Vital Union with Jesus

Vital union

Sunday 05/05/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Vital Union with Jesus

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Vital Union with Jesus

Col. 2:1-23,  Weymouth  

“(1) For I would have you know in how severe a struggle I am engaged on behalf of you and the brethren in Laodicea and of all who have not known me personally,  (2) in order that their hearts may be cheered, they themselves being welded together in love and enjoying all the advantages of a reasonable certainty, till at last they attain the full knowledge of God’s truth, which is Christ Himself. (3)  In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are stored up, hidden from view.  (4)  I say this to prevent your being misled by any one’s plausible yet deceptive arguments.  (5) For although, as you say, I am absent from you in body, yet in spirit I am present with you and am delighted to witness your good discipline and the solidity of your faith in Christ.

Above all, Paul loved to see Christians solid in doctrine and relational trust (faith)!

All the knowledge of God is found in Christ,

2Cor. 4:6-7, HCSB “6) For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”–He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.”

1Cor. 13:12, HCSB “(12) For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.”

Paul now encourages towards diligence of heart in the faith…

“(6)  As therefore you have received the Christ, even Jesus our Lord, live and act in vital union with Him;  (7)  having the roots of your being firmly planted in Him, and continually building yourselves up in Him, and always being increasingly confirmed in the faith as you were taught it, and abounding in it with thanksgiving.”


This is the branch living in the awareness that he is an extension of the vine! This is to “acknowledge Him in all our ways” which results in His directing our paths as the proverb [Prov. 3:6] says.

This IS an admonition to live the 1st Psalm,

“(1) How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners, or join a group of mockers! (2) Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (3) He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” [Psalm 1:1-3]

Part of this process is having your faith confirmed.

Q. How is this done? A. Through testing and trial.

Never forget Peter’s words, “though you rejoice in the fact that you are kept for salvation by the power of God, yet now for a little while, IF NEED BE, you have been grieved by various trials and oppositions to your trusting reliance upon Him SO THAT your reliance upon Him may be revealed to be genuine and not a forgery.”

Modern teaching of Christian beliefs tend towards extremes concerning our lives in Christ.

  1. Some would have us think that everything has been done FOR us and nothing is required of us at all.
  2. Others would have us believe that the only thing that pleases God is trying harder upon the heels of every failure.

The truth rests somewhere in between.

For while we cannot produce righteousness nor righteous fruit through reliance upon the efforts of the flesh, neither can we do so through neglect of true religion….but through trusting reliance upon the inner work of the Spirit in conjunction with the word of God.

Now, I make use  other word I rarely say… that of religion because “religion” is a central feature of this chapter – both its many counterfeits and its one reality.

As I’ve taught you in times past, the word religion means spiritual worship & devotion. So religion is NOT a bad word, it is a misrepresented truth.

James refers to pure religion (James 1:26-27), indicating there is also an impure religion which would be external worship but not the practice of that which God demands of man. True religion is to live a life of reverent devotion towards God.

James 1:26-27, ESV “(26) If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

“(8) Take care lest there be someone who leads you away as prisoners by means of his philosophy and idle fancies, following human traditions and the world’s crude notions instead of following Christ.”

This has reached epidemic proportions in the church today. People attempt to reduce God’s laws to situational moralities which are determined by the individual OR loose interpretations of scripture.

…and people can laugh at this all they want but I am telling you that MOST of this diluting (watering down) of God’s righteousness in the minds of His saints is due to our love for and attention to the worlds entertainment! Even in those who hold tightly to the doctrines of scripture still indulge in worldly entertainment in WHICH they subject themselves to repetitive exposure to ungodly practices which while it may not cause them to walk away from the truth – they will become sympathetic to those who live in sin or at very least will become desensitized to the depravity and outright spitting at God’s ways practiced in much of that entertainment.

Mark my words – you cannot be entertained by shows debuting and moralizing sin without it corrupting your heart! “A little leaven, will permeate the whole loaf.”

Am I saying that you should restrict yourself to only Christian entertainment. No, but I would be ever so cautious what I allowed myself to be entertained by and if it heralds something contrary to God’s word I’d steer clear of it!

What do I mean by that? Well…

If there is a show, which features sexual immorality in any form (like casual sex, provocative clothes, extra-marital or non-marital sex, homosexuality…etc.) I would STOP watching it immediately.

If it debuts women constantly ruling over men, cut men in subjective roles where they are the help ates and the women are the head. I would STOP watching it immediately.

If it often attempts to moralize ANY action which runs contrary to truth, I’d STOP watching it immediately.

I just used three helpful & descriptive terms… Features, debuts, often.

I have met many Christians who got caught up in the show Game of Thrones which as I understand it started off with a fair amount of full View nudity and wanton sex, gratuitous violence and women being often cast in dominant roles over men… and yet, their entertainment meant more than their walk. Many of these Christians continued to watch it working against their own inner conscience just to avoid appearing prudish in front of co-workers by being ignorant the latest episode.

I single out Game of Thrones because it’s so simple and it has an overwhelming cult following. But when article that I read had gone through all the episodes up until season 7 and found 865 deaths 17 rapes and 144 accounts of nudity.

The more you laugh at, cry with or are entertained by sin the less you are capable of being offended by it!  

The world knows devoted Christians will never attend the special interests meetings of those who practice sin, but they WILL turn it on in the privacy of their living rooms and laugh and cry with it. Don’t be deceived – they are preaching a message…and all preaching is intended to convert!

I’ve actually listened to actors who have shared that they believe media is one of the most powerful tools to shape our culture and that they seek out roles through which they hope to promote belief in what they believe.

Prov. 22:3-5, NKJV “(3) A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished. (4) By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life. (5) Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.”

“(9)  For it is in Christ that the fulness of God’s nature dwells embodied, and in Him you are made complete,”  

So what is this saying but that if you are Christ’s then you are on a journey towards His image. So placing before yourselves and following any other image is counter productive, for you are only able to be made complete or mature in WHO you really are IN HIM!

“(10)  and He is the Lord of all princes and rulers.  (11) In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not performed by hand, when you threw off your sinful nature in true Christian circumcision;”

Paul had a strong feeling about the topic of circumcision. It was a matter of pride in the Jewish belief. It meant one was in covenant with God. It was very much like many Catholics feel by being baptized into the church as infants. But once Paul came to Christ, what HAD been a matter of much pride in him became something very bitter indeed. He began to preach strongly against circumcision (since in his day there was no need to practice this unless for religious reasons) and gradually his language concerning it changed. In Acts 13 Paul refuses to even use the word but speaks clearly that it cannot justify. About seven years later in his letter to the Galatians he speaks against it and again refuses to even name it. In Romans 2 he claims it to be a spiritual cutting away and that the natural circumcision was only for unbelieving Jews. Later in this letter of Colossians he speaks of it only spiritually as the right of every believer and finally in Philippians he speaks of natural circumcision with reproach cutting the first part of the word off and calling it “cision” by which he meant mutilation of the flesh.

Paul had these feelings out of respect to Christ Jesus. He saw all flesh efforts as self-righteous and an affront against the cross of Christ.


I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!