Sunday, September 11, 2011

Confessing Christ

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

As a congregation, we at Trinity Church have been making our way through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Here in Colossians 2 Paul begins to transition away from his opening greetings to the exhortations which he felt compelled to deliver to the Colossians. It seems that the Colossians were being tempted to move away from the message that their pastor Epaphras was preaching in favor of some new teaching that was tickling their ears.

Consequently, Paul urges them to continue in Christ even as they began in Him. Don’t be moved away from the Gospel that you originally heard: the good news that though we were dead in transgressions and sins, estranged from God because of our rebellion, God Himself took on human flesh and dwelt among us; He sent His only Son to rescue us from our sin and slavery and to restore us to fellowship with Himself; Jesus lived for us, suffered for us, died for us, was buried for us, rose again from the dead on the third day for us, ascended into heaven for us, and has sent His Spirit to give us faith, make us more holy, and assure us of our resurrection. This is the message you heard – now, Paul says, cling to it tenaciously.

Notice that Paul calls us to be faithful to the faith as it was handed down in the churches, to (in his words to Titus) hold firmly to the traditions which we have been taught. Like Jude, Paul wants us to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

This injunction which Paul gives the Colossians is one of the reasons that our churches, every Lord’s Day, recite one of the ecumenical creeds together – in a moment we will be singing a setting of the Apostles’ Creed. As these summaries of Scriptural teaching rest in our bones and become part of us through corporate confession, we are being rooted and built up in Him. For each Lord’s Day we grow in our knowledge of Him – where did He come from? He was eternally begotten of the Father before all worlds. Who is He? He is God of God, light of light, very God of very God. Is he a creature? No for he is begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. What has he done? Through Him all things were made, who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried, the third day He rose again from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

This, brothers and sisters, is the Christ we worship. The very one who is worthy of all glory, laud, and honor. The very one who created all things and to whom it is right and fitting to give glory and dominion. And it is in this One that Paul tells us to be rooted and grounded and in whom we are to grow.

And note that Paul insists that it is not enough to recite this faith, not enough to know who Jesus is and what he has done; he commands us to be abounding in the faith with thanksgiving. To abound is to overflow, to know no limits. The words we recite or sing each Lord’s Day should come from hearts that are in the full flood of thanksgiving – thanks for rocks and trees and good friends and green grass and fresh honey and butter and flashlights and honorable men and lovely women and cheese and forgiveness and resurrection.

And so, coming into His presence, let us kneel and confess that we have failed to appreciate fully His glory and to honor His name accordingly by rejoicing in the faith as we have been taught.