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As I set myself to write this book, Treasures from Paul Colossians, I was so vividly reminded that I was 19 years of age in 1952 when I began one morning to read Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. I had done so before, but on this occasion, I was mightily struck by the contrast between the lively Christianity Paul describes and my own comparatively dull experience. Oh! I knew and loved the Lord, and was serving him gladly – yet something was missing. I resolved to find it. So, leaving my Bible opened on my bed, at Colossians, I began to pray, telling the Lord that I would not get off my knees until he had revealed the truth to me. I asked him to carry me into the vibrant Christian life those ancient people had discovered.
Treasures from Paul Colossians As I set myself to write this book I was so vividly reminded that I was 19 years of age in 1952 when I began one morning to read Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. I had done so before, but on this occasion, I was mightily struck by the contrast between the lively Christianity Paul describes and my own comparatively dull experience. Oh! I knew and loved the Lord, and was serving him gladly – yet something was missing. I resolved to find it. So, leaving my Bible opened on my bed, at Colossians, I began to pray, telling the Lord that I would not get off my knees until he had revealed the truth to me. I asked him to carry me into the vibrant Christian life those ancient people had discovered.
I won’t tell you how long I stayed there, except that it was long enough to change me forever! From that time on, Colossians has been my favourite portion of scripture. I love the whole Bible, but Colossians scores just a few more points!
Treasures from Paul Colossians: Paul wrote his letters to the churches in Colossae and Ephesus around the same time, circa 60 A.D., but which letter was written first remains uncertain. Anyway, both letters contain ideas that had never before been expressed by anyone, anywhere. Imagine how extraordinary that is! For example, a thousand years prior to Paul, a world-weary cynic lamented the lack of anything new under the sun (Ec 1:9-10), and he was correct. It is indeed hard to say, “Here is something truly new!” Can there really be anything never seen or heard before?
So much is it true that saying anything new is hard, even Jesus added little to the human understanding of God and life. His religious, ethical, and moral teachings exist in the writings of earlier prophets. Sages, philosophers, and religious leaders who lived before him had already spoken most of what he taught. He often expressed those ideas differently, with greater pungency, and with vast authority – but the concepts themselves were not new. Only in his death and resurrection did Christ alter the course of history and bring something radically different into human experience. If we had only his sermons he would be admired as a great moral teacher, and as a remarkably good man, but not as an innovative thinker, nor as the Redeemer of fallen humanity.
Yet suddenly, in Paul, a man appears who speaks what had never before been spoken, and whose head is filled with ideas that no one before him had ever conceived. Whence came the staggering grandeur of the revelation that fills the first two Chapters of Colossians? –
Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (1:15-17, ESV)
Did Paul just conjure those exalted ideas out of a fevered imagination? Are his revelations nothing more than a wild human invention, an irresponsible fantasy? No one who has ever truly read the letter could deem it so shallow. No matter how improbable the vision Paul presents, it has about it the ring of truth, divine truth. To suppose otherwise is to supplant one miracle with another! That is, if Paul is not simply telling the truth about the supernatural Christ and the glory every believer may discover in him, then the letter itself becomes an inexplicable marvel. If Colossians is, in fact, a piece of human caprice, a literary contrivance, then it is a greater wonder than the wonders it purports to reveal! It is easier to accept that the letter genuinely reports the real splendour of the gospel than to suppose that Paul concocted its treasures out of nothing.
Yes, the Letter to the Colossians is a miracle, but only because it is filled with Christ, who was revealed to Paul by the Spirit of God. It tells the awesome wonder of who Christ is and what he has accomplished for all who heartily believe in him. But the letter itself is simply a record of what Paul had seen, heard, and knew to be the truth – Christ is pre-eminent and is our only Redeemer (Cl 1:18, KJV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)
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