A Trustworthy Source
Read Colossians 1:1-2 (ESV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
In today’s verses, how does Paul demonstrate his authority? How can we trust the rest of what Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians?
We do not live in an age that is experiencing a shortage of information about religion. We can pull up a Bible on our phones from a variety of sources in seconds. But we can also scroll social media and read dozens of philosophical snapshots in meme form posted up by our friends citing pastors, experts, and gurus. How do we know which ones to believe? We can search for videos explaining doctrines and spiritual beliefs. But how do we know which teachers are trustworthy? With all of this information at our fingertips, how do we know what we should chew and digest vs what we should chew and spit out?
In the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians, Paul addressed this issue. The believers in Colossae didn’t have internet access but they were still dealing with a wide variety of conflicting spiritual ideas. Just as we are encountering heretical teachings and false doctrines today, the Colossian church was being infiltrated with false teachings that were confusing believers. Turns out there’s nothing new under the sun.
In 62 AD, there were a few different heretical ideas at play that could have been the culprit that Paul was addressing with the Colossians. At this time, many people were combining ideas from pagan worship, folk beliefs, Jewish mysticism, angel worship, Gnosticism, and elements of Greek philosophy with Christian truth. As we continue to study Colossians, we will see Paul combat these heretical ideas with the truth of the Gospel. His focus? Christ alone.
In today’s verses, Paul points out that he is not some random traveling preacher with unsubstantiated truth claims. He is an apostle of Christ by the will of God. He is an ambassador and a representative of Jesus Christ who was appointed for this job by God Himself.
How do we know that we can trust his claims? Because of his miraculous conversion! When we first meet Paul (Saul) in Acts 7:58, he was overseeing the stoning of Stephen, a newly appointed minister to the Greek widows in the church. In Acts 8, we read of him dragging Christians from their homes and sending them to prison. Later in Acts and in his letters to the churches, Paul repeatedly admits that he was one of the greatest persecutors of the early church. “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” (Acts 26:9-11).
But in Acts 9, we read of his conversion. He was on his way to synagogues in Damascus to hunt for Christians to arrest when the risen Christ appeared to him. The men that were with him testified that this encounter truly happened. They saw the brilliant light and heard a voice. They could testify to the fact that Paul was left blinded by this encounter. After 3 days, Ananias, who had been told by God to go to Saul, came to him to heal him. Paul had also received a vision that a man named Ananias would be coming to restore his sight. From that moment on, Paul changed. He went from persecuting followers of Jesus to preaching Jesus!
Paul had nothing to gain by converting to Christianity but he had a lot to lose. He went from being the hunter to being the hunted and began to experience the very suffering and persecution he had previously inflicted on others. And yet, he never recanted.
Friends, we can trust the testimony of Paul as reliable and trustworthy because he was appointed to his role of apostle by Christ Himself. Paul was not seeking to become an apostle of Jesus. He had no earthly motive and nothing worldly to gain by preaching the Gospel of the Risen Christ. And yet, he did. He sacrificed everything, even his own life, to preach the truth of Christ. If you are wondering who you can trust to tell you the truth of the Gospel, open your Bibles with us for the next several weeks as we study the book of Colossians.
Lord, there are so many voices who claim to proclaim the truth. I don’t want to be led astray. Open my heart and my mind to the truth of Your Word. Remind me to go directly to the trustworthy sources that you have provided to get my information about You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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