Start with the Basics (Colossians 2:6, 7)
Topic: One Lord: No One Like You Passage: Colossians 2:6–7
Start with the Basics
Colossians 2:6, 7
(One Mission: Through Many Tribulations)
August 19th, 2018
I. You Pop the Hood, Right?
Let's go back to the side of the road, shall we?
You may remember that the last two messages have utilized that familiar, but dreaded image of being stuck: a car, broken down on the side of the road. Last week I mentioned that the idea of getting stuck vehicular-ly can be helpful when it comes to getting stuck spiritually.
So... let's go back to the side of the road, shall we?
So again, what should you do when you're driving and, suddenly, your car starts to give out on you. Can you recall what we talked about last time? You need to stay calm, right? And then you should move your car to a safe place on the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic. Of course, critical to doing both of those things, is maintaining perspective in the face of your automotive adversity. But what should you do next?
Something you could do, something that is pretty common, is to get out of the car and open up the hood. Ever done that? What's funny is that I've been with people who have been in that situation, and they do that very thing: they pop the hood and then stare at the engine. The problem is, they have no idea what they're looking for.
But opening the hood and looking into the engine compartment is not a bad idea, if...if you understand what to look for; if you know how to start with the basics.
This morning, we're not going to talk about the basics of your Ford, Fiat, or Forerunner. We're going to talk about the basics of your faith. Remember the premise of this study: to address the issue of feeling spiritually stuck. Last time we talked about maintaining your perspective by focusing on what is fixed rather then what is felt. We talked about the fact that your 'stuck-ness' cannot change God's faithfulness or the work of Jesus on your behalf.
So getting back to the side of the road, let's 'open the hood' as we open our Bibles, and talk about how we can look for problems, problems that are the affecting the basics of our spiritual 'engine', that is, what drives us forward on a path of spiritual growth.
II. The Passage: "Established in the Faith" (2:6, 7)
Look with me this morning at Colossians 2. This church, this community of Christ followers in a city called Colossae, was not planted by the Apostle Paul. A believer named Epaphras, who probably heard Paul preach, was used by God to begin this church. But Paul knows about God's work in Colossae and is writing in order to encourage the church.
Notice the encouragement he gives to them in verses 6 and 7 of Colossians 2. Paul writes...
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord [or as some translations render it, “just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord”], so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Okay. Why these verses? Well, these two verses represent the very center of the letter; the very reason Paul was writing to them. And no, they were not spiritually stuck. But they were facing real spiritual dangers. False teachers, guys we might call Jewish mystics, were coming into this church and beginning to plant seeds of error.
But notice how Paul instructs them. He was concerned they might stray. We are concerned about being stuck. But Paul's words here speak to both groups. How? Paul is urging them to stay the course in terms of their faith. He is taking them back to the basics, the basics they were (v. 7) “rooted and built up in him”, the faith in which they were “established”. And those basics are summed in four words at the center of verse 6: Christ Jesus the Lord.
That phrase is at the very center of our basics, of our core message, the gospel.
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)... (Acts 10:36)
...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
...understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:3)
So whether you've strayed, or are feeling stuck, the first steps forward are actually to go back to your very first steps: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him...
But what does that mean practically? Well, I think so much of what Paul wrote in the verses leading up to our main verses, so much of what he touched on in chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 is summed up in 2:6. What exactly do I mean? I mean that Paul reminds them of and builds on how they “received Christ Jesus the Lord”. For example, we learn from the opening verses of chapter 1 that they received Jesus as...
1. A Gracious Lord (1:3-7a, 13-14, 20-22)
Listen to what we read in chapter 1, beginning in verse 3...
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,  because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, >>>
... which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,  just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. (1:3–7a)
Did you notice what verse 6 tells us about how the Colossians received Christ, about (v. 4) their “faith in Christ Jesus”? Through (v. 5) the “word of truth, the gospel”, these believers (v. 6) “understood the grace of God in truth”.
So when they trusted in Christ as their only hope, they trusted in Him as a gracious Lord, as the Lord of all grace. What does that mean? It means they received Jesus as the one (v. 14, chapter 1) “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. They received Jesus as the one who (v. 20, chapter 1) made “peace [between us and God] by the blood of his cross”.
About this grace and this gracious Lord, Paul writes in 1:21 and 22...
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him...
If grace is undeserved kindness, unmerited favor, if grace is us receiving the opposite of what we deserve as rebellious sinners, then in Christ Jesus we have received grace upon grace upon grace. This is the Lord that both we have and the Colossians have embraced! Amen?
But in chapter 1 of this letter, we also learn that the Colossians received...
2. An Inspiring Lord (1:9-12)
Listen to how Paul prays for these believers, beginning in verse 9...
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:9–12)
Though Paul did not plant this church, he was praying for it, faithfully. And one of his core prayers for the Colossians is that (v. 10) they would live their lives in such a worthwhile way, that the worthiness of their Lord would shine through. Remember what Paul said earlier in chapter 1. Not only had he (v. 4) heard of their faith, but also (as he puts it) “of the love that you have for all the saints”. He had heard about how the gospel was (v. 6) “bearing fruit and increasing” among them.
What was this gospel “fruit”? It was the grace of God to them, becoming the grace of God through them. When they received Jesus as Lord, they received an inspiring Lord, one who continued to call them forward; One who motivated them to a life of love by His own life of love; a Lord who served; a Lord whose sacrificial service has inspired them to serve one another; a Lord whose obedience to the Father fueled the flames of their own obedience.
And so Paul prays for them in light of this, that such inspiration would continue, unabated.
But there's something else we find here in chapter 1, and also at the beginning of chapter. We learn about how the Colossians had not only received an inspiring Lord, but also...
3. An Awe-Inspiring Lord (1:15-19; 2:2, 3)
Consider how Paul teaches and reminds them about the greatness of the Lord they've received. Chapter 1, verse 15...
[Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell... (1:15–19)
And if we moved past our main verses, we would find similar statements in 2:9 and 10...
For in him [in Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,  and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
In light of this exalted, majestic, superlative, mind-blowing language, it's no wonder that Paul's prayer for his readers is that they will (v. 2, chapter 2) reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Do you see how Paul can so easily move from grace to greatness when talking about Jesus? This gracious, humble, foot-washing rabbi from Nazareth was all the One in whom “the whole fullness of deity” was dwelling in bodily form. Though he died as a man, at the hands of men, “all things were created through him and for him”. Though he placed himself last, “he is [in fact] before all things”.
Yes, Paul may have been expanding their vision of Jesus, but surely this awe-inspiring Lord was the same Lord the Colossians had received. I believe they understood that only a mighty Savior could save them from such a terrible fate. I believe they understood how the greatness of Christ empowered the grace of Christ, and that his greatness was only magnified by His grace.
By pulling back the veil as far as He can on the greatness of Christ, Paul wants his readers to remember that God has worked through Jesus so (v.18) “that in everything he might be preeminent.” That he might be in first place in every place, in both your world and this world.
III. “Remember Jesus Christ”
Okay. Let's remember why we're looking at these amazing verses from Colossians. We've been talking about being spiritually stuck. So what can you do when you feel stuck?
Well, just like an auto that won't go, a good place to start is with the basics. Paul does that very thing here with the Colossians. Because he is concerned about some of the spiritual dangers they are facing, he encourages them in 2:6 to go back to the beginning: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him...
Paul points them and us back to our spiritual engine. He tells them that the very thing that drove them to faith, is the very thing that will drive them forward. What is your 'spiritual engine'? What will drive me, what will drive you forward on a path of spiritual growth is a clear vision of the Lord Jesus, and of his grace and greatness (2x). Isn't that what Paul is saying 2:6?
Paul affirms this same point when he counsels Timothy, his younger co-laborer who needed to “fan into flame the gift of God” in him. Remember? He tells him in II Timothy 2:1, 8...
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus...Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel...
What should you do when you are spiritually stuck? Strain to see Jesus again. Pray and push to get close to Him. If you need to, climb a tree to see Him. Think back to when you received Christ the Lord. Think back to what you heard. Think back to what you saw with the eyes of faith. As you first embraced Christ Jesus the Lord, so cling to Him now. As you first rejoiced in Christ Jesus as Lord, so rejoice in Him now.
In one sense, this should not be surprising. We are Christ-ians. We are 'Christ ones'. It always has been and it always will be about Him. But why this emphasis is especially important is because it is easy to believe there's something else we need to do when we feel stuck. And there may be something else. But our focus this morning is on the fact that “everything he might be preeminent”. And everything includes your stuckness.
You might think, “I just need to get into the word more”. Sure. But are you looking there for just information, or a conversation? Above all, you should do that in order to meet Jesus.
You might think, “I just need to get more involved at church”. Sure. But above all, you should do that to serve Christ, the head of the body.
You might think, “I just need to sort out this difficult relationship in my life, or get over things from my past”. Okay. But who will lead you down that path? Whose power will restore and heal? Above all, Jesus must be your anchor.
You might think, “I just need to get through this busy season. I just need to wait for things to slow down.” Alright. But is it really about the when? Isn't it ultimately about the how? Above all, the issue is not just getting through this or that season, but doing so with and for Jesus, to the glory of God. I think if we had clear sense of the toll that busyness takes on us spiritually, we would be more desperate for the protection and provision that only comes from Jesus.
Do you see why Paul told the Colossians what he told them? Do you see why he labored to give them the clearest, the biggest, the most beautiful vision of Christ possible? If you are stuck, then when you are stuck, make this your first and frequent prayer: “O Father, give me a clear, a renewed vision of Jesus, and of his grace and greatness.” Strain. Pray. Push. [Let's pray]