Lesson Three • Reach
Pastor Noble Baird
“By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”Colossians 2:14
Years ago, I was given the opportunity to go down to the streets of Atlanta, Georgia for a mission trip. Our goal was twofold. First, was to meet the physical needs of the homeless on the streets and in shelters. Second, was to share the Gospel as opportunities arose. While the trip itself was life-changing for me on so many levels, one lesson that has impressed my life ever since was when the director of the organization we partnered with told us not to return. Our first reaction was utter confusion. Had we done something wrong? Did we mess up our presentation of the Gospel? Had we offended someone on the streets? The director went on to share with us a passage from Acts 1:8. Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The director then told us, this is not your “Jerusalem.” He was right. We were a small youth group from Michigan just above Detroit. He challenged us to go back home and reach out to those in the communities the Lord had placed us in, to truly be a witness of the Gospel there.
- Have you ever had the chance to go on a mission trip before? What was that experience like?
- Where is your Jerusalem?
- What does it mean to be a witness and could you say that you are truly being the witness that we all have been called to, by Christ, in Acts 1:8?
In Colossians chapter 2, Paul continues his letter by encouraging the church to four specific areas of growth, but also foundational practices which they must daily take on. Paul writes in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”Paul’s heart and desire for not only the church, but for those of us who are followers of Christ, is continually his concern for their spiritual well-being. That is why so often, he will challenge and encourage at the same time a call to action after one has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul lays out these four action steps that must be carried out in order that “no one may delude you with plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:4). The first three actions Paul calls us to are a call to remember the Gospel message which has saved us, a call to continually live in light of the Gospel and to grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him. Paul writes, “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” Jesus gives the parable in Matthew chapter 13 about the seed falling into four different types of soil. The first, fell on the ground and was taken away by the birds. The second, fell by a rock bed; therefore, it did not have any depth or true root system to take ground. The third, had its roots choked out by the thorns and things of the world. Therefore, those roots also never took real depth and growth. It is only the fourth seed that took root and grew.
- When you read the parable of the four soils, are there things in your life that may be choking the roots of the Lord from growing and producing fruit?
Paul is calling us to truly be rooted in Christ. If we have truly accepted that free gift of the Gospel, we must allow His Word and His will to take root in our lives daily. Therefore, being built up and established in Christ is the natural progression as we deepen our relationship with Him. Finally, Paul gives a call to thanksgiving. Again, we see this reminder in many of Paul’s letters to the churches. Honestly, for a man who went through so much hardship and suffering in his life and ministry, I cannot help but believe that he wrote this not only as a reminder to us but to himself as well! Paul uses the word “abounding” here, talking about an overflow that outweighs the circumstances of this world, and focuses back on that foundational truth of the goodness of the Gospel. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul takes this a step further saying, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Again, this daily reminder that Paul undoubtedly needed, and so do we, is to abound in our thanksgiving of the Gospel. It is then to trust and remain faithful in all circumstances of this world!
- When was the last time you stopped and truly thanked the Lord for all He has done?
Paul continues his letter, encouraging the church of their faith, but to also be on guard. In Colossians 2:8-15, he writes, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Along with his continual reminder of thankfulness to the Lord, Paul was continually concerned for the spiritual safeguards of the believer. The way in which he does this is by first dispelling the lies of philosophical rhetoric, lofty speech, and gnostic spiritualism. He continues on in Colossians 2:16-22, warning of submitting to and being held captive by the lies of the world and human teaching and precepts, as Paul refers to them. Instead, He reminds them of the Gospel. It is the simple and profound truth of Christ and what He did. That truth of the cross and resurrection culminates beautifully in verses 13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” That is what the Gospel is all about and ultimately what this thing called “Reach” is about. Jesus took on our record of debt, our sin, and our penalty upon Himself. He was crucified on our behalf, carrying the sin of the world on His shoulders, so that we could live.
- Who is one person that you can be praying for that the Spirit would move in their heart to soften them to the message of the Gospel?
- What are some passages of Scripture that can be used to walk through and explain what the Gospel truly is?
Our debt has been paid. The cross was and is enough. God so loved us that He sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins. However, He did not stop there because He arose victoriously conquering death, Hell, and the grave! That is what “Reach” is all about, the true Gospel of Christ.