Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Greater than Shadows - Doug Rehberg

I have a friend who loves Jesus a lot. She’s passionate about Him. She speaks frequently of Him as the bridegroom and herself as part of His bride, the church. So you can imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, she turned and said to me, “You aren’t into that Replacement Theology are you?”

Now if you’re not familiar with the term, “Replacement Theology”, in short, is the view that the church has replaced Israel as the heir of all the promises of God. In other words, God has discarded the nation of Israel and replaced her with the church as the focus of all His affections.

Such a view is problematic for several reasons. First, the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, makes a clear distinction between those who are ethnic Jews, circumcised and within the household of Israel, and those who are a part of the remnant of Israel, the recipients of God’s particular favor. Jesus makes this distinction clear in His discussion with the scribes and Pharisees in John 6. While they claim to be children of Abraham, Jesus says there are two groups within Israel: those who are children of the promise and those who are not. Thus, one’s ethnicity does not ensure one’s standing with God.

Second, it’s clear from both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament teaching that it’s only through Christ that one is made acceptable to God and joined to the body of Christ. In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or free (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, any thought that one’s ethnic heritage has anything to do with our standing with God is misguided at best.

The truth is that the New Testament affirms Fulfillment Theology rather than Replacement Theology. That is what we see all through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. In Sunday’s text—Colossians 2:16-23 Paul declares, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food or drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath, (etc.). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Every New Testament author understands Jesus to be the culmination of the Old Testament Word of God. He is the last Adam, the true Israel, the suffering servant, the Son of David, the faithful remnant, the ultimate prophet, the final priest, the greatest and most glorious King.

Therefore, Jesus is the true Israel. The church, i.e. those reconciled to God through the atoning work of Christ and His imputed righteous, are the true Israel of God who are redeemed IN Him. Our only hope is being found in Him. That’s all His work. Our work is to trust Him. That’s Paul’s point.

We’re going to talk about the implications of being in Christ this Sunday morning in a message entitled, “Greater than Shadows.” In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1. How would you define a shadow?
2. Why would Paul call religious behavior such as noted in verse 16 a shadow?
3. What does he mean when he says that Christ is “the substance” in verse 17?
4. If verses 9 & 10 are the apex of his argument, what is he saying about all other additions or requirements men might impose?
5. How does Colossians 1:27 relate to Colossians 2:9, 10?
6. Paul cites three separate threats to Christ’s sufficiency that come to every believer from the outside and  the inside. What are they?
7. Read Romans 14. How does this relate?
8. Read Mark 7:1-23. How does this relate?
9. What is Paul referring to in verse 18?
10. What does he mean when he says in verse 23, that self-made religion, asceticism, and severity to the body are of no value in stopping self-indulgence?

See you Sunday as we seek to come out of the shadows and into the marvelous light!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Triumphant Christ - Doug Rehberg

"The 20 Most Impossible Victories in Sports” is the title of an article I came across this week.

“Impossible. It’s a clear word that relates an easy-to-grasp concept. No wiggle room in the definition. Spin straw into gold? Impossible. Reverse the aging process? Impossible. Walk on water? Impossible (Except for one notable exception!) Yet the 20 victories recapped in this article were also deemed impossible at one time. Media hyperbole? Maybe. But perhaps something stronger than impossibility was at work. The human spirit.”

Here are the top 5:

    #5. Lasse Viren Wins the 10,000 Meter Final in the 1972 Olympics.
He was an unknown policeman from Finland. He fell down during the race. He gets up, races back to the pack, and wins. He sets a world record to boot.
                #4. Yasuhiro Kuba Survives to Tell the Tale.
His chosen sport is banzai skydiving. It’s the insane sport of throwing your parachute out of the plane, then waiting for a while before jumping without one. The trick? To catch up to your parachute and put it on before you hit the ground. Kubo waited 50 seconds before jumping.
                #3. Francis Ouimets 1913 US Open Golf Tournament Win.
Francis was a young caddie in a sport dominated by the British and the Scots. The U.S. had no public courses. It was a game played by the rich and famous. He took on the legendary Harry Vardom and beat him.
                #2. The USA Defeats the USSR in the 1980 Olympic Hockey Game.
The Americans were all amateurs, their average age was 22. They were playing the most powerful USSR national team ever assembled. These were professionals. They played 11 months a year. A year before the Olympics they had beaten the NHL All Star Team 6-0. Two weeks before the Olympics they had beaten the USA Hockey Team 10-3 in an exhibition.
                #1. Erik Weihenmayer Summits Everest.
Why is this the greatest sports victory when over 3,000 people have done it? Erik Weihenmayer was born with retinoschisis. By age 13 he was totally blind!

In Colossians 2:6-15 Paul speaks of another “impossible victory”. In fact, it’s the most impossible victory of all time. It’s a victory so grand and so miraculous that its result has redounded to the eternal benefit of people from Adam and Eve to you and me.

In the face of the unsettling news that false teaching had begun to infiltrate the young church at Colossae, Paul reminds them and us of the triumph of Jesus Christ at Calvary. More than a historic win, this is a victory of cosmic proportions. It’s a victory that can radically change your life forever.

We will dig into all of this on Sunday in a message entitled: “The Triumphant Christ”. In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1. What’s the message Paul is delivering in verse 6 by using the word “therefore”?
2. Have you seen verse 6 before? Why did we pick it as the foundation of our three-fold ministry at Hebron?
3. “See to it” is a famous Pauline line. What does it mean?
4. Why is “captivity” so dangerous in Paul’s eyes?
5. What is Paul warning the Colossians against in verse 8?
6. How does verse 9 expand on what Paul says in chapter 1:15-20?
7. How does verse 10 mitigate the threat of the false teachers?
8. What does Paul mean in verse 14 when he says that the “record of debt” and “its legal demands” have been set aside by the cross?
9. What’s Paul view of the cross in verse 15?
10. What does this tell us about the purpose of the cross?

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Great Struggle - Henry Knapp

I am not sure where I developed the habit, but I can be a bit of a contrarian. A “contrarian” is one of those annoying individuals who start every third sentence with “yea, but…” and proceed to point out the opposite side of every argument.

In my most self-charitable moments, I suspect that I act that way because that’s the way I learn. If I want to understand something, I learn not only what that thing is, but also what it is not. I’m always looking for the boundaries—how far this way, or that way, can I waver and still be “in the right?” And, so it is with my faith—if I want to understand something, learning about the opposite helps me a lot. When studying about, for instance, the resurrection of Jesus, it helps me to read others’ thoughts who would reject that teaching. Learning about their wrong-thinking, helps to solidify my own thinking. Few folks have been more helpful in this than a particular pastor who often blogs thoughts that defy description.

In one such blog, this pastor described how it is appropriate to describe himself as a Christian even though he doesn’t believe God exists. “What??" you ask. “A pastor who doesn’t think God exists?” Yes, he thinks “God” is a useful metaphor and thinks that acting morally qualifies him as a Christian pastor. Reading his thinking helps me see what is wrong with a faith that loses sight of Jesus. Now, I grant you, he is an extreme case. But still, there is a lot of Christ-less Christianity going around… and perhaps there is some in our lives as well.

The thought of a Christ-less Christianity should strike us as an impossibility. After all, what could be more central than Christ to Christianity? But, Christ-less-ness doesn’t just mean that one denies Jesus. It just means that Jesus is no longer the center of one’s faith. Something else—often something good—takes the place of Jesus in our universe. There are a lot of wonderful things in this world. There are a lot of good ideas in this world. There are a lot of good deeds to do in this world. But all that good-ness can actually distract us from what is truly central in our lives—Jesus Christ.

As we have been working our way through Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the centrality of Jesus (His supremacy and sufficiency) should be clear to us all. Paul is writing this way because the Colossians are struggling with the same temptations that we have—temptations to get distracted from Christ and toward something else, anything else. How do we fight this temptation? How do we keep from getting off-course in our lives and our faith? Paul’s answer to the Colossians at the beginning of chapter 2 is to share the struggles and the goals of his ministry. By doing so, his readers might reach the full knowledge of Christ, and not be deluded by any other good-sounding thing.

If you too find yourself often in “Christ-less” situations, tempted toward Christ-less goals in life, dig in! For in the Word of God you will find Jesus, the incomparable Christ.

See you at worship this Sunday as we study together Colossians 2:1-5.

1. Why would Paul want to share with others how much he struggles in ministry? Why would that be a good thing?

2. Paul says that he struggles even for those who he has never met. Why is that important? What does that say to you and your ministry?

3. Why do our hearts need to be encouraged? Why do we need to be knit together? Is this a message only for those who are down-hearted and feeling separated from others?

4. In verse 4, Paul is concerned about “plausible arguments”. Where do you think those are coming from? What do you think makes them “plausible”?

5. What brings Paul joy in verse 5? Why does “good order” bring him joy? What might “good order” look like?

6. How do you know if you have a “firmness of faith in Christ”? (vs. 5) How does Paul expect you to get it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Hidden Mystery - Doug Rehberg

It’s one of the greatest lines ever uttered, from one of the greatest characters of human history—Winston Churchill.

It came during one of his earliest BBC broadcasts to the British people during the early days of World War II. It was Sunday night, October 1, 1939, and Churchill said:
The British Empire and the French Republic have been at war with Nazi Germany for a month tonight. We have not yet come at all to the severity of fighting which is to be expected, but several important things have happened.

First, Poland has been again overrun by two of the great powers which held it in bondage for the last 150 years, but were unable to conquer the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defence of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible and that she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock.

What is the second event of this first month? It is, of course, the assertion of the power of Russia. Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russians armies should be standing on their present lines as the friends of the allies in Poland, instead of as invaders. But that the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.

When Herr von Ribbentrapp was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and to accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic States and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop.

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key, that key is Russian national interest.

There it is – “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” That’s what Paul is talking about in Sunday’s text.

He’s writing from prison, to a group of Christians he’s never met. And here he speaks of a mystery far more significant and substantial than Mother Russia and her political pursuits. He speaks of the grand mystery of God that’s been hidden and unknown from the beginning of time. Paul says it this way, “the mystery hidden for ages and generations, but now revealed to the saints.”

In other words, from Adam to Jesus, God had a singular mystery that remained hidden. Adam didn’t know it, nor did Abraham, Moses, David, or any prophet. It was a riddle, a mystery, an enigma. But now, says Paul, every Christian knows it. It’s been thoroughly revealed.

What is this divine mystery? Paul tells us—“It is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This Sunday we will examine Colossians 1:24-29 to discover four great aspects of this revealed mystery.

In preparation for Sunday’s message entitled “The Hidden Mystery” you may wish to consider the following:

1. What does Paul mean when he says that his sufferings are filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions? (see verse 24)

2. Why is he rejoicing in his suffering for their sake?

3. How does Acts 9:16 relate to Colossians 1:24?

4. In light of verse 26, how does Paul see the Old Testament Scriptures?

5. How does Galatians 4:1-7 relate to what Paul is saying in our text?

6. What do you learn when you compare Colossians 1:2 to Colossians 1:27?

7. See I John 4:1-4.

8. How is every believer “the new tabernacle”, “the new Temple”?

9. What are the implications of verse 27?

10. What do the pronouns in verse 28 tell us about Paul and you? (see II Corinthians 12:9)

See you Sunday!