Imitation from admiration IS the Gospel!

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Imitation Admiration

Sunday 01/21/23

Title: Imitation from admiration IS the Gospel!

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Imitation from admiration IS the Gospel!

Last week we worked through Colossians 2:12-18, and looked afresh at the awesome truth that if we have been buried with Jesus we are to rise with Him.

As in introductory – segue into our lesson today I’m going to read 1 Corinthians 15:31-34,

“(31) I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  (32)  If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE!”  (33)  Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”  (34)  Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”

This is of course a reference to the New Life we live in Christ, where old things have passed away and all have become new. Where ALL THINGS are now of God Who has reconciled us to Himself.

Now all of this is in order to honor the heart desire of the Father which is to know us in intimacy and true unity and therefore bring Him pleasure. We are being built a spiritual house unto the Lord where He will dwell in us and walk in us forever. 

ALSO, it is to glorify the Father by being conformed to the image of the Son – Jesus our Messiah, Lord, Savior, big brother and friend. 

The Father is honored THROUGH the Son and through our honor of Him through loving, trust-filled submission to Him and His inner work of transformation.

The highest and purest form of praise is imitation. To become like someone you admire. Being conformed to their likeness by receiving their influence over your heart and life. THAT is grace and our trusting response to it honors God the Father.

The enemy desires to tempt you away from the freedom of your life in Christ through encumbrances which hold back your progress, get in the way of your union with Him and obscure your view of Him with things

These things don’t even have to be fleshly – as we typically understand it, but can be seemingly good, wholesome and even righteous – but they are not. The only way to become like Him is to keep Him in view.

With this in mind let’s start back in Colossians 2:6 and keep reading until chapter 3:3

Colossians 2:6-13

“(6) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”  

Live your lives in, through and with Him. 

“(7)  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  

“(8)  Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  

(9)  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;  (10)  and you are complete (filled) in Him, Who is the head of all principality and power.  

(11)  In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  (12)  buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.”

“(13)  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,”

This is very much like the exhortation of Paul to the Ephesian believers,

Ephesians 2:1-22, “(1)And although you were dead in your offenses and sins,  (2)  in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the domain of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience,  (3)  among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest…  

(4)  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  (5)  even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! –  (6)  and He raised us up together with Him and seated us together with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  (7)  to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (8)  For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;  (9)  it is not from works, so that no one can boast.  

(10)  For we are His creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.”

Colossians 2:14-15

“(14)  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  (15)  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  

This also is like Ephesians…

Ephesians 1:17-23, “(17) I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of Him,  (18)  – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you can know what is the hope of His calling, what is the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints,  (19)  and what is the incomparable greatness of His power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of His immense strength.  

(20)  This power He exercised in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms  (21)  far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  

(22)  And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and gave Him to the church as head over all things.  (23)  Now the church is his body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.”

Colossians 2:16-19,

“(16)  So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,  (17)  which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.  

(18)  Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,  (19)  and not holding fast to the Head, from Whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”

Again this corresponds to Ephesians…

Ephesians 4:11-16, “(11) And He Himself gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor-teachers,  (12)  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,  (13)  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.  

(14)  So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.  (15)  But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, Who is the head.  (16)  From Him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body builds itself up in love.”

This is why I encourage questions and input from everyone and we give place to the spirit of God to flow through each of the members of this body, though we don’t often have very many expressions of the gifts, the floor is indeed open to it. 

As the pastor I am not the sole repository of God’s grace to this church or any other body of believers. We ALL are called upon to contribute.

In this very letter Paul tells these believers that they are to speak to one another in teaching and exhortation with wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs seasoned with grace from God. 

Now, as the under-shepherd I am responsible for order and to hold back error which can easily creep in, but I am NOT to be looked to as the sole expression of God’s grace. 

Colossians 2:20-23,  

“(20)  Therefore, if you died with Christfrom the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 

(21)  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  (22)  which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  

(23)  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

Colossians 3:1-17,

“(1) Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”  

Blessings!

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 right...safety 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!