Colossians Introduction (Week 1 – Jesus Plus Nothing Series)
Jason White







The book of Colossians was written to show the superiority of Christ over all human philosophies and traditions, all human opinions and preferences, and personalities and accomplishments. It was a superiority so overwhelming, so devastating, so infinite, that we can hold unreservedly to this conclusion…Jesus plus nothing equals everything – and everything minus Jesus equals nothing!” (Tullian Tchividjian)

Colossians 2:8-10… Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ






Sermon Audio Transcript
I don't know if you saw it or not. But in the early 1990s, there was a movie that came out called City Slickers. Now, I know that some of you, I probably lost as soon as I said, early 1990s, because you weren't even born yet. And I won't hold that against you. But if you haven't seen the movie, the movie is about these three guys. They were kind of in their 40s, maybe early 50s. And they were walking through this midlife crisis. I mean, they just had all these things going on in their family, all these things going on with their work. They've been alive for a half a century, and they don't know what life is really about. And so they're looking for meaning they're looking for purpose, they're looking for things to come together, but it's just not right. Everything's in turmoil. And so they're all kind of looking to get away. And they think, man, if we can just get away, we'll be able to escape all of our problems, at least for a little while. And so that's what they do, all three of them actually get away out of the city, and they go on this, this cattle drive in the South West, but they don't really get away from their problems, they just add to the problems, all those problems at home are still hanging over their head, they still can't stop thinking about them. And then they encountered problem after problem after problem on this cattle drive. But one of the problems that they encountered was actually a guy, his name was curly. And he was the kind of the trail boss, the one that was leading them, but he was a problem for them. Because he was kind of this mysterious figure. And he just kind of looked at you like he might be ready to kill you at any moment. Right? And so they're like, I don't know if I can trust this guy. And besides all that, he's just kind of looking at him in these creepy mysterious ways. He was always holding up this one finger, the first finger all right in there, like, what is that one finger? We'll make why. But what's that whole thing about? Well, Billy Crystal, he's one of the three guys plays kind of the main character in this and he ends up developing a relationship with curly, and curly ends up telling him that that whole one finger thing is about how life is really all only about one thing, that the secret to life is only one thing. And so Billy Crystal is like, tell me, what is the one thing I gotta know if you've figured out what the secret to life is. But he says, I'm not going to tell you that you have to figure that out yourself. He says, and so they continue to go on the journey and countering all kinds of problems. But they finally managed to get through the cattle drive, they get to their destination, it's successful, they're happy. And through all of the struggles, they finally learned that the one thing is actually different for each and every person. The one thing is whatever is most important to each person, and learning to appreciate and focus on that one thing, and the movie ends and they're smiling, and they're happy. They've all figured out their one thing that's most important to them in life and life has been going to be good, we get the idea that they're going to be happily ever after. And we as the audience are left thinking, I need to find my one thing, what is it that's most important to me. And if I figure that thing out, I'll be happy and I'll be content as well. It sounds good, it feels good. But the problem with that thinking is that it's just not true. It's not true. Now the part about life being about one thing is true. But the part about that one thing being different for each person and learning to focus on it and appreciate it is not true, because the one thing really isn't a thing. One thing is a person and that person is Jesus Christ. Jesus said is recorded in John chapter 14, verse six that he is the way he says I'm the way he says I'm the truth and I am the Life and no one comes to the Father except through me. It's the one thing he is the one thing and a lot of us who are here this morning know that if I'd asked you what's the one thing life is all about? A lot of you might have said, Jesus, you would have given me that answer when I finished that earlier in the first service. I got about three Amen. So you guys better wake up. Just saying. But I used that when they did to also say hey, I know a lot of us would Amen That and resonate with that. And it sounds good to say Jesus is the one thing or the one who and all of that kind of stuff. But the thing is, is that even though a lot of us understand that we've come to the place where we recognize our sin, we know that we're lost without him. There's nothing we can do about that, that Jesus died for our sins and he was raised to life and we receive this free gift of eternal life. We we know all of those things, and we get excited about it whenever we first came to know him and received Him into our lives, and life was good, but somewhere along the way And it's different for each and every single one of us. But for most of us somewhere along the way, things don't end up going the way that we thought they would go. And when they don't go the way that we thought that they would go, we start to think there's got to be more to life than this. And so we start looking around, maybe it was something that I used to be involved in the past, I can think back in my past, and there were things that it felt like brought me to life, at least for a little while. Maybe if I go back and start doing those things in my past again, then I'll start to have more life, maybe it'll last this time. If I really lean into them, we'll or if it's not something from our past, we start thinking, What have I not pursued yet? What is it that I'm missing in life that if I finally get to in my own life, I'll finally get there and have the abundant life that I am supposed to have? A lot of us begin to think that Jesus is part of the equation, but there's got to be more to it than just him. I know, I've certainly experienced that and felt that way at times in my own life. Early on, right after college, I was so fired up about Jesus and so fired up about ministry, and I felt like God had called me into teaching and in coaching and, and I wasn't there to just coach tennis, I was there to, to invest in kids that was there to do ministry in the school, we were going to do church inside the school walls each and every single day and introduce kids to Jesus and have their lives changed and just really pour into them. And that's the way I began whenever I started off. But somewhere along the way, we started losing. And when we started losing, I began to feel that and I didn't like the feeling of that I had come from a winning tradition, we had been winning, we used to win district every single year, and I was the first coach in a long time to actually lose the district title. Matter of fact, at the end of the year, and this wasn't that big of a town. I mean, we're only talking about 25,000 people or so. But in the local newspaper that gets printed at that time, and that everybody got and read. I was one of the top 10 news stories of the year. in a negative way. CHS Tiger tennis loses district title for first time, and I don't remember however many years, and I was like, Oh my gosh, did they really call me out in front of everybody in the whole town like everybody knows this? I mean, my heart just sinks I start thinking about what everybody is thinking of me. What a loser who did we hire. I mean, I don't know what it is that is going on here. And I just felt so low, I felt so rejected. I felt like I needed respect, I needed significance. And we had to start winning again, like I needed to start winning again. So that is when I began to pour everything that I could into winning, I drove them harder, we pushed and pushed until finally we started to win. And now along the way, I still love Jesus, I was still doing FCA, there were kids who were still coming to know Christ, I was trying to pour into them invest in them along the way. But if I'm being 100% honest, my philosophy at that time would have been Jesus plus, being a winning coach equals everything in my life. If you take this away, and we started losing again, then that would not be enough. It wouldn't be enough because I need this to happen as part of my identity and to define who I am, and to bring meaning and significance to me. And I feel like a lot of us, if we honestly stopped to look at our lives, many of us would have something in this blank as well. We might say Jesus is enough, we might say Jesus is the one thing it's about. But when we really begin to look at our thoughts, when we really begin to look at our actions, what we would see is that we're living in such a way that it's Jesus plus something else that we've got to have there. That's going to equal everything. And so for you, it may be something similar. It's not coaching, but it's a career Jesus plus your career and being successful would be everything. If it's not that maybe it's your talent, maybe it's a sport, maybe that's playing an instrument, maybe that's cheer dance,I don't know what it is for you singing. But if you didn't have that, if you weren't good at that, or that was taken away at some way, then you would feel less than you would not have enough. If that wasn't there. If it wasn't that for you, maybe it's Jesus plus power. Maybe it's Jesus plus having control you've got to feel like your hands are in everything and you're making sure that everybody's doing things the way that you want them to go and your life is headed in that direction. You're always about controlling those things. And if you lost control of that at some point or the power, then you wouldn't have enough. Maybe it's not that but It's it's beauty. Maybe you're seeking after a certain image and you're thinking, Man, I need people to think I'm beautiful. And so I'm working out. I'm dieting, I'm making sure that I'm watching my appearance and what it is that I'm wearing, because Jesus is good. But if I don't get affirmation from people saying that I'm beautiful, and that you look really great today, then that's not going to be enough. Jesus is good. But I need that affirmation from how it is that I look, maybe it's not that maybe it's relationships, maybe it's a spouse, maybe it's your kids. Maybe you don't have a spouse, or a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and that's the thing, Jesus is good. But if I could find a boyfriend, Jesus is good. But if I could find a girlfriend, then then I would have enough. I'm not married, right? And so if I'm not married, Jesus is good. But if I get married, it would finally be everything. Maybe it's a best friend, maybe I don't know. But Jesus plus relationships, maybe it's money, Jesus is good. But gosh, if I could just get more money, that would be everything. If I could just get the stuff that money buys, right? If I could have the latest phone and the latest game system, and all of those kinds of things, just those things. Plus, I mean, Jesus, great. But if I had that it'd be everything. Maybe it's not that but it's comfort, right? Jesus is good. But if I don't, if I don't have a comfortable pew to sit down on Sunday mornings, right, if we don't sing my favorite songs, whenever I show up, if the style of worship is different, and I'm not comfortable in that, then listen, Jesus is good. But if those things aren't there, it's not enough, right? Maybe it's having all the stations on direct TV work, or your comfort and your recliner, life just needs to be comfortable in some way. Maybe it's Jesus plus politics is Jesus plus being Republican Jesus plus, being a Democrat, or whatever it is for you, that equals everything. Maybe it's self improvement, Jesus is good. But if I could just get here in my life, if I could just keep doing these things to get where I am, if I could be the best version of me, right? Then I'll finally have everything. And so we're looking and where's the self help books? Whatdo I got to do? What goals do I got to sit wherever we're at Achieve toward, make sure that I'm proof because when I get there, because I'm missing, I know, I'm missing something, I just need to get there, then I'll have everything Jesus is good. But he's not enough. I think if we're all honest, most of us would say that we're living under some kind of Jesus plus, you fill in the blank for you, equals everything kind of gospel. Now, this isn't a new thing. It may feel in some way. It's a modern thing to us with all the things that I just described. But this has been a struggle, it's been going on for a long time, even for those who were in the early church. As a matter of fact, it was a struggle for the Colossians For the church at Colossae. We're going to be starting this series today on the book of Colossians. We're going to be going verse by verse all the way through what Paul wrote to the church at Colossae. And finding the truth there and seeing how it applies to our lives today. And quite honestly, this is what the Colossian church was struggling with as well. There was the beginning of a Jesus plus gospel equals everything that Paul was writing to refute. And so today, even though we're going to be going through verse by verse, really, we're just going to go through an introduction. Today, we're just going to kind of highlight a few things about the letter and a few verses today. And then next week, we'll dive into verse one, chapter one, and go begin all the way through it. This is a map of where Colossi is, and this is in the ancient biblical world. This is kind of the modern day, Turkey area, you again, see Colossi listed right here. And one of the things that we know about this church is that Paul didn't actually start the church, a guy whose name was a path for us who is mentioned as being from Colossi and we see if you were to look in chapter one, verse seven that he's mentioned as the one who shared the gospel with them there. So Epaphras is the one who started this church here. Paul didn't plan it, that matter of fact, as far as we know, he's never even, you know, been there. But what we do know is that Paul was the writer of this letter that he wrote it somewhere around 60 ad or so. And that he sent this letter over there to address some of the things that were going on in their church. We know that Paul was actually in this area called Ephesus, it because of what we read in Acts chapter 19. You may be familiar with Ephesus, because you've heard of the book of Ephesians in your Bible, and that was the church at Ephesus. We can read that again and acts 19 that that's where Paul shared the gospel. And so what we believe is that a papyrus traveled because this was an important city. It was a big city, and a lot of people would go and that he traveled to Ephesus and maybe he was there around the time that Paul was there and shared the gospel. He heard the good news about Jesus, he got saved gave his life to Jesus. And then he goes back to Colossi and to begins to tell other people about Jesus You can have your sins forgiven to you can have new life in Christ. This is who God is and what he's created you for. And all of a sudden other people came to know Jesus, and then they had a church in this local community. One of the other things that we know about this time, and I'll show you on just a little different map, because it is just a little more simple here, but I hope again, you can see that Colossi is here. And you see that emphasis is here, about 100 miles apart or so. And about four to 500 years before Paul writes this letter, there was a major highway that came here and connected emphasis and Colossi and again, this was a big city, a lot of commercial trade, and people in and out, it was near a port, and all of that kind of stuff. And so there are a lot of people that would travel this road in and through Colossian. It was a big bustling area at one time as well. But eventually, when the Romans kind of took over, and about the time that Paul was here, the highway came a little bit more through Laodicea here rather than Colossi. And so it kind of began to dwindle, there weren't near as many people in and around that area. But the reason I'm highlighting this, the reason it's important to us in this introduction to see where it is that we're going is that you can see, because there would have been a lot of different kinds of people in emphasis, who would have been traveling back and forth through this way that you would have had a diverse population that showed up in this particular area. So Colossi was filled with people who had a lot of different kinds of backgrounds. They were people who had a lot of different types of religions, and affiliations and viewpoints on life in this area. There are a lot of competing ideas and different philosophies about life and different ways of seeing the world and how we fit into that. In other words, it was a very pluralistic city at that time, which sounds a lot like the world that we live in today, doesn't it? This is a very pluralistic world with a lot of different backgrounds and religions, affiliations, viewpoints, there's ideas that are being thrown all around and different worldviews and philosophies and all of these kinds of things. And so when we see this, this church was planted in the middle of all of that, now we're coming in, and we're trying to say Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and there's no way to God the Father except through Him. And you've got all these other peoples. No, no, no, no, no, no, there's lots of Gods out there, Jesus, if he's God, he's just one of many gods, right. And so you've got all of these things that they're going to be wrestling with and dealing with, and people are trying to bring up. And then what we know, through this Gentile and Jewish population that was in this church, they began to be tempted by some of these philosophies, and these ideas, and these different ways of seeing the world. And there were these false teachers in the church who began teaching about these different types of things, and even these Jewish rules and laws, and you can eat this and you can eat that, and it's Jesus plus all of these things. So again, to kind of summarize, it's, they were promoting a Jesus plus, fill in the blank, Jesus plus the rules Jesus, plus this certain type of mysticism, Jesus, plus having these experiences with angels, and all of these other kinds of things. And if you add that to Jesus, then you're going to have an enlightened power and enlightened knowledge, you're going to have more than you have right now, because Jesus is good. But fill in the blank with these different ideas and philosophies and adding to that, then you'll finally get where you need to be. And you'll have everything and so this is why Paul is writing this gospel. He's writing to combat this false teaching to show them the superiority and the sufficiency, the all sufficiency of Christ, in Christ alone. One of the writers who wrote a commentary on this book kind of puts things this way. He says, Paul knew that this diminishing of Christ, this depreciation of God's son, was the most dangerous and destructive heresy, the Kaushik collage unbelievers could possibly encounter. So he wrote them this epistle to show the superiority of Christ over all human philosophies and traditions, all human opinion and preferences and personalities and accomplishments. It was a superiority so overwhelming, so devastating, so infinite, that we can hold unreservedly to the conclusion Jesus plus nothing equals everything, and everything minus Jesus equals nothing. This is what he says, Paul's writing about and what he proclaims and we're going to see as we go verse by verse, all the way through this letter together. Don't just take my word for it. Let me highlight just a few verses to show you that I'm not making this stuff up. That this is in fact what Paul is saying, Say and kind of what it is that he's writing to ask you to turn to Colossians two, verse six, a little bit earlier, we're just going to look at four verses. We'll dive into these way deeper when we get to this text later on. But I want you to kind of see what Paul is saying here. Paul says, Therefore, as you received Christ, Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. Now, what you will notice is he's saying, this is something that happened in the past, right, as you received, right, then he's saying, so then now in the present, this is what you do. So he's saying the walk in him the same way that whatever it was that happened to you in the past? So what happened in the past? How did things start? Right? Well, they came to the point, just like, we all have to come to the point where they realized the hopeless situation that they were in, that there's nothing that they could do about their sin problem. And so they trusted in Jesus's finished work on the cross completely, for him to be the one to rescue them from their sins, to save them to give them eternal life.And so how did it start? It started all through the work of Jesus, they did not save themselves, they did not earn their own forgiveness, they did not get their own eternal life by something it was that they did. It was all a work of Jesus, just him. So this is the way it started. And Paul is saying in the same way that it started, where you only trusted in Jesus, then that's the way to live the Christian life, stop trying to get better, you can't make yourself into a better you. He's saying, Stop looking to rules, stop looking to laws, stop looking to the angels stop looking to other gods or anything else. He's saying that his finished work on the cross is enough to save you. He's finished work on the cross is enough to completely transform and change you into a new creation on the inside. And his finished work on the cross is enough to also conform you to his image on the out side. So when Paul says to walk in him the same way you started, while they started by receiving, so how do you live the Christian life through continuing to receive you receive from Jesus as your source and as your life, you continue to put your faith in dependence on him as you walk, not Jesus plus something you're doing, continuing to receive from Him as your source, he gives us a little more of a picture of that, from what he says in this next verse. He says rooted watch this rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Now, a lot of times, we'll read that and go, Okay, so here's what I gotta do. Ready, I gotta route myself, I've got to build up myself, and I've got to get established in the face. So what am I going to do? Well, I got to read my Bible to get rooted in him, and I'm gonna come to church, every time I listen to all Christian music, I'm gonna share him, I'm gonna get myself rooted, I'm gonna get rooted in Jesus, right, I'm gonna get built up, right, I'm gonna get I'm gonna get established in this. But here's the thing, all of these verbs are written in the passive voice, you know what that means? That means you aren't the one doing the action, someone else is doing the action to you. Right, and that, who is Jesus, Jesus is going to do the rooting, Jesus is going to do the building up, Jesus is going to establish you in the face, faith you receive, he does the work, right. This one here is written in the perfect tense. So that means it happened in the past, and it has ongoing results. This is something that's already been done to you, if you've put your faith and trust in Jesus, you already are rooted in him think about the plant and underneath the surface, and there's roots growing deep, and man, that thing is in there at trees not going anywhere that you you're rooted, and that can't be on Done. Now, these two are not in the passive, these two, or these two are in the passive, they're not in the perfect tense. They're in the present. So these are things that are going on right now. But we're again making ourselves available for Jesus to do the work we're gonna receive what it is that he's going to do to build us up and to kind of do to establish us in the faith. And so whenever we see this, and we think about even the images, I mean, we're thinking about those images of a plant and being rooted that's underneath the ground. That's the stuff beneath the surface, the things that we don't see. And that's the same kind of thing that Jesus does in our spirit on the inside in our hearts. He He's the one who changes us a plant, when it is rooted doesn't sit there and go, Okay, now I've got to add something to it. In order for me to really be able to grow, I've got to be able to do my part. Now, certainly a plant might need water. But guess who sins? The rain? God does? And what is the plant do sit there and do anything in order to get the water to come to him? No, I'm just going to receive the rain that comes my way. And I'm going to grow up into what I've already been made into by God. Do you see that? So this is what he's talking about here. In the same way, this is the way the Christian life works, you've been rooted, you already are changed on the inside underneath the surface. And he's the one who will do the building up and the watering and the establishing and eventually things will grow above the surface where they can be seen by others. He goes on and says in verse eight, and this is where we find the problem. See to it, then he says that no one takes you captive by philosophy. And watch this by empty deceit, according to all of these things, human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ. This is the problem. He's writing to say. There are philosophies that are taking you captive, there are human traditions, you're saying Jesus plus this philosophy, you're saying Jesus plus this human tradition, Jesus, plus the things that are going on in this world, and these spirits are are here. And he's saying, all of those things are empty, and you're being deceived by them. They're in vain, you're not going to get in more enlightened experience and more life out of those things than you can get in Christ because He is already the life. And so this is what he says in Colossians, two, verse eight is the problem. And then he finally the last part we'll look at here today is not in 10, where he says, For in Him, the whole fullness of deity dwells in bottom, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, who is in him, talking about Christ, about Jesus, the totality. Toe Tality of God dwelled in Jesus. He wasn't missing any part, he was fully God, in bodily form, fully human. Now watch this. And then after saying that, after saying, this is the truth about who Jesus is, now watch this. Now it gets personal. And you What about me, Paul, you have been past tense, filled in him, you are full of God, as well. Some translations say complete here. We'll talk about that a little bit more later saying you've been made complete. In Him. You have everything that you'll ever need for life and godliness in him. It is not Jesus plus something else is Jesus plus, nothing equals everything. And so this is again, what Paul is writing to make sure that they don't miss that they are full of God that they're complete in Him, and they have everything they will ever need in Christ. And you if you've put your faith and trust in Jesus, have everything that you will ever need all in him. In the fullness of God dwells in you through His Spirit. He is enough. He is all sufficient. Jesus is the Christian life. He is the one thing that curly and city slickers got wrong. So this is where we're going with this series, Jesus plus nothing equals everything. It's all about him and his sufficiency. And so if you're here this morning, maybe you're a guest of ours, maybe you're checking this whole church thing out this whole Jesus thing out this whole Christianity thing about your what is this all about? I keep hearing this stuff. So there's something to do with Jesus. But probably in your mind when you walked in here, and you're checking this thing out to see what it's all about. You had some kind of Jesus plus in your mind, right? It's Jesus plus, probably following a certain type of rules, or all these things that I got to do, right or it's Jesus plus, not being able to do these things over here. So tell me what I gotta do. Tell me what I don't want to don't get to do and then I'll decide whether I want to be in on this whole church thing with Jesus. I hope that you're seeing today. Whatever preconceived idea you brought in here about what Christianity is like Jesus plus fill in the blank is not true. That it's all about Jesus. It's not about what you do. It is about what he did for you and will continue doing in and through you after you receive him and he went to the cross out of his love for you, too. To die for you and your sins, so that you could be forgiven so that you could be loved by Him and have eternal life. And him. My hope and prayer is that you would not walk out of here today without receiving His forgiveness, and His love and His grace into your life thismorning. And for those of you who have already said yes to Jesus, you've put your faith and trust in Him, I want to encourage you to be thinking about what is your Jesus plus, that take the word nothing out right here and say on the other side of that, what is the blank for you because as I said, most of us tend to live our lives in some way, where we are chasing something, Jesus is good, he's great. I would say he's my everything. But my life is saying that it's really if this thing fill in the blank is going well for me, or they're for me, or I get there in that place, then I'll really have everything. What is that for you? Maybe he revealed it to you, as I went through the list of things today, maybe your prayer becomes a net, your homework is to say, Jesus, am I really trusting in you as being enough? Or am I living my life in such a way there is something that is after the plus that's got to be there. And sometimes those can even be good things. I mean, it can be negative things like if I don't have my talent, or I don't get my self improvement, or I don't have my politics and my spouse and all of that. But it could be ministry, like it could be Jesus plus doing ministry, Jesus plus, sharing the gospel, and other people coming to know Him is everything. And if that doesn't happen in your life, then you don't have everything. Those are good things. And Jesus wants to do those things in and through you. But when we start demanding that those things have to happen, in order for me to feel really good about myself and my identity, then we are not claiming that Jesus is all sufficient. Were saying he's good, but I've got to have these things fall in place with even the ministry, and the results happen in those things in order for me to have everything. What is that for you? That's my hope that you'll take that with you and go, I needed it to be revealed. So I'll be able to bring that before Jesus, and now allow him to just be my everything and trust in him to lead me through life. And so this is again, where it is that we are going it's a journey. It's a journey that I've been in on over the last 10 or 11 years learning about Christ being my life. Christ is life, Christ as my life in me through me. He's everything I continue to receive, draw upon him, not trying to fill in the blank with anything else. And whenever I feel like I'm missing things, understanding that that's a lie from Satan, and that Jesus is really enough. And I invite you into that journey as well and hope that you will be open to what it is that he's saying to you. Let's begin to trust that the good news that the gospel really is a Jesus plus nothing equals everything kind of gospel together. Amen. Let's pray.