The Full Assurance of Understanding
1. Paul is writing to believers in Colossae. He has never met them face to face, and because he is presently under house arrest in Rome, he wasn’t able to meet them soon.
2. But he is concerned about their spiritual well being. He has heard about the Gnostic-like cult that has invaded the city and hence, writes this letter to oppose their false teachings.
3. He lets the Colossians know that he has labored and agonized in his ministry in order that believers might be perfect – mature in Christ Jesus.
4. He wants the Colossians also to be presented as mature before Christ. This is what he was working towards… acknowledging that it was really Christ working in him to bring about this goal.
5. Now in chapter two, Paul expands on the concept of being perfect or mature… and lists several evidences of maturity:
a. Encouraged hearts.
b. Lives knit together with other members of the Body of Christ.
c. Full assurance of understanding
d. Acknowledgment of the Mystery
1. The understanding to which Paul refers here is an understanding of the truth… of the Christian faith as they have been taught.
a. The Colossians had been taught many wonderful truths
b. 1:5 – they were taught about the word of the truth of the gospel. They should be able to detect a false gospel.
c. 1:6c-7 – they knew the grace of God in truth from Epaphras.
d. 1:12 – they had been taught about their rich inheritance in Christ.
e. 1:13 they were taught about deliverance from the power of darkness and of the translations into the Kingdom of His Son.
f. 1:14 – they had been taught about redemption from sin and Christ our Redeemer… and forgiveness of sins through the blood.
g. 1:15 – they learned of Christ who is the image of the invisible God.
h. 1:16 – they learned that Christ is the Creator and that all things are FOR His glory.
i. 1:17 – they learned that all things are held together by Christ.
j. 1:18 – they were taught that Christ is the Head of the Body… the firstborn of the dead… and that He is to have all preeminence. (Christ-centered theology)
k. 1:19 – in Him all fullness dwells.
l. 1:20-22 – they were taught that Christ is the Reconciler of heaven and earth… and of sinners. They learned that the cross changed everything.
m. 1:23 – they were taught of their responsibility to continue in the faith.
n. 1:26-27 – they were taught about the mystery of Christ in you.
o. This is just a sampling of what Paul taught them… not to mention all the other truths that they learned from Epaphras… and from other Bible teachers… and from hearing God’s Word.
2. Understanding: σύνεσις (soonesis) –
a. Strong’s: lit = a running together, a flowing together with; to place together; hence, the placing together of data and fact… insight.
b. It is the ability to assess things. It is the capacity to bring together various facts and concepts and to put them together in a sensible, meaningful, and proper way.
c. It is one thing to possess knowledge (facts; raw data).
d. It is quite another thing to have the capacity to put it all together in the proper order… to be able to make SENSE of it all… the ability to draw proper conclusions from that data… that’s insight… that’s s??es??.
• There are many men in the world who have insight in various fields. Their insight is quite valuable.
» Some have insight in science, medicine, technology.
» Some have insight in mechanics, carpentry, engineering.
» Some have insight in music and art.
» These folks do well in their fields, because when given data or information, they have the insight to make sense of it… and to put that knowledge to good use. Insight is always good – in any setting!
» All of this is extremely profitable in their field…
» The men at NASA have great insight and are able to take raw data… and assemble a rocket ship to the moon.
» Brilliant men using knowledge and insight together to accomplish marvelous feats!
» But it doesn’t mean they have spiritual insight… for they are sending the rocket to the moon in hopes of understanding HOW the moon got there!
3. Col. 1:9 – there is a SPIRITUAL s??es?? too.
a. Paul prayed that the Colossians would have spiritual understanding: s??es??.
• He wanted them to be able to have the insight to be able to put together all the FACTS they learned from the Bible in such a way that they would be safeguarded from the inroads of the false teachers.
• It is not enough to memorize facts ABOUT Christ or ABOUT the Bible. It takes spiritual insight to be able to put it all together in a sensible, systematic, and accurate manner.
• The Roman Catholic Church has a lot of accurate information about Christ. (Trinity; Deity of Christ; virgin birth; sacrificial death; shedding of blood; literal, bodily resurrection) For that reason, many conclude that they are saved… or are puzzled as to how to preach the gospel to them.
• But as unsaved men, they do not have the insight to put it all together in a proper manner.
• They believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin, but they do NOT believe that it was sufficient! (Hence, the perpetual sacrifice of the Mass…) They don’t believe that it was enough… hence, the need for grace from the church… and the need for good works to supplement the cross.
• That shows a LACK of spiritual insight…
• You can put “facts” together in the wrong order and it can result in ERROR! You can have all the right facts, but draw the wrong conclusion from them. (Evolutionists do this all the time! Unfortunately, this occurs in courts of law too.)
b. But a true believer can and SHOULD have spiritual understanding.
• Paul prayed that God would FILL them with it.
• II Tim. 2:7 – “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”
• We can study and acquire information about God, the Bible, the church, and spiritual things.
• But the spiritual discernment and insight (sunesis) to make sense of it all and to put it all together is from the Lord. Hence, the need for prayer… the need for the Lord.
• Spiritual understanding is not natural nor is it a part of the natural man. It is only understood by Spirit led and Spirit filled new creatures in Christ.
• To all others, spiritual understanding is foolishness. (I Cor. 2:14)
• Hence, the ability to understand spiritual things is not a mere intellectual pursuit. It is linked to the Spirit of God and Spirit filling. Hence, it is linked to our SUBMISSION to God… and has a MORAL character to it.
• Spiritual understanding is given to the surrendered, yielded heart… not to mere intellectual giants.
• Luke 2:47 – Jesus possessed sunesis at an early age. “All that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”
• These lawyers may have been better versed in the traditions of the fathers… but Jesus as a young boy had more spiritual understanding than they all.
• This kind of discernment is related to a tender heart yielded and totally surrendered to the Father’s will.
• Obtaining this kind of wisdom and spiritual understanding is related to a surrendered heart… and also to a hungry, seeking heart. (Prov. 2:2-6)
» It is GIVEN by the Lord… but not to everybody.
» But it is only given to those who SEEK it wholeheartedly… not occasionally… or halfheartedly…
» This kind of wisdom and spiritual understanding is only for believers with a SINGLE EYE…
» Spiritual understanding is not given to intellectual giants… but it is given to the hungry heart.
» Hos. 6:3 – ?Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD.”
» John 8:31-32 – Ye shall know the truth IF we continue in the Word.
» True knowledge… a deep knowledge of understanding comes from thirst… pursuing… seeking… following… continuing… walking in it.
4. False teachers attack a person’s understanding of THE faith.
a. When a believer is not well taught, and is unsure of what he believes, he is vulnerable. He is easy prey for the cults.
b. Without a deep understanding of the faith, they were like ignorant sheep about to be devoured by the wolves.
c. Paul knew that, and therefore he agonized over them THAT they might come to the full assurance of understanding! (2:2)
d. Hence, he prayed for them that they might be FILLED with all knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. (1:9)
e. If the Colossians were going to survive… if they were going to persevere… if they were going to continue in the faith and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel by the Gnostic-like cult, then they desperately needed spiritual understanding! (So do WE!)
f. In light of the fact that the world, the flesh, and the devil are all out to tear our faith to shreds… it is to our distinct advantage to have a deep spiritual understanding of truth.
g. It will keep us safe… keep us off dead end roads… enable us to SNIFF out that which is not true…
h. The way to keep safe… the way to have spiritual understanding involves a yielded, surrendered, obedient heart.
i. A rebellious, self willed heart is by nature blind… and thus vulnerable and likely to trip up and fall..
j. Possessing spiritual discernment is a MORAL issue.
Full Assurance of Understanding
1. It is necessary for the believer to come to the place of discernment and spiritual understanding.
2. But beyond the spiritual understanding, they also needed the full assurance that their understanding was true and right.
a. In other words, it’s one thing to be well taught and well versed in a theological subject.
b. It is quite another thing to have the full assurance that that teaching is correct… that it is in fact what God hath said… that it is truth.
c. An unsaved man could attend Salem Bible Church for 5 years and learn a lot about the Bible. But because he is not saved, the truth does not affect his heart. He does not have assurance that what he learned was true. He has no assurance of heart.
d. I took a course in natural geology and studied hard, learned the information, and did well on the tests… but I did not have ASSURANCE that the information they fed you was true.
e. There is a huge difference between having information in the head… and having assurance of heart that that information is true.
f. Just understanding facts… and even being able to assemble the facts in a sensible manner does not mean that that man is ASSURED of their truthfulness.
3. The Term: Full Assurance
a. Defined: full assurance, most certain confidence; complete certainty.
b. Used in Heb. 10:22 – This speaks of faith that arises from the assurance of a completely purged conscience, and an awareness of our complete acceptance in the presence of God…
• It speaks of a faith that excludes all fear of rejection or condemnation.
• It is boldness and confidence… a deep inner assurance that enables the believing sinner to draw near into the very holy of holies with God!
• The only reason a sinner is ABLE to draw near is because of the full assurance in his heart that the blood of Christ is sufficient to remove all sin.
• Our assurance is based upon the efficacy of what Christ has done and the authority of what God has said—these are the two pillars of our assurance.
• The believing sinner is able to draw near to God because his conscience is purged and his heart is at rest.
• A deep, spiritual understanding of the VALUE of the blood SETTLES it all for the believing heart.
• Full ASSURANCE enables his heart to be at rest. If he wasn’t quite sure if things were right between him and God, he would never DARE to draw near… for God is too holy!
• In the Old Testament, folks could NOT draw near into the holy of Holies. That was because the blood of Christ was not yet shed… and thus, their consciences were not yet purged… and hence, they did NOT have full assurance that their sins were dealt with in a final way.
• Full assurance is complete confidence that enables the heart to experience rest… and to enter into close communion and fellowship with Him.
4. Paul’s desire.
a. Paul wanted the Colossians to have the correct facts.
b. But he also wanted them to have spiritual understanding to be able to put it all together in a sensible way.
c. But he did not stop there. His real desire is that their hearts might experience the FULL ASSURANCE that their understanding was TRUE.
d. Paul knew that full assurance of truth brings with it POWER for living.
e. Paul wanted the Colossians to continue in the faith and not be moved away from the gospel. (1:23)
• But unless they had FULL assurance that the gospel message they heard was TRUE…they would not be willing to fight, suffer, even die for it. Would you?
• Would you persevere through torturous persecution over the doctrine of the virgin birth? The literal resurrection of Christ? If you had FULL ASSURANCE of their truthfulness a believer would!
• But would you be willing to endure through torturous persecution over whether the two witnesses in Rev. 11 are actually Elijah and Moses?
• Once a regenerated heart is convinced that something is TRUE… and he is assured of it… then that assurance will have a POWERFUL effect in his life. He will be willing to suffer and die for it.
• Paul was not interested in mere cold, intellectual orthodoxy. He was interested in the effect of truth in the heart and in the life!
• FULL ASSURANCE of understanding will transform your life… it is an integral part of FAITH.
5. All riches.
a. Paul states that this full assurance of understanding is priceless…
b. It is equal to all riches. Spiritual understanding is equal to TRUE riches…
c. Spiritual prosperity is having access to the riches of the truth… to have full assurance of it… and to be able to put it to into practice and thus experience the power of it in your life!
d. All riches refer to the full wealth of assurance which true understanding brings.
e. This is real wealth. It is available to EVERY believer.
f. There is no need for a believer to lead his or her life as a spiritual pauper… because of ignorance of God’s truth… or because of a lack of confidence or assurance of it.
g. There is no need for living in spiritual poverty when we have untold riches in Christ.
h. One of those riches is the full assurance and rest of heart and mind that comes from a deep understanding of spiritual things.
a. Eis = unto – this speaks of a DIRECTION…
• The strengthened heart and lives knit together (vs.2a) have a goal… they are working in a specific direction…
• That direction is the full assurance of understanding.
• UNTO = the end or goal of being “knit together.”
b. The apostle outlines an ORDER to this progress in this passage.
• First comes lives of believers being knit together in love with the lives of other believers.
• That knitting together results in encouraged or strengthened hearts. (The ministry of the Local Church edifies!)
• Now Paul states that there is a further design and goal in all of this. Believers are to be knit together, so that their hearts might be strengthened, SO THAT their hearts might come to the full assurance that a deep understanding of the truth brings.
• UNTO indicates that this full assurance is the goal of encouraged hearts and intertwined lives in the Body.
• The spiritual ministry that takes place in the Body of Christ wherein lives are knit together with others RESULTS in strong hearts… and hearts of full assurance!
• Those hearts are thus not only strengthened, but confident in the truth… assured and resting in the truth… that is a place of great spiritual power…
• The divine purpose of our being compacted together in the Body and thus being strengthened and encouraged in our hearts is SO THAT we might have the full assurance of understanding.
» This is a DEEP heart-understanding.
» It is not just intellectual. It is not merely that we KNOW truths about Christ.
» As our lives are compacted together with others in the Body… knit together in love… we are actually EXPERIENCING truth about Christ… and His love for us… His holiness… His compassion… His righteousness…
» I John 3:14 – assurance comes from experiencing brotherly love… as we are knit together…
» The indwelling LIFE of Christ is seen and experienced through yielded members of the Body… as they exhort us… encourage us… rebuke us… teach us… admonish us…
» It is CHRIST working in them to minister to you!
» This results in FULL ASSURANCE of the reality of what we believe… when we (1) understand it fully… [intellectually] and (2) live it and experience it! [experientially]
» Together it results in a FULL assurance that our understanding is TRUE.
» We know it… and we have experienced it. We know it and we have PROVED it… proving what is acceptable unto the Lord… proving the perfect will of God… we know it and we are LIVING it… we know it and we PRACTICE it…
» An engineer is pretty sure that his bridge will hold up under the pressure of heavy traffic. All the numbers crunched out fine on paper. But he holds his breath until it is PROVEN… by putting it into practice and allowing trucks to drive over it… when it is proven… practiced… experienced… THEN he has FULL ASSURANCE… and his heart is at rest.
» A believer not only KNOWS the truth, but he is to experience spiritual truth by living it.
· Only when truth is LIVED and experienced in real life can we say that it is truly understood.
· Once it is experienced and lived out in daily life… we know it experientially. And that kind of experiential knowledge leads to a FULL assurance of salvation.
» It is in the Body of Christ… as we are fitly compacted and framed together… knit together… that the LIFE of Christ operates in our midst… and the indwelling life of Christ is EXPERIENCED as members of the Body minister to us.
· We may KNOW intellectually that Christ loves us… but knowledge turns into full assurance when we experience it… such as when a member of the Body does something as simple as offering a glass of water in Christ’s name!
· We may have read and thus possess intellectual knowledge that tells us that nothing is too hard for the Lord. But when a band of believers knit together in love pull together and sacrifice two years worth of Saturdays to put up a beautiful building like this—we have experienced this truth. That knowledge turned into full assurance.
· We may know intellectually that God is the God of all comfort. But when we have experienced His comfort through a yielded member of the Body who demonstrates the compassion of Christ in word and deed… THEN we have full assurance of that truth.
· I Thess. 1:5 – the Thessalonians heard the gospel message and understood it intellectually. However, the message was not merely preached intellectually. It was LIVED before them! They heard the words… and also witnessed the power of it in the lives of the apostles… and this gave them full assurance (same term) of their understanding of the message.
7. Failure to come to the full assurance of understanding indicates a MORAL failure… not an intellectual failure.
a. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Illumination is the result of being focused on and submitted to ONE MASTER, Christ. This is a moral issue…
b. This passage indicates that the PREREQUISITE to full assurance of understanding is being willing to be KNIT together and to have your life intertwined with those of other believers in the Local Church.
c. The believer who refuses to participate in what God is doing in this dispensation by NOT getting involved in the Local Church is outside of God’s will… and thus will be UNABLE to fully grasp spiritual things.
d. He may have the correct facts in his head, but he will not have FULL knowledge or FULL assurance until it is experienced and lived out in his life. Christianity is LIFE… not just orthodoxy.
e. Sometimes a believer lacks assurance of salvation out of a lack of knowledge. He lacks information from the Scriptures to settle his uneasy heart.
f. But more often than not, the believer lacks assurance not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of APPLYING the knowledge that he already has… a refusal to LIVE the truth.
g. The believer who refuses to be knit together in love with the other members of the Body will NOT experienced an encouraged heart… NOR will he obtain true spiritual understanding… NOR will he obtain FULL assurance of heart.
h. And this is NOT an intellectual problem. It is a HEART problem.
i. An unwilling and unyielded heart, is by nature a BLIND heart.
j. John 7:17 – in order to KNOW and be fully assured of the truth of doctrine… one must be WILLING to do God’s will…
• if we are unwilling to surrender to God’s will (whatever it may be)… unwilling to OBEY His word… unwilling to participate in His program… God will be unwilling to show it to us. And why should He?
• Ps. 25:9 – “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” (Cf. vs. 12)
• Meekness is a prerequisite for bring LED of the Lord or TAUGHT by God.
• If our heart is not meek… not submissive… not surrendered, then we will NEVER be taught of God… and will never have spiritual understanding… and thus, we will never have the full assurance that spiritual understanding brings.
k. Failure to come to a full assurance of understanding indicates a MORAL failure.
l. If that is the case in your life, it is because your heart has not been encouraged, strengthened, and edified. And the reason for that is because you have not allowed your life to become knit together closely to the other members of the Local Church around the things of Christ.
m. Rather than sitting around licking your wounds… or pointing the finger elsewhere, ADMIT that your lack of progress spiritually is a MORAL failure…
n. The solution? REPENT and get back to where you ought to be: fully involved in the Local Church… fitly joined together with other believers… where you can benefit from being exhorted daily… provoked to love and good works… hearing God’s Word… and challenged, and encouraged to be faithful.
o. Of course, it takes TIME to progress toward maturity… and to be strengthened and knit together.
• No one expects a new born babe in Christ to have progressed to great levels of maturity after having been saved only a short time. Immaturity is expected and normal for newborns.
• But if we have been saved for quite some time now, and we STILL have not progressed towards maturity, then at some point it becomes a MORAL failure… sin.
• Like the Hebrew believers who became DULL of hearing… and began to regress spiritually… it was a moral failure.
• The cure? Let us go on to perfection… Perhaps it is time to grow up in Christ… become a man… mature.
• God’s method for maturity in this age is by being fully engaged in His program for this age: the Local Church.
• The purpose of the ministry in the Local Church is the “perfecting of the saints… and the edifying of the Body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13)… till we all come to a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
• Don’t miss out on God’s plan for YOUR perfection!
• Don’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together!
• Don’t try to make it as a Christian on your own.
• God says you need the Body… and the Body needs you.
• When we allow ourselves to be knit together in the Body in love… our hearts will be strengthened… we will come to a deep understanding of the truth… and we will experience the FULL ASSURANCE and rest of mind and heart that truth was intended to bring.
• This is truly part of our true riches in Christ. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.