Paul worries about the Colossians – they do not know him personally. He is with them in spirit, but not face to face. He is concerned they are deceived by high-sounding, religious jabber that may call them away from our Head, that is, Jesus Christ who is the full embodiment of “the Godhead.” Paul seeks to encourage them to avoid the principles which appear spiritual on the outside and follow after the One who nailed those principles to a Cross. He writes:
“as ye have taken Jesus Christ our Lord, walk ye in him,
7 and be ye rooted and builded above in him [rooted and built above in Christ], and confirmed in the belief, as ye have learned, abounding in him in doing of thankings.
8 See ye that no man deceive you by philosophy and vain fallacy, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth body-like all the fullness of the Godhead.”
Paul calls the Colossians to “abound in Him in doing of thankings” and in so doing, confirm themselves as “in the belief.” They are not to worry over whether they’ve eaten the right thing or celebrated the correct day; rather they are to abound in love, in unity, and in thanksgiving. As Paul writes elsewhere:
“8 The time will come when we shall outgrow prophecy, when speaking with tongues will come to an end, when knowledge will be swept away; we shall never have finished with charity. 9 Our knowledge, our prophecy, are only glimpses of the truth; 10 and these glimpses will be swept away when the time of fulfilment comes. 11 (Just so, when I was a child, I talked like a child, I had the intelligence, the thoughts of a child; since I became a man, I have outgrown childish ways.) 12 At present, we are looking at a confused reflection in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face; now, I have only glimpses of knowledge; then, I shall recognize God as he has recognized me. 13 Meanwhile, faith, hope and charity persist, all three; but the greatest of them all is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13: 8-13, KNOX)
Paul writes to Timothy, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16) Then Paul warns that some in later times will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:3) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensual mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:16-19) The rules and regulations these persons demand of you, says Paul, “have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23)
“Rather,” writes Paul to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
The example Timothy is to set is “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The godliness he seeks is Christ Himself.
“O Lord, Thou are my God; I exalt Thee and praise Thy Name; for Thou accomplish a wonderful purpose, certain and sure, from of old.”
“[God] makes known His hidden purpose — such is His will and pleasure determined beforehand in Christ — to be put into effect when the time is ripe: namely, that the universe, all in heaven and earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) “Through [Christ] God chooses to reconcile the whole universe to Himself, making peace through the shedding of His blood upon the cross — to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through Him alone.” (Colossians 1:20)
“The Lord is to be trusted, and He fortifies you and guards you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
Jesus says, “Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in Me. There are many dwelling places in My Father’s house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I Am going there on purpose to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I Am you may be also; and My way there is known to you.” (John 14:1-5)
Then, Jesus says: “I Am the way; I Am the truth and I Am life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6)
“What use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it?” ask James. (James 2: 14) “With faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.”
The author of Hebrews asks, “And what is faith?” And offers this answer: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (Hebrews 11: 1)
Abel offers a better sacrifice than Cain by believing God is good. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]; for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who search for Him.” (Hebrews 11: 6)
Jesus says that faith as tiny as a mustard-seed is able to “give substance to our hopes.” Our faith is not in our good deeds, but in Christ, “for it is in Christ that the complete being of the Godhead dwells embodied, and in Him [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 9)
Our faith is not lifeless, but alive. Though we do not see the realities of which we are certain, our faith does indeed “give substance to our hopes.” And this living faith allows us to act.
(Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 11:42pm)
Paul calls us to “hearten one another, fortify one another — as indeed [we] do.” He continually expects us to “live at peace among [ourselves].” (1 Thessalonians 5: 14) He desires us to “encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and to be very patient” with all. (1 Thessalonians 5: 14)
He says, “Always aim at doing the best you can for each other and for all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 15)
We are able to comfort one another because Jesus Christ “dies for us so that we, awake or asleep, might live in company with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 10)
“For God has not destined us to the terrors of judgment, but to the full attainment of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 9)
And “He who calls [us] is to be trusted; He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 24) “In Him, [we] are brought to completion.” (Colossians 2: 10)
As complete children of God, we are able to encourage and strengthen one another because we are encouraged and strengthened by Christ Himself. We stand in His company; and He is our friend. Let us befriend one another, aiming to do our best for all.
“Desire pure spiritual milk,” commands Peter. After all, says Peter, “you taste that the Lord is good.” Now that you taste the goodness of God, why do you continue in “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander”? (1 Peter 2: 1) “Rid yourselves” of these weights. Be, instead, “like newborn infants,” desiring more of the goodness of the Lord God who is your salvation.
Grow up into Christ, who is your head. “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1: 17 – 18)
Put and keep Christ first in your life. “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3: 12) Remember that “once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him.” (Colossians 1: 21 – 22)
“Take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” (Ephesians 4: 22 – 24)
Paul exhorts us to “let the Word of Christ dwell richly within.”
This is my story; this is my song! God reveals Himself primarily through His Word rather than through emotional experiences at our local church meeting. Before anyone protests, I am not saying that God is not in our church meetings or revivals or weekend retreats; I am saying that if you are looking for God, open your Bible.
The real God is found in these pages, which He writes on our hearts every day as we read and study His very Words.
Which is better? To hear the actual words of your best friend or to go to a meeting to hear someone else’s words about your best friend? The answer is obvious, writes Paul. He tells us to let the Word of Christ live inside of us with the riches of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all wisdom.
How is it that we teach others? Teach others to open God’s Word; to allow God’s Word to permeate the mind and soul. In this way, we will each know what is the will of God