Looking Inside the Pages
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. The lesson that is usually being taught when this old adage is used is that what might appear to be unattractive from the outside could very well be brilliant, beautiful, and worthwhile on the inside. However, the opposite angle could also readily be applied to the varying and vast amounts of teaching that takes place on the subject of “receiving Jesus”, the gospel, and salvation. Sometimes what might appear to be brilliant, beautiful, and worthwhile on the outside is really quite unattractive, misinformed, and even downright deceitful on the inside.
False teaching on the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith has been happening since the very beginnings of the church that Jesus started through the apostles. The book of Colossians contains one example of this type of strike against the church by Satan and how the apostle Paul dealt with it and encouraged the Christians who were directly affected by its deceptive influence. There is a way to brush off “attacks of the enemy” against your faith and to continue on with life while paying him very little heed and it mostly depends on the way you received Jesus.
Understanding in Truth
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)
When I moved away from home at seventeen years old I had done very little cooking so, needless to say, I wasn’t very fluent in the kitchen. I’m embarrassed to say that my first few meals on my own consisted of mostly pop tarts, cereal, and yogurt. One night, however, I decided to try a recipe that my mom had printed out for me and was one of my favorites that she had made often at home. I tried to follow the recipe meticulously, so when I came to the instruction to add “a quarter cup of chicken broth” I carefully measured out a quarter of a cup of chicken broth powder and added it to the bowl. (If you know even a smidgen more about cooking than I did then you’re probably already cringing). My delicious dinner of Lemon Chicken Pasta turned out neon yellow and so salty that my sister-in-law and I were both grabbing for the water jug. I didn’t understand that I was supposed to dilute about a quarter of a teaspoon of broth powder with water as opposed to adding a whole quarter of a cup. Lesson learned.
Improper understanding is the same as, or equal to, no understanding. My lack of knowledge on “broth dilution” was a result of not understanding the basic fundamentals of cooking. More serious though is if and when there is improper understanding of the basic fundamentals of the grace of God and what it means to “receive Jesus”. Does receiving Jesus mean merely accepting him or acknowledging him? Is it based on a “sinner’s prayer” or kneeling down at the altar in your church? In Colossians 2:6 Paul is addressing the “saints and brothers/sisters” at Colossae who were being bombarded by deceptive teachings against the gospel that they were taught and saved by. He says to them, “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him….”
See, we don’t receive Christ Jesus as Lord, we receive Christ Jesus the Lord. Maybe it sounds like a trivial difference in wording but it’s not. There is a mindset here that hinders true faith when we feel like we have made Jesus Lord of our lives. The truth is that Jesus is already “Lord of all” and that all things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16). We must receive Christ Jesus the Lord, accepting the fact that He is already Lord and requires our humility and submission to his authority and rule. We do not elect him Lord, rather He is the one who elects.
Firmly Planted means you’ll Never be Plucked
Once we have understood the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:6), that is the power, wisdom, and kindness of God showered upon disobedient and rebellious unbelievers for the purpose of his glory in opening their blind eyes to the reality of his holiness and mercy extended through the cross, then we can not be torn away from it. The minute we gain that first glimpse of God’s open hand offering grace and we reach out to “receive Christ Jesus the Lord” a seed is planted in our soul that immediately begins to grow roots.
Paul uses metaphors in Colossians 2:7 that describe the characteristics of a converted soul. “Rooted” like a mighty tree and “built up” like a strong tower in Christ Jesus, as well as “established” like a firm and immovable foundation in the faith. When God saves you he plants you, builds you, and establishes you in his Spirit and in his covenant. Deceptive teachings, though they may abound all around us, should be quickly recognized and completely dismissed from all consideration no matter how attractive or plausible they appear.
The false teachers at Colossae were trying to manipulate and confuse the church, so Paul shepherds them by reminding them of the first gospel they heard, the gospel of truth, of the grace of God revealed in Jesus, who is God in the flesh. This is truth and it cannot be added to, modified, or pieces of it left out or ignored. So if anyone preaches a different gospel than the truth that set you free walk away. Stick to what the Bible says and build your life on it.
Thanksgiving isn’t reserved for one day year
Popularity, outward beauty, and wealth will all fade so I guess the urgency of knowing and understanding this little passage from Colossians isn’t for me to name names and spell out specific situations of what is wrong with the church right now. There is already enough of that and each one is in God’s hands. Rather, the urgency of this passage and post is that as you’re reading you might be motivated first of all to examine your faith and “how you received Jesus” and to be certain that you are rooted, planted and established in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), and secondly that you see what Paul recommends to us to keep our perspective straight and that is found in the last three words of Colossians 2:7…”abounding in thanksgiving.”
There should never be any desire to give an ear to teachings that rival the truth of the gospel. Instead, our desires should revolve around worshiping God. Worship that is played out in acts of abundant thanksgiving, thanks to God that spills out in our prayers, our songs, our conversations with one another, in the way we treat our children, the way we speak to our husbands or wives, in boldness to share the gospel with a complete stranger or a neighbor or friend. Abounding in thanksgiving toward God is an act of worship that will keep everything in clear and pure perspective for you when convincing arguments arise that challenge your faith.
As you stand on the firm foundation of faith rooted in Christ and give thanks to God for saving an undeserving rebel like you, and like me, nothing will be able to compare with the treasure you’ve found hidden in Christ.
“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.”
(Psalm 26:7 KJV)
Preparing the Way,