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Small Group Questions
How do you maintain your faith?
Would you describe yourself as growing closer to God or departing (getting farther away) from God during this time? Why?
How have you defended the faith?
Do you have sin you aren’t dealing with right now? Has it caused you to be farther away from God? How can you being to address that sin?
Grounded and Steadfast– (If You Continue in the Faith)
Colossians 1:19-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
The occasion for this letter was the appearance of false teaching that threatened the spiritual future of the Colossian church. The exact heresy is unknown, but it is apparent that it was a strange mixture of Christian teaching, certain extrabiblical Jewish traditions and pagan philosophy, similar to today. There is nothing new under the sun.
Paul wrote his letter to the Church in Collosse for a few different reasons: 1. To combat the dangerous false teaching that was supplanting Christ’s centrality and supremacy in creation, revelation, redemption and the church; 2. Make clear the apostolic revelation of Christ as the Son of God and 3. Stress the true nature of life in Christ and its fruit in the believer.
So, how do we stay “grounded and steadfast” according to this Scripture?
“IF you continue in the faith”- notice the ongoing human response that Paul states is necessary before we appear before Him blameless. The Lord has done His part and we must do ours. Like Paul, we have a race to run with endurance and perseverance. EX: MJ documentary, he is to basketball what Paul is to the faith. This is the same mindset and determination that we must have about our Christian walk.
Now more than ever we need to be grounded and steadfast in the faith! The enemy is fast at work among us and he is a master at deception:
1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV “Now the Spirit [a]expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”
Let me break this down, “To depart” is the Greek translation meaning to “distance oneself from, step away, withdraw from, shrink away from”. It is where we get the word “apostate or apostasy”.
This departing depicts a departure that takes place slowly, over a period of time, and it pictures a person who changes his position and withdraws from what he once believed. This process occurs so gradually that those who are in the process of departing may not even realize they are in transition. But little by little, they are backing away from what they once believed and adhered to, and moving toward something very different.
The verse goes on to say, “some shall depart from the faith” as we near the end of the age. This is important to understand, in the Greek the words “the faith” has a definite article, which tells us that it is not talking about raw faith, such as “by faith are you saved”, but these words together “THE faith” refer to doctrine or to the long-held, time-tested teaching of Scripture. This verse categorically means that at the end of the age, there will be a departure from the clear teaching of the Scripture, little by little distancing themselves from God’s truth, embracing something different.
It does not say “people will reject the faith” (although this is true as well), but specifically here: they will depart from the faith. There is a great difference between rejecting the faith and departing from the faith. Rejecting is deliberate; departing is unintentional.
Why are they “departing from the faith”? Because they “give heed to seducing (deceiving) spirits and doctrines of demons.”
The words “giving heed” is from the Greek “to embrace” and unequivocally pictures those who believed one thing for a long time; but now as a result of some influence, they are gradually releasing what they formerly believed and switching their focus to something else. It pictures those who are slowly but surely releasing what has been familiar, precious and dear, to embrace something new and different through a spirit of deception. I have watched this happen in close friend’s lives, people are doing and believing things that they would have NEVER done or believed 10 years ago.
Think about this- if in the garden of Eden, the perfect place, the sinless place, where Adam walked in the presence of the Almighty unencumbered and was deceived
Genesis 3:13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
How much more so do we need to be on guard against deception and error??
Deception is rampant, even among the church- Revelation’s message, 5 churches out of 7
Jude’s letter to the church started out as a letter about the nature of salvation, however his plan was interrupted by news that false teachings were attempting to infiltrate the church. Like a commanding officer, Jude raised his voice and called upon the saints to earnestly contend for the purity of the faith and to defeat error.
Jude 3 New King James Version “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Out of necessity and urgency, he tells us to “earnestly contend for the faith”- this is a picture of two wrestlers who agonize to win over the other in a wrestling match. Both work to gain the advantage and hurl their opponent to the ground, exerting every ounce of their strength and skill to win a very intense physical contest. P Matt has told me stories of the energy he expended in a 3 min match
It means to “fight for the truth” and is a picture of people who are wrestling between issues of truth and deception. Because the deception is attempting to trounce truth, we have a responsibility to rise to the occasion and do all we must do to defend and guard the purity of the faith. Again, not defend “raw faith”, but “THE faith”
This begs the question, what is “the faith”?
Scripture- there is a reason the Bible is coming under hard attack. There has been a recurring theme throughout history, starting with Marcion in the second century church, that the OT is not for today. He taught that Jesus was not the same God as the OT God, He was a higher deity than that of the OT. Marcion (who by the way considered himself a follower of Paul) also taught that most of the writing of the NT were not needed as well. Marcion introduced Gnosticism and changed Scripture, writing ten Pauline epistles, but omitting the Pastoral epistles and a shorter version of the gospel of Luke. (This is why what version you read is highly important)
There has been most recently a notable and very influential pastor proclaiming that we need to “detach from the OT”, we don’t need the Scriptures, the cross is central to our faith and that is all that matters. This is the very heresy that Marcion brought into the church.
The Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, is alone the only infallible, inspired Word of God and its authority is ultimate, final, and eternal. It cannot be added to, subtracted from, or superseded in any regard. It has God for its Author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. The Bible is the source of all doctrine, instruction, correction, and reproof. It contains all that is needed for guidance in godliness and practical Christian conduct. Scripture is inerrant and the authoritative rule of faith and conduct.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [a]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
2 Peter 1:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 [a]And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private [b]interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but [c]holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The deity of Christ- Paul continually refuted and contended with others about the supremacy of Christ, v.19 “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell”
Jesus was not just a teacher, prophet, a good and moral man; He was God in the flesh. The fullness of the Godhead with all that it represents resides in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:19 New King James Version (NKJV)
19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [a]imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
When you look at most cults- they will always attack in some form the deity of Christ. Just because someone names the name of Jesus, does not mean they are in the truth. Be careful you are not creating a Frankenstein, Marcion Jesus.
John 1:1-3 NKJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Mark 12:29-30 New King James Version (NKJV)
29 Jesus answered him, “The [a]first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [b]This is the first commandment.
Reconciliation to the Father is only made possible through the blood of Christ. V. 20-21 “and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death”
Any message of reconciliation without the shedding of the blood of Christ is not the faith.
There is a lot of preaching on God’s love, but if the love of God that is being preached does not include the cross of Christ, it is not the faith.
The cross must be preached if men are to be reconciled to the Father. It is only through Christ’s shed blood that we can have remission of sins.
Hebrews 9:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 And according to the law almost all things are [a]purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no [b]remission.
The cross is an offense to men because it represents death- death to our own life so that we can rise with Him. It is offensive because it brings us face to face with our sinful nature and leaves us with the choice- to continue to live in the flesh or to be crucified with Christ and live a new life in Him.
Any message of reconciliation does not include repentance (which is death to the old man) and complete forgiveness of sins (life in the new man) is not of the faith.
Luke 24:47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Any message that teaches because of God’s grace you can continue to live in your sins and inherit eternal life is deceptive and not of the faith:
Titus 2:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
Grace teaches us to live righteously and morally according to God’s Word
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor [b]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were [c]sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [a]adultery, [b]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Any message that says that Jesus blood is not all sufficient to make us holy and perfectly clean is not of the faith, v.22 “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight”
His blood has the power to make me whole and wholly clean. (my life verse)
2 Cor 5:17 NKJV “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
His blood cleanses me from all my sin, guilt and shame.
Hebrews 9:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without [a]spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
His blood has the power to heal my heart, mind, body and soul.
Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He has borne our [a]griefs And carried our [b]sorrows; Yet we [c]esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded[e] for our transgressions, He was [f]bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes[g] we are healed.
(talk about healing)
His blood has given me the power to overcome sin and the devil.
1 John 3:8-9 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
These are the things we must continue in if we are going to be grounded and steadfast in the faith!
“if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
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