God has a master plan for us all. I can tap into it and know the special assignment He has in mind for me.
My life today is not just a “get up and see what happens” kind of day. He has a plan for me. I need to find it and do it.
God is God. God is great. God is good. My job is to find out what He wants done today and be obedient.
I don’t have to keep missing God’s goal for my life. His Spirit has been sent to guide me. We are not like people who have no direction. We can know what God wants.. God will show us.
God has a master plan. Now that is some good news.
I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by the Messiah as part of God’s master plan. Colossians 1:1
Why did Paul write this letter to the church in Colossae? Because a crisis had occurred that was about to destroy the ministry of the church. By comparing the prison letters, we can arrive at the following reconstruction of events.
Paul was at that time a prisoner in Rome. He met a runaway slave named Onesimus who belonged to Philemon, one of the leaders of the church in Colossae. Paul led Onesimus to Jesus. He then wrote his letter to Philemon, asking his friend to forgive Onesimus and receive him back as a brother in Jesus.
About the same time, Epaphras showed up in Rome because he needed Paul’s help. Some new doctrines were being taught in Colossae and were invading the church and creating problems. So Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians in order to refute these heretical teachings and establish the truth of the Good News.
Epaphras remained with Paul in Rome. Onesimus and Tychicus carried Paul’s epistles to their destinations: Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7–9; and Philemon. Epaphras was called Paul’s “fellow-prisoner,” a title also given to Aristarchus. This suggests that Epaphras willingly remained with Paul to assist him. Neither Aristarchus nor Epaphras was a prisoner because he broke the law and was arrested. They were Paul’s willing companions, sacrificing their own comfort to help him.
What was the heresy that threatened the peace and purity of the Colossian church? It was a combination of Eastern philosophy and Jewish legalism, with elements of what Bible scholars call gnosticism (NOS-ti-cism). This term comes from the Greek word gnosis (KNOW-sis) which means “to know.” (An agnostic is one who does not know.) The gnostics were the people who were “in the know” when it came to the deep things of God. They were the “spiritual aristocracy” in the church.
To begin with, this heresy promised people such a close union with God that they would achieve a “spiritual perfection.” Spiritual fullness could be theirs only if they entered into the teachings and ceremonies prescribed. There was also a “full knowledge,” a spiritual depth, that only the initiated could enjoy. This “wisdom” would release them from earthly things and put them in touch with heavenly things.
All of this teaching was but man-made philosophy based on traditions and not on divine truth. It grew out of the philosophical question, Why is there evil in this world if creation was made by a holy God? As these philosophers speculated and pondered, they came to the false conclusion that matter was evil.
Their next false conclusion was that a holy God could not come into contact with evil matter, so there had to be a series of “emanations” from God to His creation. They believed in a powerful spirit world that used material things to attack mankind. They also held to a form of astrology, believing that angelic beings ruled heavenly bodies and influenced affairs on earth.
Added to these Eastern speculations was a form of Jewish legalism. The teachers believed that the rite of circumcision was helpful in spiritual development. They taught that the Old Testament Law, especially the dietary laws, was also useful in attaining spiritual perfection. Definite rules and regulations told them what was evil and what was good.
It is easy to see how this kind of teaching undermined the very foundations of the Christian faith. To begin with, these heretics attacked the person and work of Jesus the Messiah. To them, He was merely one of God’s many “emanations” and not the very Son of God, come in the flesh. The Incarnation means God with us, but these false teachers claimed that God was keeping His distance from us! When we trust the Son of God, there is no need for intermediary beings between us and heaven!
In His work on the cross, Jesus settled the sin question (Col. 1:20) and completely defeated all satanic forces (Col. 2:15). He put an end to the legal demands of the Law (Col. 2:14–17). In fact, Jesus Christ alone is the Preeminent One! (Col. 1:18; 3:11) All that the believer needs is Jesus!
Matter is not evil, and the human body is not evil. Each person is born with a fallen human nature that wants to control the body and use it for sin; but the body itself is not evil. If that were the case, Jesus would never have come to earth in a human body. Nor would He have enjoyed the everyday blessings of life as He ministered on earth, such as attending wedding feasts and accepting invitations to dinner. Diets and disciplines can be good for one’s health, but they have no power to develop true spirituality (Col. 2:20–23).
Do we have any of this heresy today? Yes, we do; and it is just as deceptive and dangerous! When we make Jesus and the Christian revelation only part of a total religious system or philosophy, we cease to give Him the preeminence.
When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of “deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence!
This heresy was in direct contrast to the teaching of Jesus. It took a negative view of life: “God is far away, matter is evil, and demonic forces are constantly threatening us.” The Christian faith teaches that God is near us, that God made all things good (though they can be used for evil), and that Christ has delivered His people from the powers of darkness (Col. 1:13).
This heresy turned the world into a frightful prison, while Jesus made it clear that the Father is at work in this world caring for His own. Finally, these false teachers tried to change people from the outside, by means of diets and disciplines. But true spiritual growth comes from within and from the power of the Holy Spirit.
God has a master plan for us, just like He did with Paul. We can know it. We can live it out.