Tuesday, March 19, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-19 [Highlights from Colossians] Don't return #3 (to basic superstitions)

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians2:20-23

The word Paul uses for "basic principles" implies "elemental beginnings" or "original rudiments." In this context it implies returning to a kind of primitive superstition that we should outgrow.

One can imagine how this worked out in the Colossian context: They were being urged to return to the basics of Judaism: circumcision, diet, tassles on their robes, beards, kosher eating, cleanliness laws etc.

There is a certain comfort in these rituals...
They provide structure, a sense of identity and, most importantly, a sense of progress - if you can tick all the boxes, you are are doing alright.

But Paul is clear: these "superstitions" cannot save. They appear wise and one could even argue that they make people behave nicely, but Paul says "they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence" - they try to change us from the outside-in instead of from the inside-out.

Today we have our own set of basic principles: "Read your Bible, go to church, don't drink, don't smoke, don't .... "
These are external practices, and, to be sure, they are good habits, BUT they cannot save us. And the practices alone won't transform us.

We have to be careful... Although there are many good habits, we can end up relying on the habits instead of a real and living relationship with the real and living Christ.

Change happens from the inside out and this is what Paul talks about in ch.3....
As schools close on Thursday, I am going to stop here so that we start ch.3 in the new term...
Have a blessed Easter and don't forget that the Emmanuel Easter Service will be broadcast on SAFM at 11h00 on Easter Sunday...

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Friday, March 15, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-15 [Highlights from Colossians] Don't return #2 (to disconnectedness)

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Colossians2:18-19

When we rely on traditions and rituals to be our salvation, we end up being on the "save-myself-plan." Then the more I do, the more arrogant I become.

Paul describes people who get carried away by all the things they have ADDed to the simple gospel message of grace by faith. (It seems that the Colossian Christians were being encouraged to have visions of angels and other "revelations") They became puffed up and distracted.

The minute we focus on things what we have to DO to be saved, we have missed the bus and lost the point. The worst thing is that the minute we get on the save-myself-plan we lose sight of Jesus and we diminish what He has done for us.

Paul likens it to a beheaded chicken: It jumps around with no purpose or direction and will eventually die. Jesus is the only one who can save us. And He saves us completely - we need nothing else. When we keep Him at the head, then our body grows in a healthy and sustainable way. When we focus on other things we are in danger...

The gospel message is simple: Jesus will forgive ALL your sins and make you new if you trust in Him!

This is all we need.

Paul urges the Colossians not to go back to rituals and esoteric visions because it simply disconnects them from Jesus!

Where do you lie on the Distracted------------------Connected scale?
Use this Sunday to worship the ONE who saves you completely!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 14, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-14 [Highlights from Colossians] Don't return #1 (to shadows)

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. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians2:16-17

The Colossians had been saved by trusting in Christ as their Saviour. They were saved by amazing, undeserved and never-ending grace.

But along came the neo-Jews who wanted to "kosher" them with diet, ritual and tradition. Paul is adamant about the enormity of their mistake: It's like going back to shadows when you had the real deal...

All the traditions of the Old Testament were signposts pointing toward our need for a Saviour. They were like the shadows of the future Messiah being cast backwards in time so that we could have some idea of what was coming. The shadows cannot compare to the three dimensions and full colour of the Reality.

The Reality isn't a religious system, but a Relationship with the Risen Christ.

Tradition and Ritual are, in some ways, easier than Relationship. They are predictable, safe and to some degree flexible enough for us to mould them and ourselves to make a good fit. Relationship, on the other hand, is unpredictable: it can take us to new places and can push us out of our comfort zone.

But with relationship comes the comfort of love and forgiveness.
With relationship there is intimacy and growth and development.
In relationship we are transformed through knowing and being known.

Being a follower of Jesus isn't "safe."
He may lead us into places where we will be stretched and must grow.
But He is good! He is the real deal! - He is full-colour and 3D.

For the next two days we'll continue to compare Ritual to Reality...
Take a moment to thank God that we can know Him personally as our Saviour and Lord - this is true reality - this is true life...

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-13 [Highlights from Colossians] TRIUMPHANT!!!

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians2:13-15

This is one of Paul's pieces of writing that I really enjoy!
What a sense of triumph!

The Law was the written code that showed up all our sin.
The powers and authorities (of Satan the Accuser) used the Law to accuse us and as a result we were found guilty and therefore dead in our sins.

Jesus didn't discard the Law, He came to fulfill it.
He fulfilled not only the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law*. When He died on the cross, He died completely innocent of transgressing any of the Law's statutes and thereby opening a new way apart from the Law. He cancelled the Law by fulfilling it!

The cross, which was considered a shameful death, became a place of victory. By being without sin, the enemies could not accuse, and so they were disarmed. Defeated.

The Law is now nailed to the cross: all its punishments were meted out on the innocent Son of Man and so we can enter through the door He has opened.

What a Saviour!

Remember how He spelled that out in the sermon on the mount? e.g. it's not just murder, but a hateful attitude. It's not just about adultery but a lustful look.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-12 [Highlights from Colossians] Circumcision and Baptism

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. Colossians2:11-12

The Jewish Christians had been urging the Colossian Christians to undergo physical circumcision. They would have argued that it was necessary "because Jesus was circumcised..."

Paul makes it clear that we should not get confused between the signpost and that which is being pointed to:

Circumcision pointed to the idea that we want to "put aside" our sinful nature (symbolised by the removal of a piece of skin) but Paul points out that we can't defeat our sinful nature by ourselves. We can only begin to be transformed when we are made new by Christ. We need a new beginning to become new people.

In a parallel statement, Paul reminds us that baptism, which is about washing, also points to a deeper truth: We have died to our sinful nature and have been raised by Christ to live a new life.

We must be very careful about according too much meaning to the signposts: Today Christians don't get too sidetracked by circumcision, but we do still get into long and complex debates about baptism.

The important issue to note from this text is that Paul is using both traditions (circumcision and baptism) to point to the same truth:
We need to become new people but we can't do it by ourselves
--not but cutting skin off and not by washing in water...
We can go through either or both rituals and it can mean nothing...

It is in Christ alone that we can have a new beginning!!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

EMMDEV Devs on hold this week.

Hi everyone
The emmdevs will be on hold this week. I am attending our Denominations "Mission and Discipleship" committee meeting and then am on a bit of leave. Please pray for the meeting...
God bless,

Friday, March 1, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-03-01 [Highlights from Colossians] He is all we need

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians2:9-10

Yesterday we looked at the tendency of false teaching that tries to add something to what Christ has done.

Today Paul shows us how ridiculous this is. It is like going to the ocean and thinking that adding a teaspoon of water to it is going to make a difference...

Paul reminds us who Jesus is...
He says that all the FULLNESS of Deity lives in Christ:
- The power that ignited all the stars in the universe
- The artistry of sunrises, quasars and the aurora borealis
- The intricacy of DNA and the vastness of the cosmos
- The holiness that grasped Moses, Isaiah and Elijah
- All power and authority is His and every knee will bow before Him

The fullness of God is wrapped up in the nature and character of Christ.

And He became a human being so that He could make that FULLNESS available to rescue you and me. Because He became like us, we can be with Him.

There is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has done for us.
He brought His FULLNESS to our emptiness.
What He has done is enough and sufficient!

Let's offer Him our worship and gratitude this weekend!

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/