Series: Maintaining this hope
Message – As you have recieved Him, walk in Him
As you have received Him, walk in Him
For the past two weeks we have been focused upon the Passion of Christ, the fickle worship of man and the response both Jesus’ followers had to His resurrection and the response we as born-again children of God should have.
Before this celebration of the passion and work of Christ, we were already looking at the physical resurrection of the church at the return of Jesus – which is where we are to set our hopes.
Let’s read our passage again found in 1 John 3:1-3,
“(1) Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. (2) Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. (3) And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”
Now this return of Jesus which we look forward to is most often called the Rapture.
It is interesting to me just how many words in common usage today, come from the Latin in one way or another. It makes one wonder why we don’t just speak the language and be done with it… The word Rapture is no different in that it is said to have been lifted from one of several Latin words all of which carry the basic meaning of “catching” or “snatching away” . In French the actual word Rapture means “the act of carrying off”. In English however, unless it has direct ties to the return of Jesus the word means – ecstatic joy or delight; joyful ecstasy!
So I’m gonna run with this last one! Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord – for those who are alive at His return however, we will be IN our bodies when we see Him – only they will be changed and glorified. In either case – we will be with the Lord and the results of that according to scripture is FULLNESS OF JOY and PLEASURES FOREVERMORE!!! So – Rapture it is!
Now, BEFORE the Easter season – we were looking at Colossians chapter one and were learning about our Great Hope of final reconciliation with God PHYSICALLY! Paul talks us this is immediately connected to the fulfillment of our great hope of Christ being fully formed in us. When ALL of our being – spirit – soul & body will be united to fear His name – knowing Him and enjoying Him as completely as we are known and enjoyed by Him!
So, I figured…why not just work through the book and see how our death and resurrection along with our gathering together with Him at His return is further mentioned in this letter and how that impacts how we live lives of devotion and consecration to our Lord.
So turn with me to Colossians chapter 2…
“(1) For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person.
(2) I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, SO THAT they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God’s mystery–Christ. (3) In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.”
Ok – let’s unpack this first.
FIRST – let’s hold onto the fact that this knowledge of Jesus is HIDDEN! If we do not have help – we will not see it nor know it!
The Laodiceans are mentioned mostly due to proximity. Laodicea was less than 10 miles away. As is said at the end of this letter these two churches were to exchange letters from Paul and read them publicly in their local assembly.
Paul is saying that the intended results of his ministry among them, the Laodiceans and by extention the whole body of Christ is the riches of assurance which is found in knowing Christ Jesus.
Now what is truly interesting to me is the method of achieving this goal. Heart encouragement and unity of love.
He hinted at this in the first chapter when he said that his prayer for them was to be FILLED with the knowledge of God’s will and all spiritual understanding. He prayed this only AFTER he heart of their faith in Jesus and their mutual love for each other.
So there MUST be something to this dynamic trio…
- Unity of heart
Of course Faith is the result of knowing one of good character. One can only be said to rely upon someone they know – and who has reliable and trustworthy character with good intentions.
Unity of heart of course is rooted in agape LOVE, since without selfless love there can be no true or lasting unity…it would always be destroyed by self-assertion and selfishness.
This knowledge however is of particular importance! It is the Greek word epígnōsis which is actually two words put together or rather a compound word.
The word gnosis – simply means knowledge. The prefix epi- means on, over, near, before….
So taken together epígnōsis means knowledge, obtained by a thorough participation in or with. In other words it is the result of grace. For this knowledge is gained by being directly influenced by the One we are coming to know.
Just like Jesus promised – “I will send you another comforter who will lead and guide you into all truth – I AM TRUTH.” [Paraphrased from John 14/16]
Now this is not mere conjecture. Spiros Zodiates in defining this word as it is used here in Colossians as well as other places said, “In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement.
When used as the object of the sentence as it is here, it shows the relationship of the learner to the object of his knowledge.”
So this is a learning of and from Jesus! A friendship/apprenticeship… Not unlike the relationship between a disciple and a rabbi.
Now Paul is telling this to them and us, for a reason..verses 4&5,
“(4) I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. (5) For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the strength of your faith in Christ.”
So this intimate knowledge of Jesus is to safeguard us from deception which comes from intellectual arguments and preserve the strength of our trust in Christ which results in godly lives!
Now, let’s take this a little further shall we? I recall a time when this was precisely the invitation Jesus offered and He told us what the results of this type of knowledge would be. It’s found in…
Matthew 11:25-30, “(28)Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. (30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So all Paul is really wanting here is for the Colossians and those in Laodicea to know the rest, encouragement and assurance which comes from responding to Jesus’ invitation to come and know Him by experience!
This type of knowledge is VERY special! Jesus said in Mark 4:12, that this knowledge is only available for those who are “inside” the kingdom.
1Cor. 2 tells us that this is only possible by the intervention of the Holy Spirit who causes God’s children to grasp spiritual truth.
Which is in fulfillment to what we noted earlier Jesus had promised at the giving of the Holy Spirit – He would lead and guide us into all truth and that by coming to know Jesus we could come to know the Father. REMEMBER THAT because that is the thought we will be ending with today.
Now with this knowledge of Paul’s purpose and goal, let’s pick back up from verse 6…
“(6) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, (7) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
As we have received – walk!
How did we receive Him? AS LORD!!!!
So WALK as if He really is our Lord!
What does that look like? Well, it looks like obedience!
Jesus, in a sincere question once asked “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?” -Luke 6:46
Jesus went on to tell them that there is stability in the life which lives out His Lordship and destruction is the outcome of any life which rejects it.
Which is why as Paul continues, he warns us not to be taken captive by the empty intellectual reasoning of the world.
“(8) Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. (9) For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily, (10) and you have been filled by Him, Who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
So now we see another key to this…God’s nature is in Christ and Christ is in us and is the Lord over us with all authority.
Like the man whose son was demon possessed and he asked if Jesus as teacher could do anything. When Jesus told him that if HE could believe… anything was possible – the man responded by calling Jesus LORD – meaning one with all authority over and concerning.
The result was a son that walked away free from bondage and destruction.
So Paul further encourages us that…
“(11) In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. (12) Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (13) And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. (14) He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him. (16) Therefore don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. (17) These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.”
We are IN Christ Jesus in all things.
- We’ve put off the sin & death of the flesh through being baptised into His death
- We have put on New Life by being raised with Him through our trust in the working of God our Father.
The handwriting of requirements was the law – for it was a hand written requirement – written in stone by the hand of God and agreed to by all of Abraham’s descendants.
When the Israelites refused the intimacy of a corporate encounter with God at free mountain, they “signed their name” as it were, on a legal document of rules and strict obedience with the consequence of death for disobedience.
The various copies we have of this portion of Paul’s letter in one manner or another agree with this understanding – especially the Syriac copies which use the exact language of the passages in question to convey this as a handwritten set of requirements which was ratified by agreement making it a matter of debt.
Of course this was already true from creation – for it is only reasonable that the creature owes obedience and fidelity to their Creator. All the encounter at Sinai did was write down the particulars to which all of Abraham’s descendants agreed.
These requirements were contrary to their and all humanity’s fallen nature and so rebellion was all that most of their hearts had to offer in response.
If you remember, the articles of proof of Israel’s rebellion to God and His laws were laid before the Ark as a testimony AGAINST them.
- The broken tablets one which was the 1st ten commandments
- Aaron’s staff
- The mana
They rebelled against them all and they were all placed before the law as a remembrance against them.
All of this Jesus took out of the way – nailing it to His cross.
By taking it out of the way – it cannot be recalled or looked into anymore like a creditor might look into an accounting debt record.
While clearly the written law was NOT evil or in itself deadly since the scriptures tell us it is holy, just and good and was intended for life – but… while we still had fallen natures – it was contrary to us and we were hostile against it! This is still true on some level even for the born-again Christian because we still have sin and death in our flesh according to Romans chapter 8.
This division of laws and obligations and debt coupled together with our fallen natures have all been removed and nailed to His cross.
By removing the handwriting of ordinances it does not mean to take the law which IS holy, just and good and intended for life and destroy it – but to destroy the accounting of it – the ledger – the debt since it could NOT BE paid by those who owed it.
After this, Romans tells us that He re-writes His laws only not on tablets of stone, but on hearts of flesh – effectively changing our natures so we are no longer contrary to God and His ways and therefore there is an end to both debt and hostilities!
The one part of the law that WAS in fact abolished was the types and shadows of it, all of which pointed to Jesus and was fulfilled in Him. The rest of the law was also fulfilled in & by Jesus and IS BEING fulfilled in us who have trusted into relationship with Him and walk after the Spirit. [Rom. 8]
This is clearly and patently what Paul was referring to since it is these precise practices that he warns us to not be deceived regarding in the next verses.
If we seek to return to outward practices of conformity to God’s ways by self-produced efforts – it is JUST LIKE returning to those ceremonial laws. It is an ignoring of Christ and an embracing of our own self induced captivity to bondage once more.
So Paul says –
“(18) Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his fleshly mind. (19) He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God.
(20) If you died with Christ to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations:
(21) “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”?
(22) All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines.
(23) Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value against fleshly indulgence.”
Though they were of God and designed to be a tutor to bring us to Christ – once they have…once we have Christ, we no longer need the types and shadows of Him. Once we have agreed to meet God on the mountain there is no more need for a handwritten code of ethics.
We come and learn from Him directly! And what do we learn? What I we behold in Him? The embodiment of the law, in a person Who is at once both approachable and knowable.
Do you remember what I told you to hold onto?
That all Paul really wanted was for us to know the rest, encouragement and assurance which comes from responding to Jesus’ invitation to come and know Him by experience – which He publicly offered in Matt. 11.
It is the “insider scoop” available only to those in the kingdom -according to Mark 4:12.
It is the disclosing and unveiling of spiritual truth which only the Holy Spirit can afford us according to 1Cor. 2.
And it is the rest of the purpose and proclamation of Jesus in Matthew 11 which we read earlier…in closing, let’s read that while account:
Matt. 11:25-30, “(25) At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. (26) Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. (27) All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him. (28) “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. (30) For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”