Sermon for Sunday July 28th, the Sixth Sunday after Trinity

 

The Lessons: Psalm 85; Hosea 1:2-10; Colossians 2:6-15; St. Luke 11:1-13

The Text: Colossians 2:6-10

Topic: Living a life rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ

INTRODUCTION

Kenton Anderson wrote about seeing the prime meridian at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. He continues:

The prime meridian itself is not impressive. You would not realize it was there if it were not for a bold line cut across the pavement. The demarcation is a human invention. Prior to the International Meridian Conference of 1884, each local region kept its own time, a system that, if continued, would have rendered impossible our current arrangements for trade and commerce. While the meridian is humanly derived, its relation to the stars is not, and that heavenly correspondence allows us to find our place on the map and in the world.

The prime meridian is the work of John Flamsteed, the first astronomer royal, who made it his life’s mission to produce a proper navigational chart of the heavens, mapping the location of thousands of stars. Based on his work, scientists were able to help people find their position on the planet. The prime meridian is a fixed position by which our knowledge of time and space can be understood.

The Bible is like that with us. Holy Scripture is our prime meridian. It is the fixed position, given by God himself, through which we can understand who we are, where we are, and where we must go from here. [1]

St. Paul, in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Colossians, answers the question how Christians should lead their lives:

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

(Col. 2:6-7, KJV)

ROOTED AND BUILT IN CHRIST

Christians are to live their lives in the same way that they received Jesus Christ as the Lord, that is, in love and obedience. Furthermore, we are to be rooted and built up in him. Two metaphors are at work here: in the first, Christians are like trees with roots in Christ, very deeply connected to him, and depending on him for their life (cf. John 15:1-6); in the second, Christians are like a building built on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. As trees, or plants of the Lord, how could we live without the life of the Lord? As the Church of God, how could we stand without the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ? These two expressions speak to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, expressed in our love for him, our obedience to his commands, and to the source of our life being Christ. Just as a plant cut off from its roots will die, and a building without a foundation will fall, none of us should suppose that, having received Jesus Christ as Lord (Col. 2:6; John 1:12), he should live his life rooted and grounded in something or someone else, other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing and no-one will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:39), provided we are determined to live as followers of the Lord all our lives, and that we never abandon our faith.

ESTABLSHED IN THE FAITH

Not only must we never abandon the faith, but we must also be established in the Christian faith, as we have been taught (Col. 2:7b). Each of us must know the faith which he believes. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds in our services help us by reminding us of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Confirmation class and Bible study also assist us in coming to know more deeply both God’s word and the Christian faith as Anglican Christianity has received it. Engaging in personal study and daily reading of the Bible will deepen our understanding of both the Bible and our faith. Using the Book of Common Prayer frequently and regularly in our own prayers will also improve the knowledge of our faith and our exercise of it.

ABOUNDING IN THANKSGIVING

As we do all these things, we must also overflow, or abound, with thanksgiving to God. This thanksgiving springs from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our relationship with him, for our roots in Christ and our strong spiritual bond with him as Lord and Savior, will overcome every difficulty and obstacle to faith. Rejoicing in God and giving thanks to him are what we have been commanded to do always (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), in all circumstances.

Living with Jesus Christ as Lord, in a deep relationship with him, and depending on him as the source of our life, being firmly rooted and grounded in him, and established in the Christian faith as we have been taught, is how we ought to conduct our lives as Christians. For if we so live our lives, the Lord Jesus Christ, dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit, will lead us into the full truth about ourselves and about how God views us and the way He directs us to live. If we live in the company, or fellowship, of the Holy Spirit, we shall never be separated from God, or from our faith in him.

TAKE CARE NOT TO BE LED ASTRAY FROM YOUR FAITH

Now the King James Version’s rendering of verse 8 can be a little misleading today:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

 

(Colossians 2:8, KJV)

The word “spoil” doesn’t mean “ruin,” but “carry off as a captive or slave.” It might be better translated today as “take captive.” A spiritual war between God and Satan is being waged until Satan is finally cast into the lake of fire and sulfur (Revelation 20:10), and Satan and his hosts of demons are making every effort to take captive the minds and souls of all human beings. This warfare is being carried out in all kinds of ways, but one method is to use philosophy, ideology and the empty deceit of the traditions of mankind to deceive Christians as well as those who don’t believe. As soon as people start believing these philosophies, ideologies and empty traditions, or aspects of them, they are easily taken captive and overcome by them. For all that Christians must believe as essential to salvation is contained in the Bible, the word of the living God, as Article VI of The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England reminds us:

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church….

(p. 603, Book of Common Prayer, 1928)

When Christians hold fast to their faith, know their faith, and are living in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will know that there are many ideologies, philosophies and doctrines which conflict with Christianity, and must not be accepted either as part of a Christian outlook on life or as a substitute for any of God’s commands given us in his word, the Bible. Since all the fullness of God lives in Christ (Col.2:9), Christians are complete in Him, having all that they need for both salvation and living the Christian way of life according to God’s will. The Lord Jesus Christ is supreme head of all authority and power (Col. 1:10; Matt. 28:18), which means that in everything we must be ruled by Him.

CONCLUSION

We have in the Lord Jesus Christ and his word all that we need for life and salvation. In order to maintain a strong faith and effective witness to the Lord, we must strengthen our communion with him, our knowledge of our faith, our thanksgiving, and take care that we are not taken captive by ideologies and philosophies alien to Christ and to his word.



[1] p. 19, Craig Brian Larson & Phyllis Ten Elshof (General Editors): 1001 Illustrations that Connect. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Christianity Today International, 2008.

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