So Walk in Him
Colossians 2:6-7- Walk in Him
In the last few weeks, we have seen the gospel ministry in the life of the pastor and the congregation. Paul continues to remind the church of the centrality of Christ in the Christian’s life. The previous verse ended with Paul rejoicing in the firmness of faith, which is found only in Christ (Col 2:5). Paul starts verse 6 with the word, ‘therefore.’ We need to be reminded when we read the word ‘therefore’ that it is there for a reason. We see the connection from what Paul had previously written in the letter to this point in this passage. Paul had written his prayer (Col 1:3-14); Christ as creator and redeemer (Col 1:15-23); Christ and gospel ministry (Col 1:24-2:5). Paul has written that the right theology of Christ and the fruit of that theology go hand in hand. Today’s passage shows this important truth that the Christian life is not just one of academic knowledge but flows to the Day to day activities of the believer. Teaching is vital, as Paul reminds the Church in Colossae, “just as you were taught” (Col 2:7b).
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord.” Paul referred back to the teaching which that had been taught by Epaphras (Col 1:5, 7, 23, 28). The same message which Paul had himself received and believed (1 Cor 15:3). The phrase, ‘that received,’ is often a reference to the transmission of the tradition (cf. 2 Thes 3:6). However, Paul is not only writing of the transmission of the gospel message but the acceptance of the gospel. Paul is not just speaking of the transmission of information but the personal change of heart in people’s lives. The PCA church membership vow number two, “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?” Paul is not referring to a philosophy but a person. Paul writes, “you received Christ Jesus the Lord.” The membership vow even shows this point, as He is offered in the gospel. That Christ is the offer of the gospel, not only do you believe the gospel, but the gospel points to a person, Jesus Christ.
Then Paul writes, “so walk in him.” You receive Jesus as the Lord, and as Lord of your life, he also teaches us how to walk in a manner worthy of God (1 Thes 2:12). Paul had previously given a similar exhortation in Colossians 1:10-12. Colossians 2:7 teaches four examples of how a Christian walk in Christ.
I. A Tree
It is rooted in him. The metaphor of trees is not a new thought but is very common in the Old Testament (cf. Ps 1:3) and the New Testament (cf. Matt 15:13). After a storm it always amazes me when I see an enormous tree that has been toppled over by the wind, and the root system is barely a foot deep. However, removing a tree stump that is not even large, but it is firmly rooted, is the exact opposite. The size of the tree is not a significant factor but the roots. The root system is the life of the tree. Without roots, the tree cannot get the important nutrients from the soil and water. You can have a false sense of the health of the tree from what is above the earth. However, the root system stands the test of time. The root system is the polygraph of faith. The parable of the soil gives us a picture of the seed that grew, but when the hot sun began to shine brightly upon the leaves, they began to wither, because they had no root (Matt 13:6). The tree planted by streams of water will yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf will not wither (Psalm 1:3). The lack of being rooted in Christ will be evident when the Christian faces tribulation or persecution on account of the word because those not rooted in Christ will fall away. Are you rooted in Christ? If you were a tree, what would your root system look like? Does your Christian walk show the deep roots to Christ?
II. A House
The second metaphor is one of the houses. Paul writes, “so walk in him… built up in him.” Paul, in second Corinthians chapter three teaches the importance of being built upon Christ.
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:10–14, ESV)
The Bible teaches that the only foundation that will last is the one built upon Christ. The foundation is the most crucial part of a house or building. If you cut corners in the foundation, everything is worth nothing. If you do not pour the concrete correctly, the slab will have weak points. When the ground shifts, the weaknesses become apparent. Paul illustrates this in 1 Corinthians. It doesn’t matter what material they build their foundation out of, even precious stones, it will not pass the test. Christ is the only foundation that will survive. We build our lives upon many weak foundations. What is your life built upon? What if it was removed from your life? Would things come crumbling down? Many people have Christ as décor rather than the vital foundation which all other things are built upon.
III. A Contract
The word ‘established’ follows from the previous words, rooted and built. This is the standard translation in the ‘word for word translations’ (ESV, NKJV, NASB). The word is used in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22;
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:20–22, ESV)
The word carries the establishing and fulfillment of promises. In Romans 15:8, the same word is translated ‘confirm.’ “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.” The word established can be more than just set in place but the seal and confirmation of the promise. The Latin Vulgate translates this Greek word in Colossians 2:7, ‘confirmati.’ The contract is signed in Christ. The legal metaphor shows the unbreakable promises which are given to Christ’s people through faith. We should seek to be established in him, confirmed in Him. We have the promises of Christ set upon us as a seal upon an envelope. Even today, we look to companies or organizations with a long standing as a testimony to their product or services. We would choose a bank that has been open for more than three minutes. Christ’s faithfulness has been well established. He has never, not once, broken his contract with his people.
IV. A Basket
We have previously seen Paul giving thanks to God (Col 1:3, 12). Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the Colossians. During this time of being in prison for preaching the gospel, Paul was able to give thanks to God, and he also teaches the church that abounding in thanksgiving is the way a Christian walk in Christ. Firstly, to abound is to have an abundance. Again, Paul writes in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound (perisseuó). In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance (perisseuó), and need.” Abounding is the height of earthly riches, but when you abound in thanksgiving, you are overflowing with gratitude for all Christ has done. The Greek word for abounding is used to describe the baskets that were full of leftover pieces in Matthew 14:20 and 15:37. The Christian walk is full of thanksgiving because it is a work of grace from start to finish.
The important aspect of the three above sections is the grammatical voice of the words. They are all passive. This translation is better shown in the NASB, “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” (Colossians 2:7, NASB95). Firstly, being passive, we are not the ones rooting, building, and establishing, but rather God is the one that performs those three verbs. Thanksgiving flows from the gratitude that you did not earn or deserve the gift. Thankfulness realizes the gift, the giver, the generosity, and the gratification found in possession of the gift. The Christian should continuously be overflowing with gratitude for everything the Lord has done and is doing for us. “A grateful mind by owing owes not, but still pays, at once Indebted and discharged,” John Milton. We never can or will pay back the Lord. However, gratitude flows not from a heart of payment and obligation but out of an abundance of thankfulness that continually pours forth.
The Christian life is a pilgrimage. Many just have received Christ Jesus, the Lord. Not merely from the transmission of the message of the gospel, but Christ himself. We are called not just to change a portion of our life but gives us the foundation for our whole life. Receiving Christ means walking in him. Each of these four pictures points to the same person, Christ. We are rooted in Christ, built upon Christ. Established in the faith and abounding in thanksgiving for his grace and mercy. Let us walk in him, walking in a manner worthy of God (Col 1:10).