Lesson 2 - Chapter 2
"I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea,
and for all who have not met me personally.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love,
so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that
they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit
and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is."
(Colossians 2:1-5 NIV)
We can claim that Jesus is first in our church and in our lives all we want to,
but if our words and actions don't validate our claims, it's a sham.
Get ready to go in deep water as we study this second chapter!
Paul starts by painting a portrait of what this love between Christians looks like
in Colossians 2:1 when he writes: "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you,
and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"
Paul starts off by saying to the Colossian believers in effect,
"I just wish that you could see my heart and fully comprehend my love for you
because I believe that it would have a profound effect upon our relationship."
Most of us don't really know what someone else thinks about us.
We can't look into their minds and feel what they feel.
The only clues we have about how someone feels about us comes when we see
what they do in our behalf.
Paul describes his feelings for them in terms of a great conflict that continually rages
inside of him where the word for conflict means "care or fear".
The word was used to describe the mental and physical rigors of participating
in a fight or contest in the public games.
Paul was trying to relate just how dear the believers at Colossae were to him,
yet not only them, but the believers at Laodicea who were fighting the same battles as well.
In fact, he says, "I mentally and emotionally struggle for all my brothers and sisters
in Christ everywhere including those that I have never seen personally."
Paul loved all believers and spent a tremendous amount of time thinking of them,
writing to them, and praying for them.
It was his love for the Colossians that caused him to write this letter to them
to give them guidance and comfort for what lay ahead in their lives.
Because he loved them, he was totally unselfish as their spiritual leader
and desired to invest heavily in their spiritual growth.
Beginning in verse 2, the aged apostle begins to describe some of the struggles
that he really cared about in their lives.
These are things that Paul knew would prove to both the world and the Christian community
that Jesus Christ was preeminent in their lives.
His first concern is that their behavior would be indicative of what was truly in their mind.
That brings us to the second great conflict that Paul has for the Christians at Colossae.
Paul's heart desires that the primacy of Christ in their lives would be evidenced
by a genuine love for one another.
He was concerned that they would be totally bound in love for each other
as he said in verse 2; "being knit together in love." (2:1a)
The great danger in Christendom is imbalance.
People tend to go to extremes.
On one hand you will find those who are cerebral Christians.
They are dedicated students of the Bible.
They can give you book, chapter, and verse on any subject you want to talk about.
But they are cold and mechanical.
Everything is black or white.
They have no real emotions about all these things.
On the other hand, you will find those who are all emotions with no hint of a brain cell working.
They have a mindless enthusiasm that gushes with sentimentality and deep feelings
about things for which they have no scriptural basis.
The need is for a strong balance between the two.
Paul stressed this balance in the great love discourse found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;
and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity,
I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,
and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Natural abilities must be governed by love.
Without love, spiritual abilities are worthless.
Philanthropic and selfless acts have no value unless they are come from a heart of love.
There has to be a balance between intellect and emotions.
So, having stressed the need for hearts or minds to be strengthened,
Paul now balances the need of knowledge or intellect with the need for fervent love.
The Christian life is not supposed to be a cold, dead, intellectual life.
Nor is it to be a highly charged emotional life without meaning or purpose.
It is to be a balanced life in which the emotions are both prompted and controlled
by the truth of God's Word.
Furthermore, the Christian life is not to be lived alone.
We are the body of Christ.
Paul says here in Colossians 2:2 that we have been, and continue to be,
"knit together in love".
That phrase, "knit together," is the Greek word, "sumbibazo".
Its literal meaning is to force together or unite.
Paul told the Corinthians that the church is like a body.
Each member is a part of the body, and it is only as they unite or work together
that the body functions properly.
But unfortunately, by birth all of us have a nature that is selfish and self-centered.
The only way that our Adamic nature can be overcome is through a two-step process.
First, we must be born again through the the blood of Christ.
When we are born again, we receive a new nature.
But the old nature still remains a part of us which creates an internal struggle.
The key to overcoming the old nature is to live in the Spirit.
We must allow the Spirit of God to sit on the throne of our life and direct us.
Our sensitivity and surrender to His indwelling presence and power is
what will knit us together or unite us as one.
A lot of people confuse "being knit together" with becoming organized.
But remember that the church is not an organization it is an organism
it is a living body it is the body of Christ on earth.
According to Galatians 3:28, we are all one in Christ Jesus in the church .
But the reality of that unity must be worked out in our lives as we cooperate with God
by making Jesus Christ preeminent in our lives and thus allowing
His Spirit to be in total control of all things.
That is what Jesus prayed for in His high priestly prayer in John 17 where we read:
"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me
through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one,
even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;
and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them,
as thou hast loved me." (John 17:20-23)
Paul captured the thought in 1 Corinthians 1:10 when he said:
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you;
but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
Paul is also praying that they might be able to enjoy all that they have in Christ
Here Paul is addressing the Colossian believers who he has never seen nor met.
He says to them in Colossians 2:2b-5:
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love,
and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding,
to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit,
joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."
Paul desires that their hearts or minds might be comforted or strengthened.
We can never enjoy the Christian life until we know what we have to enjoy.
For example, we cannot look forward to living in eternal bliss upon a brand new heaven and earth
until we am fully assured beyond a shadow of a doubt by faith that such will be the case.
We need the full assurance of understanding to appreciate that.
That assurance can only be enjoyed by those who are fully convinced of the deity
and sufficiency of Christ in their life.
In Him, not in angels or emanations from God, are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The word hid is the word from which we get, "apocrapha".
It was used by the heretics in Colossae to refer to the supposed privileged
secret knowledge they had.
Paul says that there is no secret knowledge necessary for salvation,
but after salvation, God gives the true believer knowledge that is not understood by the lost.
Therefore, Christ is sufficient we need nothing else, or no one else.
Christ is all we need!
Paul's great concern as we note in verse 4 is that the Colossians would let the false teachers
lead them away from Christ with some kind of persuasive argument.
False doctrine always either attacks the deity of Christ or His sufficiency to save us
apart from anything else.
Finally, the last thing Paul struggled with when he thought about the Colossians
was whether or not they would continue to walk in Christ.
The apostle Paul wanted them to know that he was struggling for them.
Their spiritual well-being was his concern, but it wasn't a passive concern.
He was investing his life for them.
As an apostle, his primary task was to preach the gospel and plant churches.
It required hard work on his part.
He would preach and teach the truth.
He would disciple the converts.
He would gather them into communities of faith.
He would teach them how to operate as the church.
He would counsel them.
And he would pray for them.
One of Paul's primary ways of struggling for the churches he had established was through prayer.
Prayer is a mighty weapon in waging spiritual warfare, because our true enemies
are not flesh and blood, but are spiritual powers of wickedness -- demonic powers.
Paul struggled so that others could know Christ.
And those of us who know Christ must be willing to struggle to know Him better.
All relationships require work.
And our relationship with God is no different.
If we want a better relationship with a friend, we must put some effort into that relationship.
If we want a better relationship with our spouse, we must work at it.
If we want a better relationship with Christ, we must invest time and energy
and just plain hard work to do the things that we know we need to do to get to know Him better.
"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love,
so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding,
in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments."
(Colossians 2:2-4 NIV)
Beginning in verse 2, this aged apostle describes some of the struggles
he really cared about in their lives.
These are things that Paul knew would prove to both the world and the Christian community
that Jesus Christ was preeminent in their lives.
His first concern is that their behavior would be indicative of what was truly in their mind.
"That their hearts might be comforted." (2:1a)
Now Paul is not talking about some maudlin, mushy feeling.
He is not saying that his primary concern is for them to be emotionally soothed
in their times of afflictions and distress, or to be physically relieved from unpleasant experiences.
Not at all!
The Greek word for "comforted" here is the word, "parakaleo".
Its literal meaning is to call along side, and it was used among other things to talk
about someone approaching you and to plead with you, comfort you, strengthen you,
exhort you, or encourage you.
At Colossae and Laodicea, the need was not for comfort, but for strength, encouragement,
The church was being challenged with false doctrine.
The Lord's people were being worn down and losing spirit.
Their need was for Paul to come, and embolden them, and build their spirit up.
They needed a good spiritual pep talk that would invigorate them.
The appeal is to the mind, not to the emotions.
We know that because Paul says that it is their hearts that need to be comforted.
While it may sound strange to us, in our King James Bible, when the Biblical writers wanted
to refer to their emotions, they used the term, "bowels".
Since our nerves are often felt in the abdominal area, it was thought of as the seat of emotions.
We do the same thing when we say that we have butterflies in our stomach.
Paul wanted the church at Colossae to be wealthy!
But he is not referring to the imperishable wealth of this world,
he is speaking of the eternal wealth which comes through a true knowledge of Jesus Christ:
"attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding,
resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself."
This wealth is "the full assurance of understanding."
" To have this full assurance" brings about the "true knowledge of...Christ."
We need to keep in mind Paul's great passion, "That I may know Him." (Philippians. 3:10a)
The growth of the Christian is best measured by how he is growing in his intimate knowledge
of Jesus Christ.
Here Paul is speaking of an assurance which leads to -- not just better mental apprehension
of facts concerning Christ, but a richer, fuller experience of relationship to Jesus Christ.
This involves a grasp of the gospel.
Do we know what it means to be at enmity with God and to have God in Christ removing
that enmity through his own death?
Have we given thought to the enormous price of our redemption and the necessity
of the bloody death of Jesus Christ on our behalf?
Have we given thought to how we can offer no merit before God sufficient for our salvation
and that only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient for justifying us before God?
If you are struggling with assurance, then you can receive no better advice
than to immerse yourself in the gospel.
Look at it.
Think upon it.
Feed your soul upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For in doing so, you will begin to grasp in a new way the sufficiency of Jesus' work for you.
Then, we must remember that the gospel is not only factually stated premises,
but is truth that is experienced.
This is where we must see if we have had a vital, personal experience of faith in Jesus Christ
and his finished work.
And how do we know this?
First we must ask, 'to whom or what am I looking for my salvation?'
Am I relying upon Jesus Christ alone?
In light of this, then we must ask ourselves,
"Are there evidences in my life that I have been born again?"
A thorough reading of the Book of First John would be helpful at this point,
for it states one truth after another that will be evident experientially
in those who know Christ as Saviour.
Then we must ask, "Do I have the witness of the Holy Spirit within,
confirming that I am a child of God?"
I would commend a study of Romans 8 to help in thinking through upon this reality.
Paul explains that this "full assurance of understanding" results
"in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself."
Paul could think of nothing grander than knowing Jesus Christ!
The intruders are saying to them that there was a secret knowledge awaiting those
who would be initiated into their mysteries.
So, Paul tells them, "I want you to be fully assured of your relationship to Christ,
for that will result in the real knowledge of Christ flooding your mind and heart".
There are some who would rather not discuss assurance, thinking that if they don't think about it,
they will not have to deal with it.
But we need to understand that the struggle for assurance is not wasted time.
For some, it is the road to a true salvation after putting their faith in the wrong place
for many years.
For others, it is the liberty of knowing that you have truly been born of God
and knowing all of the promises of God are yours in Christ.
For a church, it means that our goal is to help every member to think through biblically
of his or her relationship to Jesus Christ.
For it is only as we are united in "full assurance of understanding" that we have
our most joyous times together and most effective ministry as a church.
We must see that real satisfaction is only in Jesus Christ.
Where does our growth in grace lead?
When a church is collectively fully assured of salvation, what takes place?
Is it at this point that we have bigger buildings and a greater name among other churches?
I would point out to you that the least of our concern in light of assurance is being bigger
Instead, there is a deep assurance that leads to an overwhelming satisfaction in Jesus Christ.
It moves us from a fixation upon the things of the world as our desire,
to the magnificence of knowing Jesus Christ.
As Paul tells us, when we are fully assured it will result in "a true knowledge of God's mystery,
that is Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
The Colossian false teachers were trying to make these believers think
that there was something better than knowing Christ; some mysterious knowledge
that would be theirs apart from the gospel.
Paul tells them, "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are in relationship to Jesus Christ. There is nothing better.
There is nothing more satisfying.
There is nothing richer than the wondrous delight of knowing Jesus Christ!
Do you believe this?
Do you know this reality experientially?
This is the direction in which we must go as a church.
It is not that we might receive the applause of the denomination nor of our fellow-churches.
It is not that we might look good in our own eyes.
It is that we, corporately, might immerse ourselves into the riches of knowing Jesus Christ.
We cannot do this apart from corporately receiving the admonition and teaching of Scripture.
We cannot do this apart from corporately seeking the face of God.
We cannot do this apart from corporately growing in relationship of love to one another.
Hosea was right, "My people perish from lack of knowledge!" (Hosea 4:6)
What did the Colossian church need?
I believe that their needs parallel our own needs today..
They needed encouragement through relationships.
Paul's first longing for the Colossians was "that their hearts may be encouraged."
They were living in difficult times and in a spiritually unfriendly world.
They needed encouragement.
They faced opposition and rejection.
They were continually faced with raw paganism of every form.
They may have seen fewer converts than they desired; or made less progress
than they anticipated.
They needed encouragement.
This word literally means 'to call alongside".
We can picture this by someone trying to move a heavy object in our own strength when he calls for help,
and another person comes to aid him in the process.
The one "called alongside to help" is welcomed to ease the strain
faced by the one who at first felt all alone.
Encouragement carries the idea of giving comfort or being instructed in the Scriptures.
It is within the arena of relationships that encouragement is given in this context.
Paul wanted the Colossians to learn to encourage one another.
This is precisely what he told the Thessalonians, "Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (I Thessalonians. 5:11)
The use of the passive voice implies that the encouragement comes from outside of them
through someone else.
He explains how this encouragement is to take place, "having been knit together in love."
That is a picturesque way of showing how important it is to be part of the body of Christ!
Paul explains that the encouragement needed by the Colossians was going to come
through their relationships with one another in the church.
The foundation of it was that they had been knitted together in love.
So preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) is a crucial part
of being knit together in love.
A spirit of humility and dependence upon God is crucial to being knit together in love.
Paul went on to tell the believers at Philippi in 2:3-8:
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind
let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:3-8)
When you have that kind of spirit, your intellectual knowledge will be fully balanced
by your emotions, and your new-found affinity with your brothers and sisters in Christ
will identify you as a child of God.
John gives us a glimpse of what a life in the Spirit ought to look like in 1 John 3:17-18
when he says: "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need,
and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
The phrase, "having been knit together," is the translation of a word
that has the basic meaning of "to instruct" or "to teach."
The context of what was happening may help us to understand this better.
The false teachers at Colossae who were trying "to delude you with persuasive argument,"
were probably trying to isolate a person here and another there in order to
pump them full of their slick presentation.
The false teachers knew that if they tried to confront the entire church
with their erroneous teaching, they would be quickly squelched!
So they would quietly slip among their ranks and isolate one person after another,
convincing them of their animistic or Gnostic views.
In the process, they would divide one Christian from another,
driving a wedge in their relationships.
So, how can the church prevent this kind of deception in their church?
We must remember that truth is not learned best in isolation.
It is in the crucible of relationships and the on-going fellowship with each other,
that we have truth affirmed for us and solidified in our lives.
The professing believer who says that he does not need the church to learn
about the Lord has fallen prey to precisely what Paul warns against.
Let me put it plainly.
When a person distances himself from faithfully sitting under the teaching
and preaching of God's Word and the ongoing fellowship with believers,
he will inevitably slip into weirdness, if not heresy, in his beliefs.
He will develop a coldness and sterility in his Christianity that neither encourages
other Christians nor offers a clear witness to unbelievers.
Paul says, "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument."
The situation had probably not happened -- yet.
But unless the Colossians took action, they would move away from
their "good discipline and the stability of...faith in Christ," into a deluded church.
This verse really explains the reason for this letter to the Colossians.
Paul wanted to make sure that they did not take for granted their spiritual advancement
and gradually slip into grievous error.
It had not happened, but it could happen.
Though the church was closely related to Paul through the ministry of Epaphras,
it was also subject to delusion.
How could this happen?
The word "delude" refers to someone using what seems to be good, rational,
and even reasonable arguments to draw the Colossians into wrong conclusions.
We would suppose that the arguments might have some sense of proof-texting in Scripture
or at least they would appear to have some Scriptural backing.
This happen often, and there are plenty of examples in our world.
For instance, in the last century, a former Baptist, Alexander Campbell, began to take passages
on baptism out of their biblical context and delude scores of people into thinking
that baptism is necessary for regeneration.
His legacy continues in our day.
And in the last century, a Presbyterian minister, Edward Irving, began to teach
on a re-instituting of the apostolic gifts of healing, tongues, and prophecy.
His teaching spread into our century with the explosion of Pentecostalism
and the Charismatic movement.
His deluded use of Scripture continues today.
Added to the delusion through seemingly-rational presentations,
Paul also adds the concern of "persuasive argument."
Basically, it means the ability to talk someone into something
even though it is based on wrong conclusions.
This is where many believe something just because it is spoken in church
or spoken by a certain public figure.
It shows a failure to weigh matters, biblically.
It neglects thinking through on the consequence of not heeding the Word of God.
The answer to all of this is be biblical in your thoughts and actions.
Saturate yourselves in the truths of God's Word.
Check out what you hear against the immutable Word of God.
Delusions would come to a grinding halt if churches did this.
I do not mean that this applies only to ministers, but the members of the church
also have the responsibility to immerse themselves in Scripture so that they might effectively
discern the presence of delusions.
Part of our struggle is to maintain our true focus.
And the true focus of every Christian ought to be Christ!
Paul's purpose in writing to these Christians was to present Jesus Christ
as both supreme and sufficient.
Christ is presented as the supreme God of the universe.
He is the Creator.
He is the Savior.
He is the Lord.
But He is also the sustainer of all things.
In Him all things hold together.
He is the sustaining force of the universe.
Paul tells us that in Christ we find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
and that he desires for us to explore the resources available to us in Christ.
Our knowledge of Christ is important.
Our view of Christ determines how we relate to Him.
And how we relate to Him is everything!
Unless we understand who Jesus Christ really is and what He has made available to us,
we will live in ignorance of who we are in Him and what we possess in Him.
So we must focus on Christ and do everything within our power to maintain that focus.
The danger is that we might lose our focus.
Paul says that he is writing so that they would not be deceived by fine, sounding arguments.
There is always a danger that Christians can get off course by listening to the latest
and newest teachings that claim some new insight or new revelation.
So many Christians fall for the latest fad within Christianity.
Unfortunately, as they are off chasing what they think is of God, they often miss God.
Everything we need is found in Christ.
We need to continue to focus on Him and getting to know Him better.
So many things keep us from being focused.
We can become discouraged and lose our focus.
We can let conflict pull our attention away from Christ.
This is why Paul said that he wanted them to be encouraged in heart and united in love.
Discouragement and disunity work against our knowing Christ.
When we encourage one another and pull together as brothers and sisters in Christ,
we are able to keep our focus on Jesus.
He has what we need because He is all we need.
He must be first in our lives.
"For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see
how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." (Colossians 2:5 NIV)
First, Paul saw their "good discipline."
The word was used in military circles and referred to "order."
It might be the condition of troops in the field being found in proper order
for the battle before them.
The translation helps us to grasp what Paul meant by this.
We might paraphrase it, "you are living the way you are supposed to be living as Christians."
They were giving attention to their spiritual lives and the graces which are necessary
for spiritual maintenance.
Then, Paul refers to "the stability of your faith in Christ."
Again, Paul uses a military term which points to "a solid front."
It pictures a people who were anchored in the truth of Christ and Him crucified.
Though they were surrounded by false teachers trying to delude them, their ranks were unbroken.
They still trusted in Christ without retreating to some claim of personal merits.
We are reminded that passivity does not build faithful churches.
The effort on the part of all the membership in exercising spiritual disciplines
to increase spiritual growth is not a luxury but a necessity.
Stability through a lively faith in Christ is ongoing, not merely decisional.
It is no accident that Paul uses military terminology at this point.
Effective military units do not just happen.
They work hard at their discipline and attitude to be prepared for whatever kind of battle
they may face.
The church must have this same posture.
When it does, it is certainly something to rejoice over!
Our life in Christ requires discipline.
If we are going to be focused, we must plan to be.
And this requires discipline.
Just as we must have physical discipline to achieve physical goals,
we must have spiritual discipline to achieve spiritual goals.
Paul said that he was thrilled that they were orderly in practice and firm in their faith.
What he is saying here is that they were disciplined in their walk with God.
In other words, they had a plan.
They knew what they wanted to do and they knew what they had to do.
They were steadfast in their faith because they were disciplined.
One flows from the other.
Without discipline, we will never be steadfast in our faith.
It always amazes me that so many Christians think that Christianity requires
little or nothing from them.
It amazes me that so few Christians really study the word of God.
Many Christians believe that they can become an expert in Christianity without any real effort
on their part.
If they are going to become a lawyer, they will go to law school and spend several years
studying all aspects of the law.
If they are going to become a doctor, they will go to medical school
and spend years studying medicine.
But they seem to think that they are experts of Christianity even though they never study
the Word of God.
If you are really going to know Christ, you must discipline yourself to study, to pray, and to serve.
You must have a plan and then follow the plan.
It will not happen by accident.
And it will not happen unless you make it a priority.
The lesson is that a life worth living requires discipline, so we must be intentional.
We must order our lives in such a way that we plan to get to know more about God.
We must order our time in such a way that we make opportunities to serve God,
to worship God, to read and study God's word regularly, and to respond to His leadership.
The bottom line in all of this is that Christians should be proactive.
We should be proactive in pursuing the relationship that we have been given
through Christ's proactivity.
Jesus Christ has already made the first move.
He reached out to us in love.
He gave His life for us on the Cross.
He died on that cross to pay our debt for our sins.
He was not passive.
And just as he was proactive, so must we be.
If we want to grow in our knowledge of God, we must pursue Christ actively.
In Christ is everything we need.
We have just scratched the surface of all that God has for us in Christ.
The message here is that we need to explore Jesus Christ to the full.
And as we do, we will find ourselves experiencing a life worth living.
In Colossians 2:2-3 we see the source of real assurance
Notice Paul's sequence:
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches
of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God,
and of the Father, and of Christ;
In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Paul is saying that when you know the truth in your head, and you act it out in deeds of love,
you will experience a tremendous sense of confidence and assurance.
Because you're not only hearing and seeing Christianity intellectually, you're watching it operate.
And that builds confidence.
If somebody comes to me and tries to deny Christianity with an assortment
of intellectual arguments, it has no effect on me because I have seen God operate in my life.
I've seen the power of God within me.
I've seen things happen that I know only God could have caused to happen.
I have seen God at work.
some I've heard many people say, "I have such doubts about my salvation.
I know all the verses and I've read all the books, but I have doubts."
Well, do you know why?
All the information that they have received has never been lived out.
They have never convinced themselves that Christianity is credible because they have never lived it out
and seen it working their lives.
This is the subjective side of Christianity.
When we live in love, then we will become settled in our understanding.
Then we will become people of conviction.
This is what Paul is saying in verse 2: "That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding...."
When Paul uses the term assurance here in verse 2, he is talking about confidence.
He is saying, "I want you to have confidence. I want you to be secure in your minds."
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians aren't confident and mentally secure.
They are "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." (Ephesians. 4:14b) And why are they in this state because they have never been built up by love.
People might have the knowledge of the truth, but they also need to have the operation
of the truth in their lives.
So Paul says, "I want you to have a thorough, gratifying, insight into spiritual truth
which includes living your life in a loving way so that you will become solidly entrenched
in the knowledge of truth -- settled, confident, and having the full assurance of understanding.'"
Assurance doesn't just come from reading books about assurance.
Assurance comes from living it out.
Assurance comes from having your life so given over to the pattern of being strong in heart
and united in love, that the Spirit of God will demonstrate Himself to you over and over again.
That's what will give you confidence.
Truth finds solid footing in a strong heart, is worked out in love for other believers,
and then results in deep conviction.
Once you receive the truth in your mind and it is manifested in obedient love to others,
the result will be a settled conviction that what you believe is true.
So, behavior has a great deal to do with having real assurance.
Every good deed and every act of love will build that assurance.
Once doctrine is in the mind, and love is being worked out, then a settled assurance will occur.
Then notice the phrase in verse 2, "...unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding...,"
is a little tangled up in English.
Literally, it says, "...the full riches of settled understanding."
In other words, he says, "I want you to experience all of the riches that are available to you
when you're assured of what you have."
Paul also wants them to experience their riches.
You can't really enjoy the richness of what you've been given in Christ
unless you are totally assured that they are yours?
Have you ever contemplated what heaven is going to be like?
I have done that.
Just thinking about heaven and the fact that it's mine, gets me so excited
and makes me feel so rich.
The promise that someday I'm going to possess the whole universe with Christ is so exciting.
But if I had doubts, and said, "Oh, I don't know if I'm going to get there.
I know what the Bible says, but I don't have the assurance."
Then. I couldn't enjoy it.
If I thought that I might miss heaven, the promise of heaven would cease to be one of my riches.
Experientially, I would become poor.
Once you have the confidence that comes with a settled understanding, you know you're rich.
In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter says, "...add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self control; and to self-control, patience; and to patience, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."
Then in verse 10, he says, "...give diligence to make your calling and election sure...."
Sure to God?
No, it's already sure to Him.
Sure to you!
As your life becomes holy and your behavior manifests what's inside,
you will get a settled understanding of what's yours and you will able to enjoy how rich you are in Christ.
Also, Paul is wanting them to have an understanding of God's will.
The word "understanding" in verse 2 (Greek. sunesis) refers to facts connected to conduct.
Only Christians can have a true understanding.
First Corinthians 2:14 says, "But a natural man does not accept the things
of the Spirit of God...and he cannot understand them..." (NASB).
Ephesians 4:18 says that the pagans have their "understanding darkened."
Romans 1:31 says that men are "without understanding."
And Romans 3:11 says, "There is none that understandeth...."
Unregenerate men and women do not have truth connected to conduct.
Their minds are blank.
But to the Colossians (and to us as well), Paul says,
"I want you to have a settled understanding. I want you to understand."
Paul want us to understand the will of God in our lives.
In Ephesians 5:17 Paul says, "Wherefore, be ye not unwise but understanding
what the will of the Lord is."
God wants us to understand the revelation of His will.
So, how do we do that?
The more we study Scripture, the more our minds will be filled with God's principles.
As those principles in our minds begin to control our behavior, and we will understand
how rich we are, and we will be able to enjoy our Christian life.
The things of the world will mean less and less, and we will let go of the things
that previously we couldn't let go.
We will know where the true riches are, and we will be able to obey Jesus' command
to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also." (Matthew. 6:20a, 21)
Until we have a heart that is settled, assured, and confident in God,
we are going to hang on to some things in the world.
But when our mind is confident and our behavior solidifies that confidence,
we are going to have the kind of assurance that enables us to trust the true riches.
We need to know how that we can get that kind of assurance and confidence in God.
We do need to pray for it.
Praying causes us to acknowledging the source of assurance.
In Colossians 1:9 Paul says, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it,
do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding."
We must pray that God would clearly show us His will.
In 2 Timothy 2:7 Paul says, "Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding
in all things."
We have to recognize that our understanding, our settled assurance, our confidence comes
from God through prayer, through the Word, and through our behavior.
Paul's burden in verse 2 is simple.
It is that the believer will have God's revealed truth in his brain,
and that this truth will be lovingly manifested in his conduct,
which will result in a settled, solid position of confident assurance in the truth.
Then we will be able to enjoy the riches that are his.
Then, Paul tells us in what we should have that assurance.
He says in verses 2c-3: "...the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement
of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ [lit. `the mystery of God, Christ'],
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
In other words, Paul says, "I want you to have a basic, settled, assured conviction
and start with the fact that the mystery of God is Christ.
You have to be convinced of the deity and all-sufficiency of Christ.
You have to be convinced that the hidden God has manifested Himself in the revealed Christ.
Paul is saying that we are to have an absolute, unwavering assurance that Christ is God
and that He is sufficient to save.
Paul says that because those are the two truths that the false teachers in Colosse
They were attacking the deity of Christ and His sufficiency to save.
They were saying that Jesus was just a good emanation -- a sort of an angelic being or spirit
and that it wasn't enough just to come to Christ for salvation.
They taught that Jesus was just one step on the ladder along with super wisdom
and mysterious knowledge.
And Paul is saying, "Look, I don't want you to put up with all that stuff.
I want you to have an absolute, settled assurance about the riches that you have.
The first thing that you have to be sure of is that Christ is none other
than the hidden God revealed.
And second, that He is sufficient to save."
Christian, if you are wavering on those two points, you're in trouble.
When Jehovah's Witnesses or anyone else that might come to your door denying
the deity of Christ, you must have an unwavering assurance that Jesus is God.
It's imperative that you be settled on that issue!
Then Paul speaks of the mystery of God.
Notice the phrase in Colossians 2:2, "the mystery of God...Christ."
What is the mystery of God?
1 Timothy 3:16 explains what this mystery is when it says:
"And without controversy [i.e., You can't argue with this!] great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,
preached unto the nations, believed on in the world, and received up into glory."
So what is "the mystery of godliness"?
What is "the mystery of God"? Jesus Christ!
Every one of those statements describes Him.
Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, His ministry was ordained and justified
by the Holy Spirit at His baptism, He was seen by the angels who attended and watched Him,
He was preached to the nations, He was believed on in the world, and He ascended into glory.
The mystery of godliness, the hidden God now revealed is none other than Christ.
Now, out of the settled confidence that Jesus is God, and that in Him are all sufficiencies,
comes every other confidence.
If He is who He said He is, then we can believe all of His promises to us in His Word!
When we have a solid and settled conviction about who He is and about His sufficiency,
then we can believe His legacy.
He says to us, "Heaven is yours.
The angels are taking care of you and nothing will ever come upon you that I don't plan.
I'll supply all your needs according to my riches.
You don't have to fear anything because your life is in my hands and everything is going
to be taken care of.
Take no thought for this, that, and the other thing because I've got it all under control."
Well, I believe those promises.
I have confidence in them.
I accept those riches because I know God well enough to know that what He says is true.
So Paul's point is when you have a settled conviction about who God is,
then you can enjoy your riches.
However, if you have problems believing who Jesus is, then you'll have problems believing
what He's going to give you.
In verse 3 Paul speaks of the hidden treasures.
Notice in verse 3 that Paul says, "In whom [Christ]are hidden all the treasures of wisdom
So what does it mean that those things are hidden?
Do we have to poke around trying to find the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?
Well, those things are hidden, and they are hidden from everybody who is not a Christian.
But, thankfully, those treasures are readily available to those of us who are Christians.
It's as if somebody blasted the a diamond mine, and so we could just walk in
and pick up the diamonds.
They're all there.
All you have to do is "Study to show thyself approved unto God..." (2 Timothy 2:15a).
All you have to do is "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Colossians. 3:16a)
All you have to do is apply yourself a little bit, and you can walk into the mine
and pick up all the treasure you want.
The word, "hidden," in verse 3 is the Greek word, "apokruphos", from which
we get the word apocryphal.
The heretics and false teachers in Colosse believed that there was a great mass
of divine knowledge necessary for salvation.
They believed that that knowledge was hidden in secret books called, "apokruphos",
which could only be opened by those who had super intellects.
Paul is saying that is not so!
He is saying that the only apokruphos where all of that knowledge is hidden is Jesus Christ.
The day you opened your heart to Christ, God opened the diamond mine,
and said, "Go ahead, take what you need."
It's all there.
We don't need the special books of the super intellect.
We don't need the Bible plus anyone or anything.
Because all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ.
The revelation of Christ is all we need.
God's Word contains more than enough wealth.
In Ephesians 1:17-18, Paul prays "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope
of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."
In other words, he prays that we might get a grip on what God has for us.
It's all there.
So Paul says to the Colossians in 2:2-3, "I want you to be settled on these two issues:
First of all, Jesus is God.
And second, He is all-sufficient.
In Him is everything that man needs."
If we want to know why Paul is so concerned, then look at verse 4.
Paul says, "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words."
Lightfoot translates this verse, "I wish to warn you against anyone who would lead you astray
by specious arguments and persuasive rhetoric."
Paul is saying, "I don't want you to exchange proven riches for speculations."
It's sad when a Christian comes to a place where he would even listen to some of the garbage
that people teach about Christ.
Paul is saying, "I want you to have a settled conviction about Christ
so that no one can trick you with clever words and clever arguments."
The basic attack of all false systems is to deny the deity of Christ or His sufficiency to save.
They say, "Oh yes, Christ saves...plus works," or "Christ isn't God."
All false systems revolve around the denial of one or both of those two truths.
That is where all cults are brought to the justice of God and condemned.
Any system of religion that reduces Christ to less than deity or adds anything
to His saving sufficiency belongs to the beguiling activity of Satan.
So, Paul desires the Colossians, and all Christians, to resist the seductive teaching of Satan.
And that can only be accomplished by having settled convictions -- a deep-down confidence.
In verse 5, Paul presents the results of assurance
In verse 5 Paul says, "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit,
joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ."
He is saying, "I'm glad that you are hanging in there.
Even though I can't be physically present with you, I certainly am supportive of you in my spirit."
Paul was thrilled to know that they were standing firm.
He had a happy confidence because of their "order" and "steadfastness."
Both of those words are military terms.
The word, "order," (Greek, taxin) means "rank," and refers to a single file line of soldiers. I
n other words, they were still holding rank.
He is saying, "You may be being attacked, but nobody has broken rank.
Everybody is still in single file, and nobody has been shot down yet.
That's good and I'm happy."
He was excited because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Paul also used another military term, "steadfastness," to describe why he was so happy
for the Colossian Christians.
The word, "steadfastness," (Greek, stereoma) speaks of a solid front of soldiers,
ready to stand the shock of attack.
Not only were their ranks unbroken, but they were standing firm.
So, when the shock of battle hit, they would be able to stop it.
Paul says, "I rejoice because you're obedient, disciplined, holding rank,
and able to stand the attack. That makes me happy."
Paul's desire for the church is that they should be strong in heart, united in love,
and settled in understanding.
Then, Paul wants the church to be walking in Christ as he says in verses 6-7a:
"As ye have, therefore, received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him,
rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught..
Paul explains, "Since you're now settled in Christ, confident about Christ,
and firm in Christ, then keep on walking in Christ.
Don't waver. Don't change.
Since you have received Christ as Lord and declared Him as Lord,
and since you have a settled confident assurance, keep walking in Him.
The word "walk" refers to our daily life-style and conduct.
We are to keep walking in Him.
The primary impetus of that point is this:
"Don't change in your view of Christ.
Don't let your Christology flounder.
Keep walking in Christ."
But walking in Christ means more than just walking along believing something.
It also means walking in union with Christ, following Jesus, doing what He would do.
Paul is saying, "This is what I pray for you.
If you've received Him, don't forsake Him; walk as He walked."
First John 2:6 says, "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk,
even as He walked."
How did He walk?
He walked in love, in wisdom, in truth, in the Spirit, and in holiness.
All of those characteristics that describe the walk of the Christian in Ephesians 4 and 5
were characteristic of Christ.
So if you are a Christian, pattern your life after Him.
we are to learn the truth in our head, and live it out in our life.
We are to get a settled conviction that Jesus is who He claimed,
and then set our life goal to be like Him -- to walk as He walked...
to make our life-style like His life-style.
In verse 7, Paul adds four participles to sum up what he has said.
And notice that the tenses of the verbs that are mentioned here are critically important.
First is "Rooted..."
This is a perfect passive participle in the Greek which literally says, "having been rooted."
In other words, "Since you have already been rooted in Him, you ought to walk in Him."
Like a tree with deep roots in rich soil drawing its nourishment,
so the Christian is deep-rooted in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the source of life, nourishment, growth, and fruit.
Second is the verb, "...built up..."
This is a present passive participle which is literally translated, "being built up."
In other words, "You have been rooted in Him, and you're being built up as you walk in Him."
It is only when you do what Christ would do that you grow.
Did you know that?
You are being built up as you walk in Him.
Whenever you do the deeds of the flesh, you tear yourself down.
But you are built up when you walk in Him -- when you obey Him.
The source of being built up is the Word of God.
In Acts 20:32 Paul said, "And now, brethren, I commend you to God,
and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up...."
The Word builds us up.
Jude 20 says, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith...."
You build yourself up by knowing the Word of God and the will of God, and then obeying it.
Then it will result in being "...established in the faith..."
This, too, is a present passive participle.
Paul is saying, "Walk in Christ because you're rooted in Him.
And as you walk in Him, He will be building you up and establishing you solidly in the things
that you have been taught."
God wants every Christian established -- solid, deep- rooted, and strong
-- who don't get pushed around by false information.
And here's how.
Get the Word in your mind.
Paul has come full circle.
We are to start out by feeding on the Word, then we are to let it produce activity.
That activity will give us a settled conviction that Christ is who He claimed to be,
so that we will be able to claim all of His promises.
Once we begin to walk step by step in Him, we will be built up and established in the faith.
That is the final desire that Paul has for the church.
He wants it to be strong in heart, united in love, settled in understanding, walking in Christ,
and is "abounding with thanksgiving." (Verse 7b)
This is the response to all of it.
The end of verse 7 contains the last of the four participles.
I've separated it out because it's the only one of the four that is in the active voice.
The phrase "abounding with thanksgiving" is a response to the others.
Thanksgiving should be in the life attitude of every Christian be?
We should be constantly saying thanks to God for the riches that we're enjoying,
and for the life that we're living, and for the walk that we're walking.
We should be "abounding with thanksgiving."
This concludes the second lesson of Colossians.