Stablished in the faith
1. Paul mentioned the Christian walk in vs. 6.
2. He then lists four participles that describe this walk in one way or another.
3. We looked at two of those participles last week: rooted and built up.
4. This week we want to look at the last two: established and abounding.
STABLISHED IN THE FAITH
a. Strong’s: to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure.
b. Dictionary of Bible Languages: to cause to believe; to establish belief; to verify; to cause something to be known as certain.
c. II Pet. 1:10 – “make your calling and election sure.”
• They were already called and were elected before the foundation of the earth.
• Nothing a man can do today can change what God did before creation!
• By adding virtue to our lives, we do not make our ELECTION sure. Rather, WE become ASSURED of it!
• Our behavior can add nothing to our calling or our election. But, our behavior can make us personally certain that we are one of God’s elect.
• Our behavior doesn’t MAKE us one of the elect. But it does make us sure that we are one of the elect.
• By adding virtue to our lives, we CONFIRM in our own personal mind and heart that we are one of God’s elect!
• It brings assurance and certainty to our hearts. That is the meaning of the word “stablish.”
d. Mark 16:20 – “confirming the word with signs following.”
• The signs performed by the apostles did not MAKE the word they preached true. Rather, they confirmed the fact that it WAS true.
• It made it certain in the minds of those who observed. It was proof… evidence that validated the word spoken.
• Cf. Heb.2:3-4 – miracles confirmed the word spoken by the Lord. It did not make His word true… but they removed doubt… and brought assurance to onlookers… it confirmed the truthfulness in their minds and hearts.
e. Stablished in the faith = as the Colossians walked with God, and “lived by the faith of the Son of God”… as they experienced the glory of the mystery (Christ in you—His power, grace, strength, love, holiness, etc…) they would become more and more assured of the truthfulness of the teaching they had received!
• The FRUIT that was produced in them was evidence and further confirmation to them that the message they heard was true… accurate… real… it worked…
• This concept is similar to what Paul wrote in vs. 2 – “the full assurance of understanding.”
• Paul wanted the Colossian believers to be fully assured… fully persuaded… entirely convinced that their understanding of the Christian faith and the Christian life was correct.
2. Present Passive Participle:
a. Passive: the action is not performed BY the subject (ye) but is performed by an outside source and the subject is the recipient of the action.
b. This is the third passive participle describing the walk. (rooted and built up)
c. The Colossians were BEING established in the faith.
d. It is the Lord who establishes believers in the faith.
• Rom. 16:25 – Paul breaks out into prayer.
» He notes that it is GOD alone who has the power to establish us… (same word)
» God establishes/confirms/assures us according to (1) the gospel; (2 ) preaching about Christ; and (3) the revelation of the mystery.
» The believer is strengthened and his faith is confirmed as God illuminates our minds on these three important aspects of truth.
» Establishing the believer in the faith is God’s work in us. (passive participle)
• I Pet. 5:10 – It is the God of all grace who establishes us! Not we ourselves.
e. God establishes us in the faith (confirms our faith) by demonstrating His LIFE through us.
• This would be an experiential confirmation of the truth.
• As we LIVE the Christian life… as we walk in Him… we experience Christ IN our lives…
• As we walk, the fruit of His character is manifested through us (1:10); His power operates in us… (1:11);
• This assures our hearts that our faith is real… that our understanding of the Christian life is true.
• 2:2 – as our hearts are comforted and knit together in love… that is UNTO the full assurance.
• Christian experience results in assurance… confirmation of what we have believed… our faith is established.
• We become surer than ever of our salvation and of THE faith once delivered unto the saints… that it is real, true, living, and we are certain of it.
f. God establishes us in the faith (confirms our faith) by illuminating our minds concerning the Scriptures.
• This would be an intellectual confirmation… or persuasion… or convincing of the mind.
• God convinces our minds and hearts as we read His Word.
• Ex: perhaps you have been taught about the doctrine of eternal security and you believe it.
• Yet, God continues to teach you this truth… and as you read the Scriptures you SEE it in this verse… and in that verse…
• That is the work of the Holy Spirit illuminating your mind and opening your eyes to SEE this truth from different angles… from different passages… in a new light… a deeper understanding and appreciation for the doctrine.
• The more light the Holy Spirit sheds on the subject, the more CONFIRMED you are in that portion of THE Faith.
• The illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit does not make the doctrine any truer than it already is… but it does bring more assurance and confirmation of its truth to your heart personally.
• Whereas as a new believer, perhaps you were taught this truth… but were a bit unsure… you wavered a little… you saw other Bible verses that caused you to doubt… and perhaps you could have been led astray because you were not assured.
• That’s why we need to have the “full assurance of understanding…” That’s why we need to be “stablished in the faith” SO THAT we will not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
• That’s also why it is not a waste of time to hear truth repeated… over and over.
• Sometimes believers sit through a sermon on the theme of “justification” or “eternal security” or “the rapture”… and say to themselves, “I heard this all before. Nothing new. Ho hum. I’m not really getting anything out of this sermon… I think I’ve outgrown this church… or this preacher.”
• Those are the words of an immature believer.
• It is ALWAYS valuable to have truth driven into our minds and hearts DEEPER…
• We might liken this to driving a nail home or giving that bolt one final twist with the wrench. The result of driving the nail home or one final twist of the wrench is that what we are making is STRONGER… more solid… more stable… less likely to fall apart.
• That is just what God is doing in our lives as we read His Word. He establishes our faith…confirms it to our hearts… gives us assurance… and that makes us STRONGER spiritually… more stable… less likely to fall apart!
• Sometimes we read our Bibles in devotion time and at the end think to ourselves, “I didn’t learn anything new today.” Who says you need to learn something NEW every day we read? Perhaps God wanted to drive OLD truth deeper into our thick skull! That is a very worthwhile proposition!
3. Present: this speaks of continuous action.
a. As we walk in Christ (ordinary events of life), we are being established… confirmed in the faith.
b. Walking is confirming!
c. We are commanded to continually walk (present) in Christ… walking in Christ means abiding in Him moment by moment.
d. This walk is also called walking in the Spirit… walking by faith.
e. And as we do, we are continually being built up and continually being established in the faith.
f. The Colossians received the truth. There ought be a growing conviction of the truth they received.
g. As life goes on as a believer, we should be becoming more and more confirmed in our faith… our convictions on God’s Word should become stronger and stronger.
• Not necessarily personal convictions that are based on application—personal convictions can even change over the years… as we grow and learn and mature in Christ.
• But convictions concerning THE faith… doctrine… truth—they never change. They just grow stronger and deeper and more settled… confirmed… until our hearts experience all the riches of the full assurance of understanding…
B. In the Faith
1. THE Faith = objectively: the body of Christian doctrine; the truth; the faith once delivered to the saints; the CONTENT of our beliefs;
a. The faith is not personal trust in God… but the foundation upon which our personal faith rests.
b. Some commentators have interpreted “the faith” to refer to personal faith and confidence in God here… in the subjective sense.
c. However, there are good reasons to understand it in the objective sense.
• The definite article appears before faith
• If the next phrase is connected to the faith it would indicate objective truth: as ye have been taught.
• Thirdly, the issue at hand was false teachers who had infiltrated the region. (Cf. vs.8)
2. It is vital that we are established in the faith…
a. If we are UNSURE of where we stand doctrinally, we are easy prey for the adversary.
b. If our assurance of doctrine is based upon the church constitution, or a denominational creed, or what the pastor said, or what you heard in Sunday school, you are easy prey for the devil!
c. You’ve all heard the song, “My hope is built on nothing less than Scofield notes and Moody Press!”
d. We need to be established in THE FAITH… our certainty and assurance of mind and heart are to come from God’s inspired Word… and nothing else.
e. The faith (doctrine) is the SPHERE in which we are to be established.
f. The more we study and learn Bible doctrine, the more assured, confirmed, and established we become.
3. Today there has been a growing trend AWAY from doctrinal teaching and towards relational teaching.
a. Throughout church history, teaching has been designed to get truth SETTLED in our minds concerning the great doctrines of the faith (justification; reconciliation; imputation; substitution; redemption; the Deity of Christ; dispensationalism; prophecy; etc…)
b. Today the trend is AWAY from doctrine (which divides) and toward SELF-HELP teachings. (anger management; emotional therapy; financial seminars; how to get a lot done in a little time; dealing with difficult people; grief therapy; conquering worry; dealing with stress; how to be happy, successful, how to lose weight God’s way;
c. It is a SHIFT from God-centered theology to MAN-centered theology.
d. It is a SHIFT away from theology to psychology.
e. It is a SHIFT in the purpose of life… from living life in a hostile world with all of its trials for the glory of God… TO living life to the fullest… finding fulfillment… (from glorifying God to helping ME… from viewing our lives as living sacrifices, to seeking to make life comfortable for me, myself, and mine).
f. This is a dangerous shift too, for when the contrary winds and the devouring wolves begin howling against us, it is far more important to be confirmed in the faith, to be spiritually established, settled, unmovable on a solid foundation, and our souls anchored to the Rock within the heavenly veil, than it is to be happy and fulfilled in our earthly circumstances… because those earthly circumstances could change in a moment.
g. The “how to” seminars and self help teachings that are so popular today are helpful in an earthly sense… and profitable on that level.
h. But the SHIFT away from doctrine TOWARD that teaching is extremely unhealthy for the churches in our day.
i. Think of those subjects we just mentioned. They are subjects that could be taught equally well in a Bible church, a Roman church, a Mormon church, a Muslim mosque, a Hindu Temple, or a psychology clinic. (And many of those seminars and new teachings lean heavily on psychology rather than theology.)
j. Those subjects are very human and earthly (and thus popular among men on earth) but there is nothing necessarily CHRISTIAN about them!
k. But the Rapture, justification by faith alone, eternal security based on the blood of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom, and the Deity of Christ are DISTINCTLY Christian.
l. Kids like candy, but wise parents know that the bulk of their food intake ought to come from GOOD food.
• In the same way, immature believers want teaching to revolve around how to make life on earth easier and more comfortable.
• Wise church leaders know that while there is a place for that on occasion, (such subjects do occur in the Bible when studied verse by verse)…
• But what the sheep really need is DOCTRINE… a healthy, steady, consistent, faithful diet of doctrine…
• And just like kids would rather live on French fries, ice cream, and Coke, what they really NEED a healthy diet of meat and potatoes… and broccoli… even if it isn’t too appealing to their immature taste buds.
• Jesus said, FEED my sheep. He meant good, healthy food that would strengthen their SPIRITUAL lives… not merely the earthly.
AS YE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT
1. They were taught the Christian faith.
2. TAUGHT: aorist – in the past they had been taught.
a. Paul knew that these believers had been taught—and WELL taught!
b. Col. 1:7 – Epaphras taught them the Word of God… and they LEARNED from him!
• Learned – manthanw = to teach; the verb form of disciple…
• Epaphras enrolled many people in his discipleship class and he began to teach them the word of the truth of the gospel.
• Just as when the Lord took in disciples, some received it superficially and later departed… and perhaps were persuaded by the false teachers.
• Others were taught and took root in good soil… they were rooted in Christ and were saved! They became disciples indeed!
• They produced fruit… and much fruit!
• These were the members of the church in Colossae.
• While they were rooted and were being built up in Christ, there was still a danger that they too could be lured away.
3. The Gnostic like teachers were encouraging the Colossians to discard the teachings about Christ they originally heard for more “mature” truth… more enlightened teaching…
a. Paul told them to hold on to the truth about Christ they had learned from Epaphras.
b. When we grow as believers, we are not to discard the truths we learned as new believers. We BUILD upon those teachings.
c. Truth doesn’t change. It never needs to be replaced… unlike books of science falsely so called which need to be “revised” every few years to fit the latest fad in the scientific community…
d. Our very first lessons about God—even if we were brought up in the church nursery are FOUNDATIONAL… never to be replaced with something new and improved!
e. Truth cannot be improved. It can be taught at deeper levels and studied from different angles… but never changed or improved!
f. As believers, we never OUTGROW the simplicity that is in Christ. (II Cor. 11:3 – lest your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
g. From the first century until today, this has been the devil’s approach: claiming to have outgrown the simple Christian faith… for something more cosmopolitan… more enlightened…
h. They claim to have outgrown the archaic Christian doctrines, such as the existence of Hell, the exclusive claims of Christ, incarnation, a literal resurrection… and have replaced them with concepts more respectable in academic circles…
i. This is one of the dangers on campuses of universities around the country: in settings where broadmindedness is virtually gloried in, Biblical Christianity is hated, scoffed at, denigrated… broadmindedness extends to every sphere except the Biblical Christian faith.
j. And even worse, Christian young people there are subjected to the subtle smirk! (Oh, you’re one of them? Poor child. You’ll grow out of it.)
k. A young person needs to be STRONG… rooted, built up, and established in his faith BEFORE he heads off to face all that! That’s our job as parents.
l. Some pastoral advice parents: Don’t send your kids off to a university to face all that unless you know there is a good church nearby! Four years of condescending smirks with no fellowship has proven to be too much to bear for many a young person… especially if they were not firmly established in the faith before they go.
m. There was the constant pressure from the false teachers to convince the Colossian believers to abandon their “simple truths” about Christ for their more enlightened approach.
n. We face the very same kind of pressure today—especially our young people!
4. That’s why the emphasis in the New Testament is on doctrine and TEACHING the Word!
a. I Tim. 1:3-4 – charge some that they teach no other doctrine,? 4?Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying.
b. I Tim. 4:1 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;? ?Speaking lies in hypocrisy.
c. I Tim. 4:6 – nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
d. I Tim. 4:13 – Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
e. I Tim. 4:16 – Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them.
f. I Tim. 5:17 – Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
g. II Tim. 3:10 – But thou hast fully known my doctrine.
h. II Tim. 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine.
i. II Tim.4:2-3 – Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.? 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.
5. For the believer, the learning process is never over.
a. We are students of God’s Word till the Lord comes. No believer can ever say that he knows enough about Christ and Christian truth.
b. Paul writes to them to let them know how important teaching of doctrine is in the Christian life!
c. It is not enough to have a superficial knowledge of the truth. We are to be ESTABLISHED in the faith… firm, settled, rooted.
d. Just because we are rooted in Christ, that doesn’t mean that those roots are as deep and firm as they can be! Those roots can always dig deeper…
e. And deep, strong roots result in a tree that will stand FIRM against the storms of life… and will continue to bear fruit.
f. Paul’s goal in life was to learn MORE about the Lord: that I may know Him! More about Jesus would I know… more of His lovingkindness show!
ABOUNDING THEREIN WITH THANKSGIVING
1. Remember that Paul has been explaining HOW TO WALK since vs. 6.
a. He uses 4 participles in his explanation. (Rooted; built up; established… and now abounding.)
b. The Christian walk… the Christian LIFE ought to be characterized by thanksgiving…
c. A thankful spirit is a sign of progress in the Christian walk… a sign of maturity… advancement towards Christlikeness.
d. Being thankful is the final description of the Christian walk and is evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit. (Eph.5:18-20).
e. Walking in Christ, being established in the faith, and growing in the knowledge of Christ will ALWAYS result in thanksgiving to God!
f. How can we think of our heavenly position in Christ and our union with Him in his resurrection and NOT be thankful?
g. How can we think of His indwelling presence and not be thankful?
h. A proper understanding of truth in Christ will always result in joy and thanksgiving… regardless of our earthly circumstances. No wonder we are told to set your affection on things above!
2. Abounding: present ACTIVE participle.
a. Present tense indicates that abounding in thanksgiving ought to be the continual attitude maintained as we walk.
b. Out of the four participles describing the walk, this is the only one in the active voice… all the others are passive (God’s work in us).
c. This one is active – our responsibility. WE are to actively perform the action of ABOUNDING in thanksgiving.
d. Believers who are consistently thankful for TRUTH are rarely lured away by false teachers.
• The false teachers are much more likely to attract that believer who instead of being joyous and thankful has a chip on his shoulder! (Or maybe the Rock of Gibraltar!)
• They are more likely to devour a believer who has an unforgiving spirit… or is harboring sin in his heart.
• But the believer who is filled with the Spirit… thankful for all he has in Christ and rejoicing in the Lord isn’t going to be lured away. (He has Christ; he has everything!)
3. ACTIVE participle: God does not abound in thanksgiving FOR us. But He does give us CAUSE for abounding in thanksgiving!
a. The believer should be eternally thankful for the finished work of Christ on the cross!
b. We should be thankful for His heavenly High Priestly ministry for us.
c. We should be thankful for teaching on the importance of the Body of Christ… and the Headship of Christ.
d. We should be thankful for the teaching of the preeminence of Christ… knowing who He is…
e. The believer ought to be thankful that Christ lives in us… the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)
f. The one who is thankful for our position in Christ and all he has in Christ will not be looking elsewhere to have his spiritual needs met…
g. We should be thankful for the TEACHING we have received from God’s Word… for truth… for light… for discernment… for the knowledge of Christ…
• I am thankful to God for the teaching I received early on in my Christian walk.
• Testimony: within one month I went from a cult, to a Roman Catholic Church, to a dead Protestant church… to a sound, fundamental Bible believing Church…
• I knew nothing about doctrine at first, but I recognized light when I saw it. I stayed in the Bible believing church and was grounded in the truth!
• Once we find the truth, our searching for truth is over (out in the world). Now we search for truth in God’s Word… seeking to be established in the faith.
• The plant rooted in good rich soil won’t be interested in being relocated to other soil. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
• The believer rooted in Christ will be thankful for the nutrient rich soil into which he has been planted.
• He will be thankful because he finds in Christ all he needs… and he finds there safety and security…
• The believer who is not continually being built up and established in the faith will be easy prey for the wolves… but the one who is rooted, growing, and stablished in the faith is SAFE indeed.
• One man summarized the passage this way: “A grounded, growing, grateful believer will not be led astray.”