Study 5 RECEIVING AND WALKING IN CHRIST
(Scripture Portions: Psalm 1 and Colossians 2: 6-10)
In Colossians 2:6-10 the apostle Paul appeals to Christians to go on in the same way as they started (verse 6). Just as we receive the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, so we must go on living and labouring – walking by faith. This passage of scripture, the key-verse of which is verse 6, contains three vital truths about the Christian life:-
1. WE ARE TOLD WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
What is a Christian? Some people believe that to be born in a “Christian” country, to have received a Christian education, or to accept and apply Christian principles makes a person a Christian. Or, they believe that being christened, baptised or becoming a member of a church makes anyone a Christian. No! It is possible to do all these things and still not be a Christian. According to verse 6, and other scriptures to which we shall refer, a Christian is one who has “received Christ Jesus as Lord”. He is not simply one who believes about “Christ Jesus as Lord”, or who receives the doctrines of Christ, but he is one who receives Him, the Lord Jesus Himself. Look up these four illustrations of this simple and glorious truth:-
- John 1:11-12. Christians are those who have received the Lord Jesus; to believe on Him means to receive Him.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5. The proof that we are Christians is that the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in our hearts.
- Galatians 2:20. A Christian is one in whom Christ dwells.
- Colossians 1:27. The experience of the indwelling Christ is a “mystery” to the uninitiated, but it is a glorious reality to those who receive Him as Saviour and Lord.
2. WE ARE TOLD WHO IT IS THAT THE CHRISTIAN HAS RECEIVED
The Christian has received “Christ Jesus as Lord” (verse 6).
- Take the first of these names: JESUS. This is His human name given to Him by God at His birth (Matthew 1:21), and it refers to the historical man Jesus. But it has a much deeper significance, for it means “Saviour”. This was the great purpose for which our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world (1 Timothy 1:15).
- Take the second of these names: CHRIST. This is His official title. He is the divinely appointed and anointed Messiah, the commissioned One; it is as “Christ” that He dwells within us (Colossians 1:27); in “Christ” that we are hidden (Colossians 3:3); and “Christ” who is our life (Colossians 3:4).
- Take the third of these names: LORD. This indicates His sovereignty. The One whom we have received is the Master who is upon the throne in Heaven and who is to be enthroned in our hearts.
Every Christian has therefore received: (1) JESUS – the Saviour who died for him – look up Isaiah 53:5-6, and compare 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24; (2) CHRIST – the living One who dwells within him – look again at Colossians 1:27 and Galatians 2:20; (3) the LORD – the Sovereign and Master who rules over him – look up Philippians 2:11, and compare 1 Peter 3:15. All this is very wonderful, for see what it actually means for the Christian:
- All his sins are forgiven. The same Jesus who has been received is the One who bore his sins away on Calvary’s cross.
- He has received a new life. The Christ whom he has received now lives within him as his life.
- He recognises a new sovereignty. The One whom he has received is not only “Jesus” and “the Christ”, but He is “the Lord”, his Master and King.
3. WE ARE TOLD HOW WE ARE TO CONTINUE IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Notice the words “as” and “continue” in verse 6. We become Christians in a moment by receiving “Christ Jesus as Lord”, but to live the Christian life takes a lifetime, and as we began so we must go on (verses 6 and 7). Verse 7 contains four instructive metaphors, describing four characteristics of a Christian who is going on with the Lord:-
- The first characteristic is SECURITY. We are “rooted” – rooted in “Christ Jesus the Lord”; and if this is so then we are secure, for our roots go right down into His glorious Person and into the fullness of His purpose in grace concerning us.
- The second characteristic is MATURITY. We are being “built up in him”. We are not only secure, but our great need is to grow (2 Peter 3:18), and to be built up in the faith (Jude 20). When we receive the Lord we are only spiritual babes (1 Peter 2:2), but we must not remain in a state of spiritual infancy.
- The third characteristic is STABILITY. We must become “strengthened in the faith”. Paul warns about the danger of being turned aside from the faith (Colossians 2:8); we may be turned aside by worldliness (1 John 2:15-17) or error (Ephesians 4:14-15).
- The fourth characteristic is PROSPERITY. This is indicated by the word “overflowing”. Our lives are to be fruitful and a blessing to others – look up and compare Psalm 1:3; John 7:38-39; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Thus, we see the four directions of the Christian life:
Downward – “rooted”
Upward – “built up”
Inward – “strengthened”
Outward – “overflowing”
In conclusion, read Colossians 2:9-10, where the apostle reminds us that we “have been given fulness in Christ”!