Stephen Caswell ©1999
According to an old legend, a man became lost in his travels and wandered into a bed of quicksand. Confucius saw the man's predicament and said, "It is evident that men should stay out of places such as this." Next, Buddha observed the situation and said, "Let that man's plight be a lesson to the rest of the world." Then Mohammed came by and said to the sinking man, "Alas, it is the will of God." Finally, Jesus appeared. Take my hand, brother, he said, and I will save you. Paul lead people from error to the truth by the Gospel. But he also helped them stay in the truth.
How Do You Remain Steadfast In Christ? How do you guard against being lead astray by false teachers? Last time we looked at Colossians we saw Paul's example as a faithful minister. Tonight we begin to look at his instruction to the Colossian Church. Paul is concerned for them because false teachers have come to town. Paul knew that Satan always seeks to lead new Christians into error before they become established. Satan offers them something that will supposedly make them complete. Paul says that you have it all in Christ! How do you remain steadfast in Christ? By going on to maturity. Continue the same way you started. Paul gave three instructions to the Colossians regarding this.
I. Watch Out
II. Walk By Faith
III. Wisely Build
Firstly To Watch Out
Colossians 2:4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
Paul was concerned that the Gnostic Teachers might deceive the Colossians with smooth talk. They claimed to have special knowledge and new revelations that would make the Colossian Christians complete. We don't have people who offer this type of experience today, do we? So Paul warns them to be on their guard. In fact Paul said that in Christ were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There was nothing more to be known outside of Jesus Christ. This should have been a comfort to the Colossians. To know that they didn't need to search any further. That everything that God wanted them to know was in Christ. It should also have been a challenge for them to know Christ in a deeper way. The Colossians hadn't been lead astray yet. However they were being targeted by the false teachers and Paul thought it best to warn them to watch out. This is confirmed by verse 5.
Colossians 2:5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Paul rejoiced after hearing the good news about the Colossian Church from Epaphras. They were maintaining good order and steadfastness. The words order and steadfastness are military terms. Order means well regulated conduct, to keep rank, orderliness.
The Church members were serving like a well drilled army with each soldier in his proper place. The Colossian believers were working together with their leaders in Christ's army. The word steadfastness means to present a solid front. This meant that each soldier was taking up their post against the enemy. The old saying united we stand divided we fall is very true for the Christian Church. Believers need discipline and obedience if they are going to make progress in the Christian life. The Colossians were doing this. They hadn't turned aside quickly after the false teachers like the Galatian Church had done.
Paul warned the Colossian Church to watch out for false teachers with persuasive words. We do well to heed this warning. Are you careful when people come to the front door? Share the Gospel with them. But don't trust anyone who denies Christ's deity. Anyone that would try to add some knowledge or experience to what we have in Jesus Christ is a false teacher. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. We don't need something new. We simply need to grasp more of Him. We just need to know Christ better. In fact the better we know Him the less chance there is of being lead astray. As well as instructing the Colossians to watch out he commanded them
Secondly To Walk By Faith
Colossians 2:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
The Story of Blonden
Around the 1850s there was a famous tightrope walker. He was probably the greatest tightrope walker of all time, his name was Blonden. He walked over the Niagara Falls on a tightrope. In fact he also did it blindfolded. He wheeled a wheelbarrow across and even stopped in the middle for a snack. At a press conference he asked a reporter whether he thought it was possible for him to carry a man across on his shoulders. The reporter replied certainly I believe you could do that. Then Blonden said let's go, you are the man. However the reporter declined the offer. His faith in Blonden was only theoretical, he wasn't prepared to put his life on the line.
How do we receive Christ Jesus the Lord? By faith! The word received here implies a one time action. We receive Christ with the result that we always have Him, or should I say that he has us. Paul commands us to walk with Christ the same way we received Him, by faith. How do we walk by faith? How did we first receive Christ? Did anyone here see Christ come into their life. No! But you did see the difference He made after He came in, didn't you? You knew God's forgiveness and peace. You have received His assurance of eternal life. You continue to see answers to prayer. All these things we receive by faith. How then do we walk by faith? We simply believe that He is with us and will enable us to live for Him. We can't see Christ with us, but when we rely on Him for strength and grace He never fails us. The trouble is that most believers start their Christian life by faith and then try to finish it by works! It doesn't work. The just shall live by faith.
Blonden's Story Part 2
Just imagine Blonden had said to you " Do you think I can carry you across the Niagara Falls on my back ? " And you say " yes, let's go and do it. " But when you get half way across you look down and then say to Blonden " It's been very good of you to bring me this far. But it's a long way down and I don't know if you can make it the rest of the way from here. So can you put me down and I will finish it from here. That would be crazy. You don't know how to walk a tightrope. But that's just what many people do in the Christian life. They start out by faith and then try to finish the course in our own strength. It won't work. Paul said, For we walk by faith not by sight.
Simon Peter Walking On Water
Simon Peter learnt this same lesson from Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. He with the other disciples had been straining at the oars to get to other side. When suddenly Jesus appeared walking on the water toward them. At first they were frightened thinking Him to be a ghost. But after Jesus assured them that it was Him, Peter asked to walk on the water. Christ bid him to come. At first Peter went well. He walked on top of the water to the Lord. But then he saw the wind and the waves and began to doubt. Once he doubted he began to sink. How did this happen? What had changed? The weather hadn't changed. It was stormy when he set out. Peter's focus had changed and that is why He doubted. He stopped looking to the Lord who was in command of the wind and the waves. He stopped walking by faith and walked by sight. This is why he failed. In fact Christ rebuked him for doubting. Doubt is the opposite to faith.
Christ calls us to walk by faith in Him. We start the Christian life by faith in Christ and we must continue the same way. The Christian life is a life of faith. Hebrews 11 proclaims how God's servants have always overcome through faith. In verse 6 Paul commands the Colossians and us to walk by faith in Jesus Christ. After all the Lord knows the way before us. He alone can guide us. The Lord alone knows the trials we will face. Only He can give us the strength to stand.
Do you walk by faith or by sight? Christ calls us to walk by faith. I know I struggle with this. When we went to Bible College we didn't know how we would be able to pay all the bills. But we knew that God called us there. So we chose to trust Him to supply our needs. He didn't fail us. Do you feel inadequate to witness for Christ? This is an opportunity to trust God to give you the right words use you. But you have to choose to trust Him. Can I encourage to step out of life in the physical realm and walk by faith. Take God at His word and step out with Him, by faith! We cannot successfully live the Christian life without faith. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please God, for that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Can I encourage you to step out in faith with God!
Thirdly Wisely Build
Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
The next thing Paul instructs the Colossians to do is grow. He uses four different pictures to describe the Christian experience of growth.
a. The Tree
This is an agricultural word. Paul starts by saying rooted in Christ. Rooted is a perfect tense. A more accurate translation would be, once and for all having been rooted in Christ. When we trusted in Christ we were planted in Him with the result that we stay planted in Him. We don't need to try different soil along the way. The solid foundation of Jesus Christ is just what we need when we are saved and just what we need all our life. The Psalmist brings out this idea in Psalm 1:1-3. Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The study of God's word will enable us to remain grounded in Christ. Steadfast.
b. The Building
Built up and established in the faith, are architectural terms. They describe a building that is being completed. When we are saved this is just the beginning of a new life. We must grow to maturity. The foundation of the building is none other than Jesus Christ. The participles used here are in the present tense showing that we have to continually build on Christ's foundation. 1 Corinthians 3:10-13 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
It is as believers go on to maturity that they can stand against Satan's deceptions more effectively. What is presented here is the idea of stability and security. Ephesians 4:11-16 says that the spiritual gifts are given for the building up of the church. The result is, that they won't be blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine from cunning teachers.
c. The School
The Colossians had been taught the Gospel truth's by Epaphras. The false teachers were seeking to undermine his teaching. So Paul encouraged them that they had been taught the truth and needed only to continue in it. The word taught is an aorist tense, it means a completed action. They had received the truth, they didn't need anything new. False teachers find it much harder to deceive believers who study the word of God. Jude 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
d. The River
The word Paul used here describes a river overflowing its banks. Christians are to be so filled with Jesus Christ that they overflow His grace to those round about. We are not to keep His blessings to ourselves but to share them. John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Paul encouraged the Colossian Christians to be grounded, growing and grateful people. Such believers are not easily lead astray. We do well to follow Paul's instruction. He encouraged them to grow in Christ. He challenged them to be rooted like a tree. This of course happened when they believed in Christ. Next he told them to be firmly established like a completed building. This involved diligence on their part. They were to build on Christ's solid foundation. They were next instructed to hold on to the teaching they had once and for all received. No new revelation needed to be added to their faith. Finally Paul described the results of growing in Christ. They would abound in thanksgiving.
How do you remain steadfast in Christ? How do you overcome false teaching? By going on to maturity. Paul gave three instructions to the Colossians regarding this.
I. Watch Out
Do you watch out for people that come to your door that try to take away from Christ's sufficiency? Are you careful when people tell you that you need some new knowledge or experience? You should be! Christ is all you need. We just need to know Him more!
II. Walk By Faith
Are you walking by faith or by sight? Do you believe that God can work in you life to enable you to accomplish the impossible? The Christian life is a walk of faith. We start by faith and we continue by faith. Step out with God and take Him at His word. Ask Him to use you in ways that you feel are impossible unless He empowers you. I know you will be surprised if you do.
III. Wisely Build
Are you growing in the Lord? Do you know Him better now than you did 12 months ago? It is as we mature in the faith that we are more able to discern error. Can I encourage you to grow in your knowledge of God and your service for Him.
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.