While the world looks for wisdom and knowledge in the philosophies and religions of man, God has offered us his supreme wisdom and knowledge through Jesus Christ. Paul emphasized two central things from this passage of Scripture that apply to believers today: Be Strong in the gospel and be stable in a world of destabilizing lies. Click the infographic to watch the sermon.
This was a sermon preached at Christ Church Loresho, a new evangelical, prebyterian church plant on 24th October, 2021.
In this passage, we get a glimpse of what genuine ministry is all about. In Col 2:1-5, we get an up-close look at Paul’s struggle to help Christians to realize two central truths: 1) to be strong in the gospel and 2) to be stable in a world of destabilizing lies.
The Word of God encourages us that when all around us seems as if it is giving way, we can look to Jesus Christ, who is our hope and stay.
Old Testament Connection
If the Old Testament is a story of God’s mission to his people, then the New Testament shows us how that mission finds its fulfilment in Christ. If the Old Testament believers looked ahead to a promised Messiah, the New Testament believers heard him, they saw him and they interacted with him.
One of the passages that Col 2:3 seems to refer back to is Isaiah 11:1-2. In that Old Testament passage, the people of God find themselves in an exile. Nonetheless, God promises to raise a “branch from the stump of Jesse”, a branch that would be of blessing to other trees. This image refers to one who will rule and judge in perfect wisdom, and draw people from various nations to the true worship of God.
In the New Testament, this person is revealed as none other than Jesus Christ. If the main problem of human beings is to worship the wrong things, then Jesus Christ restores us, through faith in him, to the proper worship of the true and living God. This is the mysterious good news that is now open to “gentiles” (1:27), the good news that is open for those who do not know God, regardless of what ethnicity and background they are coming from. Through faith in Jesus Christ, people are ushered into true fellowship with God.
So as Paul would tell the Christians in Colossae, God tells us today:
Be strong in Christ. Remain unmoved from him. He is your strength in weakness. He is your hope in the wake of the hopelessness of life’s occurrences. With Jesus Christ, you have all that you would ever need.
Be strong in the gospel of Christ!
The Need to be Stable
Yet, what we are also very good at is transforming these good gifts into accommodating idols. If there is something that human beings have a great capacity for – it is the ability to twist truth into lies. In fact, even more amazing, it is to twist truth into half-lies. Though we are separated by almost two thousand years with the people of Colossae, we find that at the heart of it, our human nature is still very similar – we are cut from the same cloth. Listen to some of the teachings of the time that would lure the Christians away from their solid rock, Jesus Christ:
- You can only eat certain drinks or foods if you are truly born again
- If you don’t hold your church service on a particular day of the week, then you are not truly spiritual
- You must deny yourself food if you want to grow spiritually
- In our church, we have a close walk with the Holy Spirit – people often have experiences where “the Lord told me in a vision” this and that . . .
All these arguments and teachings are referenced by Paul in Col 2:16-23, but Paul describes such arguments as follows:
- Philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition and according to the elemental spirits of the world (2:8)
In other words,
- Believers, don’t chase after shallow things when you have received the deep things of Christ (2:3).
- Believers, don’t chase after the shadows when you have the substance of Christ (2:17).
- Believers, don’t hold fast to the appendix of your physical body when you have the Head, who is Christ (2:19)
In Christ, you have everything. You do need to revert back to what is popular in your culture or go back to your roots, since culture has no power to redeem you. God’s Word reminds us, BE STABLE in Christ.
As we listen to God’s Word today from Colossians 2:1-5, it touches each and every one of us in the following ways:
- If we find that we are lacking stability in the Christian life – that our Christian life is made up of a chasing of new experiences and new churches and new pastors – it is likely that our focus has been in the wrong place. We must acknowledge where we are at before we can move forward to something more stable. PERHAPS: The problem has not been them, but me.
- If this is where you find yourself this morning, there is hope for you. Jesus Christ is the center of it all. To find stability and to grow in maturity, we must be grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our past CVs, our present experiences and our record of sin have no claim on us if we have faith in Christ. Through his death and resurrection, God no longer looks to us in wrath but in love. If I trust in Christ, I no longer need to aimlessly chase after spiritual leaders, spiritual highs and spiritual communities. My stability is in Christ.
- We must not be easily gullible or taken advantage of. We must reckon that in this world, false teachings can look ALMOST like the truth. We must develop discernment through growing in God’s Word so that we are not taken advantage of. Not everyone that calls themselves a pastor or every building that calls itself a church has genuine motives. How can you know whether you are in a healthy church or under a faithful spiritual leader? What is their emphasis – is it the shadows or the substance? Is it the shallow things to tickle us or the substantial things to mature us? This passage helps us to distinguish what is true from what is false.
- Our service of Jesus Christ – as a deacon, elder, pastor or even in the marketplace context – has to do with telling others about Jesus Christ even as we live the Christian life faithfully. The reality is that Christian service is riddled with struggles of one kind or the other. The encouragement for us today as servants of Christ wherever we are, is that we have strength through Jesus Christ – who has overcome the world, and through his death and resurrection, has made a spectacle of all the powers of darkness.