Sunday, September 05, 2010

Colossians 1:3-5a The Object of Our Faith

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope
laid up for you in heaven...
Colossians 1:3-5a

Here we see both Paul and Timothy giving thanks for the Colossians in their prayers for them. Thanksgiving is an exercise that is motivated by joy, it is an expression of joy and here it is expressed to the source of the joy, who is God Himself. What do we see about the Colossians that would be the occasion of joy and its corresponding thanksgiving by Paul and Timothy? From the text we see it is their faith, love, and hope, and according to Paul in I Corinthians 13 faith, hope, and love are the three eternal Divine qualities, three Divine distinctives, and we see that these three are present and active in the life of the church at Colossae. It is interesting to note that there is only one other church in the NT that we see mentioned as manifesting all three of these divine qualities and that is the church at Thessalonica.

While both churches are commended for manifesting these qualities, how they manifest them is different. In Thessalonica they are manifested in the activity of faith, the unction of love, and the steady enduring of hope
(I Thessalonians 1:3). Here in Colossae they are revealed through the object of their faith, Jesus Christ; the direction of their love, toward all the saints; and the place of their hope, which is in heaven. So over the next few posts we will look at these three Divine distinctives as they are lived out in the church at Colossae.

So now let’s look at the object of our faith—Jesus Christ.

Well, what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Martin Luther describes faith as a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.

The Greek word for faith (pistis) means a firm persuasion, a strong conviction, a belief in the truth.  It is not the outcome of imagination, but based on fact.  It is a strong and welcome conviction that leaves no room for doubt. It is to be fully and completely persuaded beyond a shadow of any doubt. Out of this is conviction is born trust and the concept of trusting is implicit in the understanding of what it means to have faith. In fact, trust is the dynamic component of faith. Faith then must have a foundation to rest on, an object in which to place its trust. So for the Christian the object of our faith and the place of our trust is Jesus Christ.

Before we get to the object of our faith, Christ Jesus, it is interesting to note what Paul did not include as the object of our faith. It is not having faith in our denominational affiliation, our family heritage, our church membership as that is having faith in the agency of man. It is not faith in our faith, faith in a prayer we prayed or a decision that we made, because this would be having faith in ourselves. It is not faith in walking the aisle, faith in our baptism or our tithing, faith in the good things we do, or faith in our obedience as that would be having faith in our works, which, again, is no more than having faith in ourselves.

Here in Colossians Paul gives us only one object for our faith to rest upon, one place for our trust, and that is Christ Jesus. Now we need to understand there is a dual component to having faith in Christ. It is having faith in the person of Christ, which is represented by His name and having faith in the work of Christ, which is what He did to accomplish our salvation, and therefore trusting only in all that Christ is and all that He has done in securing your salvation. Without faith in both the person and work of Christ you do not have a complete faith and a faith that is not complete is not a faith that saves. Adding to or taking away from this is taking your trust off of Christ and is not saving faith.  All cults and heresies will attack either the person of Christ, or the completed work of Christ.

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