“Treasures in Christ”
Series: The All-Satisfying Christ (Colossians)
Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson
I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the passage that was read for us earlier in Colossians, chapter 2.
The key phrase in this passage reminded me of something my mother did for me once when I was a child. It was on Valentine’s Day that she had given me a card and when I opened the card and read what it said, at the bottom it said something like, “Now, go to broom closet and locate your treasure.” She knew I liked treasure hunts. I used to make little treasure maps and I had a little metal coin bank that was in the shape of a treasure chest. So I read this note, “Go look in the broom closet.”
And so I went to the closet and opened the door. And there inside the closet was another note posted there in plain view that read, “Nope, not here. Look under your bed.” And so I went into my bedroom and looked under my bed and there was a little index card that read, “Nope, not here. Look under the kitchen sink.” So I ran into the kitchen and opened the cabinet doors under the sink and saw a piece of paper that read, “Nope, not here. Look in the linen closet.” So off I ran to the linen closet and there was yet another note: “Nope, not here.” This happened at least a half-dozen times until finally I located the large, red, heart-shaped box full of all kinds of chocolate. It truly was a memorable experience!
And I thought of that little hunting expedition as I read the phrase in verse 3 where Paul says that in Christ, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” If one were to go searching for the treasure of ultimate wisdom and knowledge, he would find in Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Paul’s writing this way is intentional because he writes this letter mainly to address the false teachings that were going on in the church at Colosse. There were teachers who had infiltrated the church there and they were influenced by secular Greek philosophy that was becoming popular in that day. And much of this Greek thinking centered upon the notion of mystery and secret, hidden knowledge.
These false teachers suggested to the Christians in Colosse that it was one thing to have Christ, but if one really wanted to grow in Christ and really wanted to experience profound spiritual blessings, then there was something that needed to be added to Christ, something to supplement their faith. Their teaching was, in essence: “You have Christ. Good. Now, listen to our secret teachings and you will have so much more.”
Paul counters that false teaching with the truth that every Christian has all that he or she needs in Christ Jesus. And in writing this letter, Paul uses some of the false teachers same words in refuting their teachings. That’s why he writes of Christ as the “mystery.” You’ll recall that from last time, verse 27 of chapter 1, “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” And the point is, “There is no secret knowledge a Christian needs and there is no hidden mystery the Christian must solve. Christ is preeminent One, the source and substance of all knowledge.
And so Paul says in today’s passage that it is in Christ that one will find, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
So it’s helpful to remember that this is the very reason Paul writes this letter to the Colossians. And it is helpful to us that we should read it the same way. Because what Paul writes to the Colossians, Colossian Christians 2,000 years ago is as applicable to the Kentuckians, Kentuckian Christians 2,000 years later.
In essence, Paul says, “Know what you have, know what you believe, and know how to live. What you have, what you believe, how you live. Number one:
I. Know What You Have in Christ (1-3)
What do you have in Christ? What does every Christian possess? Riches in Christ, all the glorious riches of Christ. Paul says in verse 3 that in Christ, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In a word: everything. You have everything in Christ.
In fact, in Paul’s sister letter, the letter to the Ephesians, a letter that contains much of the same teachings as the letter to the Colossians, Paul puts it this way: he writes of the “unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8),” which is to say, “There is no end to the storehouse of blessings and treasures in Christ. They are endless; they are boundless.”
And you really see the heart of the apostle as he is at pains to teach this completeness of the believer in Christ. He says in verse 1:
1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
Or, “have not seen me face to face.” But note the word, “conflict” there in verse 1. It’s the same word from last week that was translated “striving” in the previous verse, verse 29 of chapter 1. It’s the word from which we get our English, “agony,” to agonize.
Paul says, “Man, I am in agony for you all as I write to you guys! I”m really wanting you to know that you have everything you need in Christ.” He may as well have said, “You know, when Epaphras shared with me about the church there, about what was going on, and about how some of these teachers got into the congregation over there and began teaching that you needed to add things to your belief in Christ, may heart broke for you.”
So Paul is like, “I just want to encourage you so nobody deceives you,” verse 4. You see that down there in verse 4? Paul says, “Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.”
Paul is agonizing over the Christians. He’s saying, “I just want to encourage you to know what you have in Christ.” He’s wanting to encourage all the folks in Colosse, including all Christians he had never even met, “as many as have not seen my face,” he writes. So verse 2, he is writing, verse 2:
2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,
That last phrase, “the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ” is best translated, “the knowledge of the mystery of God, which is Christ Himself.” That’s how most of the modern translations have it and we know already from last week in verse 27 that Christ Himself is the mystery. Remember from verse 27 last week, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are in Him—the blessing of our position; He is in us—the blessing of His presence.
The profound revelation of God to the believer is “Christ in you,” a personal knowledge of God, and a personal relationship with God, that comes by grace, through faith, in Christ.
So Paul writes to encourage the Colossians, specifically “that their hearts may be encouraged,” verse 2, that their hearts may be encouraged and, I love this next phrase in verse 2, “being knit together in love,” a congregation “knit together in love.”
You might imagine yourself an individual strand of fabric. And the person to your left is another strand of fabric and the person to your right and all across the room, each of us a single strand of yarn or some fabric, a bunch of individual strands. And Paul seeks to weave us all together, in unity. He seeks to weave all these strands together into a beautiful quilt with fantastic color, order, and symmetry. What can knit us all together as one beautiful quilt? It is, verse 2, “love,” being, “knit together in love.” Love is what keeps the quilt together.
Love is what keeps a congregation together. Love, love will keep us together, as Neil Sedaka wrote in the 70s. Some of you are old enough to remember that! Remember Captain & Tennille? “Love will keep us together!”
Well, look: this is what concerns Paul. He doesn’t like the fact that some false teachers have worked to not keep the congregation together. Their false teachings had fractioned the church, divided the church. Paul is saying, “There’s not like one select group of folks there in the church who have some sort of “hidden knowledge.” He says every person who has Christ, has everything. In Christ, verse 3:
3 in [Him] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
One scholar (Herbert Carson) describes it this way: “[hidden] not in the sense of being utterly beyond our reach, but rather as treasures in a mine which has already been opened, and from which by diligent search a constant supply of precious stones may be extracted.”
Know what you have. You have in Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” And it’s this knowing what you have that propels you forward in joy and thanksgiving.
Paul describes the ultimate consequence of our knowing what we have at the end of verse 7 where he says it causes the Christian to “abound in thanksgiving.” When we know what we have in Christ it just causes our hearts to overflow in gratitude and thanksgiving, and causes us to bless others with the love we ourselves have received.
Speaking of blessing others with the love we ourselves have received, many churches like ours will be participating this week in Operation Christmas Child.
We’ll be doing this Wednesday. It’s, “the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child.” We prepare “gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world.”
Did you know that, “since it began over 20 years ago, Operation Christmas Child, has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled [boxes] to children in more than 150 countries and territories? This year Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 11 million children.”
So Wednesday, we’ll be packing little boxes full of toys and hygiene items. And Operation Christmas Child volunteers ensure that each child has access to the Gospel message.
We’ve got a little video clip of many of our church folks who came out last year for this fantastic ministry. Check it out:
[VIDEO CLIP; 2 minutes]
“Shoebox gifts are collected in the United States, Australia, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, and the United Kingdom.”
“This week Samaritan’s Purse will collect the gift-filled shoeboxes at more than 4,000 drop-off sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico and then deliver them to some 150 countries and territories.”
Amen! That’s the kind of thing you find yourself doing when you know what you have in Christ. Well, let’s return to our study and discover the second action Paul gives to us. Number one was, “Know what you have,” number two is:
II. Know What You Believe about Christ (4-5)
Paul reminds the Christians what they have in Christ so that they would not be deceived by false teachers who would suggest to them that they don’t have everything they need. Paul says in verse 4:
4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
Paul does not want the Colossian Christians—or the Kentuckian Christians—to be deceived by false teaching. Let me give you a definition of being deceived. To be deceived is, “to be led to believe something as true that is not true.”
More than one of us could probably share a story about our being deceived by a slick salesman, our purchasing some such item or other. But the real concern here is to be deceived to believe as true something about the Lord that isn’t true, like the way Satan in Genesis 3 tempted Eve to believe something about the Lord that wasn’t true.
To be deceived is, “to be led to believe something as true that is not true.” Do you know how you can best guard against believing something that is not true? By knowing, really knowing, what is true! Know what you believe. Know the Bible. Paul adds in verse 5:
5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
Paul says, “Though I can’t be with you physically, I am with you spiritually.” And he adds, “I rejoice to see your good order and,” and I like this phrase at the end of verse 5, “and the steadfastness of your faith.”
The word “steadfastness” is better translated, “firmness,” the firmness of your faith. It’s the same word used by Luke as a verb where he describes the strengthening of the paralytic’s leg outside the temple gate (Acts 3:7).
Paul celebrates the strengthening of their faith, the “firmness” of their faith. How does our faith become firm? By knowing what we believe. By the teaching of sound doctrine, correct theology. Remember that right theology is absolutely critical to our lives. Right thinking leads to right living.
And this takes us to the final action, number three:
III. Know How You Live for Christ (6-7)
Look at verse 6:
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
The majority of the translations have verse 6 as, “Live in Him,” or, “Go on living in Him.” That’s because this word “walk” is a popular biblical metaphor for living. Your Christian “walk” is the way you live your faith.
This is at least as old as Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”
Know how you live in Christ. You have received Him as “Lord,” verse 6. Remember “Lord” means “Number One.” He is more important to the Christian than our spouse, our girlfriend, our boyfriend, our jobs, our sports, our money, our stuff. He is Lord. So, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” So live in Him.
Paul continues in verse 7:
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
I love that last phrase! “Abounding in it with thanksgiving;” abounding, or “overflowing” in the faith with thanksgiving.
Speaking of abounding in thanksgiving. I’d like to say thank you to you, for your abundant giving.
Our church family was honored last week at the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting. We were honored for significant giving to the Cooperative Program, which is the missional arm of our convention. The Cooperative Program is the means by which every participating Southern Baptist Church gives in order to support missionaries worldwide, as well as the missional causes of Southern Baptists in every are of our denomination.
Our church was recognized last Tuesday at the meeting in Elizabethtown (see trophy) for giving a total of $5 Million Dollars over the lifetime of our church. We rank I believe 5th in the Commonwealth, 5th of some 2,400 churches in Kentucky. Praise the Lord.
So we want to continue to be a church, verse 7, “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” Rooted and built up in the faith so as not to be easily uprooted or broken down.
When I was in college I worked for a landscaping company in the growing Atlanta area. There’s no telling how many begonias I planted or how many mums or pansies. Those pansies, in particular, were so feeble and frail. You’d plant those little annuals in a flower bed and all it took was one rain, or one strong gust of wind, or one clumsy foot to knock those little things over on their side. And you’d pick them back up and try to plant them again. There’s hardly any root system to those things, just like a few tiny strings.
Contrast that with the root system of the box hollies someone planted in our front yard 40 years ago. I’ve tried to kill one of those hollies. I took a pickax to it and struck it over and over again, chopping up it’s hard roots into small pieces and covering it all up with dirt and then, the following spring, here came those tiny little holly leaves growing up out of the soil. A box holly is not easily uprooted!
Paul says, “Know how to live for Christ.” Don’t be a fragile, teeny tiny pansy of a Christian. No root system, to speak of. No biblical knowledge, really. Just a small, infantile grasp of the first teachings of the Christian faith. Don’t be like that. If you are a Christian, you begin like that, but you don’t remain like that.
Get in the Word. Know what you have, and what you believe, and then you’ll know how to live. You’ll be a hardy, sturdy, unmovable, box holly that cannot be easily uprooted. When someone tries to sell you on some sort of false teaching, you’ll recognize it right away as error. And you will remain firm in the faith.
And when the winds blow and the storms of life come your way, and the difficulties and dangers of living in a fallen world strike at you as pickax to the wood of a hardy shrub, you will not be defeated. You will remain firm in Christ.
Right thinking leads to right living.
The entire Bible is God’s revealing of Himself. That’s why we refer to the Bible as His revelation. The Book of Revelation, of course, is God’s revealing of His plans for the future, but the entire Bible is God’s revelation, God’s revealing Himself, His making Himself known to us. This Bible is God’s, message, His “love note” to humankind.
God’s written Word contains all the information we need to know His incarnate Word, Christ Jesus, the ultimate revelation of God Himself.
And unlike the little notes my mother had left for me years ago, those little notes that read, “Nope, not here” and “Nope, not here,” God says, “Here He is. Here is Christ, in whom you will find, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Here He is.
God wants you to know Him. God wants you to have Him. Receive Him today.
•Stand for prayer.
COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.