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The Higher Christian Life
As we enter the second chapter of Colossians, we wish to especially note the first verse, under the theme: "The Preacher's Longings after His People."
1. The preacher needs to possess the passion of Christ for others. That it is very vital to know and to preach Christ in His Person, we have no doubt. That it is very vital to experience the mighty power of Christ, as we proclaim our preaching, we have no doubt. We also have no doubt that we need to know the promptings that impelled the ministerings of Christ.
Good theology is necessary; the anointing of power from on High is vital, but it is only when there is a consuming passion, expressed in a burden for souls, and in heart-yearnings for sinners, that our ministry can reach its fullest accomplishment.
2. The passion of Paul for the lost.
(1) Let us consider his passion and compassion for Israel as a whole. The Apostle Paul knew full well that the Children of Israel had delivered his Lord for crucifixion. He knew, also, how the leaders had withstood the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost. He also knew how the Jews had consorted together against himself.
In spite of all of this, we see the inner depths of Paul's yearnings in this Scripture: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh."
(2) Let us consider his passion and compassion for the Philippians. It was to this noble band of saints that Paul wrote: "My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." It was to the Philippian saints that Paul also wrote: "For God is my record, how greatly I long after you."
(3) Let us consider his passion and compassion for the Colossians. To them he said: "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you." The Colossians, and also the Laodiceans, were greatly beloved by this mighty evangelist.
(4) Let us also consider his passion and compassion for the Thessalonians. "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."
We have gone far enough to discover something of the throbbings of the heart of Paul. At the same time, we have discovered one of the chief reasons for the mighty conquests of his ministry.
Would that every one of us could move among the people to whom we minister, with that same spirit of love and affection, of sympathy and concern. It is when we love people, and with Scriptural faithfulness, we bear their burdens, making them our own, it is then, and only then, that we have reached the zenith of our service.
I. THE EXPRESSION OF PAUL'S DESIRE TOWARD THE SAINTS IN COLOSSIANS (Colossians 2:2 )
1. Paul desired that the Colossians might be comforted in Christ. He realized something of the conflict which they faced, as believers, in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. He knew something of the sufferings that befall the faithful; he knew that Satan would try them sorely, and without mercy; therefore he desired that their hearts might be comforted in Christ.
It is Second Corinthians, chapter 1, that majors in the comforts which are ours in God, the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ. Read especially 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:4 .
2. Paul desired that the Colossians might be knit together in love. Unless we love one another, we cannot serve one another. Unless we love one another, we will never join together in serving others.
If the readers will take time to consider, they will know that the service of love is the only acceptable service. It is the only service which even attempts to go beyond the Law's requirements. The service of love is a service which leaps beyond all bonds, counting not the cost.
It is when we love one another that the outside public will know that we are disciples of Christ.
3. Paul desired that the Colossians might possess all the riches of full assurance and of understanding. He wanted them to know whereof they spoke, and he wanted their assurance to be built upon their understanding. It was our Lord who said: "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." Thank God for such assurance. We want to live in the experience of the One who said, "I know whom I have believed."
II. AN EXPRESSION OF GOD'S GREATNESS (Colossians 2:4 )
The last words of Colossians 2:2 speak of "acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
1. Our minds are carried back into the eternal plan. We think of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in their eternal purposes.
To fully enter into the comprehension of these things is, indeed, impossible. To acknowledge the supremacy of them is proper.
When Peter was preaching at Pentecost, he looked back into the distant vista when he said: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." We serve the Great and the Eternal God. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world."
2. Our minds are weighing the wonderful wisdom of God in the finished plan of redemption. When we think of Calvary, and the power of the Blood of Christ, we cannot but cry, "In [God] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
When we stand by the empty tomb and see the linen clothes, and the napkin lying at the head of the tomb, we cannot but cry: "In [God] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
When from the Mount of Olives, we see Christ ascending back to the Father, from whence He came, and behold Him as He is given a seat at the right hand of God, as Saviour; we cannot but cry: "In [God] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
When we see the Holy Spirit descending at Pentecost and filling the saints with the power to serve, we cannot but cry: "In [God] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Such a one is God, the Triune God, whom we love and serve.
III. ROOTED AND BUILT UP IN HIM (Colossians 2:5-7 )
1. Paul acknowledged the steadfastness of their faith. The Colossians not only believed, but they kept on believing. They were not moved from their moorings by every wind of doctrine, and the cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
Following Pentecost, we read the words: "And they continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer."
Paul himself wrote that, having obtained help from God, he continued unto this day.
2. Paul urged them to bring their state up to their standing. He said, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him."
It is one thing to know the doctrine by which we are saved. It is another thing to exemplify that doctrine in our lives. It is one thing to receive the truth concerning Jesus Christ, the Lord; it is another thing to walk in that truth: perhaps I should say, to walk out that truth.
If we are the children of light, we should certainly walk in the light, and no longer have fellowship with darkness. Christian people need to live their faith, and to express it in their daily ministrations.
3. Paul called upon them to be "rooted and built up" in Christ. As the mighty oak sends its roots down into the ground, it simultaneously sends its branches up into the air. If we have a wonderful "grounding" in Christ, we should have just as wonderful a manifestation of Christ,
4. Paul urged them to abound in thanksgiving. When we begin to realize that all we have is in Christ, and that all that we do is through Christ, we have no basis whatsoever for glorying in the flesh. Whereas, we have every reason for glorying in God.
We who think but little of the Lord, and much of ourselves, will rejoice but little in the Lord, and be forever prating about ourselves. As, however, Christ becomes our all in all, He will become the theme of our thanksgiving.
IV. PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT (Colossians 2:8 )
Here is a verse that not only stands forth in the Book of Colossians, but it stands forth in the whole Bible. Certainly, it is very vital in its message in the hour in which we now live.
1. There is a distinction between a true and a false philosophy. Philosophy is the endeavor to discover and to explain the reason for things. We find around us certain fixed laws. We want, therefore, to go back of those laws, and get their cause.
We find life, and we want to know from whence it sprang. We find the earth, and the heavenly bodies, and we want to know from whence they came. We find light, and we want to know the source of light.
2. Wherein philosophy becomes vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. There is one great danger in the quest of the philosopher as he presses his way back and still further back, trying to know and to ferret out by reason, the cause of things.
We grant that there is a realm in which philosophy may move. It is the realm of those things which lie in the reach of human reason. There are, however, things that belong to the Spirit of God and these things can be known only by revelation.
In the realm of revelation, we walk by faith and not by sight. We believe God. We believe that the One who was great enough to create, is good enough to reveal such things of His creation as He wants us to know. The Christian accepts what he cannot understand. Vain philosophy, built upon human reasonings, rejects everything Divinely revealed.
V. THE DIVINE GODHEAD (Colossians 2:9-10 )
1. The Word of God ascribes to Christ all the fullness of the Godhead. By the Godhead we mean the Triune God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ is not only set forth as equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but every investment of the Father and of the Spirit, belongs also to Him.
If, therefore, we say, that God created the heavens and the earth, or that the Spirit was sent forth and created them, we may also say that all things were created by Christ.
Our Lord, even when upon the earth, said "I and My Father are one." Thank God that in the Son, our Saviour and our Lord, there is vested all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
2. The Word of God ascribes unto Christ the Headship of all principality and power. There is nothing on the earth, or under the earth, or in the heavens above, of which He is not Head and Lord. There is no power and no principality which is not in subjection under Him.
We grant that we do not see Him yet, with all things under His feet. However, we do see Him exalted to the Father's right hand, and crowned with glory and honor. And He shall reign until Satan, and his principalities and powers, are all placed under His feet. When Christ is thus a Victor He will give the Kingdom to the Father, that God, the Triune God, may be all in all.
3. The Word of God says "and ye are complete in Him." Another verse speaks of our being filled with all of the fullness of God. We are not God, and yet we are complete in Him. We are filled with His fullness.
Do we not remember the words of the Master, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go * *: and, lo, I am with you alway." Does Christ not mean that He is backing us with the fullness of His power? Is it not for this reason that Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"?
VI. A DIVINE SYMBOLISM OF OUR UNION WITH CHRIST (Colossians 2:11-13 )
1. The circumcision made without hands. Circumcision in the Old Testament Scriptures proclaimed Israel as a special people unto the Lord their God. The circumcision without hands shows that in Christ, we have put off the body of the sins of the flesh. From henceforth, we are to walk in the Spirit, and not to fill up the deeds of the flesh. Sin, now, is no more to have dominion over us.
2. Buried with Him in baptism. Baptism, in the Word of God, stands for the union of the believer with Christ in His death, in His burial and in His resurrection.
When Christ died, I died; for this cause Paul wrote: "I am crucified with Christ." In Romans we read, "Our old man is crucified with Him." In His burial, I was buried. In His resurrection, I was raised.
The Lord Jesus in His earth life said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." The baptism which He awaited was His Calvary death, wherein all the billows of God's wrath passed over Him. It is into that baptism that we died with Him; that we were buried with Him and were raised with Him. Our water baptism is a memorial which is symbolical of that deeper and literal baptism which we had with Him on the Cross.
3. Quickened together with Him. Colossians 2:13 tells us of our new life in Christ. We were dead in sin. We are now alive in righteousness, and dead to sin. Thank God for this wonderful proclamation! He hath forgiven all our trespasses.
VII. THE TRIUMPHS OF CALVARY (Colossians 2:14-15 )
1. The first triumph. Christ, on the Cross, blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross. The ordinances of God were against us, and contrary to us, for the simple reason that under them, we stood condemned.
The Law was weak through our flesh. The Law was holy and just, and good, but, so far as we were concerned, it was a writing of condemnation, because it carried with it a curse against everyone who failed to reach its righteous demands.
It was because the Law could not save us, inasmuch as we had broken the Law, that Christ stepped in under the Law, paid its righteous penalty of death, and bearing its curse, took it away and nailed it to the Cross.
2. The second triumph. Upon the Cross, Christ not only met the sin question and settled it; but He met the principalities and powers of Satan's regime, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The result is, that while Satan and his principalities and powers have not yet met their final overthrow, Jesus Christ is their potential Victory, and his victory, thank God, is ours.
We, who are saved, are led in the train of His triumph.
3. The conclusion of Christ's Calvary triumph. Colossians 2:16 , says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the Body is of Christ."
Old Testament ceremonies pointing toward the Cross, are now done away. They were the shadows; the Body is Christ. We are not called upon to sit under the handwriting of the ordinances of those past days. God has called us unto liberty.
We are saved by grace, through faith. We are justified, redeemed and forgiven through the Blood of the Lamb. All of this, however, gives us no liberty to sin, for grace teaches us that we should live righteously.
What is the standard of the higher Christian life?
A young man called on the superintendent of an observatory and said, "I would like a glass ruler, eighteen inches long, with a perfectly straight edge. What will it cost?" The superintendent did a little figuring and replied. "It will cost you ten thousand dollars."
"Ten thousand dollars! I haven't that much money in the world."
"What do you want it for?" asked the superintendent.
"I want it to trim the edges of photographs," was the reply.
"Oh, you don't want 'a perfectly straight edge,' then. An error as much as a sixty-fourth of an inch will not matter for that; and such a ruler will cost you a dollar and a half. But if you want us to make you 'a perfectly straight edge,' it will cost you ten thousand dollars, and even then I cannot swear to the perfection of the edge; only, so far as our tools can ascertain, it will be without flaw."
A perfect thing is very expensive. Men do not make perfect things, in spite of all the expense they may put into them. Men cannot. * * God gave us a perfect standard, a perfect measure, in His Son Jesus Christ. How costly it was for God to do this, Calvary answers. (Sunday School Times).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Colossians 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29