Wednesday, July 9, 2014

P1 of 2 Growing in knowing Jesus Christ

Colossians 2:6-7 "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."

Benefits of knowing Jesus Christ
Today's post is all about spelling out the benefits of growing in knowing Jesus Christ. If we were to boil down our thoughts to one point of application, it would be this: It benefits every Christian to keep on growing in knowing Jesus Christ. 

As Paul starts out this second chapter of Colossians, he brings to attention the trials he is experiencing while under house arrest in Rome. The reader is encouraged to refer back to yesterday's post, where we dealt at length as to why Paul made a point of not hiding his sufferings for Christ. Undoubtedly what he underwent plays a huge part in his overall exhortation for these Colossians to grow in their knowledge of understanding of Jesus Christ. 

As we consider the benefits of growing in knowing Jesus Christ from Colossians 2:1-7, we can list them by what occurs inwardly and externally to the disciple of Jesus Christ. Today we will focus on the internal benefits that occur in growing in knowing Christ. So how does it benefit every Christian to keep on growing in knowing Jesus Christ?

1. Internal assurance. Colossians 2:1-5
After mentioning his "struggle" on behalf of the Colossians and those in Laodicea in 2:1, Paul makes this statement in Colossians 2:2 "that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself." The internal assurance that comes with growing in knowing Jesus Christ is cultivated by two principle means here in 2:1-5. 

The first way in which assurance is built into the Christian's life is by way of suffering and hardship. As already mentioned, we saw this in detail in yesterday's post. It may not make sense to think of God including suffering in the development of the believer who is striving to know Christ, yet that is exactly why Paul includes mention of his own here. As we observed yesterday in the letters of the New Testament, suffering and hardship can be used to:

1. Strengthen the believer's confidence. Galatians 4:19

2. Sharpen the believer's calling. Philippians 1:27-30

3. Certify the believer's commitment. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Certainly two other passages can be mentioned to demonstrate the reality of these observations: James 1:3-4 and 1 Peter 1:6-7.  Such Divinely ordained and permitted situations can be used by God to temper and strengthen the faith of the Christian, much like cold water is used to temper a hot piece of iron. Now here is the thing, without the second mentioned means of cultivating internal assurance, suffering by itself will by nature overwhelm the believer. What is that second method of gaining internal assurance in the process of growing in knowing Jesus Christ? Notice...

The second way internal assurance is strengthened is by way of the scriptures. Just as testing without the scriptures can be only a destructive process, studying of the scriptures apart from difficulties can lead to puffed up people. Where else does the true knowledge of Jesus Christ derive? The Scriptures! Colossians 2:2-3 speaks about the richness of knowing Christ that can only come from the scriptures, and then 2:4-5 speaks of the strengthening of faith in Christ that comes from the scriptures. Many references in the Bible speak to the scriptures feeding the faith of the believer. Job 23:12 has a suffering Job describing God's words as more precious than His daily food. Psalm 12:6 has David surrounded by his enemies and being able to have faith in the words of God that are purer than silver tried in a furnace seven times. In Matthew 4:4, we see Jesus in the midst of temptation saying to Satan that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Faith comes from hearing the word of God in Romans 10:17 and Jesus chooses to cleanse His church by the scriptures in Ephesians 5:26. Let the reader notice how many of these texts depict the person drawing assurance from the scriptures in difficult times. Both go hand in hand. Growing in knowing Jesus Christ builds an internal assurance as the believers wrestles in their faith through difficult times and builds their faith upon the richness of God's Word. 

The internal assurance that comes from the interaction between searching the scriptures and experiencing difficulties is spelled out in the various phrases of Colossians 2:2-5

a). "attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding." 2:2a

b). "resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 2:2-3 

c). "I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument." 2:4

Paul then expresses how he rejoices in 2:5 "of rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ." So it does benefit every Christian to keep on growing in knowing Jesus Christ by virtue of the internal assurance that occurs as a result of getting to know him in the scriptures and through times of suffering. 

More tomorrow....

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