DUNCAN/Christ in you: Living, growing, believing, and giving thanks
Please turn to Colossians 2:6-7. In these two short verses, Paul sets before us important truths about the Christian life. Paul was dealing with people who had come into contact with false teachers who claimed that they needed to add something to Christ in order to grow more deeply in the Christian faith. In response, Paul says the problem with that false teaching is not that it wants to grow deeper in the faith. The problem with false teaching is that it ignores the first principles of spirituality which are the truth that as we start with Christ, so we live in Christ. Therefore, Paul teaches us four lessons regarding this truth. First, Paul gives an exhortation concerning the Christian life. Secondly, he tells us that the Christian life involves growing. Thirdly, Paul says that the Christian life entails believing. Fourthly and finally, he tells us that the Christian life involves thanksgiving.
I. An Exhortation Concerning the Christian Life.
In verse 6, Paul says, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” The Apostle Paul is reminding us that all Christians live in Christ the Lord. In other words, Paul summons us to live a lifestyle worthy of the Lord. The term “walk” refers to living. It is a metaphor for living life. Paul is saying walk in Christ, as you have received Him as Lord. He is calling believers to live in a way which is consistent to what they have professed as far as being disciples of Jesus Christ. And in that little phrase, Paul gives us two important principles in pursuing this great imperative. First, he reminds us that receiving Christ is not the end but the beginning of spiritual life. Very often we think of the point when we committed ourselves to Christ as the culmination of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Far from it. It is just the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. Coupled with that truth, he gives us another truth in that little phrase. And that second truth is that all growth and progress in the Christian life must be consistent with its beginning. If we began the Christian life by professing Christ as Lord, our living of the Christian life must be consistent with that profession. If Christ is the object of our faith, if He is the one who saves us, then surely it is Christ who must be the sphere of our spiritual growth and development. So the Apostle Paul wants us to remember that the way we grow must be consistent with how we first came into relationship with God.
II. The Christian Life Entails Growing.
The Apostle Paul then uses three phrases in verse 7 to describe what it means to walk in the Lord in the manner in which we received him. First, Paul says, “having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him.” This phrase reminds us that the Christian life always involves growth. Thus, Paul is teaching us here that all Christians grow in grace, having been rooted and built up in Him. Paul expects Christians to grow. Notice that these are not imperatives, these are indicatives. Paul is simply describing what a person who walks in Christ looks like. He is not saying I want you to grow, he is saying you will grow. If you are a believer, you are going to be growing in Christ. He expects our interest in spiritual growth and he expects to see growth itself in believers. Furthermore, Paul expects this growth not to be by our own strength, but he expects this growth to be dependent on Christ. The power to live a new life depends upon our daily living and communing with the living God through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We do not grow deeper in our knowledge of God by supplementing Christ, by augmenting Christ, or by leaving Him behind to something rudimentary and moving to something more profound. We grow in knowledge and experience of God by our communion with Christ and union with Him.
III. The Christian Life Entails Believing.
Secondly, Paul says, “Established in your faith just as you were instructed.” Paul reminds us here that the Christian life entails believing truth. In other words, Paul is reminding us that all Christians are founded on the faith once delivered. We don’t just believe in believing. We believe in the truth. We believe in the word which the apostles preached, and which Christ preached. We believe in the word which is given to us in Scripture. And our faith is established in that instruction. The Apostle Paul reminds us here that to be established in faith means to be consolidated in the truth. We have acknowledged that truth in our first profession: Christ Jesus is Lord. Without a full and mature understanding, there can be no satisfying Christianity for the individual and there cannot be a stable church because Paul tells us that truth is for the purpose of godliness. And if we do not attend ourselves to truth, we will not walk in the way of godliness.
IV. The Christian Life Entails Thanksgiving.
Lastly, Paul says, “overflowing with gratitude.” Here the Apostle Paul teaches that the Christian life invariably entails thanksgiving. Paul is teaching us that all Christians are filled with gratitude to God. Paul is reminding us that to be filled with thanksgiving is a mark of the Spirit doing a work in us. As we think about gratitude and thanksgiving in our experience, there are two interesting components to it. First, true thanksgiving is born in a spirit of humility because true gratitude lifts our thoughts from ourselves. Secondly, true gratitude directs our hearts toward God from whom all growth comes and to whom all praise and glory should be given. So thanksgiving and gratitude move us from off ourselves and onto God. It comes from humility and it ends in praise. Thus, Paul considers thanksgiving to be a hallmark of the Christian life.
The Bible says the growing Christian is one who is established in the faith, who is rooted in Christ, and who is overflowing in gratitude. Are Christians going to grow into a deeper knowledge of Christ? Absolutely. Are they to do it by supplementing Christ? By going to
something else apart from Christ, outside of Him? Absolutely not. In Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the Apostle says. It is in Christ that we grow. When people come and whisper in our ears and say, “You need Christ plus something else,” may we turn a deaf ear to that type of persuasion. However persuasive the words may be, may we say to them, by God’s grace, “In Christ I have my all in all.” May God, by His Holy Spirit, help us to walk in Christ as we have received Him as Lord.