— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise the Lord! Good morning. I’d like to just turn, if you will, to Colossians. It’s one of my favorite books. Colossians was a letter written by Paul and he wrote it to a church that he had never visited. He was in prison. But an associate of his had gone there, taken the Gospel and founded a church, and so he was burdened for them and blessed by the reports, so he wrote a letter.
In fact, he wrote two letters. He wrote one to the church of Laodicea, and he told them to each read their own letter and then swap letters and reach each other’s letters. So, I’d like to read a little bit this morning…just a passage out of chapter 2, and I won’t read the whole thing. Wouldn’t that have been something, though, to sit there and actually hear the original letter from the pen of Paul. Praise God!
So, Paul has just lifted up the greatness of Christ and who He is and what He’s done and that He, in us, is the Hope of Glory. Then he comes to chapter 2, and he writes, “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
“I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (NIV). Wow.
“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” Praise God!
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
I’ll tell you what, there are some rich, rich words in that passage. But I see in this, two things that I think are relevant to all of us today. It’s certainly relevant to me. But I see the principles, the underlying principles, of what it means to know God and to have a relationship with Him. They are laid out in such clarity.
And it’s not only…I mean, it’s on two levels. One is the level where people come to Christ. They come and there’s that initial relationship that is officially established, if you will. And now they belong to Him. And so, now that is settled. They’re in a place where God is gonna carry them forward, but now we’ve got a life to live, don’t we? So how do we do that?
And he addresses that in very specific terms. And so, I want to just comment on this. This is another one where I don’t have anything organized. I’ve had a lot of thoughts and I’m just trusting the Lord to bring out what He wants, because we need Him, don’t we? We don’t need my opinion about anything. We simply need Him to speak to every one of us.
And Paul’s burden, Paul’s purpose in all of this is certainly not a selfish one, is it? I mean, he’s paid a high price to do what he’s doing. But his whole burden is for the welfare of the people to whom he’s writing. And he realizes that…we live in a broken world. We live in a world where there are all kinds of ideas…that are floating around, that would change the way we look at life, that would govern the way we look at life and ourselves and our place in the world.
And, he wants them to get it, that everything we need is in Him! There’s one source of wisdom that you and I can depend upon! Everything else is headed in the wrong direction! All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ.
And you know, we have the words of Jesus Himself that He’s not merely a truth-teller, is He? He ‘is’ the Truth. If you want to know what reality is all about, you look at the person of Jesus Christ and you will get, you will see in the light of who He is and what He’s about, everything else in its true light.
And we are in a time in the history of this planet, when darkness is taking over. And we know why it’s taking over. We know it’s because men are choosing darkness rather than light. The thing is, we are in such a condition that when truth and light and genuine divine knowledge come, they cross us. You can build a big church today if you will appeal in some fashion to human nature and make people feel good about themselves, somehow.
You can fashion for yourself a religion that uses the name of Jesus, but you don’t have anything, unless Jesus is the center of it. I don’t mean just simply the subject of everything, I mean, He’s in it! Because he’s just said in the last chapter, the whole point of the Kingdom of God…and the Hope of Glory that you and I have, that one day we will actually be there as glorious beings in the presence of God, what is it that gives me hope? Is it that I follow His religion? Is it that I live by good principles? No! It’s Christ ‘in’ you, the Hope of Glory.
Until He becomes resident, we don’t have anything. And the wisdom of this world, Paul said in another place, it’s coming to nothing--it’s coming to nothing. There is a wisdom, the ultimate source of that wisdom is earthly, it’s sensual, but it’s, what?
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Devilish! There is an inspiration behind everything. And Satan is throwing out every idea that he can possibly think of in this hour, and his design is to appeal in some way to some aspect of human nature, so that if people latch on to that they will become prisoners of darkness, of the darkness that they have embraced.
And they embrace it because they do not want to come into the light. They hate the light. They reject what God would say. And so, so much in the world is turning to that darkness and it’s gonna get a lot worse. Folks, we need to be on the Rock. We need to be in a place that God has fashioned for us.
Thank God that there is a place, that we can actually live in this world and have a destiny that is sure. Thank God! And I’ll tell you, it’s Jesus, isn’t it? All the way. It’s the Person of Jesus!
So anyway, one of the reasons that Paul emphasizes this is that there were religious teachers who were coming along and trying to tell the people that there was another source of wisdom and they could…anyway, I won’t go into the details, but Paul is wanting to redirect them so that Christ, the Person of Jesus Christ, becomes, not only the source of wisdom, but the actual life that enables us to live it out.
Anybody here got the power to be a Christian? I don’t. Boy, if we’re left to our own resources in anything, we have no hope whatsoever. Our hope is a Person. That song that was sung during VBS…the center part of that song, “Amen,” blessed me. I don’t remember all the parts of it. But, “Victory has a name and it’s Jesus.” Redemption has a name and it’s Jesus. Over and over again, everything that you and I need--everything you and I need to stand there one day, comes in the form of a Person.
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Okay? So now, let’s get to what he says, because he’s heading into the Christian life but he goes back to the beginning, doesn’t he? He says, so then, verse 6, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” So, in other words, the principle by which we start, we become His in the first place, is the principle by which we live. It’s not a different thing. So, all we’re doing is embarking on another life, not just a way of life, but it’s another life altogether.
But I thank God that there is…there are such simple terms here. You don’t have to be a scholar. You don’t have to be a theologian. The essence of coming to Christ is God convicting a human heart of their need. You don’t have to be old. You don’t have to be any certain age. But I’ll tell you, when God comes in and there is a conviction in the heart, not just in the mind, but in the heart…I need a Savior. I’m not ready. I’m on a road that leads to destruction. I have sinned against God. I need something I don’t have. I need Someone I don’t have.
And ultimately, the message obviously is not one of, work for it, deserve it, do something, dig down deep and bring this before God and say, God receive me on this ground. I have no ground. The ground is mercy! The ground is what Jesus did in my place that I could never do!
But I’ll tell you, what He did crosses me! It shines the light on what I am and what I lack! And so that is the problem. I’ll tell you, when a human heart yields and truly receives, does that not convey the clear idea of a yieldedness? See…you see the imagery that comes out of this passage and you could see it back in one…in chapter 1.
There is like a planting…there’s a fruit tree, I would say would be the best illustration of it. And I’ll tell you…you know, in order for the seed to get in there in the first place, there’s got to be soil that says, yes! This is now the purpose of my existence. It’s to allow this seed to grow in my heart. And there’s got to be that absolute surrender.
You know, there’s a concept of receiving Jesus today that is watered down, designed to fill the church with church members who have, most of them, many of them, never been born again, because the idea that I can…listen to what he says. “…Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord….”
The idea is put out there that you can just ‘accept’ Jesus…this is a very, kind of loose…oh, it’s perfectly free, completely free, no obligation. Get your sins forgiven, a ticket to heaven, but you can go on and continue to be your own Lord, is what it boils down to. You don’t have to accept Him as Lord, you can just accept Him as Savior.
Oh, I’ll tell you what, we receive Him as He is. He is Lord! And there’s a simple question that I would put out there, and it’s a rhetorical question, but I think everyone will know the answer. A rhetorical question, for those of you that don’t know, is one that’s just put out there for thought. You don’t have to…you don’t have to answer. But if Jesus Christ is not Lord, I mean on a personal level, if He’s not your Lord, who is?
See, this is…the whole issue of life and eternity hangs on this question. So, if we’re receiving Him as Lord, there has got to be the sense that I need Him! I must have Him! And then there is a yieldedness and a desire and a welcoming Him in, for what He is, and who He is! Okay?
So, all that is in this…there’s such a clarity to it. I don’t know how anybody could read this and not get it, and think that there are two classes of Christians. I’ve accepted Jesus and then others, oh, I’m dedicated, He’s my Lord. Folks, if you have let Jesus into your life, there’s only one way He’s coming in. He’s coming in to change you and to rule.
So, of course, the question, many questions that the natural man would have is, well what’s that like? That sounds horrible. Of course, it sounds that way to the natural man because he wants to do what he wants to do. He doesn’t want anybody telling him what to do. That’s human nature. We’re all that way. It comes out more in some than others, but, it’s there in every single one of us.
But I’ll tell you, there has to come a time when we let go and we begin to let God have his way. There is a fundamental commitment that literally hands our life over to Him! There is an exchange. I’ve got a life that can’t possibly be part of what God has purposed. It can’t be part of that. I don’t care how you reform it. I don’t care what principles you live by that may be wonderful. If you don’t have Him, you don’t have anything! I need to give Him my life and hand it over so that it is no longer mine. And in exchange He gives me His. Praise God! What an incredible exchange! Oh, thank God!
You know, there’s so much that’s short of this. We had a rather shocking, to many people, example this week. I’m not gonna go into all the details, but there was a very well-known teacher of godly principles, I guess you’d call it, professing Christian, who, suddenly this week, very publicly renounced his faith, walked away from his marriage and his faith, renounced Christ.
You know, Shelly shared with me an online discussion of what’s going on there. And I think the lady who was discussing this hit the nail on the head. There’s no such thing as an ex-Christian. If somebody comes to the point that Paul is describing here…when Christ comes in, He comes in to stay.
The problem is that so many people have carved themselves out a religion where they walk by principles. They do all kinds of good things, and that becomes the core of their faith, but they are still lord. Jesus has never really come in and taken over. The throne is still occupied by somebody other than Jesus.
Oh, I’ll tell you, we have got to lift Him up. He is always the center! Always, He is the center! And it’s not just He’s the center of attention, but He has got to be the One who resides in the human heart! If He isn’t, somebody else is, and destiny hangs on that question. The only hope we have of glory, is Christ ‘in’ us, the Hope of Glory.
Okay, but I thank God that it’s not a matter of my having to qualify myself for this. In fact, you go back and you find in chapter 1 that He’s qualifies us. Oh, praise God! That He actually qualified me…somebody like me, with all that’s wrong! I’m just like you. I’m made of the same stuff you are. With everything that I’m discovering about myself that is not like Him, that He actually has qualified me to be part of that. Oh, praise God! Praise God! We have all we need in Him. Praise the Lord!
So anyway, go back to the principle of entering in. It’s coming to a point where we recognize our need as a result of divine conviction. We hear the promise, the hope, the Gospel, the Good News, of what He has done to remedy that need, and we believe it. We open up and we embrace it at a heart level.
And I’ll tell you, there’s something that happens. When that happens, there is a divine…transaction, I guess, is the word I’m looking for, that happens. Then, we get to where many of us are at. Then life begins to happen, and we begin to have to learn how to live this life, and Paul wants his readers to know that there is a storehouse of knowledge and wisdom.
We don’t have to listen to our friends in the world. We don’t have to listen to the culture. We can lift our hearts to Him at any moment in our lives and say, Lord, I don’t get this, I don’t know what to do, tell me. Give me wisdom, Lord. Didn’t James say that those who lack wisdom, what should they do?
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Yeah, there is a commitment…the sense of that scripture in James 1 is, there is a commitment to walk in it. You don’t say, Lord, explain it to me and then I’ll decide. This is, oh Lord, I don’t know, but I am committed to Your way, whatever it is. It will always cross your natural inclinations, but it’s always right.
It sets us free instead of…we have this crazy idea of what freedom is. Freedom is free to be me and do as I please! Oh God, you are the biggest slave! This world is full of people…if you asked them what they thought of slavery, and whether they approved of it or not, every one of them would say, oh, no! Down with slavery! And yet, almost every one of them is a slave, a willing slave to their own nature, and blind to their condition, and headed down the pathway to being lost.
I’m so thankful God is still reaching out. I don’t know how much longer. It’s not gonna be forever. There will come a day when the door will be shut. But He’s still reaching--He’s still reaching.
So, here’s the simplicity of coming to Him. It’s knowing my need, going to Him, hearing His promise, believing that promise and receiving Him--Him! Again, it’s not just the words, it’s not the ideas, it’s the Person of Jesus Christ, receiving Him to be in me what I lack, which is approximately everything. Praise God!
So, how do you live the Christian life? Oh, you keep the Law, keep the rules, practice the religion. No, it comes down to the same thing. At every point, where I have a need, what’s the answer? Well, I asked the wrong question, didn’t I? ‘Who’ is the answer? should be the right question.
God is going to constantly, frequently, at the proper time, in the proper way, He’s gonna bring me face to face with me. You know, my real problem is not everybody around me. My real problem is me. It’s how I react to everything else, that God is mostly concerned with. But I’ll tell you, God is going to bring you and me face to face with our need, just as He did when we realized, I’m lost, I’m in a state of rebellion, my sins are piled up to heaven and I’m gonna have to answer for them one day, and I have a need.
I have a need when I get up in the morning to get through a day without walking in self-will and rebellion and all kinds of things, giving vent to the wrong thing that’s still in my body. It’s still part of this earthly life. Thank God, the day will come when that will be gone. Praise God!
But what God wants us to know and what God wants you to know, if you’re somebody who’s setting out in this life, what do you have to look forward to? You have Somebody who has everything that you could ever possibly need to get all the way home, who’s not just out there telling you what to do and shouting down encouragement, but who actually lives on the inside. That’s what Christian faith, real, Biblical Christian faith is about. It’s a Person who comes to live on the inside, and He has everything you could ever need..