THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS
Components of a Firm Faith or Working the Work of Discipleship
Colossians 2:1-5 SCC 3/11/12
IT IS A LOT OF HARD WORK TO BRING PEOPLE TOWARD SPIRITUAL MATURITY 2:1
First, we need to beware of how great of a struggle it really is.
Here it is described like an athletic contest strenuous and demanding. As the overall guiding force of his ministry, the apostle declared his struggle in 1:28-29 to see the Gentiles come to know and grow to maturity in Christ, but here in 2:1-3 he makes it personal to the Colossians, to the Laodiceans, and to others to show his personal interest in them. The struggle would be in the form of prayer for them 1:9-12; suffering on their behalf in prison 2:24; process of discipleship 1:29. The fact that he mentions of Laodicea suggest that false teaching had spread to that church also.
Second, it is a struggle not limited only to those we know or have seen.
Rather, it extended to those who had never met him personally. And for those who had not even seen his face. They had knowledge of him but not personal knowledge. It's good to pray for and disciple those we know and love. But our vision needs to reach beyond this little circle to other brothers and sisters whom we may not have met, but whose needs we have come to know. And even include a wider sphere of brothers we may only see from time to time or if we travel that we have bumped into along the way of ministry. The church is a body not an institution. We are related to one another through our head.
IMPLICATION: The discipleship process is strenuous. It is difficult, taxing and grueling. Instilling Christ life principles into peoples psyche is labor intensive. If you desire to disciple your children then you enter into a lifelong ordeal. Discipleship is never easy at any level since it requires changing worldviews, confronting prejudices, and rearranging paradigms. New wine requires new wineskins. This is the work the apostle is engaged in—the same work we have been commanded to participate in. It is a life-long work with often the same people. Paul was still discipling Timothy when Paul was killed.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS HARD WORK IS TO STRENGTHEN HEARTS WITH FULL ASSURANCE THAT UNDERSTANDING BRINGS 2:2-3
First, it is in order that disciple’s hearts may be encouraged.
Bringing people to maturity involves many things. But all of these are targeted at the heart. The place where life issues are fought and settled. It is primarily an inside job. And its purpose is to bring encouragement within this realm. What realm—the realm of belief where we have been knit together in love. The point being, that encouragement is needed within the realm of belief because it is constantly threatened. Satan has specifically targeted your heart—the very one that has been knit together with the rest of us in our love for Christ. But in what form does this encouragement come?
Second, it is in order that encouragement comes from a full assurance of understanding.
The way this encouragement works is by developing the full assurance that understanding brings. The ‘wealth’ here is the content of this full assurance of understanding. We need to realize that change in people will not come without giving them understanding. Discipleship is a process, which changes people’s understanding of the heart of God, God’s kingdom, and the purposes of God in the world. The main point of the parable of the four soils in Luke 8 is the person who understands the Word of God. This is the good soil. So we should be sensitive to things, teaching, or priorities that can keep me or those I disciple from Understanding the Word of God. The other three soils had that understanding snatched away by the devil, persecution, and riches. Satan may interfere ay attacking the credibility of the Bible. Persecution from other Christians may interrupt by pressuring disciples to conform to manmade rituals. Riches may intervene by the lure of luxurious living. What must we understand?
Third, that understanding is the outcome of true knowledge of God’s mystery, Christ Himself!
This ‘mystery’ is classified information that God has now de-classified. It pertains to Christ. God has given full disclosure to know the truth pertaining to Jesus Christ. Once a sacred secret it is no longer hidden bur fully revealed. God no longer wants His people in the dark as to His purposes and plans in and through His Son. The gospel makes every believer a shareholder in God’s kingdom! (1) It was not made known in previous ages and people (1:26). So it was a mystery from Adam to Christ. (2) The mystery has been revealed through the HS by the apostles (1:26). (3) The content of this mystery is Christ. Understanding then is of a person, both the person and work of Jesus Christ. All understanding must converge in Him alone.
Fourth, in Christ are hidden all of God’s treasures v 3.
Paul wrestled for these believers that they might be strengthened and have greater insight into the knowledge of Christ. Knowledge is apprehension of truth and wisdom is application of truth in life. There is a storehouse of riches in Christ. So it is in Christ that all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge have been stored-up in hiding. But now are displayed to us who know Christ. God has put all of His benefits in His Son on display. We rejoice, we hope, we experience, we share, and we possess these. God has swept out His attic and given us access to everything made possible in Christ.
IMPLICATION: No one can comprehend the benefits of life without Jesus Christ. And yet our world pushes him away—bleeps him out—replaces him with others. Only in Jesus Christ can you understand how life works. Only in Jesus Christ will you discover how you should then live. Only in Jesus Christ is there any possibility of a life well lived and an end well prepared. Outside of Christ the world can only grope for significance and meaning. In Jesus Christ is the hope of every human heart. If you love Jesus and honor Him as Savior and desire to grow in your understanding of Him then you desire the greatest quest possible. Marvel at him. Learn of Him. Grow in Him. Study the apostles.
THIS HARD WORK REQUIRES A PROTECTIVE STRATEGY 2:4-5
The purpose for this protective strategy is to counter the methods of false teachers 4
What is now said is based on who Jesus is, one in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and on what He has accomplished by His death for our sin, our complete reconciliation to God. The fact is that opponents of the truth can be skilled in arguments. We can be deceived meaning to set reason aside and be defrauded by arguments that sound persuasive. The method the false teachers used is seen in the statement, through arguments that sound reasonable. In this context Paul uses it in a negative sense of speech that sounds convincing and reasonable, but is actually false.
The reason for this protective strategy is because of threat to spiritual stability in face of false teaching
First, through the Holy Spirit we are bound to one another as though we were with them wherever they are. We can be absent physically from other believers but we are not out of the realm of relationship with them spiritually. This statement also underscores the living, dynamic aspect of the church, the body of Christ with one Head and many supernaturally inter-connected members. We do have a responsibility to one another whether in our immediate circle or not. Paul is in prison never having met these believers but as his eye on them nonetheless.
Second, our goal is to see their spiritual stability in the face of the false teaching. Believers are under assault, but they can stand fast in the stronghold of their faith. Grounded in Christ, they are enabled by faith to stand firm in their conflict with the world. Within the Church the manner of our protective strategy is disciplined order and strong steadiness, like the order and steadiness of a trained and disciplined body of troops. The content of their solidarity was their faith in Christ. Attempts to persuasively deceive them had failed. This is something worth rejoicing over. Followers of Christ today are in a similar battle. How do we defend ourselves against deceivers? First, be battle-ready, disciplined soldiers. Second, have stability in your faith by building a beachhead of knowledge and having a solid front. Don't be fooled by Satan's lies. Know the truth of God's Word, and be battle-ready through a disciplined life and an unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ. EX: When I see disciple changes.