Colossians #7: Colossians 2: 6-7
Colossians #7: Colossians
This is our 7th examination of the letter written by the Apostle Paul to the congregation in Colossae. In this exploration, we are going to discover that the characteristics of the Church that Paul praises are the characteristics of every believer. Remember, believers, are the Church. It only makes sense that if the Church is a certain way it is because believers are a certain way.
To be a member of the Church, to be adopted into God’s family, one experiences a spiritual awakening in which they long for something more, to be complete, to be whole, be at peace within their skin.
It is God will that everyone enter into a saving knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:9), so the Holy Spirit woos the sincere seeker, leading a person to recognize the sin that has caused all the problems in their life and separated them from the life that God wants them to live (John 16:3; Romans 3:23). Often awakened a person will work at cleaning up their act, change the things that they see to be broken
in their lives. You can call these attempts as acts of repentance, the work of turning your life around (Acts 3:19). They want to make themselves better, according to their spiritual background they may be trying to win God’s favor with their sacrifices and desire to change. This effort always ends in futility and frustration. You can’t make yourself the person you want to be, no apologies to the self-help gurus, you need help to change.
The Holy Spirit continues His work (John 16:8) and leads you to an encounter with the Jesus in which you learn He’s done all the work for you and invites you to believe that He has made atonement for your sin so you can be forgiven and reconciled to the One He called Father and be empowered to live your life to the full (John 3:16, 10:10). You put your feet to your belief as you continually commit yourself to learn how to follow Jesus in this crazy world in which we live (Matthew 16:24-26). If you want to be that person who is forgiven, reconciled, and empowered, just ask God to do the work He wants to be done in you, for you (2 Corinthians 5:18). If you do ask would you let me know? I want to encourage you in your decision.
When you acknowledge, believe, commit, asking God to accept your faith in Christ, He makes you part of the Church (1 Peter 2:5). As a member of the Church Paul’s counsel is his counsel to you. He writes:
Colossians 2:6-7 (MSG)
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Paul instructs us that there is no need to add anything to the Message. The Message is that God incarnated in Jesus, the invisible God put on flesh, became body and blood, to self-reveal, to become humanely understandable. In that self-revelation, Jesus lived obediently to the One He called Father. Lived a life without any rebellion, was without sin, in compliance as the Adam was expected to but did not. Adam sought to exalt himself, Jesus sacrifices himself. That self-sacrifice provided atonement for humanity. Our first representative Adam blew it, our second representative got it right and leads us into the lives we were always meant to live. There is nothing more than faith in what Jesus accomplished that is necessary to be made right with God. Nothing added to the Message is necessary and Paul will argue that anything added is not only unnecessary but flat out wrong. We’ve been handed a tradition, there is no need to go beyond it, to enhance it, to add to it. What we have received is sufficient. You already have a firm grip on the truth if you have asked God to save you. Acknowledge, Believe, Commit, a commitment demonstrated by continually bending your knee to God’s will and way, just like Jesus showed us. You have all you need when you live “Jesus is Lord.”
We can assume that Paul is addressing the persuasive speech of some that suggest that you need more than just faith in Jesus. “There are things you need to do other than obedient love.” When you understand the basics of the faith, you are in the grip of truth, and the carefully crafted arguments that suggest the need for more than “faith and following” are not convincing. The Church must have a firm grip on truth. You must have a firm grip on truth, know what you believe, and why you believe it. This way you will not get sidetracked unto some dead-end path based on the religious experience of another.
Back in verse 5, we read: “I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs” Col 2:5 (MSG). The word translated orderly is a military term. Reading a little further: “I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ” (Col 2:5 (MSG). The word solid was originally used when describing the Roman military formation called the phalanx. The phalanx created a wall that could turn the charge of the enemy.
When the Church has a firm grasp of the truth, it can stand up against the wayward ideas of a gospel that is no gospel at all. To a congregation that did fall prey to false teaching, Paul wrote: “It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head” (Gal 1:7 (MSG). As a member of the Church, you must have a firm grasp of the basics of the faith.
[It may be helpful to know that the basics of the faith not only include the tradition of Jesus death and resurrection but also Old Testament texts that support the idea of Jesus' Lordship. There was no doctrine of the Trinity at this time. So the basics of the faith would include Old Testament apologetics.]
In 325 there was a movement within the Church to proclaim the basics of the faith. The document called the Nicene Creed is the result.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him, all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
As part of the expression of the Church that calls itself the Church of the Nazarene, we have a shared statement of belief that is based on the ancient Creeds of the Church.
WE BELIEVE in one God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE that the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living
WE BELIEVE that human beings are born with a fallen nature, and are, therefore, inclined to evil, and that continually.
WE BELIEVE that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost.
WE BELIEVE that the atonement through Jesus Christ is for the whole human race; and that whosoever repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ is justified and regenerated and saved from the dominion of sin.
WE BELIEVE that believers are to be sanctified wholly, subsequent to regeneration, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
WE BELIEVE that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the new birth, and also to the entire sanctification of believers.
WE BELIEVE that our Lord will return, the dead will be raised, and the final judgment will take place.
For the Church of the Nazarene, these are the basics of the faith. Much beyond is in error. Knowledge is not enough though. To be well rooted in the basics one has to practice the faith, live these truths, they are to be self-evident in your life. Your choices in life demonstrate what you believe. So Paul encourages believers to live in their faith.
Colossians 2:6-7 (MSG)
You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it!
When you are deeply rooted in the basics the result is living a life of love. Your knee is bent to God (1 John 5:3), you are busy using your gifts and graces to bless others (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). Your heart desires to grow deep, grow up, and grow fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). You’re a wise manager of all the assets God has blessed you with. When you are deeply rooted in the basics the result is that you live your life to the full (John 10:10). The Church is more than a proclamation of love it is love in action. As a member of that Church, your task is to love.
The Holy Spirit empowers you to do what you have been taught, to actualize the truths of the basics of the faith in the things you do. Don’t fool yourself in thinking because you believe certain faith statements that you are living them. Your belief results in action or it’s just an intellectual exercise. Faith first, then works, that’s how you start living what you have believed to be true.
James 2:18 (MSG)
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Paul adds one more characteristic of Jesus’ Church. “And let your living spill over into thanksgiving” (Col 2:7 (MSG). A hallmark of the Church is her praise and worship of God that arises out of thanksgiving for the gift of salvation. Those who live deeply rooted know the mercy, the forgiveness, the empowerment God graces in unending supply. In the direst of circumstances, the Church still counts its blessings, those of provision, presence, and power to endure. Even in the face of death thanksgiving flows from the hope of the resurrection, or life eternal. Gratitude of heart is the result of living deeply in the truth that Jesus is Lord. A life deeply rooted in Christ has the power to see the light in the darkness, the blessing in the situation, their candle is not extinguished by the storm. They know in whom they have believed and know from whom all blessings flow. If such thanksgiving and gratitude are not a normal part of your life then the Holy Spirit is calling you to contemplation to figure out why you are missing out on God’s blessing of a thankful heart. As an indispensable part of the Church, you are to overflow in thanksgiving. As you do the entire Church does. The best way to express this gratitude is not with words, but with deeds worthy of the gift you have received.
What have we discovered in these two verses?
We reinforced the truth that when you acknowledge, believe, commit, asking God to accept your faith in Christ, He makes you part of the Church.
We have discovered that we must have a firm grasp on the truth, not hearsay faith that is easily swayed into error by some impressive speech, sign, wonder, or experience, but rather the simple truth of the good news of Jesus.
We have learned that once you know the basics, there is work to do. It falls upon you to use to activate the gifts God has given to build the Church, to bless people, and demonstrate you are living the faith.
We have found that a sign of being right with God is a thankful heart. Gratitude expressed in words and works is characteristic of those living the faith.