DUNCAN/Strengthened in Christ
Please turn in your Bible to Colossians 1:29-2:5. The Apostle Paul has been presenting the truth that believers are complete in Christ, and he continues to address that theme in the next section of this letter. Specifically, in chapter 2, Paul begins to respond to specific challenges to the truth that believers are complete in Christ. And he does so in order to remind his readers that Christ is the all-sufficient Savior. Thus, there are four particular things that Paul addresses in these verses. First, Paul writes about his life and purpose. Secondly, he tells us that the steady Christian has a strengthened heart. Thirdly, he says that the steady Christian has attained a settled conviction. Fourthly and finally, he tells us that the steady Christian has true knowledge of Christ.
I. Paul’s Life and Purpose.
Paul addresses four important things regarding his life and purpose. First, in verses 28 and 29 of chapter 1, he shares with us the purpose of his ministry. In particular, he says that his goal is to present every believer complete in Christ. He goes on to say that he aims that our hearts might be strengthened. That is the heart and goal of his preaching that he’s sharing with us. Secondly, in addition to his purpose, Paul also discusses his striving. Specifically, in verse 29 of chapter 1, he says, “I labor striving according to His power.” Paul knows God is sovereign. He knows that God will reclaim His own. He knows that God will draw men to Christ, but the Apostle Paul still strives to present all God’s people complete in Christ. Why? Because Paul knows that he is an instrument of the living God, and he is a vehicle by which men and women will be drawn to Christ. He longs to be fruitful in that labor and so he strives for it. Thirdly, Paul tells us that he rested in God’s strength. Paul was not doing this striving in his own strength. This is not a driven man that we are seeing. This is a man upheld and undergirded by the strength which is found in Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He was not dependent on inner resources that came from his humanity. The Apostle Paul was consciously dependent on God. He strove by grace. He did the work God gave him. Lastly, it is important to notice Paul’s care. Paul has never even met the people to whom he is writing. And yet he says, “My friends, my heart is with you. I’m not there in body, but my spirit is with you.” Paul has a pastor’s heart. His pastoral words show us that he has concern for his fellow believers.
II. The Steady Christian Has A Strengthened Heart.
Paul knows that the stability of our faith is dependent upon a number of things, but one of the things he says is that the stability of our faith is dependent on spiritual encouragement and mutual love. According to the Apostle Paul, the steady Christian is a Christian who has a strengthened heart in the inner most core of their being. Notice in verse 2, he says that he desires that their hearts may be “encouraged, being knit together in love.” In other words, he is saying, “I want this to be a strength which is implanted in the very core of your being, and which causes mutual love.” Paul desires the strengthening of believers hearts, but he also desires that we would be knit together in love, because the steady Christian is involved in loving fellowship. Thus, he is saying, “The kind of knowledge I preach produces love, mutual love. Love which is not puffed up. Love which is not arrogant. Love which does not look out for its own, but it looks out for the interest of others. Love which is self-giving. Love which builds true fellowship across the normal lines of human relations, even across family bounds, even across the bounds of friendship, even across the bounds of nationality and race and all the other things that divide us.” Love is the deliberate, ceaseless, longing for and pursuit of the loved one’s welfare. And that love can be measured. We can measure that love in our attitudes toward one another. We can measure that love in our prayers for one another. That love can be measured in our practical assistance of one another in time of need. And it can be measured in our forbearance with one another.
III. The Steady Christian Has Attained A Settled Conviction.
In verse 2, Paul also says that along with this strengthening of heart by loving fellowship, there is a strengthening of heart by settled conviction. He prays not only that our hearts would be encouraged, having been knit together in love, but that we would attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding. He wants us to have a settled conviction about Christ and a settled commitment to faith. Paul is telling us that assurance leads to healthy and fruitful Christian experience. That is why he can talk about the wealth of assurance. Assurance of where we stand in Christ enables us to turn aside the enticing words of the world, to turn aside the enticing words of false prophets, and to bear up against the buffeting of the world. Assurance enables us to be settled in our commitment and conviction about the hope which is in Christ. That is why Thomas Brooks could say, “Assurance is glory in the bud.” It is the suburbs of heaven. If we live in this life with a settled conviction of the glory which is ours in Christ, we foretaste what awaits for us in heaven. And that strengthens us for the living of these days.
IV. The Steady Christian has True Knowledge of Christ.
The people who were speaking to the Colossians had been peddling to them promises of true knowledge. In response, Paul says, “I’ll give you true knowledge. Christ, the hope of glory, that’s the true knowledge that I want you to have. I don’t want you to have knowledge filled with esoteric abstract ideas borrowed from human philosophy. I want you to have a saving personal knowledge of and relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the hope of glory. That is true knowledge.” We enjoy Christ when we have that kind of knowledge of Him. And we willingly, freely, and gratefully obey Christ when we have that kind of knowledge of Him. These are the marks of steady, stable, and mature Christian faith. And the Apostle Paul longs for us to be built up in those marks. May God work in our hearts by His Holy Spirit, that these graces would be built up in such ways as they will not only be undeniable to the world, but that our active love for one another would transcend anything that we have ever experienced before.