Highlights from Colossians] Why we do church.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians1:28-29

Recently we went to listen to Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley at a conference. Bill Hybels gave me goosebumps when he warned about "Pastoral Malpractice": a disturbing trend he was seeing among young pastors who were working hard to create multi-site and mega-churches with no real interest in whether this was what was best for the congregation or not.

Paul is clear about the WHY: We don't "do church" to write great CVs or demonstrate our leadership prowess... We "do church" to see believers transformed in the image of Christ.
- We want to see people become more like Jesus.
It is _not_ about buildings, numbers or statistics.
- It is about life-transformation.

Paul is clear about the WHAT:
- Proclamation: Making clear the message of the gospel
- Admonishing: Being bold enough to confront bad thinking and values
- Teaching with wisdom: Wisdom is found in the will of God, so this kind of teaching is more than knowledge - it equips people to live for God.

And finally, Paul is clear about the HOW:
Through labour that springs from the energy of God - the power of His Spirit - that works in us.

This is the WHY, WHAT and HOW of "doing church."

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 15, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-15 [Highlights from Colossians] The amazing gospel we preach

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians1:25-27

Paul feels very privileged to serve God by spreading the Gospel:
- He describes it as the Word of God in its fullness (It is complete!)
- It is an age-old mystery now revealed (The time is now!)
- The saints, the called ones, get to make it known (We're part of this!)
- There are glorious riches (We are forgiven and free)

And then he sums up the gospel message as this:
"Christ in you -- the hope of glory!"

That's the gospel in a nutshell.
We could not save ourselves so Jesus took our place for punishment and now when God looks at us, He sees what Christ has done - He sees Christ in us - and because Christ is IN us we are being renewed and transformed.

This is our hope - and it leads us to glory - not ours but His.

Let's review it again...(!)
- Christ is God's Final Word (Heb1:1) we have a complete message
- All of history worked its way toward Bethlehem and Golgotha and to us.
- We get to tell others.
- There are glorious riches - we have forgiveness, restoration and eternal life.

It is Christ - the glorious Son of God - living in us!
We are forgiven and being transformed and we will be with Him in glory.

What a privilege it is to serve Him!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 14, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-14 [Highlights from Colossians] Fill up... on afflictions?!?

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. Colossians1:24

There are some things that Jesus and Paul say really challenge me! Like:
- "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."
- "Forgive seventy times seven..."
- and this comment by Paul...

We're a society that avoids suffering and sees it as an intruding aberration. We would like to have a go-straight-to-heaven-don't-go-through-suffering pass. But suffering is part and parcel of humanity's journey.

What suffering is Paul rejoicing in? Is it his own suffering or Christ's? And isn't Paul being a bit big-headed in making it seem as though Jesus didn't suffer enough and now he, Paul, would "top it up?"

It seems that Paul is rejoicing in Jesus' suffering and his own...*
The point is that he sees how Jesus suffering made salvation possible and he sees how his own suffering has helped spread the gospel.

He is not implying that Jesus did not suffer enough, but rather he recognises that the birth and the spread of the gospel involves suffering. Jesus suffered on the cross to obtain our forgiveness and as the gospel was being preached, people suffered to get the message to the world.

The point is that Paul is not intimidated by suffering. Jesus suffered for the church. James the brother of John was martyred for the church, the early church was scattered by persecution and Paul has been whipped and imprisoned. When we suffer for the gospel and for the church, we are in Good Company for a Good Cause and we can rejoice!
* (Although some versions translate "my suffering", the Greek article is neuter should be translated "that" not "my")

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

EMMDEV Prep for Lent Document

What is Lent?

It is based on the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness at the beginning of His public ministry. (Sundays are not counted, so Lent is actually 46 days long)

During the second century it became customary to baptise all converts on Easter Sunday. During those ages of persecution and martyrdom, they had to be thoroughly prepared for the confession of their faith and for their challenging walk with the Lord.

These preparations lasted 40 days – not counting Sundays. Fasting and Prayer played an important role alongside the teaching the converts would receive during this time.

After a while, other Church members felt the need to repeat the course. This season, always during the European Spring, became the Lenten Season of the Church as Lent is Latin for Spring. Lent reaches its climax on Good Friday and ends with the Celebration of Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

There are two important aspects to Lent:

  • Penitence: We realise our own brokenness and our need for Christ.

  • Preparation: We strive to open our hearts wider for the celebration of Easter.

During this time people add to or subtract from their daily routines with the goal of drawing closer to God.

The idea around Lent is that we add and subtract to our lives so that we don't just move forward but God-ward. Traditionally there are three directions for our “fasting” to take:
Our Lent additions need to do justice to:

  1. God (through prayer, reflection and action)

  2. Ourselves (through the creation of good habits or breaking bad ones)

  3. Others (through charity and kindness)

So, here are some examples:

  • Give up sugar or coffee and use the “cravings” as a reminder to think about and devote yourself to God.

  • Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier for devotions or exercise.

  • Reduce your TV hours and use the time to read a good devotional book or to spend quality time with your family.

  • Volunteer some time to help at a charitable organisation or do something to help the poor and needy.

  • Come to church more regularly or join a fellowship group for the 6 weeks

Where does Shrove Tuesday fit in?

In many Christian traditions people would abstain from rich foods during this fast time. As Wednesday is the start of Lent, Tuesday would be used as a day to use up the “rich” foods (eggs, butter, oil, milk, etc) in the house. Pancakes serve this purpose very well! Also, Jesus reminded His disciples that they should not look mournful when they fasted and so the church found it fitting to start a fast with a feast!

Ash Wednesday

Job 42:5-6. Job says to God: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Ash Wednesday is primarily a day of repentance – of sorrow because of what our sins do to God, His work and those around us.

According to the Bible, repentance consists of:

  • a true sense of one's own guilt and sinfulness;

  • an expectation of God's grace and mercy in Christ

  • an actual hatred of sin

  • turning from sin to God

  • seeking a holy life by persistent effort, obediently walking with God.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation but worldly sorrow brings death. (2Cor7:10)

In the very traditional observation of Ash Wednesday, worshippers come forward to confess and repent of their sin in silent prayer. They are marked with the sign of the cross, using a paste of ash and olive oil. The ash represents the sorrow and contriteness we feel over our sin. The olive oil represents joy, blessing and consecration which is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are marked with the sign of the cross to remind us that it is Christ who saves us.

Often as they are marked, the priest or elder will say “Your sins are forgiven – go and sin no more.”

Ash Wednesday starts the “Fasting” of Lent on the right foot – we realise how badly we need God.

Keeping Perspective...

While one tries to observe these “fasts” and observances as well as possible, there must be no legalism about this. We are not trying to impress God. We're trying to prepare our hearts. Don't be guilt-wracked if you don't manage it all the time.

Lent is an opportunity rather than a burden and we pray that yours will be meaningful!

Theo Groeneveld Cell: 082-5510752

Here's how I'm doing 2013:
"They who wait on the Lord will renew their strength They will mount up on wings like eagles..." (Isaiah 40:31)

EMMDEV 2013-02-13 [Highlights from Colossians] Gospel Summary

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians1:21-23

Today is the start of Lent.

For the last few days we have reflected on the identity of Christ:
- That He reveals the fullness of God
- Creation is _through_ Him and _for_ Him and sustained _by_ Him.
- He is the head of the Church
- by virtue of His victory over death He has supremacy
- He has achieved reconciliation for us.

If this is who Jesus is, Paul now describes what this means to us:
- We were far from God and enemies with Him because of our sin
- But we have been reconciled and completely forgiven

This is the free gift that God gives us - but paradoxically the free gift costs us everything. When we discover that we find new life in Christ, we give our lives to Him. We invite Him to be the Lord of our lives. We ask Him to be our God and we commit to follow Him.

This is what Paul is talking about in v.23: we need to CONTINUE (The Greek word can mean "stay", "remain", "continue" or "persist") in our faith, established, firm and unmoved from HOPE.

The Gospel is free but not cheap - when we embrace the HOPE of the gospel of Christ's love for us it will transform us. We will be changed and we will want to change.

That's what Lent is about - in the early church it was a season of training and learning for new converts who wanted to be baptised. They fasted, prayed and dedicated themselves to learning about the One who saved them.

Lent is about looking forward to the gospel message of Easter and beginning a process by which we dedicate ourselves afresh to CONTINUE in the faith: established, firm and immovably built on the hope of the gospel!

I will be sending you a document about Lent...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-12 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord 5 - What He achieved and how

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians1:19-20

Because He is 100% part of the God-Family (the Trinity) and because He is fully human and fully God, Jesus attained the most incredible achievement: Reconciliation.


It sounds so easy on a human level...
Two parties were divided and are now united with their differences sorted out. We find it relatively easy to bring two parties together and work through the issues that separated them.

Ok... It's not always easy, but it remains doable.
From the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa in the 1990's we know that it isn't always easy to bridge the gap between estranged people but we can make a start...

But it's still easier when you are dealing with human beings who do not require perfect solutions. We are willing to accept compromises that are not 100% sufficient.

But when reconciliation is with a Holy God, it becomes very difficult:
A Holy God cannot sweep offences under the carpet.
A Holy God cannot simply let wrongs go undealt with.
A Holy God cannot simply let "bygones be bygones."

When one of the parties in the reconciliation process is sin-guilty and the other party is sinless, there is a big and impassable chasm between the two.

Unless the Sinless One can pay the price for the sinful one.

With all the fullness of God in Him, Jesus lived fully as human without succumbing to the temptation of sin and then, with the weight of the sin of _all_ humanity on His shoulders, He went to the cross - building a bridge between sinless God and sinful humanity. He reconciled us to God.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 8, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-08 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord 4 - His unique qualification

...He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy Colossians1:18

What qualifies Jesus to be the head of the church?

He has conquered and vanquished death.

Death used to be the great leveller.
It held us all in its grip - we all faced death and then judgement.
And the judgement is not in our favour - we are not holy.

But Jesus faced death as the Holy One.
When He died, He faced judgement on behalf of all of humanity and the price He paid (His sinless life) was sufficient.

This meant that He could overcome death and turn death into a doorway so that all who followed Him could walk through the doorway and pass judgment.

He is the beginning - (the Greek hints at archetype)
He is the firstborn - (the Greek hints at prototype)

He is the pioneer, the trailblazer, the instigator, the groundbreaker, the swashbuckling guide, the originator, the lead-from-the-front-conqueror who leads the church in overcoming death.

He did so at great cost! No one else would and could do what He has done for us and this is what makes Him supreme!

Take this thought with you to church on Sunday and worship Him with the rest of us who choose to follow the One who is our lead-from-the-front-conqueror!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-07 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord 3 - The Church's Head

And he is the head of the body, the church. Colossians1:18

Paul is addressing the Colossian heretics... and this short sentence is a very very powerful statement:

The heretics wanted to reduce Jesus to the status of a guru or wise teacher. They implied that there was life in rituals, traditions and philosophical privileged information passed around among the "enlightened" with winks and secret handshakes...

They used an addition-subtraction theology: they implied that you needed Jesus+... (Jesus+traditions, Jesus+rituals, Jesus+knowledge etc.) Pretty soon the traditions, rituals and knowledge would subtract Jesus from the picture. So you added something and subtracted Jesus.

Paul is incredibly direct: We can't be distracted or side-tracked. We have to keep the main thing the main thing! Jesus is the head of the church and the church is a body. A headless body is a lifeless body.

When the church loses focus on Jesus, when He is not the head of the body, we land ourselves in trouble.
This has been true throughout history and it is true today.

Without Jesus, the church is a headless, lifeless body.

(Tomorrow we will look at His qualifications to be the head of the church.)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-06 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord 2 - Creating.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians1:16-17

"For by Him all things were created..."
"...all things were created BY Him and FOR Him..."
"...He is before all things..."
" Him all things hold together"

When the laws of physics were written, when the double-helix of DNA was conceived, when the fires of the sun were lit, when colour and sound were conceptualised along with eyes and ears to perceive them, and when the galaxy and its countless stars were called out by name*, Jesus was present, active and integral!

Creation is BY Him and FOR Him. He is the source and destination of creation. Creation is a fingerprint of His majesty.

But He also HOLDS all of creation together - He is the Sustainer of all of creation. His attention holds our earth at 23.5 degrees, the moon in its orbit, the protons in the atom, and He supplies the constancies: We call them Planck's constant, Avrogado's constant, Coulomb's constant etc. but these men only discovered these constants - it is Christ who keeps them constant.

Next time you think of Jesus as "gentle Jesus meek and mild" or as the "sweet baby in the manger," or as a "wise teacher" be reminded that He has creation in his CV and current job description and that all of creation will bow before Him.

* See Isaiah 40:12-26 (espec v.26)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-05 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord 1 - Revealing God.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians1:15

Jesus is not a guru, a wise man or a prophet. He is much more!

He is the one who makes the invisible God visible to us. The writer to the Hebrews puts it even more clearly: He is the "radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." (Heb1:3)

God is community: an in-love-perfectly-united-family of Father, Son and Spirit. God the Father and the Holy Spirit reveal God's glory through the Son.

The Father has chosen the Son to make God's goodness known. You want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus:

1. His eternal-ness: Jesus didn't have his beginning at Bethlehem: He has always existed. He is not the first born OF creation but first born of God and as such is OVER creation - all of the glory and all the rights of the Father are His. Creation is His. John says He is the WORD of God who has been with God since the beginning - He is the orderliness, the reason, the logic of creation. For God SAID "Let there be light..." As we will see tomorrow, Jesus is the agent of creation (and its destination...)

2. His OT presence: Right through the Old Testament we have accounts where THE angel of the Lord appears and people take off their shoes and cover their faces*. These are what we call pre-incarnate appearances of Christ - Each time he appears in this way, e.g. to Joshua at Jericho, He is in charge and in control and worthy of worship.

3. The incarnation, cross, resurrection, and ascension. In all of these roles Jesus makes God known to us. He reveals God's love, God's power, God's kindness, God's graciousness and God's determination.

4. He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev19:16) which reveals His power and majesty.

The false teachers in Colosse wanted to put tradition, ritual and their so-called "secret knowledge"# in the spotlight: They argued that God was unclear and hard to reach and that the rituals and special knowledge brought you nearer... Paul argues that knowing God is a simple matter of taking a proper look at Jesus.

The more you look at Him, the more you will see!!!!

* Normal angels would never allow people to worship them - see Rev22:8-9
# The false teachers had philosophical frameworks and ideas that they called secret knowledge that only the enlightened could understand - if you didn't have this secret knowledge you couldn't know God.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 1, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-02-01 [Highlights from Colossians] Awesome Lord Overview

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians1:15-20

You might just want to start singing the Hallelujah chorus after reading our passage!!!

But this passage becomes even more meaningful when we unpack it and understand the background...

Epaphras was a worried man... He planted a new and vibrant church in Colosse and things were going well until some false teachers arrived...

They were well-educated and offered convincing arguments. They claimed to have a clearer knowledge of the "inside workings" of the faith. They emphasised the Jewish traditions and ceremonies. They fasted and dieted, they had lists of "do's" and "don'ts". They gave the Colossian Christians many things to _do_ that showed off their piety and holiness.

As they emphasised their deeds more and more, they had to push the life, teachings and saving work of Jesus more and more into the background so that the Old Testament Laws and Ceremonies could come into the foreground.

Epaphras went to Rome to get Paul's help... And Paul wrote to the Colossians: After establishing his caring and concern for the congregation, Paul begins to tackle the problem and his approach is interesting: he doesn't start by exposing the false teachings - he starts by lifting up the truth. He starts by exalting Jesus. He begins with a focus on Christ.

He will NOT allow Jesus to be pushed into the background. He lifts Him up with this incredible hymn of praise... And next week we'll chew over it in detail.

But in the meantime, read it again and this time sing HALLELUJAH at the end!!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at