Note from Jesus
I appointed My apostles as My emissaries to the world. I commissioned them to take My message everywhere to everyone. The original apostles, except for Judas, of course, had all seen Me alive after My resurrection. They knew with certainty that the Father had raised Me from the dead. I entrusted them with authority to lead My early church. They mentored others to speak My message. They did signs and wonders to confirm their message about Me. My apostles were a special group.
That being said, I want you to realize something that is very significant to your faith. You don't have to have a living apostle personally teach you for you to have received the truth. Living thousands of years after My resurrection and after the death of the last of My apostles, I know there are times when you long to be able to witness Me do miracles and teach the crowds. I know you would love to know an eyewitness and an apostle personally. But, dear child of the Father, you need to be confident that you have received and believed the truth.
The apostle Paul made clear what this message of truth is when he wrote the Corinthians:
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me...
(1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
Paul reiterated these same basic principles when writing to the Christians in Rome about the gospel and baptism:
Did someone forget to tell you that when we were initiated into Jesus the Anointed through baptism's... washing, we entered into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through this baptism into death so that just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One [Jesus Christ], we, too, might walk confidently out of the grave into a new life. To put it another way: if we have been united with Him to share in a death like His, don't you understand that we will also share in His resurrection? We know this: whatever we used to be with our old sinful ways has been nailed to His cross. So our entire record of sin has been canceled, and we no longer have to bow down to sin's power. A dead man, you see, cannot be bound by sin. But if we have died with the Anointed One, we believe that we shall also live together with Him. So we stand firm in the conviction that death holds no power over God's Anointed because He was resurrected from the dead never to face death again. When He died, He died to whatever power sin had, once and for all, and now He lives completely to God. So here is how to picture yourself now that you have been initiated into Jesus the Anointed: you are dead to sin's power and influence, but you are alive to God's rule.
Paul emphasized that this message, this good news, should not be compromised by anyone. This simple message is still the gospel that you must believe in your day. It does not need some special new novel knowledge, fresh revelation, or deep philosophical additions to make it true, relevant, and effective. What makes My message trustworthy in every generation is the content of the message.
However, people in the first century struggled with this gospel being so simple and clear, just as some struggle to accept it in your day. This struggling was a problem for the people in My church in Colossae. Paul had not preached the gospel there. They heard the message from one of their own, a man named Epaphras. Since he was one of them, he was no one special in their minds.
Some false teachers inserted themselves into My church in Colossae. They taught certain forms of asceticism (denying the body and only eating certain foods), celebration of some days as more special than others, and worshiping angels, and they claimed to have secret wisdom that was necessary to be a spiritual person. Since the Colossians had not received their message from an apostle, they thought maybe they hadn't heard the whole gospel. They were being persuaded away from the gospel Epaphras had taught them.
Paul specifically addressed the problem this way:
Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don't let their talks capture you).
I want to warn you about the same kind of danger. There is a dangerous hunger in the fallen human appetite for something new and secret. Satan and his false teaching partners prey on people using this fallen appetite. Don't be misled by the faddish practices endorsed by some churches today. Don't buy into special seminars that claim to reveal things that make people more spiritual. My gospel, the good news about Me, remains as true and relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. You don't have to have an apostle teach you the gospel to have the truth!
Verses to Live
Dear child of the Father, I AM about to lead you through the book of Hebrews. No one in your world actually can be sure who wrote Hebrews. That does not make it any less important. If I felt it was important for you to know who wrote it, then I would have made sure you could know for certain. My human writer of Hebrews could say, "Listen now, to the voice of the Holy Spirit through what the psalmist wrote..." (Hebrews 3:7) and "...as the Holy Spirit keeps testifying to us through the prophet..." (Hebrews 10:15), when quoting the Old Testament Scriptures. I want you to realize the same thing about Hebrews: This message comes through the Holy Spirit's inspiration to guide you into a deeper understanding of the truth you already know. This message is to encourage you and re-awaken your passion for Me. You don't have to know the name of the author because the message comes through the Spirit. You don't have to know an apostle to have received My truth. Be reminded. Be blessed. Be confident in the good news that you have received! Most of all, live your life based on the power of this simple message and the Holy Spirit Who inspired it and now empowers it to life in you!
Before beginning tomorrow to look at Hebrews, I want you to read some more things that Paul wrote — things to reinforce the fact that the truth and importance of the gospel message come from the content of that message, not from the one who delivers it.
Frankly I am stunned. I cannot believe that you have abandoned God so quickly — even after He called you through the grace of the Anointed One — and have fallen for a different gospel. Actually there is only one true gospel of the Anointed, and you — because of divisive prodding by others — are accepting a distorted version which is not the gospel at all!
No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed!
Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed serving at God's pleasure, along with our brother Timothy to you, dear holy and faithful brothers and sisters in the family of the Anointed who live in Colossae. May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One] envelop you.
As always, we've been praying for you, thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, ever since we heard of your faith in Jesus the Anointed and your love for His holy ones — a faith and love that emerge from the hope you have heard about in the word of truth — the gospel — the very hope that awaits you in heaven. The same gospel that was brought to you is growing and bearing fruit all over the world, just as it has been growing among you since the day you heard and took in the truth of God's grace from our beloved fellow servant Epaphras. (He is a faithful minister of the Anointed on our behalf.) He was the one who told us how you demonstrate your love in the power of the Spirit. Since the day we got this good news about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We ask:
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what's more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully. Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, Whom You love and in Whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].(Colossians 1:1-14)
This battle I am facing is huge. And I want you to know I do it for you, for all those at Laodicea, and for everyone else (even those who have never seen my face). I'm working hard to comfort and encourage them so that they will be knit together — that many hearts would become one through His love. I do it so they will be rich in understanding and have full knowledge of God's mystery, which is the Anointed One Himself — in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed. I only tell you this to warn you about those who would try and deceive you with their arguments. They seem plausible enough; but in the end, they are false. Even though I cannot be there in the body, my spirit is with you; and I'm happy to know of your good order and your solid commitment to the Anointed One, our Liberating King.
Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don't let their talks capture you).
Epaphras, another one of your hometown fellows and a servant of Jesus the Anointed sends his regards and wants you to know how passionately and sincerely he speaks to the Lord about you. He prays for your spiritual journey, that you will continue to mature and stand tall in the kind of confidence that comes from knowing God's will. I can testify to his zeal for you and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Response in Prayer
Father, forgive my wandering and sometimes unconfident heart. Keep me from chasing fads that are distortions and perversions of Your simple good news message in Jesus. Help me be alert to false gospels that end up trusting in human achievement and human knowledge rather than relying on Your grace delivered in Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and appearing. Thank You for this powerful, precious, and simple message that brings salvation. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.