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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
Title:Christ Is All We Need
Text:Colossians 2:1-8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

Psalter 403 - Thankful Commemoration
TH 334 - Breathe on Me Breath of God 
TH 545 - When This Passing World Is Done
Psalter 52 - The Guardian Care of God 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

The End-Times junky says, “If only you knew the significance of the Middle East conflict, you will be motivated to prepare for Christ’s coming!” The King James Onlyist will tell you, “Unless you read only the KJV, you will not know God’s will perfectly.”  The Pentecostal says, “If only you spoke in tongues or get slain by the Spirit - you will have a fuller spiritual life.”  Perhaps the Reformed equivalent may be - “you mean you haven’t attended the latest Conference on Puritan Theology? If you don’t know the puritans, you don’t know anything.”

Meanwhile, you’re enjoying your walk with the Lord, reading and understanding his Word, and seeking his will daily. You’re striving to be holy, serving God’s people, and preparing for Christ’s return. But it can be confusing when people say you’re missing out on some vital component, or your faith is not complete. It makes you think you’re inferior. 

And as we have said, the Colossians experienced this. They had received Christ and had grown in Christ; but false teachers said believing Christ was not enough. What they received was not enough. To grow deeper, they had to move beyond Christ. They needed a new practice, a new doctrine, a deeper secret knowledge.

But Paul wanted them to know the sufficiency, supremacy, and preeminence of Christ. If they understood that Christ was all they needed, they would not look anywhere else for a deeper knowledge and a deeper life, because all is found in him. We are complete in Christ and all things that we require to grow are found in Him – our Christian lives don’t begin with Christ and move on to something else, but our Christian lives depend on remaining in him. 

There are 2 points in this sermon. Firstly, we need to be thoroughly convinced that Christ is enough. Secondly, we need to grow deeply in Christ. 

Firstly, we need to be thoroughly convinced that Christ is enough. Why? It’s because we are easily shaken. In verses 1-2, Paul was concerned for the Colossians and Laodiceans; even those who didn’t know him personally. He wanted to comfort them. This means they were not comforted, they were discouraged. Their faith had been shaken or was in danger of being shaken. Verse 4 tells us that they were in danger of being tricked by men who came with enticing words. Arguments that sounded right and spiritual and sensible and logical - but dead wrong. In fact, many arguments sounds right if you’ve not been grounded. Scams are successful because we’re easily tricked. So they were in danger of being shaken.

In Ephesians 4, Paul used the illustration of children being deceived by cunning men. Come with me, I’m your mommy’s friend; I’ll give you candy. It’s delicious. The kid is shaken by the promise of candy. Paul also uses the illustration of a ship. A ship without an anchor will drift to and fro, never arriving at its intended destination. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul uses the illustration of housewives being deceived by peddlers. You want flawless skin? Use my product. It’s better than Oil of Olay or SKII. If there’s no anchor, no solid instruction, no caution against scams, we can be easily tricked and shaken - especially by well crafted words.

So what was the solution? Paul wanted them to be fully united in the knowledge that Christ was enough. Verse 2-3 - I want your hearts to be comforted. How? By being “knit together in love, unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Let me break down this solution. Their hearts could only be comforted if firstly, they were to be knit or joined together in love. They were to be united. If they were united as a congregation in their love for Christ, false teachers won’t have access. Paul did not use the illustration of an anchor, he seems to use the illustration of an army - being linked or joined together like in battle formation. And secondly, they were to be united in having a rich and fully confident understanding of God’s plan. Not just an understanding, but an understanding with assurance. And full. And rich. In the past it a mystery, now it was fully revealed. God’s answer to all problems is Jesus Christ. Why did Paul describe the knowledge of God like this? 

The Gnostics said - we have a mysterious knowledge and if you know it, your life will be very full. Paul’s answer? Hey, I already know a secret mystery. But it’s already revealed. It’s Jesus Christ. The Gnostics said - you want the real treasures of wisdom and knowledge? I know where they’re hidden. Pauls’ answer? Hey, I already know where they are hidden. It’s in Jesus Christ.

I wonder how many of you remember the movement called the Prayer of Jabez? There were people who were saying that if you pray this particular prayer in the Bible by a man called Jabez, God will answer your prayers all the time. What should your response be? Huh? Jesus tells me, if I ask anything in his name, according to God’s will, God will answer. No secret prayer formula. Some say, “If you are slain in the Spirit, you will have a remarkable spiritual experience.” What should your response be? Huh? The Bible tells me as a Christian, I’m already filled with the Spirit. But the Spirit makes me alive - he doesn’t slay me. Some say, “You must claim the promises of God, just like Abraham and Joshua! Claim them and you will be successful!” Your response? Huh? But God’s promises in Christ to me are yea and amen. God has sworn on himself to fulfill. Will God not fulfill if I don’t claim them? God is not a redemption counter. God is my heavenly Father!

Imagine if our church grew in such knowledge. Not only Paul, but all ministers who hear will say together with Paul in verse 5 - even though I’m not with you, I rejoice as I witness your order - your strong military defensive order, and your firm faith in Christ.

But not only should we be thoroughly convinced that Christ is enough, we also need to grow deeply in the knowledge of Christ. That’s the second point. Once again, Paul seems to use the illustration of an army. In verses 6-8, you have several verbs - walk (or march) - cepat jalan, rooted, stablished - diam; beware - sedia! If Christ is all we need, then we need to grow deeply in him - not in other things, but deeply in Christ.

We are to live for Christ. Verse 6 - if we have received Christ, then we ought to walk in him. Walk means to live - like your journey or path of life. This tells us that to know Christ deeply requires us to live the gospel. The Gnostics were all about a secret knowledge. Paul was all about living out our faith. The proof of our knowledge of Christ is our life. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. Ye shall know them by their fruit. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin continually.

Meaning, if we are to grow deeper in knowledge, it’s not just knowledge, it’s living it out. “Walk” is a command, not an option. Sometimes we don’t want to live out our Christian lives - we’re like the Gnostics - happy to grow in knowledge, but not in life. The evidence of deep knowledge, is deep devotion in living for him. Sometimes we excuse our sins – “I yelled at him and banged the table because I was angry!” – as if anger is an excuse to sin. We are called to live as God commands, even when we don’t feel like it, even if it costs us too much to live as a Christian, even when there’s a lot of opposition. Luke 14:27 says, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  No one ever said the Christian life was easy. And the word “walk” literally means, “walk continuously.”  It’s not just to live once, or to live once in a while, but it’s to keep on living for Christ.  

Living for Christ is also a necessary part after ones salvation.  The phrase here is “as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Receiving Christ is the beginning. And furthermore, our walk must be consistent with our profession. As you have received Christ, so walk in Him. When we received Christ, we saw our sins, we repented, we mourned, we mortify sin. If that’s how we received Christ, that’s how we must continue to live. We must trust him, know him, hate our sin, rely on him, live for him. 

But how do we live for him? What does it entail? We must grow in Christ by abiding in him. Verse 7 says we must be rooted and built up in him. Paul gives us a picture of construction. A building is rooted in the ground by its foundation and it’s built up from there. The Christian life involves growth. 

But how do we grow? Typically, we say by studying the Bible and serving. Yes, but one can know a lot or serve a lot but not grow. Growth is being more like Christ. And here, we’re told that growth is dependent on us abiding with Christ. The word “rooted” is in the perfect passive tense - having been already rooted. “Built” is in the present passive tense - now being built up in him. Roughly translated - having been rooted in Christ, continue to be built up by him. What this means is we can only grow if we stick with Jesus. That’s what John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

We can study, but not grow. We can be busy in the work of the Lord, but not spiritual. We often are functional Gnostics. We think that by studying more or serving more, we will have spiritual success. But Christ is no where in our obtaining of knowledge or service. We do these things without him in mind. We need to commune with Jesus. To spend time with him. 

There was once an expert on time management speaking to a group of businessmen.  He used an illustration.  He stood in front of these high-powered professionals and pulled out a large jar.  He put in fist-sized rocks until no more rocks would fit inside.  He asked the class if the jar was full.  “Yes!” everyone yelled.  Then, he pulled out a bucket of gravel and he poured the gravel inside, and they filled the spaces between the large rocks.  He then asked if the jar was full.  “Yes” some murmured with uncertainty.  Then he took out a bucket of sand, and he dumped the sand in – which filled the spaces between the gravel.  Again he asked if the jar was full – he received no answer this time.  Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled.  When asked the point of the illustration, one of them, probably a busy managing director said this – “no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit some other thing into it.”  And the speaker replied – “No, that’s not the point.  The illustration actually teaches us that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”  

The big rocks of our lives should never be service and Bible lessons per se, they should be your relationship with Christ. Whatever we do in Bible reading, in prayer, in worship - to do them devotionally with Christ in mind. To be sensitive to his leading, to the work of the Spirit. Get these in first or we’ll get too caught up in other things like service.

But at the same time, to live for Christ, we must be established in the faith. “So walk ye in Him, stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught.” How can we be established in the faith?  We must be taught. Gaining knowledge and growing more in understanding are important. Without members with a mature understanding of God’s word, the church will not be stable. If we don’t understand God’s sovereignty, we may get disappointed in life. If we don’t understand human sinfulness, we may get disillusioned by church. If we don’t understand the purity of worship, we may get bored in church. If we don’t understand the mercy of God, we will be very hard on others. 

But our knowledge is not just book knowledge. The kind of faith Paul speaks of is a faith that is established – believed. And we’re told in Scripture that we don’t really believe in something unless we practice it – unless we experience it.  James 1:22 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  Why do we only grow in knowledge but not in life? Because we don’t apply what we know. Which means, we don’t actually believe what we know. 

Listen to what John Angell James says:  “There are many who regard an increasing acquaintance with the text of the Bible, as an evidence of growth in grace.  Ask yourselves the solemn question. In proportion as you store your minds with biblical texts and biblical ideas – are you all the while seeking to have your heart filled with biblical feelings, and your life with biblical actions? As you grow in acquaintance with the character of God – do you reverence Him more? As your ideas brighten on the person of Christ – do you love Him more? As you become more acquainted with the perfection and spirituality of God's Word – do you delight in it more? As you see more clearly the evil of sin – do you hate it with a more intense hatred? As your Biblical knowledge widens, do you become more profoundly humble, more tenderly conscientious, more gentle, more spiritual? Unless this is the case, you are in a fatal mistake by supposing that you are making progress in the divine life, merely because you are advancing in biblical knowledge.”  To grow deep in Christ, we must have an experiential faith.

That faith will lead to gratefulness.“So walk ye in Him, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”  Why gratefulness? Because we have received Christ Jesus the Lord. The hope of glory. The creator of the universe. The one who holds all things together. Paul emphasize this because the Gnostics were encouraging ingratitude! Christ is not enough, he doesn’t give you a deeper life, he’s not sufficient. But Paul says that Christ Jesus the Lord, who has been received by Christians IS sufficient. But we are not patient. The Bible speaks about besetting sins because some sins stick with you. The Bible speaks about growing in holiness. Meaning, holiness is not immediate. But we want things now. There’s no short cut to holiness and joy. But we want a short cut. There are many things that give the illusion that you’re doing well. Next week we shall be seeing from the text 3 big things that affected the church - 3 things that make people think they’re doing well spiritually. But all these things are not of Christ.

This is why Paul warns us to be separated unto Christ in verse 8 - “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Don’t believe these things. They’re not a short cut to spirituality. In fact, they are a short cut of unspirituality. Beware. Sedia! Pay attention. These are empty lies - these are human traditions, human cultures - not of Christ.

Dearly beloved - what are some applications here? Firstly, we all want to grow in Christ. Every Christian desires that. But there’s no short cut. But we think there is. So we need to believe that Christ is more than enough - he’s all that we need. His divine way of growth is the right way. 

Secondly, we just need to grow deeply into Christ his way. Let us live for him, to stick by him, commune with him. Let us obey him - to apply what we know. Let us cultivate gratefulness. Let us be discerning. If you are living for Christ - in obedience, if you are spending time with him daily, if you are grateful and discerning; what is the result? You will experience what Paul fought so hard for - that you hearts may be comforted because you know the richness of a full confidence in Christ that he is enough. The Lord’s my shepherd I’ll not want.

Sermon Outline:

We Need to Be Thoroughly Convinced that Christ Is Enough

    We are easily shaken (1-2, 4-6)

    We need to be fully united in this knowledge (2-3)

We Need to Grow Deeply in Christ

    Live for Christ

    Abide in Christ

    Be established in Christ

    Be grateful to Christ

    Be separated unto Christ

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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