In our study of Colossians chapter two we’ve seen that the Apostle Paul has two concerns: first that the Christians in Colosse continue to mature in their faith and second, that they keep their guard up for those who would seek to de-rail them in that pursuit
Last week Paul gave a negative warning. He warned of those who would seek to take them prisoner through hollow and deceptive philosophies. We noted that these philosophies will look good, they will be subtle distortions of Biblical truth, and they will frequently be sprinkled with quotes from the Bible (taken out of context). The church of today is facing a crisis. Many are scorning theological thinking and urging a blind following of “leaders” at the very time we need to be the most theologically discerning.
We must remember that Paul is facing a particular heresy in Colosse. Though it is impossible to tell exactly what was being taught by the false teachers, we can get some clues from the Colossian text. The NIV Study Bible has a pretty good summary of this heresy.
- They focused on ceremonies. (Colossians 2:11, 16-17; 3:11) They had “laws” about what you could eat or drink, how you should worship, and what kinds of festivals should be observed. Their focus was on the “how” of worship rather than the WHO of worship.
- They were preoccupied with angelic beings. (Colossians 2:18)
- They taught that they had a secret knowledge. (Colossians 2:18) They claimed they had a special insight into the spiritual world. They claimed to hold the secrets to abundant living. If you wanted to have the best Christian experience, you needed to have the information that these teachers alone could give you. They urged a mystical experience . . . they told you that you needed to “get in touch with God in your spirit”. These people added to Christ and the message of the Gospel.
- They had a heavy reliance on human wisdom and tradition. (Colossians 2:4,8) They looked for special messages and revelations. They emphasized the mystical over the concrete. They trusted reason over revelation. The Word of God was not enough.
Such was the heresy that was endangering the faith and growth of the Christians in Colosse. The problems that Paul addresses in Colosse are problems we face today. But, as I mentioned last week, Paul not only sought to expose that which is false . . . He seeks to underscore the truth. If we focus and rely on what is true, we will be able to stand against the cancer of false teaching.
Jesus is God
He is Fully God
There are many who would have you believe that Jesus has God in Him. They say that Jesus reveals God . . . He points us to God . . . He represents God. All those statements sound noble and flattering. But all of them understate the case. He IS God. Any teaching of Christ that diminishes Christ is a denial of Christ.
The doctrine of the nature of Christ has been widely debated throughout the course of Christian history. Some deny the deity (or God nature) of Christ. They teach that He was ONLY a man. They feel that to assert that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God is to claim that there are three Gods, not one. The Bible doesn’t seek to explain this mind-boggling concept of the Trinity (that three persons are one in essence). It asserts that “the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” And it tells us that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (Jn. 20:31). Jesus Himself told us, “I and the Father are one.”
Others deny the human nature of Christ. They go to the opposite extreme. They teach that God “borrowed” Christ’s body at his baptism and left before the cross. They believe that the physical realm is evil and God could never be a part of the human existence. But John states in 1 John, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist.” (1 John 4:2-3)
There are others who stand somewhere in between. You may have heard of the heresy called Arianism. Let me quote Dr. D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones,
The error of the Arians was that they denied the reality of the divine nature. They said that Christ, was the first and the highest of all created beings. He was not God, but He was not man. He was something in between, the first created being, the highest of all the beings that God has ever created. (God the Father, God the Son p. 280)
Every one of these heresies has a contemporary counterpart.. Our job is to realize that Jesus was FULLY God and FULLY man.
He is Unique
Jesus is unique among men. When we come to Christ we receive Christ, we are empowered by Christ, we are filled by the Holy Spirit . . . but we do NOT become God. Jesus is not “the best that man can be”. He is God. He makes us sons of God when we come to Him in faith. But Jesus is THE Son (capital “s”) of God. We are not, and never will be, the same as Jesus. We will forever be the created. He is the Creator. When you hear someone claim that we become “little gods”, or you hear someone tell you that God will live in us in the same way as He did in Christ, or you hear someone say that every believer is just as much of an incarnation as Jesus was, I want to give you a big word to apply to such teaching: blasphemy.
Jesus is also unique among other religious teachers. C.S. Lewis has made the classic statement to this effect,
If you had gone to Buddha and asked him ‘Are you the son of Bramah?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah? He would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, ‘Are you Heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, “remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.’ The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. We may not in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects -Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval. (The Business of Heaven, Reading for January 31)
He is Supreme
The theological truth that sets us apart from everyone else is not our view of worship, or spiritual gifts, or what kind of music should be sung in worship. What sets us apart is our view of Christ. Jesus is the Head! How we view Him is the most important issue.
And the key issue to victorious Christian living is not whether or not we roll on the floor and bark like dogs or have certain experiences. It is not what church we belong to. It is not how much we have in the material world. The key to victorious living is to follow and adore the true and living Christ. When we are following Christ we will bow in worship. We will not be filled with arrogance and pride, but humility and gratitude.
Beware, false teachers will talk about Christ and applaud Christ. But the key question is: “Who is this Christ they talk about?” Is He a watered down version of the real thing? Is he a denial of the true Christ? If you are clear on Jesus, you are clear on everything else.
Christ is Sufficient
Now I realize that this is “heady” stuff. It is theology. It may not be scintillating, but it IS vitally important. But I not only want you to see the doctrinal nature of this text; I also want you to see the practical nature as well. The word “fullness” is emphasized by Paul. It is the word that denotes completeness. Christ gives us Himself completely. And we can say that we are “complete” when we are found in Him. When we have Christ we do not need anything else.
He is Sufficient for our Salvation
Because Jesus is who He is, He is sufficient for our salvation. He is the only one who could supply the perfect life that was needed. He is the only one who could supply the perfect righteousness (or right living) that would be applied to our account. Jesus is the only one who’s life and position is valuable enough to secure the salvation of anyone who would believe in Him. Jesus took our place. He took the penalty that we deserved. By His death we can be set free.
Do you understand what is being said? Many of you are here today because you are trying to live a better life. You are hoping that by doing some good things you might be able to squeeze into Heaven by the skin of your teeth. You see involvement in the church as the key to eternity.
Others are convinced that you need to think more positively. If you could only have a better self-esteem then you believe God would let you into Heaven. You see positive thinking as the key to eternity.
Others are seeking some kind of experience. If only you could be “slain in the Spirit”, if only you could feel a tingle in your spirit, if only you could speak in tongues. If you could have these experiences then you would be one of God’s children and God could redeem you and use you. You see experience as the key to eternity.
All of that is perverted thinking! We need nothing more than Christ! The work is accomplished. He did what we could not. He did not do the job part way . . . His sacrifice is sufficient for your salvation! Yes, no matter what you have done in the past . . . no matter what your feelings tell you . . . no matter what your family and friends say . . . what Jesus did for you is enough. It is sufficient for you to be saved, and for you to know His fullness in your life.
He offers you eternal life. What you must do is trust Him. It’s more than reciting the truth or saying a prayer. It’s more than having an experience. It is a matter of placing all your confidence for eternity on what Christ has done for you. It’s saying, “Lord, I cannot be good enough. I know that on my own I can never be “saved”. Today I believe, cling to, and rely on your promise that if I would believe, I would be saved.” Friend, I know you hear the words. I know you can repeat the words. The key question is this: Do you believe the promise? He has done enough. His sacrifice is sufficient. Will you trust Him?
He is Sufficient for our Daily Needs
Wouldn’t life be grand if you knew that you would survive and grow from the difficulties of life? Wouldn’t life be easier if you could be SURE that you were going to be able to meet the uncertainties of the future? Wouldn’t life be more enjoyable if you knew you were headed in the right direction? Of course it would. How many nights do you toss and turn in your sleep fretting about the morning? How many times do you look at your bills and then look at your budget that is tightened to the limit and wonder, how will we survive? How many times do you face a major decision and feel paralyzed because you don’t want to make the wrong decision?
The answer to these problems is Jesus. Listen to what the Bible says,
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19)
If God be for us, who can be against us. . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:31, 38-39)
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5,6)
And we know that is all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Do you get it? The message is simple: “trust Him”. Two simple words are the key to victory and blessing in the Christian life TRUST HIM. When anxiety seizes you, when fear grips your heart, when churning keeps you awake, We must trust Him. Who are you trusting?
A man purchased a nice new computer. He brought the thing home and set it up. He flipped on the power switch and nothing happened. He read the manual. He tried everything He could think of. As time passed he felt himself getting angrier and angrier. He was mad at the computer. He was grumbling about the people who sold him the “defective piece of junk” and had no glowing words for the manufacturer. He was close to drop kicking the thing out the door when his young daughter came in. She said, “Hey, cool computer, dad. Can I plug it in?”
Just as plugging the computer in is essential to getting it to work, having a clear picture of the nature of Christ is essential to Christian faith and living. In this day and age when we are confused by all kinds of people who say: the answer is Jesus AND . . . The Bible reminds us that the answer is Jesus . . . period.
He is the one who can provide what you need for eternal life. He is the one who will equip you for life. He is the one who will see you through the hard times. He is the one who gives you everything you need for every situation. He is the one who is the answer to the churning of your heart.
It’s not a mystery . . . it’s a person. The question you must answer is this: “On what am I placing my hope?”
- on your experiences?
- on your church?
- on your achievements?
- how you compare to others?
- or on Christ?
One evening the great Conductor Arturo Toscanini conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was a brilliant performance. At the end of it, the audience went absolutely wild. They clapped, whistled, and stomped their feet, caught up in the greatness of the performance. As Toscanini stood there, he bowed and bowed, and bowed, then acknowledged his orchestra. When the ovation finally began to subside, Toscanini turned and looked intently at his musicians. He was almost out of control as he whispered, “Gentleman! Gentleman!” The orchestra leaved forward to listen. Was he angry? They could not tell. In a fiercely enunciated whisper, Toscanini said, “Gentlemen, I am nothing!” This was an extraordinary admission since Toscanini was blessed with an enormous ego. He added, “Gentlemen, you are nothing.” They had heard that same message before in rehearsal. “But Beethoven, ” said Toscanini in a tone of adoration, “is everything, everything, everything!”
This is the response of the believer once they fully understand and appreciate the greatness of the work of our Savior. When we truly believe and repent of our sins and realize all that Christ has done for us, no matter what the crowd says, no matter how many people applaud our greatness; we must say, “I am nothing . . .but he is everything, everything, everything.”
O come, let us adore Him!
- O come, let us adore Him!
- O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.