“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.” Colossians 1:23 NKJV
Paul is encouraging the members of the Colossian Church to “continue in the faith.” The Colossian Church is located in the region of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelations. In fact, it was located only twelve miles from Laodicea and 100 miles from Ephesus. The church had been exposed to Gnostic teachings that diminished Christ. To combat this teaching, Paul emphasizes the Supremacy of Christ.
Because Christ is Supreme, they can “continue in the faith” due the fact that they had been reconciled to the Father by Christ Jesus through the blood of cross. Prior to their salvation, the Colossians were alienated from God and were enemies of God. The same is true for us. They needed to be reconciled and so do we.
According to BlueLetterBible.org, the word translated "reconcile" means “to bring back a former state of harmony; to reconcile completely; to reconcile back again.” The primary Merriam-Webster definition of reconcile is “to restore to friendship or harmony.” It is through Christ that we are restored to friendship with the Father and brought back to harmony with Him.
As believers then, the basis for us to “continue in the faith” is our reconciliation in Christ. The question becomes: How do the Colossians, and therefore, we then “continue in the faith?” This was an important question then, and an ever increasing important question today.
We live in a day and age where people are not continuing in the faith. In fact, according to coldcaseChrisianity.com, data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates that we are currently losing 70-88% of our youth after their freshman year in college. And 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.
Add to this, the overall decline in Christianity and church attendance in America today, we are facing a crisis. The same is true of our local Association. It is even true of our local congregation. Why is it so difficult to “continue in the faith?’’ The word “continue” means “to tarry, to continue, to abide, to persevere, to stay with or stay at.” I like that last definition, to stay with or stay at. We “continue in the faith” when we stay with it or stay at it.
Beginning January 20, I’ll start a 4 week sermons series called “Continue in the Faith” where we examine how we can do just that based on the above passage. It is my prayer that we “continue in the faith” at RoS.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor.
PS: A special thank you from Ilene and me on the generous vacation you have allowed for us. I also want to thank Jonathan and Jeremiah for helping make this possible by offering pastoral care, ministering, and preaching while we’re away.