For I Want You to Know
June 12, 2016
Part 1: For This I Toil
This is the part of Colossians in which the Apostle Paul gets personal. He writes about his sufferings. He talks about his toils and struggles. One could imagine the Colossians getting real quiet at this part of the letter.
Paul indeed suffered greatly. He endured much labor and many imprisonments, countless beatings and moment close to death. Five times he received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times Paul was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned. Three times he was shipwrecked; a night and a day he was adrift at sea. As he journeyed around the world, Paul endured danger from rivers and robbers, danger from his own people and from the Gentiles, danger in the city and in the wilderness and at sea. He was also in danger from false brothers. In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure, Paul suffered. And, on top of all of these things, Paul endured the daily pressure of anxiety for all the churches. Paul suffered greatly.
But why does he mention it here? Why does he share about his suffering to the Colossians? The answer is simple but profound. Paul suffered so much in order to proclaim Christ. He toiled and struggled so much in order to mature believers in Christ. And he doesn’t want the Colossians to throw it all away. After all that he endured, he doesn’t want them to drift away from Christ.
But Paul doesn’t just talk about his suffering. He talks about Jesus Christ.
Part 2: Him We Proclaim
The Colossians had a problem. They looked for spiritual maturity and growth in human philosophies and man-made traditions. They did so thinking that there were mysteries yet to be solved and words yet to be heard. They did so thinking that there was more exploration to be done and more wisdom and knowledge to be uncovered. This was the Colossian problem. They received Christ, but they wanted more.
So this is what Paul tells them. Paul tells them that the word of God has been made fully known. Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to believers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. So Jesus has spoken. And everything that he said was received by the Apostles, whose job was simply to record what Jesus said and proclaim what Jesus said. Paul was the last Apostle. And so Paul declares to the Colossians that the word of God has been made fully known.
This is great news for the Colossians back then and for us today. This means that there is nothing to “figure out.” There are no secrets for Christian living that need to be discovered. There are no mysteries for spiritual maturity that need to be revealed. There are no new wisdom or knowledge that need to be developed or advanced. Everything that we need for spiritual growth and maturity has been made fully known. Allow me to put it this way: Our Lord and Savior has dropped the mic. Let’s not pick it back up again.
Paul goes on to say that if there is any mystery to talk about, it’s been now revealed. The mystery is Christ himself. This doesn’t mean that Jesus is strange or emo. This means that God’s plan of salvation has finally been done. Christ was a “mystery” for believers in the Old Testament simply because the Son of God had not yet come in the flesh. But our Lord and Savior came and lived and died and rose again and ascended. Paul makes it clear that Jesus is the source for all wisdom and knowledge, and that all spiritual maturity is to be found in Christ. He is the hope of glory.
This too is great news for the Colossians back then and for us today. This means that our hope and our assurance are based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our help for anything in Christian life literally comes from a person, from Jesus. You and I grow because Jesus grows us, because Jesus feeds us, because Jesus encourages us, because Jesus trains us. Many believers know that their justification is by faith alone, through grace alone, because of the person and work of Christ alone. But what many believers should also know is that their sanctification - their spiritual growth and maturity - is also by faith alone, through grace alone, because of the person and work of Christ alone. Yes, we are responsible for reading our Bibles and going to church. Yes, Christian life takes effort. But don’t overthink what I’m about to say next. You don’t make yourself grow. Jesus grows you. He is the hope of glory. This means that the credit for your sanctification and glorification goes to Christ. He will take care of your growth.
Because of all of this, Paul simply says, “Him we proclaim.” Brothers and sisters of Highland, what else is there for Paul to say? What else should we turn to for Christian life? Who else should we depend upon? Brothers and sisters, let us never throw away Christ. Are you drifting away from him? If so, come back to Jesus. Do not be deluded with plausible arguments. Do not be captivated by human philosophies or man-made traditions. Do not feel like you’re missing out on a spectacular Christian life if you don’t do what’s trendy out there right now. Do not seek wisdom and knowledge outside of Christ himself. Jesus is enough. Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Therefore, continue in him. Walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
This is what Paul wanted for the Colossians. This is what I want for you. And I hope this is what you want too, as we wait for the return of Christ.