Colossians 2: Rooted, Built Up, Taught and Overflowing
Much of what Paul’s ministry consisted of was: witnessing wherever he found himself; preaching the Gospel, making disciples. He also was busy corresponding with those whom God had brought him in contact with through his letters.
But perhaps what was the key to Paul’s ministry and that which he spent much time doing was PRAYER. Paul speaks of struggling, laboring, running like a runner in the Olympics. God is at work in the life of each believer. We know we have this power of God, the same power which resurrected Jesus from the grave at work within us. It is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Our struggle is to work out what the Spirit has worked in us. Our old nature continually pulls us in one direction driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The old nature battles against our new nature. To make matters worse we live in a society, a world culture becoming increasingly anti-God; against the Word of God, considering it a source of problems rather than the solution to all our problems. We must fight all our battles in prayer. But we also have a responsibility ‘to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ (I Peter 3)
True prayer is directed to the Father through His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. We know when we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit groans within us. How does this work? How does the Spirit of God assist us in prayer? Remember it is the Spirit of God which teaches us the Word of God. Listen to how Jesus explains this phenomena: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear now. But when the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you in all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Now follow these truths and connect the dots. Prayer is not trying to change the mind of God but to discover what is in the mind of God and ask accordingly. This is what I John 5; 14-15 tells us. Who knows the mind of God? “The Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of men except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. “I Cor. 2
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8: 26, 27) * The relationship between the Holy Spirit and God the Father is so close that the Holy Spirit’s prayers need not be audible. God knows his every thought. (NIV footnote)
There are times when we do not feel like praying and this is when we need to pray the most. The Spirit will give us the strength, the power which is divine energy in spite of how we feel. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more that we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen. “(Ephesians 3: 20)
You may not teach a Bible class; sing in the choir or any other number of things one can associate with ministry. But we can each PRAY! And by praying even if we are only ministering to just a few believers then in doing so we minister to the body.
Paul realizes with prayer he can be absent in the body, but present with the church at Colossae in the spirit through prayer. Prayer is so powerful for we see all through Scriptures how God works through the prayers of His people. The Lord does not want us to be deceived by the clever and fine-sounding arguments of false teachers. The key to not being deceived is found in these two verses: “If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8: 31, 32)
WHAT AND HOW DO WE LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?
How do we live out the Christian life once we have begun it having been truly born again? We know how we were saved: “for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.’(Ephesians 2: 8, 9) We began by grace through faith and this is how we are to live. It is grace that has brought us this far and it is grace which will take us home to heaven. The sanctification process is a ‘by-grace-through-faith’ operation from the moment of salvation until we see Jesus.
We need to continue in our journey of spiritual maturity. The Christian who is not making spiritual progress is an open target for the enemy to attack. Remember he is the father of all lies and deception is one of his most powerful weapons and strategies. His lies not only led us down the wrong path before we were saved, he can deceive the believer in the wrong paths if we do not exercise spiritual discernment and continue to grow in our knowledge of spiritual truth.
Here is our answer as to how to live out the new life: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2: 6, 7)
We began a journey with the first step of salvation. We were justified eternally in the instant we truly believed. We begin the journey by grace through faith and Paul says this is the way we must continue. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. (Romans 1) Paul had to deal with believers who got off the path of ‘by grace through faith’ often. We see this in his letters, i.e., the Galatians: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3: 3) We are to live the Christian life and walk the worthy walk the same way we began it- by grace through faith. We are to walk by faith and not by sight. Here is the truth as simple as can be: YOU STARTED WITH FAITH AND MUST CONTINUE WITH FAITH. THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL MAKE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS. This is why the enemy tries to shake your faith and create fear with the various weapons he uses: sin, pain, troubles of all kinds, sickness, attacks on loved ones, all to create doubt in God’s goodness, His sovereignty, His power, and His motives. Fear is the enemy of faith and creates doubt- double-mindedness. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1) God is not the author of confusion; He is the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12)
Paul then uses some metaphors to paint a clear picture of the process. ROOTED. Paul uses a word from agriculture. The way we keep from being blown about by every wind of doctrine is to make sure we are rooted. Roots which go deep and can resist the winds. Want to know what you must do for your roots to grow deep in Christ? Read Psalms 1: 1-6. These verses tell you what NOT to do: Do not walk in the counsel of the wicked (ungodly) or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of scorners. Have you ever noticed the intellectuals like to mock our Christian faith, our simple belief that God created the world and everything in it? The godly man or woman ask advice from godly believers. They seek companionship with fellow believers. They join with believers to defend the truth of God’s Word. The Psalmist then tells us when our delight is in the law of the Lord and we meditate on it day and night, we will be like trees planted by the streams. We are told we will produce fruit in season, our leaf does not wither and we will prosper. Our roots are anchored by faith in Jesus Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches. The root draws up the nourishment which is furnished from the soil and gives us strength and stability. Go to your concordance and look at all the references to the word root. Remember what Jesus said of the seed which fell on the ground which had the rock beneath the soil. “The one who received the seed (the Word of God) that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has NO ROOT, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly fell away.”(Matthew 13, Parable of the sower) Adversity deepens our roots!
Peter told us: ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him, who has called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.’ (2Peter 1) This means God has rooted us in soil where he has provided everything we will ever need. But notice we must have knowledge of Him and of his great and precious promises. These are our resources, our treasures and we must search the scripture for these. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that precedes from the mouth of God. From His mouth to my ear! God has provided us with the soil and the seed. We must do our jobs of cultivating through study and obedience to God’s Word. The process includes: hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditation and above all OBEYING IT. Adversity is like drought to a tree. Drought causes the roots to seek and spread even deeper in search of moisture. And so do we seek deeper and further into the Word of God during these times of trials and adversity. Adversity is to our faith what exercise is to our muscles. *Our greatest fears in adversity come from the uncertainty and utter lack of control over a perilous situation. The disciples experienced this on more than one occasion from a storm on the Sea of Galilee to the crucifixion of the Lord.
Next words Paul uses to describe the process is ‘built up.’ An architectural term used in the present, ongoing tense. When we got saved, we were put on a foundation. The foundation was Jesus Christ. From then on we are being built up as we grow in grace. Paul combines these illustrations in 1 Cor. 3: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field; God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each of you should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know you yourselves are Gods’ temple and that His Spirit dwells within you?”
*Some questions for you: Are you laying a foundation as an expert builder on which others can build on? What are the quality of the works you are currently doing for the Lord? Are you using the best materials- giving all of the best for Him, or are they inferior, poor quality, leftovers?
Again in Matthew 7 we read of the importance of what foundation one builds their life upon. “Therefore anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who build his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like the man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell down with a great crash.”
Storms come to both believers and non-believers. This is our song as believers: On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!
Now notice the next word Paul uses is taught. Where is one taught? In school. In a classroom with a teacher. What did Paul tell Timothy: ‘study to show yourself approved, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.’
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have made known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for: teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3: 14-17)
Epaphras was taught and discipled by Paul at the church in Ephesus. Epaphras had faithfully taught the believers the truth in the church at Colossae. Now false teachers were undermining that doctrine, just as they do today. The Christian who is continuing in study of Scriptures and applying its principles, obeying its commands will become established in his/her faith. The enemy will have a difficult time deceiving the Bible taught, Bible believing, Bible knowledgeable Christian. This is how our faith is strengthened. And our faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.
Paul then uses a fourth term to describe the process: overflowing. Also connected with this is thankfulness. Overflowing or abounding speaks of a river which keeps growing not dwindling. It never stops like an artesian well. My wife, Gina, is facing a difficult test in her life now with an illness. She said of this time in her life, “I do not want to be a drain, I want to be a fountain.”
Jesus in Matthew 4 has an encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus asked the woman for a drink. His disciples had gone into town for food. The Samaritan woman was shocked Jesus would even speak to her because he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. (We are told in this story- Jews did not associate with Samaritans.) Now listen to this conversation: “Jesus answered her and said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” He went on to describe this gift of living water as, ‘water that becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ An eternal artesian well of water, a fountain that keeps on flowing.
The gift of God is salvation- but the gift that keeps on giving is the Holy Spirit who comes to indwell the believer. This gift keeps on giving and grows deeper and deeper. How sad that many believers have turned to drink from the broken cisterns of false man-made teaching. They are making no progress in the Christian life, and like the unbeliever are: ’ever learning but never coming to the truth’.
We see spiritually mature and growing Christians are overflowing with ‘thankfulness.’ There is a sense of peace in the midst of storms. A joy in the midst of trials that comes from knowing Whom we have believed and are persuaded and confident of this truth- ‘ that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ A thankful spirit is a mark of Christian maturity.
A growing Christian whose spiritual roots are deep in Christ will not want any other soil. He/she are on a sure foundation and have no need to move. The grass does not look greener on the other side. For we trust our Good Shepherd to provide us with what is best for us. Our hearts overflow when we are experiencing the fullness of Jesus Christ. We will not be moved.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD
For this lesson I have selected the attribute of God’s goodness. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1)
“No one is good-except God alone.” (Jesus speaking, Mark 10:17)
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
“If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask?” (Matthew 7)
God wants us to surrender all our life to Him. He has assured us in His Word – He wants to bless us and give us good gifts. Now intellectually, I know God is good and in control, all wise, powerful and sovereign. However it seems we all have some areas we want to continue to control. How do we recognize those areas? They are the areas which we are worried about. Areas we are trying to control in our own strength and wisdom. Managing our lives or the lives of others we love (the number one issue parents have) – we soon realize, control is an illusion. We plan and do all we can- but then a storm comes and we find ourselves driving on a highway where all at once we strike a patch of black ice and our life spins out of control. God simply says to us in these situations: Are you ready for me to take control of this area of your life?
We know God is good. His reputation has been attacked by the enemy who from the very beginning insinuated God withheld good things from Adam and Eve. Our view of God is sometimes accurate in certain areas, but contingent in others. By contingent, I mean we see His goodness based on how favorable the circumstances in our lives are. Thus when we are being blessed, we praise God for His goodness, but when fiery trials come and life spins out of control- we seem to forget God is good.
Why would God withhold something you view as ‘good’ from your life? Well remember, God knows all things. He may have something better- good can be the enemy and substitute for best. You may not be ready to receive it. God may have other things He has to work together first, so it comes in His perfect timing. Here is how God operates and His Word and story after story in the Bible confirm this truth: God always provides what will produce the best possible results for the most possible people by the best possible means for the longest possible period of time.
Psalm 145 tells us ‘God is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made.’
God has blessed us through natural blessings. Nature, seasons, good weather, food, physical life, and so many daily blessings we take for granted.
God has already delivered you from and through many crisis in your life. Look back and count your blessing- look around and count your blessings- name them one by one. Then you will see what God has done. He has done everything!
God’s goodness requires a response. Someone wants to do you a favor- you must respond and either allow them to do you a favor or refuse it. Some we refuse because we know the person offering the favor is manipulating you to get you to do something for them. God is not manipulative- he does not hold grudges nor does give in order to get. God gives because He is good!
How should we respond?
1 Repent of your unbelief and ingratitude. The Prodigal Son found himself in a pig pen and he remembered the goodness of his father. In the false belief the ‘good life’ could be found outside his father’s will, he rebelled. He now repented of his unbelief and at the same time realized what a thankless ingrate he had been for the sacrifices and provisions his father so graciously had given him. “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness (His goodness) leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
- Rest in His peace. Wonder why adversity and trials come into your life creating burdens that are wearing you out and down? Are you down and out? These come so we might – Look up to Jesus and hear his invitation: “Come unto me all you who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30) “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6: 16)
- Risk stepping out in faith for the cause of Christ, the defense of His Word like never before. When we trust Gods’ goodness, we can begin to take steps of faith. Like Peter we can ask Him to let us do things we cannot do ourselves, such as walk on water. What a step of faith! If you want to walk on water- you have to step out of the boat.
God, our Heavenly Father, is an eternal being with an eternal plan. We can trust Him, because God is good.