|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
There is only one way to truly know Jesus Christ and to live a Christ-exalting life: "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom."
Christ is the Grand Theme
The Bible is a tremendously practical book. One of the parts that best illustrates this fact is Paul's epistle to the Colossians.
As he writes to the fledgling Colossian church, Paul's theme is the grandest of all: the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul erects a set of large banners, and on them he displays the riches of Christ in bright, bold word-pictures: the person of Jesus Christ - the deity of Jesus Christ - His work as the creator of the universe - His fulfillment of all of the Old Testament types and symbols pointing to the promised redeemer from sin - His work in coming into this world as the savior of souls - His resurrection and ascension to the Father's right hand - His present rule over all things.
Paul points us to the great facts about Christ: all wisdom is in Christ; the Scriptures are the very Word of Christ; Christ, and Christ alone, is the object of saving faith; it is with Christ that believers have been raised from the dead; the church is the body of Christ; genuine fellowship in the church is fellowship in Christ; Christ is the Master, the One the Christian serves; Christ lives in every believer, and "Christ in you," Paul says, is "the hope of glory"; and, Christ Himself is going to come to this earth once again, visibly and bodily, and we are going to appear with Him.
Furthermore, Paul holds forth the person of Jesus Christ as the One who is, in His very essence, the total contradiction of the very nature of this fallen world, and the world system. He holds up the wisdom of Christ as the total opposite of the way the world thinks. He holds up the life that we have in Christ, as the total opposite of the condemnation the world is under. He holds up the life that we are to live in Christ, as something that is to be the total opposite of the way the world lives.
Paul mentions the Lord Jesus Christ in nearly every one of the 95 verses of Colossians. The book is one continuous exposition and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His manifold offices and aspects, and in His marvelous relationship to each and every child of God.
Abstract Theology is Not Enough
But Paul does not hold forth all of these wonderful things about the Lord Jesus Christ as mere abstract theological facts. That is never Paul's way, and that is never God the Holy Spirit's way throughout the pages of the inspired Word. If we ever deal with Scripture as just so much abstract theology, then we have severely and tragically missed the point.
Yes, we need sound theology. We need to understand who God is. We need to understand who Jesus Christ is. We need to understand who God the Holy Spirit is. We need to understand who we are - individuals created in God's own image. We need to understand what has happened to us - that our first parents fell into sin, that the image of God in us was severely marred and distorted, and that as a result the entire human race has fallen under God's wrath. And, we need to understand that Jesus Christ is the creator God made flesh, and that God the Father sent Him into this world to redeem lost sinners through the shedding of His own blood on the cross.
But it does us no good only to understand these things as abstract facts. James 2:19 tells us that the devils understand these things, and they believe them on a certain level. Romans chapter one tells us that every human being understands the basics of theology, including God's eternal power and Godhead, simply by observing the created universe.
But that kind of knowledge, even that kind of belief, does not save a person. Theology rooted in Scripture is God's special revelation to us. Theology is of no use at all if it is not practical. Knowing that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and knowing that Christ died to save sinners, is not enough. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, put your faith in Him and Him alone, apart from any works or merit of your own, in order to be saved. Theology must become practical. That is the work of God the Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer, illuminating His Word for us as we hear it preached, and as we read it and study it for ourselves.
The Word Answers Life's Greatest - and Most Practical - Questions
That is exactly the kind of approach we find in the book of Colossians, and in fact throughout the New Testament. Paul constantly interweaves his exaltation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, with practical instruction about how Christians are to think, what we are to believe, how we are to live, and how we are to deal with the problems of life.
In Colossians chapter one, Paul addresses these questions: Do you want to be fruitful in every good work? Then grow in your knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do you want to be strengthened spiritually? Then seek to understand more about Jesus. Do you want to understand the depths, the wonders of your salvation? Then learn more about what Christ has done for you.
In chapter two Paul takes up these vital matters: Do you want to have God's protection against the deceptions of false teachers? Then learn more of Christ, because in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Do you want to live before God in a manner that is fitting for a believer? Then seek to be rooted and built up in Christ. Do you want to be on your guard against those who say you need more than Christ's work in order to be saved? Then understand, Paul says, what it means when I tell you that you are complete in Christ. Do you want to understand the nature of Christian liberty? Then understand who you are in Christ; understand the bondage from which Christ has liberated you.
In chapter three Paul gets even more personal: Do you want to understand how to develop Christ-like character? Then let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. Do you want to have a godly Christian home, and right relationships within the home between husband and wife and between parents and children? Then understand that Christ is the Head of your house.
And at the end of chapter three and on into chapter four, Paul continues: Do you want to understand what your attitude should be as an employee in the workplace? Do you want to understand why it's important for you to do the best job you possibly can for your employer and for your customers? Then understand that your ultimate head and authority in all these relationships, the One to whom you ultimately answer, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you want to understand how and why you should deal fairly with your employees or subordinates in the workplace? Then understand that you have a Master in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Further on in chapter four, Paul takes up these precious points: Do you want to know how to pray for pastors, for the leaders of your church, for missionaries? Then pray that God would open the door for them to speak the mystery of Christ that God has now revealed. Do you want to have fellowship with others in the body of Christ, whether it's the people in your local church or others who are far away? Then understand that the focus of true fellowship with other believers is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Make God's Word Your Closest Companion
Nothing could be more Christ-exalting, and nothing could be more practical. The two go hand in hand. The essence of the Christian life is for Christ to be exalted in every area of your thinking and living.
But to exalt Christ you must know Christ, and there is only one way to know Him - by feasting on His Word, the Bible.
There is a single phrase that really sums up Paul's answer to all of the questions above. He says. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16). Literally, Paul is saying, let the Word of Christ be at home in you. Let God's Word live within you. Let the Word of Christ inhabit you. Let your relationship with the Word of God be that kind of intimate, ongoing relationship that you would desire to have with the person who is closest to you in your own home. Make God's Word, and thereby Christ himself, your closest companion.
Furthermore, Paul says, let the Word of Christ dwell in you "richly". In great abundance. Feast upon it. Take in everything that God's Word has for you. Don't put yourself on a spiritual starvation diet. Don't starve to death in a house full of the best food available. Feast upon the Bread of Life.
Finally, Paul says, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly "in all wisdom." Literally, "in every kind of wisdom." Every area of life. Every area of knowledge. View everything through the lens of Scripture. That is the way you will see things clearly. Paul tells the Colossians in chapter 1, verse 9, I "do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power."
Dear friend, that is also my prayer for you.
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