Messages from Pastor Raddatz

July 24, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX, Other texts for the day: Genesis 18:17-33 & Luke 11:1-3



 Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”. ESV

Dear People of God,

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

You first have to learn how to walk before you run.  If you are running in a race across a course, like any long-distance race, it is important to know the course.  In the same way, as an adult it is important to know when something is true and when something is false.  

There were false teachers within the congregation at Colossae who were teaching that you needed something more than Christ.  You needed to either abstain from certain things or be devoted to more spiritual things.   It is difficult to describe with precision, exactly what this false teaching was.  We can say, that, it was a form of Gnosticism, legalistic, pietistic and certainly was downgrading Christ. It is as difficult to describe as some aspects of the charismatic movement today which really has no definite doctrines because it is so subjective.  Paul tells them and us that all we need has been given to us.  We have been rooted, built up, established in Christ.  We are to run the race that God has set out for us with thankful hearts.

ROOTED in faith

            "Rooted" is passive, a metaphor from agriculture. Christians are firmly rooted, lastingly so.       

            Kretzmann: The true Christians are not looking for some new doctrine that may tickle their fancy, for some new leader to show them a new way to heaven; they abide by the old doctrine of sin and grace, as they have been taught.

            God has made you his child in Baptism.  You are rooted in what Christ has done for you.  He has exchanged your sin and my sin for his perfection.  He has “cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.”  See v. 14.

            In using this picture word from nature we are reminded of the strength we have because Christ will never let us go.  

            About a year ago, we had a small palm tree that was growing in the wrong place in our yard.  As I was tasked with getting rid of it I learned that the best way to get rid of this palm tree was to cut the roots.  Palm trees are very fibrous.  As a result they are very strong.  Their roots are something I have never experienced before.  The roots were so numerous and so wide that I stopped trying to dig it out.  I think it was Linda (my wife), who googled, “how to take out a palm tree” (you can just about find anything online nowadays) and I learned that it is best to cut the roots of a palm tree.  It took some time, but I finally took a branch cutter to the roots, and after a few days of cutting, the palm tree finally came out.  

            We are like this palm tree.  We are rooted in Christ.  He has made it happen.  Nothing can cut us off from him.

            The Formula of Concord, Tappert p. 597: In him the divine and human are personally united in such a way that in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and in this personal union they have such an exalted, intimate, and ineffable communion that even the angels marvel at it and find their delight and joy in looking into it, as St Peter testifies in 1 Peter 1:12.

BUILT UP in faith

            "Built up" is another passive, another metaphor taken from the building trade. Christians are constantly being built up. How? In faith.   How is being built up passive?   Built up is an action of God.  He is the builder.  As we submit ourselves to him we find that we have great endurance.

            This image reminds us that our faith is our foundation.  It has been dug deep.  God has poured his Holy Spirit in us.  This is why, “The Church’s One Foundation” which is Jesus Christ our Lord. (LSB #644)

            God has built your faith on Christ.  Ephesians 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”        


            Established means strengthened in "Faith" denotes the faith relationship to Christ. Paul says: "How? Namely, in faith." Faith as teaching, or doctrine. "Being strengthened in the doctrine just as you have been taught." "Strengthened" is also passive.

            This is not like the muscle strength you can get from “working out” or lifting weights.  God strengthens you and me through his word.  If you want to see a person who is strong, you can look at their Bible.  Is the Bible worn out or is it in pristine condition?  Yes, it is true that when we experience a hardship we learn one way to get through the trouble.  This is given us by God so that we would know, “He is faithful.”  But getting through each experience is only by the grace of Christ.

THANKFUL for faith

            Being rooted, built up and strengthened in the breeds thankfulness.  This seems to be the only active voice in this list of four attributes of a mature Christian.  This thankfulness can be expressed in our daily lives.

            One woman whose cancer returned was extremely thankful.  To the human eye there was not a whole lot to be thankful for, because her body was wasting away.  Her life was going to end soon, but every time I would visit her and her husband and ask, How are you doing?”  She would say, “I’m so blessed.”  She was grateful for the love of her husband and the love of her children.  After a number of visits she told me that one things her husband promised her was that he would be baptized.  He said he wanted to be baptized.  We could not do his baptism in church, because she was homebound.  So we got a bowl from her kitchen and a new towel, and I baptized him in their living room.  Tears were flowing, it seemed it was a long ago promise that was finally fulfilled.  

 Our faith informs our thinking and filters our emotions.   Faith can motivate us to action if we let it.  It all comes down to what a person wants to do with their life and how they are going to spend their time on this earth. 

            That is very important, because Paul clearly indicates later in the Epistle that the false teachers claimed that abstinence from certain things made the people more religious. False religion very often either revels in materialism or despises material. Asceticism feeds the flesh rather than starves it.  True Christianity uses all gifts of God rightfully with thanksgiving.

 Once we have learned to run, let us run the course that God has given us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.   He will keep you strong to the end.

May this peace, which passes all human understanding, keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting.

He who called you is faithful, Amen,

Pastor John Raddatz

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