Paul’s Concern for the Church
Text: Colossians 2:1-7
Title: Paul’s Concern for the Church
Theme of the book of Colossians: Jesus Christ: The preeminent and all-sufficient Savior
Theme of Text: Don’t be deceived by false teachers, Christ should be the center of your life!
Proposition: Make Christ the center of your life!
Have you ever heard of the Divinci Code? (The book written by Dan Brown) There is also a movie based on the book the Divinci Code. Some of you may have read the book or seen the movie. Dan brown says that Jesus was marred to Mary Magdalene, had children, became the royal bloodline in France, and that Jesus was just a man that was voted as God.
Paul had a burden for the church. In Colossians 1:24-29, we noticed Paul’s burden for the church, his method for ministry in the church, and the central theme of his ministry to the church: Christ. In this text, Colossians 2:1-7, Paul states his specific desires for the churches in the Lycus Valley. Paul was concerned for the church since false teachers were attacking it. Even though Paul had not seen many of the people in the churches in Laodicea and Colossae, he wanted them to be founded in solid teachings about Christ. In this passage, Paul presents Christ as the central theme in the Christian’s life. Just as Christ is the center of the church, so Christ should be the center of your life! Make Christ the center of your life!
In verse one, Paul writes the “conflict” or “struggle” that he has on behalf of the churches of the Lycus Valley. Paul is talking about the intense concern and prayers for these churches. He has written a letter to them, he has prayed for them, he has discussed them with Epaphras, and he is extremely concerned about he false teachers attacking the church. Therefore, because of his burden for them, Paul wants these churches to be encouraged and united in Christ.
He wants to make sure that Christ is the center of the believers life.
I. Be Encouraged and United for Christ
Paul wanted the believers at these churches to be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they could stand for Christ in times of adversity.
a. Hearts Encouraged by Christ
Paul wanted the people at these churches to be encouraged so they can continue serving Christ and so they can withstand the attacks of the false teachers. The encouragement is has the idea of being strengthened to stand for Christ. We know that the Holy Spirit strengthens and comforts the believer (Eph. 3:16-19), but Christ also has a part in strengthening the believer. (2 Thess. 2:16-17; 1 Peter 5:10) Paul was concerned that the believers were going to be fooled by false teachings. Therefore, their hearts needed to be strengthened so they could withstand these attacks. He is talking about their hearts being strengthened; in the Bible, it is common for the word Heart to mean “the inner life of a person, the center of his personality, understood as the source of the will, emotion, thoughts and affections.” –O’Brien, WBC. p. 93.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
Illustration/Application: You must have your heart strengthened by Christ. A person that has problems with their heart, such as a heart attack sufferer, must exercise to strengthen their heart. They begin a cardiovascular workout program that is supposed to help them have a stronger, healthier hearth. Just like that person strengthens their physical heart, so you as a believer must strengthen your spiritual heart. Christ can strengthen your heart, so that you can stand for Him. This will require you exercising and building up your knowledge and understanding in the Word of Christ.
b. Unity in love through Christ
The believers of these churches were to be knit together or united in love. (Col 3:14) The unifying theme of the believers love for each other is Christ, for believers have been unified in Christ. (Rom 6:5; Gal. 3:28) Because of Christ’s love for man and especially his chosen children, believers can be unified in love. Love is the essential key to having unity in the church. (Eph 4:1-3; 1 Thess 3:12; Phil 2:1-3) Latter in Colossians 3:14, Paul writes, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” He is saying that love is what unites. Throughout the New Testament, love linked with unity. The only way that Christians can have unity is through love! This is not a worldly love or lust that unbelievers show, but a humble, self-sacrificing love towards each other. Only through Christ can we have that love! In fact, unifying love is what sets Christians apart from the rest of the world! Christ said in John 17:21 that unity is what makes unsaved people know that Christ loved us and that we love Christ.
Certainly this prayer of Jesus was answered in the unity of the Body:
I do not ask in behalf of [My disciples] alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me. (John 17:20–23)
The late Francis Schaeffer called the unity of the church “the final apologetic” to the watching world (The Mark of the Christian [Downers Grove, Ill.: intervarsity, 1970], p. 15). He went on to write,
In John 13 the point was that, if an individual Christian does not show love toward other true Christians, the world has a right to judge that he is not a Christian. Here [in John 17:21] Jesus is stating something else which is much more cutting, much more profound: We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.
Now that is frightening. Should we not feel some emotion at this point? (The Mark of the Christian, p. 15) John MacArthur, Colossians
Illustration: Humility is a key to the believer’s love for each other, for Christ himself humbled himself because he loved us. He loved us so much that he humbled himself from the position of God the Son in heaven to come here to earth as a man and die for you and for me (Phil 2:1-8). The apostle John knew that Christ loved us because he died for us. In1 John 3:16, John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” John had seen the self-sacrificing, humble love of Christ. That same self-sacrificing, humble love is what will unite us together as believers.
Application: Love is not having a nice thought or feeling for someone, nor is it doing something for a person so that they will help you later. Love does not think about what it will get in return. The love that should describe you and I is a humble, self-sacrificing love that does not ever expect anything in return. This is the love that unifies believer, unifies a church, and that unifies an unbeliever with Christ!
Have you been jealous, envious, hateful, bitter, angry, gossiping? All of these things keep us from loving God properly. Col 3:8 Put off...Col 3:12 Put on...especially love!
II. Grow in Understanding, Knowledge, and Wisdom of Christ
Paul wanted these believers of the Lycus Valley to continue growing in their understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of Christ. He knew that the false teachers would deceive a Christian that was not established in God’s Word.
a. Assurance of a Correct Understanding of Christ
It is vital that Christians gain a clear understanding of God’s Word. Paul wanted the believers to have all the riches and wealth from understanding Christ. This wealth is not referring to physical riches, but to spiritual riches that are in Christ. Those without Christ do not have the ability to understand the things of the Spirit of God; and therefore cannot have these riches. (1 Cor. 2:14) Believers must have full assurance or a complete knowledge and trust in what they have been taught about Christ. (Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:17-19) Understanding refers knowing Christ and His Word, and applying to every day life.
Illustration: A fool touches fire because he has no understanding.
Application: Many people have sat in church for years and have heard about Christ, but they do not have an understanding because they have not applied those things they have learned to their life. True understanding is not head knowledge, but it is the application of knowledge. Many people have doubts about their salvation. Their doubt is not due to a lack of knowledge, but because they have not applied their knowledge to their life. A person that knows the Word must live what he knows about the Word. This will lead to a deep conviction or assurance of their understanding of Christ.
b. Knowledge of the Mystery of Christ
Not only are believers to have an understanding about Christ, but they are to have a deep knowledge about the mystery of Christ. This mystery in this context is what was revealed in the previous paragraph in Col. 1:27. The mystery is Christ, and as Col 1:27 said, “Christ in you.” False teachers that questioned Christ’s deity were attacking these believers knowledge of Christ. Paul wanted the believers to have a firm knowledge of Christ’s deity, so that when false teachers attacked them, they would be able to withstand the heresy. The knowledge of this mystery will aid against the attacks of the false teachers.
The only way to have knowledge about the mystery of Christ is by accepting him as your Savior. Once you have accepted Christ as your savior, you must be studying and learning about Christ, so that you will not be deceived about Him.
2 Peter 3:17-18!!!! Grow in knowledge; this way you will know not to listen to false teachers.
Illustration: Inspecting dollar bills- know the correct one because you have memorized what it looks like. How do know a false teacher? By knowing God’s Word so well that you know a liar when you hear him.
c. Treasures of Wisdom in Christ
When a believer has an understanding of Christ and a deep knowledge of the mystery of Christ, then he will realize that there are treasures of wisdom in Christ. The false teachers were teaching that they had wisdom, but Paul is stating that true wisdom is found only in Christ. A person without Christ cannot have this wisdom since the wisdom is hidden or contained in Christ. (Col 1:25-27; 1 Cor. 2:6-7; Rom 11:33)
In Christ, the riches of wisdom and knowledge are stored. To search of other sources of knowledge apart from Him is useless!
People are always looking other places for wisdom. They ignore Christ, the source of true wisdom, and try to find wisdom, knowledge, and understanding through other sources. Many people here in Taiwan look to various sources for wisdom. People believe that Buddhism or Taoism is the source of wisdom. That is not true; these are false teachings and religions do not have the true source of wisdom. Paul is saying here that in Christ is the source and treasure house of wisdom. Where do we learn about Christ- in God’s Word! We have the key to wisdom right here in our hands.
III. Do Not Believe Lies about Christ
Truth is based in Christ, not in the false teacher’s persuasive words. Paul was telling the churches these things so that the false teachers would not deceive them. This is the first direct reference in the book about someone trying to deceive them. (2 Peter 1:5-9; 1 John 5:20) There are lies everywhere about Christ. Just as I said about the Davinci Code, people are trying to deceive about Christ. There are many Mormons that will try to deceive you and tell you lies about Christ. Other religions will tell you that Christ is important, but an experience or vision is more important. Paul is saying don’t be deceived about Christ, that’s why I’m telling you these things!
IV. Exhibit Unmoved Faith in Christ
The church was orderly and steadfast because of their faith in Christ. Because of their faith was based in Christ, the heresy in the church had not taken hold. These churches had a foundation built on the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of Christ; therefore, they were still holding strong to their faith in Christ. When the foundation of the church is other than Christ, the church will falter and fail. Christ must be the foundation of the church and of your life. (1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Peter 3:17-18)
The words that are used for good discipline and stability were used in the Greek as military terms. “Taxis refers to a line of soldiers drawn up for battle, whereas stereōma refers to the solidity of a formation of soldiers. Taken together, they express Paul’s joy that individually and collectively the Colossians were standing firm against the attacks of false teaching. His goal for them is that they remain settled in their present true understanding, and not yield to doubt from those attacks.” Paul is basically saying that although the church had been attacked by an onslaught of false teaching, they were still sound in the faith. They had not given in to the false teaching, therefore, it had not had any real success in disrupting the church. Now, Paul is able to start attacking the false teaching. He has been subtly attacking the false teaching throughout the book, but now he is going on a full-blown offensive against them. This attack will begin in Col. 2:8
V. Continue to Live in Christ
Paul gives the command on what the believers are to do with Christ. A believer is a person that has accepted Christ as their savior. Once a person has done that, they must grow in their knowledge and understanding of Christ. This means that you must continually live in Christ. Living in Christ means that you actually live out and obey the things that you have learned about Christ. (Col 1:10-11; Eph 4:1; Phil 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:1)
The way that Christian is to walk or live in Christ is revealed by four participles in verse 7. These four thoughts are grammatically parallel with each other, and they show a striking resemblance to what Paul wrote in Col. 1:10-11.
Colossians 1:10-11 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
Illustration: A deep, well-rooted oak tree does not easily die. Paul uses this agricultural illustration in these verses to describe the believer that is living in Christ!
a. Rooted in Christ
This is something that has happened in the past for the believer. For salvation, one must believe in Christ and accept him as their Savior from their sins. That is the first step of being rooted or established in Christ. If you have not been saved from your sin, then you cannot live in Christ. Salvation is the first step in living a life for Christ; you must be planted in Christ. (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; John 3:16)
b. Built up in Christ
After a person has received Christ as their savior, they must be continuing to be built up in their faith in Christ. Christ is the source of the believer’s continual growth. (Acts 20:32; 2 Pet 3:18)
c. Established faith in Christ
After salvation, a believer begins to grow in Christ. With each step of growth, the believer is becoming more established and firm in their spiritual life. This is especially important because false teachers and doctrines are always attacking the believer. A mature Christian will not be moved by the untrue lies that may be presented about Christ. (Eph 4:13-14; Heb 13:9; 2 Peter 3:17-18)
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
d. Overflowing in gratitude to Christ
A person that has been rooted in Christ, built up in Christ, and established in Christ will naturally be overflowing with thankfulness to God. A mark of a mature Christian is that they will be thankful to God for all things. Growth in Christ always results in thankfulness! (Col 3:15, 17; Heb. 13:15; 1 Tim 1:12-14)
These 5 things are things that should be true about this church and about your life. This church should be described by having members that are (1) Encouraged and United in Christ, (2) Growing in understanding, knowledge and wisdom of Christ, (3) Not believing lies about Christ, (4) Exhibiting unmoved faith in Christ, and (5) Continuing to live in and for Christ.
You life should be described by these five things as well!
~Are you encouraged and strengthened so you can live for Christ?
~Are you growing in your knowledge and understanding of Christ and His Word?
~Are you daily obeying what you know Christ has commanded you to do? Walk in Christ; Live for Christ! Make Christ the focal point of your life!
What is the key to withstanding heresy? What is the key to a good church? What is the key to the Christians life? Christ! Christ is the key! Christ is the answer!
In this passage, we have seen Paul’s desire for the church. His desire is that Christ be preeminent in the Christian’s life. Christ is the foundation of the church. Truth about Christ can only be known through the Scriptures, not through some persuasive words of a false teacher.
~Do you trust the Bible to be the only truth about Christ?
~If you trust the Bibles teaching about Christ, then are you studying the Bible to know Christ?
~Are you growing daily in your knowledge and understanding about Christ?
~Are you allowing Christ to be the center of your life? Christ must be the center of your life!
John MacArthur, Colossians (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996, c1992), 90.