Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walk Like You Talk

Walk Like You Talk
Colossians 2:6-7
How to Live the “Full” Life

Scripture Introduction:

The great Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, once was robbed as he walked along a highway Afterwards he told his friends there were four things for which he gave thanks. First, he was grateful that he had never been robbed before. After many years of life this was the first time he had been robbed and for that he was grateful. Secondly, he said, "Though they took all my money, I am glad they did not get very much." That was something to be thankful for. Thirdly, he said, "Though they took my money, they did not take my life, and I am grateful for that." And finally, he suggested, "I am thankful that it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed." There was a man who had learned how to be "overflowing with thankfulness!"[1]

Now you may be sitting there thinking, “my, what an idiot”. However, before you through off Matthew Henry as a pansy I want you to look at what is taking place here in Henry’s heart. What type of contentment must this man have to be able to overflow with thanksgiving even after being robbed? What type of soul peace must this man have? What does he know that we do not? Do you not desire such soul peace that you can get robbed and come out of it rejoicing?

What is it that drives a Hudson Taylor, at the end of a life full of suffering and trial, to say, “I never made a sacrifice”? What causes Amy Carmichael to sacrifice her dream of marriage and having a family, only to settle in a difficult area of India to work with prostitutes? What is it that drives an apostle Paul to joyously stay in prison for the sake of preaching the gospel? These people are not idiots. These people are not looking for trouble. These people have a superior pleasure that causes them to suffer. Our text tonight gives us a clue as to what it is that drives such men and women.

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Sermon Introduction:

These men and women, and the millions that have gone before them, are abounding in thanksgiving because of what Jesus Christ has done and is continuing to do. These men and women are so enthralled and enamored with Jesus that they are able to say with Hudson Taylor, “what sacrifice”. What does it take to have hearts the beat for Jesus like that? What do you have to do? Read a lot of books? Pray a ton? What are the steps? How do you have a more full Christianity that these men and women had?

I am sure that similar questions where being asked in the first century in Colossae. How do we have a more full Christianity? How do we have continual mountaintop experiences? We want the fullness of life. How do we have it? Is it through what we eat or drink and do not eat or drink? Will it come through abstaining from certain things? Will it come from having special meetings? What if we start up another church service? Will that do it? We know that dealing with sin is part of it. How do we do that? Do we put ourselves on a strict regimen? Do we punish our bodies so that it no longer desires sin? Do we deprive ourselves of all pleasures? What about visions and encounters with holy things? Will that help? What do we do to have a more full spiritual experience?

The false teachers in Colossae had a decent list of what to do to experience a more full Christianity. They had all of these loops and hoops to jump through in order to have a full experience. And there are a large number of seminars, books, conferences, movies, curriculum, sermons, etc. that promote very similar loops and hoops for believers to go through; but not the apostle Paul. Look at, and enjoy the simplicity of this text. You know what Paul is saying here? How do you live in the fullness of Christianity? What is the vibrant Christian life that Christ died for—and how do you have it? Get saved and live like it. Simple as that. And that is what we will look at tonight.

I. To live fulfilled, receive Christ Jesus the Lord

Notice what Paul says in verse 6, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord”. This is a scandalous statement. It is filled with grace, and grace if it is rightly understood is always scandalous and shocking. In our text, there is an assumption in this word received. If Christ must be received then he must not be naturally ours. We have learned this much already in 1:21. The same thing is affirmed in Ephesians 2:1-3. “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

I am sharing this with you because it is absolutely necessary to understand why grace is so scandalous and shocking. In our day and age the word grace has come under assault. Many--Christians even--echo the sentiment of the Heinrich Heine on his deathbed: “God will forgive me that is His job.” We feel that God owes us grace. But grace that is owed or grace that is earned is not grace at all. Look briefly at our condition.

Look quickly at the last part of Ephesians 2:3, it says that we were by nature children of wrath. That means that before one receives Christ Jesus the Lord, that person is an object of wrath. Wrath means God’s fierce anger. It is God’s settled disposition towards sin. God’s wrath poured out upon a person is the very essence of hell. That is what we by nature deserve. But that is not our only problem. It is not that we simply need God to offer us a pardon from hell. It is not that we simply need some information and a gospel invitation.

There are four reasons tonight why I could preach until I am blue in the face to those of you that are not saved and it would not result in your salvation. 1) Your blindness and hardness of heart. Perhaps, you are revolting at this moment at everything I am saying. Maybe the weight of it is not penetrating your heart. It is bouncing off as we speak—and every second you remain in this state your heart gets harder and harder. Jeremiah 17:9 2) You have disordered affections and desires. As it says in Jeremiah 2:13, you treasure what you should hate and hate what you should treasure; your affections are disordered. Therefore, you do not see the beauty of Christ. Christ to you is not a treasure to behold. Your view of Christ is not such that you see him as he truly is. Therefore, when given a gospel invitation you will not truly respond in repentance. 3) As 1 Timothy 4:2 says your conscience is also corrupt. That means that you do not feel that you have really done much of anything wrong. You consider yourself a basically good person. Even if you admit that you have messed up a few times you do not feel the weight of your sin. It is a trivial thing to you. Your conscience is corrupted. You consider bad things permissible and good things seem to be a burden. 4) Your will is disabled. This is the climax of the condition of your heart. That is why a simple gospel invitation will not do. Only preaching the Word will not change your heart. Your will is in such a spot that you will not choose Christ if given the opportunity. Your affections are disordered. You will not choose that which you do not treasure. Therefore, a thorough work must be done.

This is why in Ephesians 2, Paul says that we are dead in our sin. He is saying that to believers of their former life. That means that what I just said either describes you or it formerly described you. Let all of that sink in for a moment. What that is saying is this. You desperately need to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for your salvation; to not do so means that you will spend eternity separated from all that is good—separated from God Himself. Now, there is nothing within your ability to do so. You cannot change your heart. There is not a magical button that you can push inside your heart to make you want Christ. Even if there was a magical button you would not desire to push it. No, something must happen from the outside.

Enter grace. This is what has happened in the lives of the Colossians that are saved and it is what has happened in your life if you are saved. God by his grace has made you alive. Look at Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…(2:8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Grace. As one believer defines it, “Ascribed to God, grace is his voluntary, unrestrained, unmerited favor toward guilty sinners, granting them justification and life instead of the penalty of death, which they deserved”.

God, for no reason but his good pleasure chose to save. He saw me in my sin. Dead. Hating Christ, dishonoring him, without hope. And for no reason other than his own good pleasure he decided to offer me grace. He, as it says in Ephesians, “made me alive with Christ”. Now, do not misunderstand what is being said here. This is not some random grace that is poured out upon every single person and it is up to us to decide whether or not we accept it. Some will not accept the grace—some will accept the grace. No this is effectual. It is grace that works. It is grace that takes my heart that does not treasure Christ and it changes my heart to treasure Christ. It is grace that causes my conscience to be convicted. It is grace that breaks my heart for my sin and causes me hungry and thirsty for forgiveness. And it is grace that offers that. It is grace that prompts faith.

Which is the other thing that is included in receiving Christ. You do so by faith alone. It is not works that causes you to receive grace or to be accepted by Jesus Christ. It is not you doing the right thing. Praying the right prayer. Getting baptized. Trying to do good. Stop doing the bad. Those things are indeed a part of living a holy life…but they do not cause you to receive Christ. Receiving Christ is based upon you receiving the gospel of Christ. You trust in the promises. You trust that you are without hope. You believe God in what he says about you. And you believe God in what he says about Christ. You cast yourself wholly upon his mercy.

And it is Christ alone that you believe upon. It is not Christ and something. It is Jesus and just Jesus. He is sufficient. What he did is enough. And this governs your life. God so grips your heart and your soul. This is no mere profession. This is no mere acceptance of a few facts. This is your soul being gripped by the truth of the gospel and who Jesus Christ is. You rest wholly upon His grace—you trust in Christ alone.

And it is not only that you trust in him as your savior. You also trust in Him as Your Lord. That is what this text in Colossians is really pointing at. You received Christ Jesus the Lord. Remember what we talked about in Colossians 1:15-20. That is the Christ Jesus that you received. The Lord of the universe. The one that made everything. All things were made by Him, through Him, and for Him. That means you belong to Him.

What we have seen then is that the “as you received” means that you have received Christ Jesus the Lord and you have done so by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Now look at verse 7. There are four words there that are important. They are four words that explain what Paul is talking about. They are “rooted”, “built up”, “established”, and “abounding in thanksgiving”. The first three words are passive. Meaning it is something that God does. The last one is active; something that you do. Let’s look at the first one and then later look at the last three.

The word rooted is the only one of the four that is in the perfect tense. That means that it is a completed action with a continuing result. It means that, whatever this “being rooted in Him” is, it is something that took place by God in a time that is past; perhaps before the foundation of the world, perhaps at your moment of believing the gospel. Regardless it is something that has already taken place. Now, what does it mean?

It means that God has planted you deeply in Christ. Your roots go deep. If a tree has big roots that go deep then they will not fall away. Paul is assuring the Colossians that God has planted them deeply. They are rooted in Christ. This is secure. What God has done in bringing you to salvation is secure. He has rooted you in Christ.

So, what then do you do in response?

II. To live fulfilled live your profession

This is Paul’s exhortation. As he looks at what God has done in their life he urges them—now live like that. Live like you have been saved by grace alone. Live like you have been saved by faith alone. Live like you have been saved by Christ alone. Live like you have been rooted.

Well what does that mean? I will give you ten brief implications of this. We will look more at this when we get to chapter 3. These will only be quick summary points.

1) Built up

Again this is something that God is doing through you. But it is a fruit that you ought to be bearing. It comes through your dependence upon Jesus Christ. As you yield to him. What it means in this text to be built up means to grow. You ought to be growing. Your life ought to be reflecting the Lord that has redeemed you. What God has done in you is living and active. Therefore you ought to grow.

2) Established

Again this is something that God is doing through you. Like the above it is in the present tense, meaning that it is something that is an ongoing process. To be established in the faith means to be firm and fixed. You ought not be constantly wavering in your beliefs and in your relationship with Christ. It should be a solid and steady relationship. The Colossian church is a decent example of what not to do—they were slowly beginning to embrace heresy. Do not flirt with it. Remain firm and established.

3) No Room for Pride

If you have been saved by grace alone, through faith, in Christ alone then there is no room for pride. How can you look down your nose at a struggling believer? How can you mock and deride unbelievers for their sin. Is it because you made some really good decision that you are saved? No, it is because of the mighty grace of God. If it were not for the grace of God then you would be the most vile sinner known to mankind. Until you believe that you will live a life tainted by spiritual pride. Instead pursue humility. To live like you have been saved is to live a life of humility.

4) No Room for Legalism

If you have been saved by grace alone, through faith, in Christ alone then there is no room for legalism. Remember legalism is trying to slip our character into God’s work of grace. If you have been saved by grace then you are not called to earn it or make yourself worthy (as in a deserving recipient) of it. Neither before it nor after it. Legalism is the very opposite of the gospel. In Colossae they were succumbing to the temptation to adhere to a bunch of rules to make them more holy. It is Jesus that makes you holy. Cling to Jesus and do not cling to a set of do’s and don’ts.

5) No Room for Sinning

If you have truly been saved by God then you have been saved by a holy God. If you have been saved by Jesus Christ the Lord of all creation then you have been saved by the Holy One and transferred into His Kingdom. A life of habitual sinning is totally incompatible with such a profession. Sin should be battled. Mortified. Fought against. It should repulse you and drive you to the Cross in repentance and for forgiveness. If you are comfortable in sin then you are not living like one that has been saved. Sin should not be second nature.

6) No Room for Self-Centered Living

If you have been bought by the Lord of Creation then you are not your own. You do not get to dictate your schedule. To receive Jesus Christ the Lord is to surrender to his Lordship. It is to become a doulos; a slave of God. Your desires must not be swallowed up by his desires. If you have a desire that opposes his desire then it must be surrendered to His. There is no room for self-centered living for those that have been bought. To live like you have been saved is to live like one that is owned by another.

7) No Room for Adultery

If it is Christ alone which saves and God alone that you belong to then you ought not go after other lovers. There is no room for spiritual adultery. There is no room to have great affections for others. If your life is to match your profession then it will mean that you are passionately in love with your God and King. It will mean that your heart is not drawn for another. It will mean brokenness and repentance when you fall. And it will mean running back to your love for healing and forgiveness. There is no room to look to another for joy, security, acceptance, love. Run to Christ alone.

8) No Room for Despair

If you have been truly saved then there is no room for despair. Despair, no matter how hard things get is never an appropriate response to the amazing grace that God has bestowed upon you. I know things are tough sometimes. Things can get really tricky. But a miserable Christian is not being faithful to his profession. You ought to be joyous and never in despair. Despair is to forget the sovereignty of God and the love of Christ.

9) No Room for Complacency

How can you be complacent with such truths? If God has truly done this work in your heart then how can it be that it does not utterly consume you? How can you sit on this treasure as if it is just an every day occurrence. The church at Colossae is being called to action in this book. They are being called to set their minds on things above and stop being comfortable in this world. We cannot afford to be complacent with such eternal truths.

10) Abounding in Thanksgiving

Lastly, and this one is directly from our text. This is in the present tense (ongoing action) and in the active voice. This is not something that is done to you. This is something you do in response to what God has done. It means live a life like Matthew Henry; abounding in thanksgiving. You are so awestruck by what Christ has done that you live a life of perpetual thank you. To abound in thanksgiving is to constantly focus on the gospel. It is to be giddy with the gospel. To abound in thanksgiving is to reflect the grace that was given to you. It is to be overflowing with love towards others because of the love given to you. Abound in Thanksgiving.


This verse in Colossians is the central verse because it is the foundational problem with the Colossians and it is often the foundational problem with believers today. Our lives do not match our profession. Therefore, we urge you to respond to God in two ways tonight.

1) Maybe God has done a work in your heart and you realize that you have never received Him in faith. You need to do that tonight. You need to repent and believe what God says about you and what he says about Jesus. You need to turn away from your self-centered living and embrace God-centered living. You need to receive Christ.

2) Maybe you need to live like it. I guarantee that everyone in here needs to respond to this. Nobody fully matches their profession or what they ought to be. There is a reason those things are in the present tense. You have been rooted that is the past action that governs the present actions—but these things are not completed. Those 10 things you will struggle with. Where do you need to repent and come to Christ for forgiveness and be renewed? Where do you need to trust in the promises more? Oh, run to the Cross this night!
[1] taken from precept

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