Sermon Notes: Maturity: Colossians 2:1-5

Recap

Our goal as a church is to get onto God’s path of faithful and disciplined obedience to his word to take us to maturity in Christ. 

Paul’s commission (household order) from God is to preach the gospel and all the faithful actions in application of the gospel, and in so doing provide the way for all who will move to maturity in Christ. 

Last week introduced us to the first set of nitty-gritty means the preaching of God’s word provides for us to practice to help take us to maturity: 

  1. Hope in the coming kingdom of God to produce faith and love.
  2. Know God’s will through wisdom and insight into our souls. 
  3. Walk with the Lord in a worthy manner by bearing fruit in good works, growing in our knowledge of God, receiving God’s strength, and joyfully giving thanks. 
  4. We must see the glory of Jesus as God.
  5. We must remember the robust nature of Jesus’ salvation. 
  6. We must resolve to stay in the faith. 

The applications of the gospel are nitty-gritty means help us to live in the power of the gospel to (1) break the curse of sin and (2) help us to put sin to death so we can move toward maturity. 

Today, we are going to continue to add to the gracious catalog of gospel-fueled disciplines to help us grow up into Christ, and it is a most challenging one. 

Colossians 2:1-5: Joined by love leading to obedience and all the hidden treasures of knowing Jesus. 

Conclusion/Application

Samuel Rutherford (a 17th century Scottish Presbyterian pastor): 

“Praise God for the hammer, the file, and the furnace.”

“The hammer is a useful tool, but the nail, if it had feeling and intelligence, could present another side of the story. For the nail knows the hammer only as an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission. To beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place.

That is the nail’s view of the hammer, and it is accurate except for one thing: The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are servants of the same workman. Let the nail but remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear.

The carpenter decides which nail head shall be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his good plans for its future, it will yield to the hammer without complaint.

The file is more painful still, for its business is to bite into the soft metal, scraping and eating away the edges till it has shaped the metal to its will. Yet the file has, in truth, no real will in the matter, but serves another master as the metal also does.

It is the master and not the file that decides how much shall be eaten away, what shape the metal shall take, and how long the painful filing shall continue. Let the metal accept the will of the master and it will not try to dictate when or how it shall be filed.

As for the furnace, it is the worst of all. Ruthless and savage, it leaps at every combustible thing that enters it and never relaxes its fury till it has reduced all worthless things to shapeless slag.

All that refuses to burn is melted to a mass of helpless matter, without will or purpose of its own. When everything is melted that will melt and all is burned that will burn, then, and not till then, the furnace calms down and rests from its destructive fury.”

Jamie Work, my pastor here in Rome from 1993-1998, gave me the following quote from AW Tozer in a journal he gave me at my ordination that are Tozer’s comments on Rutherford’s words I just shared with you. 

AW Tozer’s comments on Rutherford’s thoughts: “…how could Rutherford find it in his heart to praise God for the hammer, the file, and the furnace? The answer is simply that he loved the Master of the hammer, he adored the Workman who wielded the file, he worshiped the Lord who heated the furnace for the everlasting blessing of his children (and to love them well). The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ (to grow up into maturity in Christ) at any cost is not often found among us. The devil, things, and people being what they are, it is necessary for God to use the hammer, the file, and the furnace in his holy work of preparing a saint. It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

What does this have to do with Colossians 2:1-5?

It has everything to do with this Scripture because Paul is going to tell us that the way we gain a complete understanding of Christ is through us being joined together in love.

And this confronts a weak spot in my theology, and I don’t believe I’m alone. We live in a theological climate that does not have a framework for Rutherford and Tozer’s conclusion as the love of God toward a saint. 

I often doubt if God actually loves me and thus I question continually if I know how to love. 

The reason is that I have defined love like so many in my world, pleasantness. I have not defined the hammer, file, or flame as love also. I do tend to see the hammer, file, and flame as unloving or legalism, particularly if wielded by a true and faithful friend who is in God’s hands. 

How can God love me if he is concerned with my holiness and completing the killing of sin in my flesh when it is painful? Shouldn’t God just let it go? Am I not saved? Why isn’t being saved enough? 

How can I be loving if I’m concerned for holiness and challenging growth into maturity? 

So much of our Christianity is full of the assumption that love equals pleasantness and any frank talk about holiness and maturity is sure to bring up questions in my own mind and external challenges about legalism, lack of grace, and a lack of love. 

So, when it’s not good vibes or pleasantness, it is tempting to believe that it is not love.

So, I can’t talk about love until that idol is rooted out of me. 

I can’t change how you or anyone else heard what I just said. As the teaching elder, nothing I say will ever be good enough. Everything I say can and will be picked apart. And that’s just the way it is. I have to be real about what I struggle with and believe that I’m not alone. 

If love is only pleasantness, then I have no framework in my soul for when things are not pleasant or even just corrective to my theological framework that might be a tad off. 

If love is only pleasantness, then I have no framework to love like Paul is talking about to the Colossians because that love leads to the full knowledge of Jesus who brings with him a cross to be born by all who follow him. How is that love?

NOTE: This does not mean that I should strive for the opposite of unpleasantness all the time. That is the opposite error in understanding love. We are not to strive in making life unpleasant for ourselves and others because we believe that only in discomfort and unpleasantness will we show love. We strive for holiness, to hear God’s word, obey, and there find eternal and lasting love and the very heights of happiness in Jesus regardless of circumstances. 

God defines love. God is love (1 John 4:8), and thus God loves me through pleasant, peaceful, unpleasant, difficult, joyous, light, fun, and hard means for my salvation and for my enjoyment now and in eternity. 

If love is only pleasantness, I have to throw away my belief in the sovereignty of God and put myself at the whims of Satan and people with agendas as though they are sovereign rather than God. 

As a result, I have to ditch my fear of God for a fear of man who can come at me at their sovereign dictates. This then renders, Proverbs 29:25 (HCSB) 25 “The fear of man is a snare,

but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.”, untrue. If God is not sovereign in his love for me, then we better start fearing man over God. 

Then I have no place for a God who will wrestle Jacob (Genesis 32:24-32) until he wounded him and gave him a limp the rest of his life in order to bless him and show his eternal love to and for him. 

Basically, I want a cross-less faith. I don’t want to hear, “take up your cross and follow me”. I want to hear, take up my pleasantness only, and follow me into more pleasantness. 

So much of our church framework has created a love constructed only from pleasantness. 

We overlook the love of the workman who wields the hammer, the file, and the fire to take me to the transformed place of real happiness in Christ.

If we are going to grow into maturity in Christ, we have to understand a robust and biblical love that God displays for us and we are to give to each other before we can take another step. 

This is what Paul means when he says “I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love…” (Colossians 2:2). 

This is a God-like love that moves us to maturity through being joined together, not a cheap grace, that leaves us dead in a pleasant experience of sweet-tasting poison. 

It is in this kind of love that we will come to a complete understanding of Jesus Christ in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

With that kind of love in mind, what are Paul’s nitty-gritty means that will help the Colossians and us grow and kill sin so we can know more of Jesus?

Colossians 2:1-5

  1. Be willing to love as the struggle to make disciples beyond your physical reach. 2:1
    1. The Colossians have not seen Paul (their spiritual father by discipleship), and yet Paul’s love for them is manifested in his suffering for them. 
      1. Paul has struggled (“agona” – contention through boxing or wrestling) to be on mission and send his people and resources on mission and he has done so at great cost. 
      2. What they don’t understand is the love Paul has for them manifested in how he has contended for them in prayer, preaching, and sending. 
    2. Sometimes, our love is manifest in our suffering in order that people we may never meet get to receive Jesus. 
      1. We may have to struggle in order for someone in another city to have Christ. 
    3. So, we see that as God’s servants, we show love by suffering so that others won’t have to suffer eternally. 
  2. We encourage each other’s hearts and join together in love so that we can gain complete understanding of Christ. 2:2
    1. Encouraging and joining hearts only happens when we get God’s brand of holy love correct. 
    2. Then we learn God’s brand of love even more in practice as we join hearts on mission and commit to each other’s maturity in Christ through the good, the bad, and the ugly. 
    3. Paul says that in this way we gain a full understanding of Christ. 
      1. What is he saying? Is he saying that they only need to love and they’ll know what they need to know? Is he bypassing God’s word? 
      2. No! 
      3. 2:1-5 comes after he has told them in chapter 1 that the household order is that God’s word is preached. 
        1. Now that they know through the preaching of God’s word what love is, they gain a full understanding of the Jesus they now know as they are joined together in love. 
    4. We learn Jesus more fully as we practice his kind of love. 
      1. It is in obedience that our head knowing becomes real knowing. 
  3. Love God by focusing our attention on Jesus where we will grow in true wisdom and knowledge. 2:3
    1. Spend inordinate time using the tools of biblical theology we give you to mine the riches of Jesus from the pages of Scripture. 
    2. Spend inordinate time in the gospels where the explicit revelation of God in Jesus is put on display. 
      1. This is why I love my bible reading plan. It puts me through the NT two times a year. 
  4. Paul, in love, teaches this corrective truth about where to seek true wisdom and knowledge (which includes God’s kind of love) so that the Colossians won’t be deceived by reasonable arguments, and can continue their move toward maturity and good order. 2:4-5
    1. We will not find the treasures of wisdom and knowledge apart from sounding out the depths of Jesus Christ. 
    2. If we don’t bury ourselves in the pursuit of God’s kingdom first, we will become undercover agents for the dark kingdom while wearing the veneer of Christian clothing alone. 
      1. This is what cultural Christianity is. Chrisitan t-shirts with the values of a dark kingdom underneath. 
      2. Christianity becomes cultural in a negative way when we define God’s words in the bible with our world and not the bible itself. 
    3. Let’s seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and watch God provide everything we need. 
  5. Let’s worship. 

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