Truth in Christ

Read: Colossians 2:1–8 How will you be able to discern if something you are hearing is true or false? The best way to know if a teaching is false is to be deeply connected to the truth. The good news is that our Truth isn’t just some static document or idle philosophy.
 

Our Truth is a person — and His name is Jesus.

 
See John 14:6. The key to remaining in the truth and believing true doctrine is being rooted in Christ. In this passage, Paul is trying to help the Colossians understand that everything we need for spiritual life and health is found in a relationship with Christ alone — nothing else.
 
False teaching usually has a “Jesus plus” teaching. Paul argues for the fullness that we can find in Christ — and it’s all the fullness we need to live satisfied and righteous lives.
 
Take a look again at verses 2-3. All of these terms serve as a defense against the false teachers who were trying to offer more than simply Jesus. In what ways have you been trying to make your faith about something more than simply Jesus?
 
(vs. 4) Here’s the thing about false teaching: it can sound so good and true. Often they are based on truth but there is a twist.
 
(vs. 6). Paul was very fond of putting these 3 names together as a title for Jesus. Each of these titles used of Christ are significant. Christ = the One Only anointed one of God; Jesus = the one who saves; Lord = a title of authority, one who deserves our total allegiance.
 
Paul then launches into a few descriptions of what it means to embrace Christ Jesus as Lord and develop a discipline and firm faith in Him and His truth.
 
Walk in Christ. The word “live” is commonly translated “walk.” This shows us that the Christian life is not idle. It is a journey — it has progression. See 1 Thessalonians 4:1. We don’t just get saved by Christ and then live however we want to. Jesus requires that our conduct be consistent with his lordship. Being in Christ, therefore, transforms the way Christians live — how we walk each day.
 
Belief that does not impact behavior is useless. Does your “walk” give evidence that you are “in Christ”? For to live or walk in Christ means that we are living according to Christ and his ways. See 1 John 2:4-6.
 
We are to continue to live in Him the same way that we received him…by faith. Faith that Christ is truly all we need. Faith that he knows what’s best for us. Faith that his plans for us are good not bad. Faith that remains in Him not on our own performance (good day, bad day).
 
Rooted in Christ. The image in this word recalls Jeremiah’s blessing on the one who trusts in the Lord and whose confidence is in him. See Jeremiah 17:8; Psalm 1:1-3.
 

The fruit shows where the root grows.

 
Are your roots growing deeper in Christ? Roots in Christ grow stronger and deeper through: Christian fellowship (LifeGroups), times of personal devotions (Bible reading, meditation, prayer), faith in difficult circumstances, Christian ministry, and corporate worship times.
 
Built up in Christ. Built up in Christ is all about having a strong foundation upon which we build our lives. Jesus is that firm foundation. See Luke 6:46-49; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. “Being built” implies that believers are still under construction and not yet a finished product. The idea of being built up implies a plan. It also implies that we co-labor with the Holy Spirit and build our lives on the foundation of Christ — the Rock who won’t fail us.
 
Strengthened in the Faith. How do we become strong physically? Eat properly, exercise, task your muscles. This same concept applies to our faith. See 2 Timothy 2:1.
 
Overflowing with thankfulness. The Christian life is to be characterized by gratitude to God. Additionally, when we are thankful for what we have in Christ, we don’t go looking around for something else…or something that boasts to be better. See 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
 

A grounded, growing, grateful believer will not be led astray.

 
See Colossians 2:8-15.
 

Read more...

Supremacy in Christ

Christ is Supreme because He is God (Colossians 1:15). Paul uses very intentional words: the image of the invisible God. See Hebrews 1:1-3. In the Incarnation of Christ, God becoming man, God the Son enters time, space, and dimension. He becomes the image of the invisible God. The term “image” was a representation, or reproduction with precise likeness (portrait, coin, etc). The word image also means manifestation. More than being in the likeness of God, as are all persons created, Jesus was God Himself in human incarnation. When you see Christ, you see God. Jesus shows us what God is; He also shows us what all persons are meant to be. See 1 John 2:5-6.
 
In Christ we see who God is — Creator and Redeemer; what God is like — a God of mercy and love; and what God does —one who sends his Son to rescue people from the dominion of darkness and brings about the reconciliation of all creation through his death on a cross.
 
Paul also describes Christ as the Firstborn over all creation. This does not mean that Jesus was created by God. He is eternal. So firstborn, in this context, isn’t about the first to be created. This title is about status, not sequence (OT firstborn). The firstborn was the supreme authority of all siblings. So Paul’s use of this word simply affirms, again, the supremacy of Christ over all creation.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is Creator (Colossians 1:16-17). Paul states that all things were created in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. What does this mean? All of creation is sustained by Christ and finds its ultimate purpose in Christ. Paul affirms for us that the world is not a purposeless accident in the chemistry lab of the universe. But he also makes clear that we cannot understand God, creation, or God’s purpose for creation apart from Christ. If creation has been created by Christ and exists for Christ, then it is never meaningless. See John 1:1-3. What does this mean of us today? It means that we are totally dependent on Christ. This dependence isn’t just for our salvation. But it is so much bigger than that. Christ holds all things together. If Christ holds the universe together, then Christ can hold my life together.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). The church cannot properly function without the head. The head is always Christ. Christ is the source of the church’s life. The metaphor “head” designates him both as supreme over the church and as the source of the church’s life. In the image of a living body, the head not only directs and governs the body, it gives it life, strength, and purpose. The church does not exist to meet the needs of its members or to insure its institutional survival, but to fulfill the redemptive purposes of Christ, its head.
 
Christ is Supreme because He is our only Savior (Colossians 1:19-20). As the Creator, Christ watched as his perfect creation was corrupted by sin. In that one act of disobedience, a chasm was formed separating man from the intimate relationship with his Creator. Man cannot bridge the chasm of sin on his own. He is completely powerless to do anything to restore the relationship with God. Sin brings hopelessness and helplessness.
 
But the Creator wasn’t done with His creation — He has not given up. (He won’t give up on you now, either.) This is the most awe-inspiring demonstration of love, grace, and mercy of all time. Rather than scrapping HIs work and starting over somewhere else, the Creator has a plan to set all things right. He places himself into our story. He clothes himself with humanity. The image of the invisible God became visible and entered the plane of human experience in order to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth by means of his humiliating death.
 
See Colossians 1:21–22. Christ is not just Lord of the Universe, He is Lord of You. Paul reminds us of our need of a personal Savior and Lord in this passage. He reminds us of what we all once were: alienated from God; enemies because of our evil behavior.
 
BUT NOW…reconciled to God, holy in his sight, without blemish, free from accusation. Paul emphasizes that Christ has accomplished this perfection for us; it does not come from our own striving. But God’s goal of making us a holy and blameless people in Christ is still a work in progress, and it requires some response on our part. Christians need to recognize that they have been reconciled to God to live a life that God approves.
 
In the beginning, God created all things through Christ; in the end, God will reconcile all things through Christ. What is more, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ did not simply rectify the Fall but created in a human being the image that God had always intended to be in humankind. If we understand that through Christ we gain a new relationship with God, we also recognize that relationships can never remain static. They either grow or die. See Colossians 1:23.
 
What are you doing to see that your relationship with Christ grows?

Read more...

Faith in Christ

Read: Colossians 1:1-8. A key theme in this opening paragraph is: “Faith in Christ.” But what does Paul mean when he talks about “faith in Christ”? Faith is placing your confidence, allegiance and identity in Christ. This is evidenced by living a life that is truly “in Christ.” Faith acts on what it believes. So what does it mean to be “In Christ”?
 
To be in Christ means to be taken in to him so that he encompasses your entire life. This means that Christ influences and infuses everything in your life.
  • To be in Christ means that you are committed to him above all others. And all other commitments fall under this primary commitment.
  • To be in Christ means that He determines your attitudes and actions.
  • To be in Christ means that you are inseparably joined to Him. This means that nothing can separate you from Him and His love.
  • To be in Christ means that you are also joined to a new family where the dividing lines that separate and categorize people have been erased.
  • To be in Christ is to have a new identity not based on your past or current status.
  • To be in Christ is to have everything you need to thrive in this life and enjoy eternal life.
Then Paul shifts from a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith and lets them know how he and Timothy are specifically praying for them so that they will, in fact, stay rooted in Christ.
 
Read: Colossians 1:9-14. Paul shares the primary things that he is praying for them that I believe equally apply to us today.
 
God fills you with the knowledge of His Will. Often in the NT, the word “filled” means to be “controlled by.” Paul’s prayer, then, is that these believers might be controlled by the full knowledge of God’s will. The good news is that we don’t have to develop this knowledge in our own strength but is something that the Spirit gives. When Paul prays that his friends may have wisdom and understanding, he is praying that they may understand the great truths of Christianity and may be able to apply them to the tasks and decisions which meet them in everyday living. In the Christian life, knowledge and obedience go together.
 
Live a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in every way. Paul then breaks down what it looks like to please God in every way:
 
Bearing fruit in every good work. Christians need to work out their faith in the way they live. When it comes to being a Christ follower, we do not have a shortage of knowing, we have a shortage of doing. We are not saved by our good works but they should be an overflow of our faith in Christ. See 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Ephesians 2:10.
 
Growing in the knowledge of God. This is important for two reasons: 1) Knowledge of God is necessary for proper living; and 2) Knowledge of God shields us from false teaching.
 
Being strengthened with all power. Paul asks God to give his readers not only discernment of his will but also the divine power to act on it. Living out your Christian faith may lead to adversity. That’s why Paul states that we need to be strengthened will all power “so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
 
Endurance is the power to cope and be content in all circumstances. But it does not mean endurance in the sense of simply giving in or succumbing to the events around you. It is a conquering endurance. It is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us.
 
Patience has to do with people. It is the quality of mind and heart which enables you to bear with people and never lose patience with, belief in, and hope for them.
 
Giving joyful thanks to the Father. Since Paul commands thanksgiving, it must be something we can decide to do. Therefore it can become a discipline in which we can grow. Gratitude, as the gospel speaks about it, embraces all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and not so holy.
 

Read more...