Colossians Bible Study – Christ in you the hope of glory

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By I Gordon

 

These five verses in Colossians 1:24-29 form an awesome little passage.
The key thought in the passage is of course, ‘Christ in you, the hope
of glory!’ Whatever that means! Well, that is what we will investigate
and let’s start with a few questions to get the old grey matter (and
possibly the conscience!) working.

Do you believe that Christ is in you?

[1]

Is it simply a mental believe or does it impact your life?

In what ways does it affect your life?

If you believe that Christ is in you, when was the last time you
thanked God for that?

Why do you think Jesus Christ would want to dwell in us?

What should our response be to God?

That should be enough questions… for the moment anyway. Let’s look at
the passage and then we will break it down verse by verse.

Col 1:24-29 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up
in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions,
for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its
servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has
been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the
saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the
glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim
him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may
present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling
with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

The Apostle Paul – A real life example of the indwelling Christ!

Paul is obviously the author of the book of Colossians and he starts
this little section by saying ‘I rejoice in what was suffered for you…’
So where was Paul when he wrote Colossians and what was he up to? Was
he suffering for the church? Yep, you bet. Like Ephesians, Philippians
and Philemon, Colossians was written during Paul’s first imprisonment
in Rome.

[2]

That is why Paul is a living walking example of what he is declaring to
the Colossians – that Christ in us is our hope of glory. He had learned
through countless difficulties that Jesus was all he needed and that
Christ’s strength was made perfect in his own weaknesses.

The Word of God in all it’s fullness.

If I said to you ‘What do you think is the most important message that
Christians need to hear?’ what would you answer? Think. Put another
way, what is the ‘word of God in all its fullness?’ That makes it
slightly easier because we have already read the answer above! For
Paul, the word of God in all its fullness was encapsulated in the
teaching that Christ was in us, and that He was our hope of glory. In
verse 25, this teaching is called the

‘mystery

[3]

that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now
disclosed to the saints.’

Paul also called it the ‘glorious riches of this mystery…’
which ‘God has chosen to make known.’ It may have been
something that was kept hidden for ages past, but it is now something
that God wants known! It is not a secret anymore… He wants the riches
of this mystery revealed. So that is what we will now look at.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

I asked at the start of this study, ‘who believes that Christ is in
them and when was the last time you thanked God for His presence in
you?’ It is a telling sign as to whether your belief is more than head
knowledge if you are thanking God for this wonderful truth. The
language of all true faith is simply ‘thank you!’ That is your response
to God. Don’t complicate it. Jesus Christ has given you Himself because
you do not have what it takes to live the Christian life.

The other important point that should be made concerns the phrase ‘the
hope of glory.’ What is ‘the hope of glory’ in this context? Let’s make
it multi-choice!

a) The hope of shining brightly

b) The hope of being with the Lord in heaven

c) The hope of displaying the nature and character of God

d) The hope of being praised and thought of as something great

Well? What do you pick? Clearly the answer is d. Oh, ok, c is the
correct answer for this context. As a fallen creation ‘all have sinned
and fallen short of the glory of God.’ That is, they have
fallen short of God’s perfect moral character and nature.

[4]

Our hope then is not in ourselves, but in Christ. In ourselves and our
own strength we will continue to fall short of God’s glory. But through
dependence upon Christ, because He dwells in us, we can now break free
from the bondage to sin and failure. And remember… our response should
be ‘thank you!’ Keep it simple! Face each new challenge thanking Him
that He has given you His Spirit and that He is adequate!

An example from the life of Moses

Let’s look at an example of this in the life of Moses, which combines
God’s presence, our inadequacy, and the glory of God.

Exodus 33:12-14 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me,
‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send
with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor
with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways
so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that
this nation is your people.”

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give
you rest.”

You can imagine the pressure Moses was under can’t you? Here he has to
lead the entire nation of Israel through the wilderness and all the
while they have moaning and grumblings within the group…not to mention
the enemies in the surrounding nations that want to destroy them. So
Moses asks the Lord how it is going to happen… Who is going to help?
Look at the Lord’s response… ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will
give you rest.’ Oh what a great assurance to the one who walks by
faith. Because of the Lord’s presence with us, we too can have rest! In
fact, rest in the midst of difficulty is the great sign of the Lord’s
presence. Remember… keep it simple! Thank Him for the fact that He has
promised to be with you also.

The witness depends on the Presence!

Exodus 33:15-17 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go
with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are
pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else
will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the
face of the earth?” And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very
thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by
name.”

Again we see Moses’ reluctance to move unless the Lord is with him.
This is not stubbornness. This is reality! This is Moses knowing fully
well that he is not up to the task at hand. This is Moses showing his
utter dependency upon the Lord. And look at the Lord’s response – ‘I
will do the thing you have asked because I am pleased with you.’ God
wants to be wanted. He wants His people to take Him into account. When
we do that, we will see what the scripture says above… that we will be
distinguished from ‘all the other people on the face of the earth.’ And
that is the crux of the matter. God has always wanted a people that,
because of His presence in their life, display and reflect His glory… a
living testimony to those in the world that God is!

Show me the money… Uh, no, show me the Glory!

Exodus 33 18-20 Then Moses said, “ Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will
cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I
will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on
whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see
me and live.”

‘Show me your glory’

[5]

, Moses asks, and God is happy to oblige. But notice that God says that
‘all my goodness’ will pass in front of you. In Exodus 34:6-7 we read
of that goodness when it says –

‘And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD,
the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in
love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving
wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty
unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin
of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

‘Compassionate, gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness… yet just
and righteous as well.’ – In response to Moses’ request to see God’s
glory, God spoke of His character. But that is not all because God’s
holy character radiates! The ‘shekinah’ glory of God – the manifest
radiance of God’s glory was seen (to a limited extend) by Moses. Do you
want to shine? Then keep your eyes upon Jesus!

[6]

The Glory is seen from the Rock!

Exodus 23:21-23 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you
may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft
in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I
will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be
seen.”

The final point I want to draw to your attention is that Moses could
see the glory of God only while he hid in the cleft of the rock. He had
to stand on the rock, and be in the rock, to see such glory! The rock
of course, is a picture of Jesus. (1 Cor 10:4) We too have the promise
of ‘the hope of glory’ but, like Moses, we need to be standing upon,
and dwelling in, our rock – the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as we
learn to reckon upon the Lord Jesus and His presence in our lives, that
we can expect to see the same character and nature of God displayed in
our lives.

Conclusion

Col 1:28-29 ‘We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with
all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this
end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works
in me.

The passage in Exodus and the example of Moses brings us full circle
and right back to the last verses in our Colossians passage – and it is
a handy place to conclude! We proclaim, admonish, and teach Him! It is all about the Lord Jesus (even though we
are good at making it all about us!) God has no favourites in terms of
who He is willing to work through. He is willing to display His energy,
His life and His character through your little life as well. We are all
different and it will be displayed in different ways but the key, and
the challenge for us all is to get our priorities right. Desire to see
the character of God manifest in your life. Is ‘show me your glory’ the
cry of your heart? Do you thank the Lord for His presence in you life?
I hope so. And, in the words of a hymn (an oldie, but definitely a
goodie!)…

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,

and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

in the light of His glory and grace.’

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