Rather than implying that friends are a luxury, the Bible declares the opposite, as we’ll see. Friends are not a luxury but a necessity. They are not optional but vital. God, in his mercy, does not save us in isolation from other people but rather in community with other people. If we are to be all that God commands us to be, we must realize that having godly relationships with friends is vital to the whole process.
Steve Wilkins, Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality (Moscow, ID: Canon Press), 15.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above…” (Colossians 3:1)
As a piano string can take up a harmonic resonance with the string struck beside it, so when we are in union with Christ our lives begin to resonate with his holy character.
Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace (p121)
Colossians is my favorite Pauline letter, so I’m always eager to “Amen” someone affirming how great it is. Below, seasoned British pastor Dick Lucas talks about how concise and comprehensive a guide for Christian discipleship the second half of the letter is. Sharon Baptist family, this should whet our appetite to dig into chapters 3-4 over the next few Sundays!
What is satisfying about the second half of the Colossian letter is that so complete a picture of practical Christianity is given in so short a space. Here is a well-balanced description of the normal Christian life. In an ordered sequence Paul sets out five concentrated blocks of teaching, to demonstrate how the rule of Christ will shape our various relationships. Such sections of teaching material must from the earliest times have been in use for instructing young believers …
R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 1980), 133.
“The article of the forgiveness of sins is the most important, and it is of all the most comforting. To Satan it is truly the most hateful. This is the reason Paul always has on his tongue: grace, grace, grace! He does this to spite the devil.”
- Martin Luther (What Luther Says, 515)
If you are insecure and guilt-ridden because of your spiritual failures this morning,
if you are proud and self-congratulating because of your spiritual victories this morning,
(and I am constantly swinging back and forth between these two)
let B.B. Warfield preach the gospel to you:
There is nothing in us or done by us at any stage of our earthly development because of which we are acceptable to God.
We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake or we can never be accepted at all.
This is not only true of us only “when we believe,” it is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live . . . .
It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place or that take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.
Worth reading slowly and repeatedly. Are we living in light of the truth that we are justified before God solely on the basis of Christ’s work? It’s being convinced of this that will help us relax, and then make real progress in holiness:
Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives.
Many have so light and apprehension of God’s holiness and of the extent and guilt of their sin that consciously they see little need for justification, although below the surface of their lives they are deeply guilt-ridden and insecure.
Many others have a theoretical commitment to this doctrine, but in their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification, in the Augustinian manner, drawing their assurance of acceptance with God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience.
Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 1979), 101.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
To be bursting with thankfulness is a true witness of the Spirit within us. For the voice of thanksgiving speaks without ceasing of the goodness of God. It claims nothing. It sees no merit in man’s receiving but only of God’s giving. It marvels at his mercy. It is the language of joy just because it need look no longer to its own resources. It is an expression of dependence on another. It is the speech of the Psalmist and is the natural tongue of the apostles. It is also heard on the lips of the ‘weakest Christian on his knees.’
Here is a fine test of by which we may test the authentic quality of our spiritual growth. To be ‘filled with gratitude’ is to be ‘filled with the Spirit of Christ.’ The Christian rejoicing in this blessing of a thankful heart will have his eyes fixed upon the right person and the right place, Christ at God’s right hand.
R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon (Downer’s Grove: IVP, 1980), 93-94.