Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 September 16, 2018
“May God Encourage Your Heart”
We arrive today at Colossians 2—and, as we arrive, we see Paul, led by the Spirit, continuing to make much of Christ. Paul extols Christ’s Person and work (esp. 1:15-23), and He glories in Who He is for us—the hope of glory (1:27). This making much of Christ is vitally important, for the heresy threatening the church at Colosse stems from a defective view of Jesus. Paul labors to present the Colossians, and to us, a full view of Jesus. We see Christ today as the source of our encouragement. Indeed, may God encourage your heart in Him as we together hear this portion of His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Today’s text open with Paul declaring that he struggles for the Colossian church—literally, he has a struggle (Greek agona [agwna], cf. Colossians 1:29). He labors (Greek kopiao [kopiaw]) on their behalf, and he labors not only for the Colossians, but also for the nearby Laodiceans—as well as for others who have not seen him face to face. This laboring involves considerable expenditure of effort, weariness, and even loss of heart (or temptation to same). As the Greek word implies, this labor extends even unto agony—involving pains (both external and internal) and conflicts (again, both external and internal). Paul struggles thus to two ends: first, the encouragement of the church, and, second, the fortification of the church against deceptions—especially against plausible-sounding ones. Let us treat each of these in turn.
First, let us not the substance of our encouragement in Christ. We are to be knit together in love. God knits us together with Him—that is, He unites us with Him—by grace through faith in His Son. We then enjoy unity with one another (or, at least, we should) by virtue of our joint and several union with Christ. God unites us to Himself and to one another in love (Greek agape [agaph]). This is the love which God has for and within Himself in the Persons of the Godhead. This is the love God sheds abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given to us (Romans 5:5). This is the love, moreover, that is to be characteristic between Christians. Just because we fall far short of this ideal many times does not diminish the fact that such love is to be the usual describing and defining quality of our Christian relationships. Let us give and receive this love from God, and let us give and receive this love from fellow Christians as well.
Also, we are to reach the riches of full assurance (or complete certainty) both of understanding and of the knowledge of God’s mystery. This is God’s ornate way of saying that we are to have the riches of full assurance of Christ Himself, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We gain this rich, full assurance in several ways. We gain it as we learn of Jesus in His written Word, the Bible. Hence, we are to take God’s Word into our souls through the ears and through the eyes—and these in large measure. We also grow in assurance of Christ’s favor by learning of Him as we walk with Him by faith. This is the discipleship path; we study and follow our Savior wherever He may lead. In these we grow into Christian maturity and His likeness—and we also grow into full assurance of His favor toward us. Moreover, in these we discover His gospel truth—previously hidden from our perception, but readily revealed to us by God via His Holy Spirit.
Second, we note the fortification from this encouragement in Christ. In particular, we gain resistance to deceptions, especially plausible-sounding ones. This happens in two ways: first, God’s love, and assurance of His favor, stiffens our resistance to Satan’s deceptions, and, second, knowing Christ aids our recognition of Satan’s deceptions. Our ancient foe is both very subtle and very smart—and he knows how to deceive the unprepared. Let the encouragement of Christ fortify our souls against Satan’s schemes.
Paul, though bodily absent from Colosse, yet is present with them by the Spirit, and he rejoices in two further fortification for the Colossians. He rejoices in their good order, which conduces to good corporate spiritual health. Good order implies good governmental life and good worship life—and undergirding these is a good unity of sentiment and of purpose. Paul further rejoices in the firm Christian faith at Colosse, which conduces to good individual spiritual health. He rejoices in their strong embrace of Jesus’ Person, work, and revealed truth, and he rejoices in their strong resolve to follow Him wherever He may lead. A church thus encouraged from on high should have sufficient fortification to resist the wiles of the devil. We shall study one such dangerous wile in weeks to come.
Let us, then, in the Spirit’s strong power, pursue loving God and loving one another. May God continue to knit us at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church—not to mention His entire visible Church on earth—together in love, and we pray He do this more and more as the days providentially pass. Let us also pursue knowing His Word via Bible intake. Let us read it, let us hear it, and let us meditate on what we read and hear. Let us also pursue walking with Christ by faith in obedient discipleship. We obey His Word by the Spirit’s powerful grace—imperfectly, to be sure, yet increasingly faithfully as the days pass—and we continue to study and to follow our Savior as He leads. Let us also pursue resisting false doctrine by right Scriptural knowledge and application. May the Lord indeed stiffen our resolve and strengthen our resistance of the evil one—as he would decline us from our best following of our Captain and Head, Jesus Christ. Further, may the Lord by His grace, empower me, as your pastor, to labor to these ends in your lives. May God encourage your hearts this day and always in His Son, Jesus Christ.