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The Lines of Purpose

Part 2 of our series, In Christ. We live here, but we are citizens of Heaven. That reality impacts our “here”. As we are filled with the knowledge of God’s will, you will discover a deepening faith giving you the strength to endure, a growing love giving you the ability to bear fruit in every good work, an eternal hope which changes your perspective and enables you to joyfully give thanks here and now – experiencing the grace and peace of God.


we're in the series called in Christ we've been working through the book of Colossians we started last week and twice a year we take a six-week period where we get into what we call blue groups and we talk about a book in the Bible and this this fall were in the book of Colossians so if you have a Bible and would like to follow along in case you don't believe me go ahead and grab one and follow along with me last week Pastor bow Stern launched our series and she talked about this phrase pox pax romana which is simply a term that described the kind of the the deal between the Romans and those people that they kind of conquered there was this I did that they would provide peace and prosperity to all those that would kind of submit to their way to their Kingdom and and Bo talked a little bit about this how Paul one of the authors of the book of the Bible wrote many of his books in that context that there was two people who grew up in this kind of culture of Rome that she had to identify yourself with this this government and they said they would give you peace and prosperity but we all know that you know looking at history that's not what they did right there's it's it didn't provide that for people and Paul comes in into that context and he writes to a group of people and in the city called Colossae and it's a group of Christians and he and he's trying to help them identify with another kingdom besides the Roman Kingdom he's trying to help them see that there's another way to live another way that another loyalty that you can give and and so that's what we're gonna talk about today and here's the kind of the big idea that I want us to get in in today's message because this is what Paul starts with and first in Colossians chapter 1 I'm just going to put that phrase up there we have to see beyond this life so Paul's going to encourage us to look past not not at the expense of the stuff that happens around us what happens around is important but he but he wants to encourage us to see beyond those things to forever life that there's another life not just this life and then work backward from that forever life to experience lasting peace in this life in other words there and then influences here and now the the when when eternal life should impact present life otherwise what's the use of believing in eternal life well we'll get there someday Steve then you'll know it's but Paul is going to make the case that it should impact the here and now let me ask you this question to start this way I wanna and I went to your opinion what do you guys think is this the percentage of Americans who believe in the afterlife what would you say are the percentage of Americans who believe in the afterlife good shout it out to me 75 80 79 90 50 42 she's like is there some jellybeans involved in this game yeah 80 percent 2014 studies show that 80 percent of Americans believe that there is an afterlife which was super intriguing to me because that's what I deal with I mean that's my world you know is talking about life after death and what to expect and this kind of in that kind of in my wheelhouse and so I was like oh I mean I want to dig a little bit further and so in my research this is so not biblical but this is really great I found a Vanity Fair article for 2016 I don't read Vanity Fair but I might start after reading this article a super interesting article about what people think about the afterlife and what our culture thinks about it and so they asked a bunch of questions I'm gonna show you three or four or five of the questions so here let's give you the first question that they asked their readers which are you better prepared for what are you better prepared for retirement or death and 41% said I'm better prepared for retirement than death but 43% said I'm better ready for death than retirement because my retirement man you know this is not ready you know I'm saying more ready for death alright let's go to the next slide which would you rather know the answer to pretty close percentage-wise between what happens after you die and what is the meaning of life but still more people were interested in what happens after you die then even what is meaning of life so that just tells you this this is something important to people and let's go to the next slide next question was can science prove whether the afterlife exists 30 percent said yes 67 percent said no which is interesting to me because if 80 percent of Americans believe that there's life after death it's not because science says so so why then and we'll get to that next next question they asked is views of people who have had a near-death experience really intriguing question they asked their readers those that have had a near-death experience are they delusional or do they have they actually seen the afterlife 63% said I think they've actually seen the afterlife only 27% thinks they're delusional what isn't that interesting is like okay well maybe there's something here that as the people of God especially the church who believes in the afterlife and we have some like we can kind of put it together and kind of describe it a little bit maybe we should have something to say to a culture that actually seems to be fairly interested in the idea well then last one where do you find out where should someone look for the best picture of what life after death looks like 8% said none of these that I'm gonna read 5% said a New Yorker cartoon maybe I don't know 7% said a high school science teacher even though you can't prove it by science support teen percent said the movies totally I mean you can learn a lot about life from the movies maybe even the afterlife I'm just saying might be out there and then here it is 61% said a religious figure what's interesting to me about that is that they they know that science can't tell you about the afterlife but they're confident or hopeful that maybe religion might maybe religion might show us what it is about the afterlife and I and and I'm not gonna describe heaven to you in detail there's a great book by a randy alcorn called heaven which I would if you're interested in digging deeper I would strongly recommend that book to you but what I do want to do is I want to show you our belief in life after death impacts our life now how the there and then influences the here and now okay and that and I want to unpack that a little bit today because this is what I found that surviving the death of a child as my wife and I are has taught us a lot about or maybe not taught us but helped us to be more aware of the reality that there is life after death and not only has it has it has it caused us to be more aware of life after death but it's actually caused us to want to be more alive here and now because we know that life is short we know that we don't it doesn't go on forever this life doesn't go on forever so we want every moment to matter we want to make every I mean every relationship every conversation I mean I don't want to be morbid or overreact could be our last you know that says that that it was that was a little crazy right there wasn't it but I just there's something about that and can our perspective about what we believe what we believe can what we believe about the thereafter impact the here and now and and so Colossians chapter one this is where we start verse 1 Paul talks about the the afterlife he talks about things that are kind of beyond this world and shows how it might impact our world today Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of god and timothy our brother Timothy was kind of a you know a guy that he was a mentor II of Paul and they're together when they write this book to the Saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae and here's what he's talking he's right at the very beginning he says grace to you and peace grace and peace and the readers would have mmediately thought of pax romana when they read this phrase as Bo talked about last week it's Grace and peace is what they promised and they could not deliver instead Paul saying grace to you and peace from who God from God there's something there's another Kingdom that offers Grace and peace that offers a sense of that that you are you are accepted that offers this idea that a favor unmerited favor that gives you peace a sense of serenity is like you're you're one with God and yourself there's this idea that that that rome thought they could produce but but failed in in doing so by the way every system does that's the that's the interesting thing to me is that every system has a shelf life every government of economy every even relationships everything seems to have a shelf life in this world but there's there is an economy or a government one might say or a relationship that that goes longer lasts longer goes further than all any of the other systems that we have and Paul begins to unpack this I'll talk a bit little bit about this other kind of world go on to the next slide verse 3 we always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you since we heard about some things so they're there they've heard about this church and these Christians and how they've they're they're looking for grace and peace from God and some of the things that have come out of that and they're saying right we heard about this and we're thankful for it we've heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven here it is Paul talks about the three kind of the essential characteristics of the way of Jesus faith hope and love and what's interesting to me about this is where he places hope in in the scope of these three things because in most in a lot of the other writings you read about love is kind of at the center of it all he's kind of like love is and and it is but here Paul says that faith and love seem to be dependent on hope the hope that you've laid up for you in heaven that this idea that I have a hope in there and then that hope seems to have an impact on our present faith in love I mean let me describe this for you like so when chase died I struggled with hope there was a moment about a year actually a moment moment that lasted a while where I questioned and I and I lacked hope in the next life I just was like you know when you get so focused on the here and now sometimes you lose sight of the there and then and and what I found is that my faith and my love began to grow my faith grew my faith didn't grow and my love didn't grow I I had a hard time believing in Jesus and I had a hard time loving other people and and it was tied to my hope I just wonder if there's something here that that if we have hope for the for not just this life but the next slide might it actually strengthen and deepen your faith and grow your love my a perspective change about the hereafter effect your here and now does that make sense and I think that's what Paul is trying to get us to is to say that there's a new way that the the systems of this world that will let you down the relationships that will let you down the brokenness that exists all of that that there's another kingdom another domain another way that doesn't like alleviate doesn't like keep you from from the hurt around us but it there's something about it that gives you peace that lasts longer and goes further what is that let's keep kind of digging here a little bit Romans chapter 8 Paul the same author writes this book to a group of Christians in Rome and this is how he describes it in Romans 8 verse 18 for I consider that the sufferings of this present time now by the way Paul doesn't ever remove himself from sufferings he doesn't preach a gospel that says that that Jesus saves you from trouble today he recognizes that even Jesus said that today you will have trouble so he understands this and he suffered greatly more than you or I have ever suffered for the gospel these suffered more than we we have and he's writing here he says where I consider that those sufferings of this present time ones that he actually has experienced are not even worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us Paul had this different sight that we don't have so often that his focus was so much not on this life but on the next life and it worked backward to encourage him in this life that reality that knowledge that understanding that this isn't all there is work backward for Paul so he could say listen I've seen something and this momentary suffering isn't even worth comparing to that glory it's just it there's something about the there and then that influences the here and now that helps you do certain things we'll talk about in just a moment he goes on I want to finish in verse 21 he says in hope say hope in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God he's describing this we have hope that one day every tear will be wiped away every sickness will be done death even won't be no longer he's describing a day when when we will enjoy the hereafter and that causes us to look at our suffering and our trials and our brokenness not as invaluable or something that to be ignored but something that it gives it gives meaning to it it gives expression for it it helps us to to walk through it when we have eyes on eternity someone might say well Steve I don't know about this hope and hope in heaven thing you know I mean I don't want to be disappointed I'm like I don't know what to tell you other than to say you know what you will be disappointed in is this life and maybe you don't know what heaven will be but you don't know so why not I mean you know what this is you know what here and now is you might be thinking oh that's not a very good argument you're probably right I don't know I I just I just I I've chosen to put my hope in what Jesus said in John chapter 14 that don't be anxious because I'm going to prepare a place for you and that place I'm going to prepare a place for you so that you can you and I can be together forever okay so I so I've decided I've decided to put my hope in that gospel that Jesus came to reconcile us to God and as a result of that I get to spend eternity with him and then that works itself backwards to inform my relationships today to put value to my faith today to to express that that a growing love and a deepening faith actually matters today because of my view of tomorrow I don't know if this is making any sense but I I just wanna I want us to see beyond this life to forever life and we're backward from that to experience lasting peace in this life and I don't know any other way to have peace in this life but other than to to put my hope in the next one and yeah I don't I just I and and maybe you're maybe you feel that that feels too detached but let me unpack this a little I think Paul does Paul helps us here in verse 9 let's go to let's jump up to verse 9 no yeah this is right no you were right go back I think yeah this is good you know after three times this is the third time you know you just get lost every once in a while happens talking about this gospel of the Hereafter this idea that hope in heaven of this you have heard before in the word of the truth the gospel this is the good news this is the good news that we can we even reconciled with God and that he's went to prepare a place for us where we where he is we can be there too that's the whole thing is gospel and that gospel which has come to you and to us today in a sense is as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit I just love that Paul says this gospel is going through the whole world Rome has conquered the known world but this gospel has gone through the whole world and it is bearing fruit and increasing and can I just say that it is continuing to bear fruit and continuing to increase even though Rome stopped increasing long ago that the gospel of Jesus keeps going and going and going and never stops it is expansive it's transformational this gospel how is it lasted for so long when every other system hasn't if it's not true how has it lasted well humans are weak and they need something to hold on to maybe we are and maybe we do and I've wrestled with the fact that maybe we're wrong this is what I've come to the conclusion I'd rather be wrong and find I'd rather think that I'd rather I'd rather think that maybe I could be wrong and find out that I was actually right then to think I was right and find out I was wrong did you guys just follow that I mean I'd rat and I tell my atheist friends I said are you sure because man you're betting a lot on the fact that God doesn't exist what if he does well we'll find out what yeah but once you want to be on the right side of that one just had a superstition give your life to God you know what I'm saying or that just that's not good theology I'm just that yeah but I this but this this gospel this good news is expansive and it keeps growing and multiplying decade century after century and it as and it has done that among you and among us and there's transformational work happening since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God and truth there's something happening in us today the gospel is good for today not just tomorrow it has impact today that there and then influences the here and now how all right now we get to verse nine verse nine and so from the day that we heard we have not ceased to pray for you asking that you may be here it is this is a pivot point this is how you how you have a deepening faith and a growing love based on the fact of the hope in heaven by being filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding that's a lot of things just to say you need to know God they're nice that you need to almost be like under the the showering of the knowledge of God like it would saturate your being and I don't know about you but I it's easy to be saturated by this world system it's easy to be influenced by this world system but it's much much more difficult yet so much more important to be filled with overflowed with covered over by the knowledge of God in his will and if we can find ourselves there if we can find ourselves spending more time digging into and understanding the ways of God and we'll talk more about how we do that next week if we can do that then there's some things that happen almost like a natural byproduct things that you don't have to work at it's just as you are filled with the knowledge of God you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to him bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God you know I used to like really focus on bearing fruit to be a good Christian I have to do certain things and you know and that that causes a lot of harm actually when we we focus on doing what we're supposed to do at the expense of knowing God a growing being filled with the knowledge of God is an ongoing daily it's not a like a one-time thing it you know the former pastor here Ken Johnson used to say that we leak and so we need to kind of a constant filling of the Holy Spirit so that so that we can understand the ways of God so that when you when you when you see something on the news where-where-where it pulls you into it the knowledge of God needs to come to bear on how you feel about that how you respond to it how you react to it the knowledge of God should be the thing that that that pushes us into our world the knowledge of God impacts our here and now right that helps us with every good deeds being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might who needs to be strengthened today who needs a little bit of encouragement today to be like man life life is really really hard but there's something more there's something bigger happening all around us there's something greater that that God's preparing us for being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might do you guys know that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us who are followers of Jesus did you know that do we live like that do we do we do we tap into that power enough the way we do is by being filled with the knowledge of God's will being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to live in us and work in us for all endurance and patience and then I think this semicolons in the wrong place not because of us but because of the translation was wrong you don't get to hear that very often a pastor say that the Bible is wrong I'm just kidding it's rude it's not wrong that they didn't have they actually didn't have what is this called punctuation Mike thanks that's the word I was looking for they actually don't have punctuation in the original language so I think it actually should go here after endurance and patience and then say with joy giving thanks to the Father you know I found in my own life that there was a season where was really hard to give thanks for anything after chase died but then but then I once I got my eyes off of just that and I began to see that that that Jesus went prepared a place for us so we can be there with you and there my son's there with them and and I started to vision that and imagine that and that that wonderful life that my son is enjoying right now I realize I could I could work backward from that and give thanks for all the little stuff here that maybe I missed before and maybe I didn't see before and I just and I and there's regrets built into that riot and I should have said this and I should have done that and I realized that this perspective now is working its way back and enabling me to give thanks with joy for all that I still have for those people relationships that I have and and it's so it's working this it's bearing fruit in my life because if we can see beyond this life - forever life it will work its way backward to impact the peace that you experienced today let me wrap this up by um let me read one last scripture verse 13 says that God has delivered us from the domain of darkness now I think most people most churches when they read this it's kind of like this domain of Darkness that's the world it's the domain like it's like no that's not what Paul meant it actually the word here means confusion uncertainty you lack of insight so it's not a morality statement I think a lot of times we use it as that but that's not it hasn't delivered us from from some immoral state that's not what this verse means this verse simply means that God through Jesus Christ has delivered us from this domain where confusion and uncertainty reign where the systems of this world will not produce what they promised so he st. so he's making a very clear distinction that that this domain that we found that we had found ourselves in will not give you peace lasting peace and prosperity what will do that is transfer a transference of us to the kingdom of his beloved son in whom we have Redemption the forgiveness of sins and next week we're going to talk about how Jesus has done this do you know and I'm I've been wanting to preach next week's message this entire time but that would mean you'd be here for like an hour or more who's in everybody else's don't do that don't clap what are you doing you might take you up on it it is the third service I'm just kidding nice again but this this man I if you want to know God being filled with the knowledge of God there's only one place you have to look only one and you and the Bible describes Jesus as the fullness of God that if you want to see God look at Jesus that's it it's and so there's this transference from this domain that doesn't that that can't produce what it promises to the domain where Jesus sits and he says that I've prepared a place for you where you can be with me forever and then that works backwards to strengthen our faith to deepen our resolve to grow our love to increase our hope in him to help us do good works - you see what I'm saying that it works backwards in all of these areas well I mean let me describe this for you in real terms like like everyday terms I have a picture of my son chase since I've talked about him so much and I haven't shown a picture of him for a while that's chase and it's our little nice Scout and I'll talk about her in just a moment but this was just how many months baby just a few months be four months before he died and this picture is on my piano at my house and just sometimes it's hard to look at this look how alive his face is I don't know if you can see it a bright eye is big smile real authentic you know if chase was in the room and and he was there he wasn't he didn't you didn't feel like he was had to be somewhere else you know and we wear that I wear this bracelet that my son Kincaid made after chase died it says the live light chase and it has a kind of this kind of picture almost exactly that face inked on here as well as the Portland Timbers logo that's awesome and so so it was a reminder to us and has been a reminder to us to live like chase here and now be present be fully there when when when we're there and super encouraging I mean and now now as I as I thought about this and I've looked and I've and I looked down at this bracelet I realized that I still want to live like chase for chases I want there's a there's a place that chases experiencing now that informs me about what kind of world I want to help create now I we won't get there we won't make it all the way but I want to create a space in my life for relationships that mean something for a deeper faith and trust in God and each other I want to I want to I want to live in a world you know where where I'm hopeful I'm not I'm not always pessimistic about tomorrow that tomorrow will have trouble of its own I get that I know that but I know that there's something beyond this life that will that informs my present life and this is scout let me just tell you about scout scout was I don't know how old really young when this picture was taken and and she is my great niece I know I'm not old enough to have a great niece I don't even understand that but I am and and then this is a picture scout this picture hangs in my office and I have a light actually I turn it on and it shines down on Scouts face and why is this important to us because we love scout absolutely absolutely but it's a reminder to me every single time I walk into my office that today matters and when I put these two together as I just thought about this morning I was like wait a second eternity hereafter and they here in that there and then influencing the here and now I want I want us to live like that people with great hope for their and then but let it impact our here and now our relationships are our faith or hope right now so Jesus we love you Lord we thank you that you do you promise some things you promised that we would be with you forever and in all of the other things all the other systems that have promised things that have guaranteed things it would be so easy Jesus to not trust what you said but I believe Jesus be even just based on the Vanity Fair article and based on what I know of you and based on other people's experience if you start to add all this stuff up Jesus I believe that we can trust what you said what you promised because there's something in all of us that says yes to that reality that there's something beyond this life and you described it in such a way that it's all about relationship with you and so that's where we land Jesus we land in a place where we the end of the day it is all about you what we choose to believe about you and we put our hope in you not in this world system and not in government or the economy or anything Jesus we put our hope in you keep your eyes closed for a moment if you have never prayed that prayer like that where you've put your hope in Jesus but you'd like to make that decision today would you simply raise your hand right now yeah I'm making that decision today Steve I'm saying yes to him I'm putting my hope in him awesome anyone else thank you Jesus thank you God for your son Jesus Christ who gave us all and promised the world and we believe he'll come through for us in the end Jesus name Amen [Applause] her teams are available right now there they're gonna be gathering over by the prayer wall and throughout up here at the front they have little blue ones little lighted wands to help you know who they are and just go if you have any prayer needs at all please get with them and then also I want to encourage you back next week it's a it's a little self promoting because I just I believe it's it's the most important message in this series and I'm speaking it I would say that if anybody else was speaking it too not because I'm speaking to because the content of Colossians the last half of the chapter one if you're in a blue group you might start reading that and just talking about it and unpacking it because it is one of the most monumental important passages of scripture that I believe were ever written and that if we can get our mind around it and our hearts around the truths that it talks about it will revolutionize your relationship with Christ with God with Christianity with the church it will impact every relationship you have I really I'm selling this way too much I think but I just it's an important time for us to be together so if you're available come back for that if not by the way we do have it online all the time so you can watch it during the week I shouldn't say that either I'm like we want people here but you can stay at home in your PJs you know I'm saying everyone so it's good it's good you got my permission to do that every once in a while alright a Seattle playing right now don't tell me the score I recorded it I don't I recorded in I've been praying all day that they would have success and I don't know who are they playing Oakland right they're playing Oakland any Oakland fans they're just dared not say anything but that's not but if you're an Oakland fan you don't care how big the crowd is against you you're still voting for Oakland you know I would say I know you Oakland people all right I'm just wasting time so you guys can go god bless you guys we'll see you next week [Applause]

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