The Riches of the True Knowledge of God
Copyright © 1997
Indian Hills Community Church
The Apostle Paul in Colossians, chapter 1, has been talking about his ministry as God's servant, which is as an apostle of Jesus Christ and a representative of God to the church of Jesus Christ. This ministry to which God had called him was a ministry that involved suffering. As he began this discussion in chapter 1, verse 24, he referred to his sufferings - endured on behalf of the church of Jesus Christ - with a view that the church would be all that God intended it to be through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. His ministry was not only directed toward the church, but also to every individual member within the church. To emphasize the fact that this is for every man, three times in verse 28 he used the expression every man: "...admonishing every man...teaching every man...that we may present every man complete..." Paul is saying every individual is included in the ministry to which God has called him. So it's not only establishing the church as a unit, but it's the building up of every individual within the church, which is the body of Christ.
This ministry took energy. It was conducted during ongoing struggle and conflict. Verse 29 tells us, "For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power..." It takes all of his energy, all of his effort. It is a relentless battle, but it is only accomplished "...according to His power, which mightily works within me," the apostle Paul says.
What he has said in verses 24 and 29 is general in the sense that it applies to his ministry as a ministry. It could be said of any church that he was involved with, in any place. But he has a personal word for the Colossians as we begin chapter 2. And not just for the Colossians, but others in that region - Laodicea and other places where Paul had not personally ministered. Although he never had a facetoface ministry with them, he saw his ministry as impacting them, and he devoted himself to them intensely in struggle and conflict for their development and growth. It's interesting to see that Paul is intensely fighting for the development of God's people whether he has met them or not. He saw that his ministry was being done in the context of being called of God and appointed of God, and he had a deep and abiding love for all of those he had opportunity to impact with his message.
A connection ties the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 together. It's the word translated striving in verse 29 and struggle in chapter 2, verse 1. They're the same basic word in the Greek language. As we noted in our study of verse 29, it's the word that we get the English word agonize from. Paul ends chapter 1 with that word: "...I labor, striving..." fighting, agonizing "...according to His power." Then chapter 2 begins, "For I want you to know how great a struggle..." how great a battle, how much agony "...I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea and for all those who have not personally seen my face." This concept is that our service for Jesus Christ takes every ounce of our strength. It's an ongoing, relentless battle.
That word struggle or strive could be used of athletics or of military conflict. It denotes intense struggle, conflict, fighting. Paul saw this as an essential part of an effective ministry. He did not think that the fight and the struggle were abnormal. He thought it was a necessary and vital part of having an effective ministry. You know, that's encouraging to me. We sometimes say misery loves company. And we know what that means. It's sometimes encouraging to know someone else is having a difficult time. Sometimes people will say to me, "You know, I'm having struggles and battles, and I know no one else in this congregation has those kinds of difficulties because we come together on Sunday morning and we're not talking about that." And sometimes you're undergoing intense difficulty, trials, pressures, and you look around and say, "Look, everybody's smiling. No one has this kind of hardship in their life and their walk with the Lord." It is encouraging to read the Apostle Paul and find out that faithfulness for God means a hard life. It's a fight. If we are going to have an effective ministry in our service for our God - individually and as a church - it is going to be a struggle. It's going to take all of our energy and all of our strength.
Turn over to 1 Timothy 6:12. Timothy was a younger man than Paul. He's one who will carry on the ministry when the Apostle Paul passes off the scene, along with others who God has raised. But in his first letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts him by using the word that we are talking about in Colossians - agony or agonize. He tells Timothy: "Fight the good fight of faith..." Those two words translated fight are the same basic words we have translated striving in Colossians 1:29 and struggle in chapter 2, verse 1. So you could say, "Agonize the good agony. Struggle the good struggle of faith." So you see, Paul didn't view his ministry as an exception in that sense. There was none of that, "Oh, I'm an apostle; my life is hard, and my ministry is difficult. It's filled with battle and conflict. But, Timothy, yours will be different." No. Paul says, "Timothy, I want you to step up and join the fight. Don't hold back." Paul realized there is no effective ministry without the struggle, without the conflict.
Turn to 2 Timothy 4:7. Paul is at the end of his earthly life. This is his last letter. He is anticipating martyrdom at any time. He says in verse 6 the process that will culminate in his death has already begun. Verse 7: "I have fought the good fight..." There's our word again - fought, fight. "I have agonized the good agony." It's the same word we've been talking about. His service for Jesus Christ had been an ongoing struggle, a battle, a fight. Now as he comes to the conclusion of his life and of his ministry, he says: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." God, grant that when we come to the end of this earthly life, the testimony that we can bear is, "I have kept the faith." That means you will have to say, "I have fought the good fight. I have been involved in the struggle in an ongoing way right up to the very end." That's the proper perspective of the ministry.
Come back to Colossians 2:1, where Paul says, "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf..." Not just a little struggle. There was intensity in the fight that Paul was experiencing on behalf of the Colossians. And it also includes those who are at Laodicea, which is about 10 miles west of Colossae. "And for all of those who have not personally seen my face" probably refers to this area - Higherapolis is about 15 miles northwest of Colossae. Paul had not visited this valley region. But he had a great struggle for these people. All the apostolic labors were for their benefit. He's imprisoned in Rome, and out of that imprisonment comes the letter to the Colossians. So the Colossians and the others in that region are benefiting from his ministry despite the trials he's going through.
This personal, ongoing struggle for them that he speaks about probably encompasses his prayer life for them. He said back in chapter 1, verse 3, that he was praying always for them. Then look at verse 9: "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you..." Now turn over to chapter 4, verse 12. Epaphras had been used of God to found the church, and Paul says concerning Epaphras: "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers..." Laboring earnestly is the translation of the word we're talking about. He's always agonizing for you, always fighting for you in his prayers. When Paul says that he was struggling, fighting, on behalf of the Colossians, one way he was intensely doing this is by praying for them faithfully and regularly. Even as Epaphras agonized for them in prayer, so did the Apostle Paul.
If you've been a believer very long, you know that serious prayer is hard work. You know it's a simple privilege we have to come and talk with God as our Heavenly Father and commune with Him. But you also know there's something in this physical body of mine, there is something in me as a fallen being - redeemed though I am - that resists and fights against that privilege. As you contemplate your life, you wonder why is it so hard to find time to spend with God in prayer. Think back over the past week. How much time did you seriously, intently pray in a way that would be described as hard work? When I get done with my prayer time, am I really tired? That is hard work. That's what is Paul is talking about. "Epaphras struggles for you in prayer."
We know something of what that's like if we experience a serious illness or problem in our immediate family. All of a sudden the deck's clear. I find time to pray if one of my children are sick or one of my grandchildren is sick. I suddenly have time to pray. Why? Because this is more important than anything else I do. And we do it with an intensity and a seriousness. That's the way Paul went about his prayer life for these Colossian Christians even though he had never seen them face to face. Would that God grant us those kind of prayer warriors. I often think that when we do stand ultimately in His presence, we will be surprised at who is rewarded for what. Some of the most effective ministry accomplished in this church is accomplished by those who labor in prayer for this ministry. And when you labor in prayer, you often do it in unseen ways and unseen places. But it's a ministry that can be carried on if you can't move your body out of a bed. And that body cannot carry on other ministry. The ministry of prayer can go on. No more important ministry can be carried out than the ministry of serious, intent labor in prayer.
You know, we use the excuse that we're busy. I've referred to Martin Luther before. Martin Luther's observation was that his days were so busy he could not start the day with less than four hours of prayer. When you stop and think about it, that makes sense, doesn't it? The busier my day is going to be, the more I have to talk over with my God. My thought is that my day's too busy. I have to clip my prayer. "Lord, it's going to be a busy day. Bless me in all I do. Thanks." Out the door. But how much more I would have resolved the difficulties of that day if I had just said, "Lord, this day is awful busy. We've got some things to talk about." Struggling in prayer on behalf of fellow believers is intense labor.
We sometimes get disheartened. We look at our ministries and say, "You know, they just didn't turn out." Well, Paul is struggling on behalf of the Colossians and the Laodicians. The Laodicians have become probably more infamous than famous because of the letter Christ sent to them in Revelation 3:1422. The last of the seven churches of Asia that are addressed by Christ gets the most stinging and serious rebuke. It had all but ceased to be a church except in name. It was a hypocritical, empty shell, and the people had no real understanding of their deteriorated, empty, spiritual condition. Yet here Paul says that he struggled on their behalf. In chapter 4, verse 16 he tells the Colossians: "Send this letter over to Laodicea when you're done with it. And you read the letter that I sent to the Laodicians. They got their own special letter." But in spite of these apostolic labors and special letters from the Lord, the church at Laodicea did not turn out. By the time Christ addresses it in Revelation, chapter 3, it is an empty shell of a church. I didn't say an empty church because the people thought they were prosperous. Jesus said, "The tragedy of it is that you don't know your true condition. You're blind. You're destitute and you don't know it."
So we are not responsible for the results of our labors. We are responsible for faithfulness in our labor. Only God can work in a heart, and if we're going to decide our struggles on the basis of outcome, we will soon give up. Paul struggled on the basis of his call and faithfulness to God, not because he could guarantee that the Colossians or the Laodicians would respond. But we do know the deteriorated, spiritual condition that's evidenced in the Laodician church can't be laid at the feet of the Apostle Paul because, as he said at the church of Ephesis in Acts 20:26-27: "Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God."
Turn back to Colossians, chapter 1. In verse 2, Paul is going to set forth four things that he is struggling to see accomplished in the lives of the Colossians and others who have not seen his face. He struggles for them in prayer and in any other way so that these four things will be realized in their lives individually and in their life as a church. Let me mention them to you, then we'll look at them individually. First, he wants them to have encouraged hearts. Number two, binding love. Number three, complete assurance. Number four, thorough knowledge. The connection is that in verse 1 Paul wants them to know how great a struggle he has on their behalf. Why? "That...", which begins verse 2, tells the purpose of his struggle, why he struggling and what he is struggling to see accomplished.
1.Paul Struggled to Encourage Their Hearts
Number 1, "that their hearts may be encouraged..." Their hearts refers to the inner person. It's not just the emotions. It's what we are in this context of our inner person - our hearts and our minds. We might say it's the inner man. Paul wants them to be encouraged. The word encouraged is a broad word. It's used in different forms, but basically it's the word paraklesis. It's a compound word, para, alongside kaleo, the verb which means to call. Parakletos is one called alongside of. In John 14:16 and 26, John 15:26 and John 16, the Holy Spirit is called the Helper, or paraclete. Jesus said He will send from the Father another comforter. That's our word - another one called alongside of. It adds a breadth of meaning because this one called alongside of gives whatever help is necessary to comfort, encourage, strengthen. In this context, the idea is to encourage or strengthen. There's a time we need to be comforted. But as we'll see as we move through chapter 2, what they really need is to be strengthened in the inner person. That encouragement is brought by the Holy Spirit, so this is a ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who comes alongside of and encourages and strengthens us. So in those verses I mentioned in John 14, 15 and 16, Jesus is saying, "I will send you another strengthener, another encourager, another comforter."
Paul desires that the Holy Spirit will carry out His encouraging and strengthening ministry in their hearts, in their inner man. We are on our way to conflict at Colossae. False teachers have been infiltrating the church and challenging the ministry with their doctrines. This is no time for faintheartedness. This is no time to go soft. We need by the grace of God to be strengthened and encouraged in the inner man. We all know what it's like when you get into conflict or disagreement. There's something discouraging about that, something that sort of takes the wind out of your sail. Paul is struggling for them in prayer in order that the Spirit of God might encourage their hearts. We ought not to grow weary, to become faint. Paul exhorted Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity..." We need to be encouraged and strengthened in the inner man.
We've all been around believers who are down for whatever reason. They're disheartened, discouraged. The last thing you want is another wave of conflict to sweep over because you think they won't make it. You think they'll bail out. Paul realizes the pressure that's on the Colossians. And he says, "I'm struggling on your behalf." Because he's not going to be there to personally lead the battle, they're going to have to step up and be strong, be encouraged in their own hearts to do what is right, to engage in the fight and not retreat or turn aside.
2. Paul Struggled to Knit Them in Love
Number two, Paul is struggling on their behalf so that they might have a binding love - "...having been knit together in love...." Paul sees the encouragement or strengthening of their hearts taking place in the context of people who are bound together by a relationship of love, and that love is strengthening. That is encouraging. You know, it's like a physical family. Family members may have things they disagree on, but when conflict comes, when danger approaches, then they unite. And so it is with us. We are the family of God, and we are to be bound together in a relationship of love.
That expression knit together in love is used two other times by Paul - once more in Colossians and once in Ephesians. Turn over to Colossians 2:19 and you'll see the context. He's warning them about false teachers, the impact of false doctrine and the danger of "...not holding fast to the head...." - Jesus Christ being the head of the body - "from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together..." - there's our word, translated knit together, in chapter 2, verse 2 - "...held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with the growth which is from God." Ephesians 4:16 offers the same context of the body being held together by that which every joint supplies. So you see the picture here of the spiritual relationship. The body of Christ in this place in Colossae is holding together because of the love that is the strength of their relationship. And this ties us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit again. He is the encourager. He is the strengthener, the paraclete, and through His ministry love is produced because Galatians 5 tells us the fruit of the Spirit is love. We are talking about something done supernaturally by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's people. We have been bound together in a relationship of love.
Now this love we're talking about is not an emotion. It's not a feeling. It's that selfsacrificing action that puts others ahead of ourselves. The Greek words are agape, the noun, or agapao, the verb. That's the form of love we're talking about. It's a selfsacrificing love. It is an identifying mark of those who are truly children of God. They have this love for the people of God that binds them together. Turn over to 1 John 3:16. John has been talking about this subject in chapter 3. It's a love that flows out of God's love for us. He'll talk about it further in chapter 4. But we'll pick up in verse 16: "We know love by this..." - now note this; here's how we know love - "that He laid down His life for us." That's important. It does not say we know love by this feeling He has given in our hearts, or we know love by the emotion that grips me. I'm bothered as I watch much of the religious programming. It's all geared to creating a certain feeling or emotion. We're really often manipulating people. The speaker will just get up and say, "We can just feel the love of God." Well, you know those kinds of emotions and feelings can be created by a secular movie. We have to be careful that the emotion does not say anything.
Now there is a emotion in our relationship with God and with one another. There should be. There must be. But the love John is talking about that binds us here is not emotional love. It's action love. We know God's love for us, not by the feelings He had for us, but by the actions He did for us. Look at the end of verse 16: "...we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." What do you mean by loving other Christians? Lay down your life for them. Now he's not just talking in the context here about martyrdom. That's the ultimate laying down of your life. But he goes on in verse 17 to give an example of what it means to lay down your life. It means to put others ahead of yourself. For example, if you see a brother, a fellow Christian, who is in need and you don't step forward to help him if you have the resources, you don't love him. You see, we're to be in real action. You say, "I have strong feelings for them." Well, did you help them? "No." Then you didn't love them. That's the point. Lay down your life for them.
Verse 18: "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." That's what we are talking about. The body is bound together by the Spiritproduced love. If you give of yourself sacrificially in ministry to someone else, a bond is established and over time that relationship gets stronger. We've all experienced a time of need when somebody we didn't even expect to help stepped in so sacrificially. We then developed a strength of relationship with that person. You looked for an opportunity to do what you could for them. That kind of love just binds the body in a relationship that strengthens it. So the encouragement of heart takes place in the context of being held together, knit together in Spiritproduced love.
Come back to Colossians, chapter 2. Here the Spirit-produced love is absolutely essential because one of the effects of false teaching and false doctrine is that it divides the body. It tends to fracture the body. We're going to talk about some serious false teaching. It's called the Colossian heresy. Paul is struggling for them because he knows the potential for damage. This could tear the ministry there into pieces. He tells them that he's struggling on their behalf so that they will be strengthened in their hearts and, in the process, be bound together in love for one another.
3.Paul Struggled So They Might Have Complete Assurance
Number three, Paul is struggling for them so that they might have complete assurance. Colossians 2:2: "...and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding..." He wants them to have complete and full assurance of understanding. The word understanding, or the word wisdom denotes the ability or capacity to distinguish the true from the false. So here he wants them to have full confidence and assurance in a true understanding. It's God's truth applied to the circumstances and situation of our lives, and it gives the believer and the church a certainty and assurance which really is called wealth from God. He wants them to attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of properly understanding what is right. They have at their disposal the ability to discern regarding truth and error. And that is God's riches. One commentator put it this way: "Spiritual prosperity consists of understanding of God's truth and being confident of it." We would all acknowledge that is a rich blessing from God. God's riches for His people is for us to be in a situation where we have the certainty of what is right even though there is turmoil and confusion around. There is the full assurance and confidence of God's will in this situation. That is God's riches for His people. The same commentator wrote: "Too many of God's people live lives of spiritual poverty, uncertain of what God has provided for them, and become easy prey for every cult and every religious charlatan that comes along." And the church is being decimated by this kind of confusion even today.
Paul is concerned. He is struggling on behalf of the Colossians and others so they will have the full assurance, the confident certainty, that is a result of the wisdom of God. It was used back in chapter 1, verse 9. As Paul prayed for them, he says in Colossians 1:9, "...we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." That's what he's talking about - the full assurance of understanding, of being able to discern and distinguish. In view of what is assaulting the church of Colossae and what is going to be confronting them, what a rich provision from God will be that certainty and full assurance. My heart goes out to those believers who seem constantly tossed here and there by everything that comes along. It's God's blessing for His people that we have stability. This church ought not to be driven here and there by all the confusion that comes along because God's intention is that we enjoy the riches of divine assurance, full certainty, because of the understanding He provides.
4.Paul Struggled So They Might Gain True Knowledge
The fourth object of Paul's struggle is thorough knowledge - "...resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself." These last two - the complete assurance and the full knowledge - really run parallel together. Paul already has referred to this mystery in chapter 1, verse 26: "... the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but now has been manifested to His saints." This mystery centers in Christ and is God's plan of redemption and reconciliation for the world through the Person and work of His Son. What Paul struggles for in prayer on behalf of these Colossians and others is that they will have a full, thorough, complete knowledge of God's mystery, which is the Person and work of Christ. . Literally, the Greek text says, "resulting in the true knowledge of God's mystery, Christ." God's mystery is Christ, and He is the revelation of God's plan of redemption and reconciliation for Jew and Gentile alike in His finished work.
All the false teaching we confront becomes in some way or another an attack on the Person of Christ or the work of Christ. Such teaching represents a failure to understand that the completeness of God's work is found in Christ completely. So we need this thorough, complete, true knowledge of Christ. A failure to understand the Person of Christ opens the door to the confusion that some of the cults would bring. Confusion finds a breeding place, for example, when the deity of Christ is denied. Failure to appreciate the completeness of the work of Christ opens the doors for the church to buy into additional things.
That's why we need this full, complete, thorough knowledge. Paul elaborates on this point in verse 3. We understand when we have a thorough knowledge of Christ, who is the mystery of God, we have everything necessary for life and godliness. We do not need to search for knowledge or truth in any other place. Of course, we are talking about knowledge and truth as it relates to God and His purposes and plans for us in salvation and sanctification. A medical doctor has knowledge that you wouldn't find in the Bible. We're talking about salvation knowledge and sanctification knowledge. I agree you don't learn algebra or calculus or physics from the study of the Scripture. That's not what we're talking about here. We are talking about God's plan of redemption and reconciliation - sanctification.
Verse 3 begins, "In whom..." In Christ. I didn't go back and count them, but one Greek commentator said this is the eighth time - and we're only in chapter 2, verse 3 - this expression "in whom" or "in Him" is used. The focus of Colossians is that everything is in Christ. Christ is the One "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." When we have a thorough knowledge of Christ, we have everything we need because all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. The construction here in Greek emphasizes the fact that all means all, without exception. In the predicate position with an article, the now paus means all, without exception. That's the construction we have here. You'll have to take my word for it. I didn't write that. It comes from Murray Harris's commentary on the Greek text of Colossians. What I want you to pick up is that all means all, without exception. So in his translation, it reads: "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge without exception." Do we have that down? Maybe you ought to circle all, draw a line and write in your margin, "all, without exception."
A danger confronting the church at Colossae is that they'll fail to hold on to this truth. They don't have the full, true knowledge that they have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge without exception. The Colossian heresy also is decimating the church today in one form or another because the church does not appreciate that we have all wisdom and all knowledge in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. We'll talk more about this because Paul's going to elaborate on this argument by saying such things as all truth is God's truth. Therefore, we need to go beyond just the truth of Scripture if we are truly going to be effective in helping people today deal with the sin of life. That is a form of a Colossian heresy. It is saying that the knowledge of Christ is not enough.
I was watching a program yesterday on a religious channel. This man was noted as a Bible teacher, and in his sermon he declared himself to be reformed in his doctrine, Calvinistic in his theology. After his sermon, a couple came on and spent 10 minutes introduced a tape offer. From what they were saying, I'd guess they're psychologists. For $15 a month you can get a tape a month, and this will help your marriage be what it ought to be. This couple says in this 10minute or so segment that all marriages in one way or another are deficient, but they have learned how to help your marriage. Then the pastor comes back on and says these tapes are really going to make a difference. I say here is a man who is denying the theology he just claimed to believe. The wisdom and knowledge of Christ is not enough to produce a marriage that is full and complete and everything God wants it to be. Now I have to send $15 a month for somebody's tapes so I can get additional insights. Give me a break.
The treasures of wisdom and knowledge - all, without exception - are contained in Him. And you note they are hidden in Him. The connection here is the end of verse 2: "...a true knowledge of God's mystery..." What is the mystery? It's something that had been hidden and is now revealed. But back in chapter 1, verse 26, this mystery which had been hidden "...has now been manifested to His saints." So these treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ, and they are for His saints. That's why Paul is struggling. He wants them to come into a true knowledge, a full knowledge, a thorough knowledge, a complete knowledge. We are never done. We never exhaust the knowledge of our God. Back in chapter 1, verse 19, Paul wrote: "For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him" - in Christ. In chapter 2, verse 9, Paul said: "For in Him..." - in Christ - "...all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." I need to grow to a fuller knowledge, a more thorough knowledge, of my Christ. And I had better be very careful about being gullible when so many other trinkets are being dangled out there to turn me aside. We think those trinkets have something to offer, that their insights are what will bring this knowledge we already have to fullness and completion. That's the very thing that is going to assault the Colossian church. And 2,000 years later, having had Paul's warning in print for all this time, the church of Jesus Christ still falls for the same foolish, stupid deception. There is no excuse for it.
You know what has happened. The church has been infiltrated by unbelievers from whom this glorious truth is hidden. They don't know the fullness and completeness that is found in Christ, so they offer to the church a mix that is destructive because it attacks the very heart of all that is revealed to the church concerning the mystery of God, which is Christ, in whom we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Back up to Romans 11:33. These two words are used - wisdom and knowledge. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Jesus Christ is God. In Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. And He is the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yet there are men who would come into the church and blabber that all truth is God's truth. They say, "We are going to take the truth of God's word and combine it with the truth that we've discovered so that we can have an effective ministry of sanctification." If you oppose that foolishness, you're supposedly an unloving, divisive person. Yet why should the ignorant and unlearned in regard to Scriptures and the truth of God be allowed to prey upon the people of God, to barter their wares, to corrupt the Gospel? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:17, "For we are not like many, peddling the word of God..." Those people are hucksters. They've corrupted and adulterated the word of God to make it salable. Yes, we are marketing the church, and we are marketing God's truth today, but at a tremendous price. It has been corrupted.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 2:6: "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature..." - among believers - "...a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom..." This hidden wisdom is Christ. But it's foolishness to the world. Christ is to us the wisdom of God. What, then, is the church doing inviting the world that considers Christ foolishness into the church? Supposedly, we do it so we can be effective with the ministry God has called us to. What kind of God do we have? This is a serious matter. This is an attack on the very Person and work of Christ. And we have people who profess to be Christians thinking this is just wonderful. Any wonder Paul struggled? He knew the danger of false teaching. He knew how deceptive it would be. He gave of every ounce of his being in fighting, struggling and striving for fellow believers that they might be encouraged or strengthened in heart. That they might be bound together in Spiritproduced love. That they might have complete assurance, full certainty and a thorough knowledge of Jesus Christ. And that they would be ready for the conflict, ready to fight the good fight, to not be moved from the certainty and assurance and confidence that comes from the work of the Spirit of God using the word of God in the lives of the people of God.
I trust you appreciate and understand something of the richness of this knowledge and wisdom that has been entrusted to us in Christ. If not, the message of the Scripture is that today is the day because Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. You can come to know and experience the full riches of God's salvation by recognizing your sinfulness and turning from that sin and believing that Jesus Christ died for you. God's salvation is found in no other place or in no one else. It can be received in no other way but by believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for your sins. May this church be a testimony of that truth until Christ comes. May this church be a bulwark for God's truth against all who would oppose it and in whatever disguise they might take.
Let's pray together. Thank you, God, for the richness of Your
wisdom and knowledge. We are in awe that by Your grace we have been
brought into knowledge and understanding. We are humbled to think
that we are privileged to know the living God, to know the wisdom of the
living God and to apply the wonder of the knowledge that you have given
us to the circumstances and situations of life. Thank you for Jesus
Christ, the One in whom it all centers. Lord, I pray for those who may be
here today who do not know this wonderful Savior. This treasure of
wisdom and knowledge remains hidden from them. Lord, in Your grace
may their eyes be opened to see and believe that they might know what it
means to belong to the living God, to have Your Spirit accomplish Your
work in their lives. And, Lord, may we individually and may this church
as a church take seriously the admonitions of Your word. May we join
together in the struggle and fight so that these truths become a vital part
of our lives in every way, and that we might faithfully serve You to Your
honor and glory until Christ comes. In His name we pray, amen.
This file was converted from Adobe PDF format to HTML by Tony Capoccia of Bible Bulletin Board (BBB). Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the conversion and the posting on BBB. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for a church that preaches/teaches messages that are bold and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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Online since 1986