Christ the Foundation

Rev. David Bast Uncategorized

READ : Colossians 2:5-6

Christians accept Jesus Christ as their Lord; in fact, that’s really a definition of what it means to be a Christian. But what does it really mean to “accept Christ”?

Secrets! It seems like everybody’s got one. I don’t mean private or personal secrets. I’m talking about the secrets of success: success in business, in relationships, in your personal life. Think of all the keys to health, wealth, and happiness that are constantly being peddled to us. Magic pills and potions . . . miracle diets . . . seminars on how to get rich quick . . . products that will change your life . . . self-help books that will make you a new person; you name it, and somebody out there claims to have discovered it. What’s more, they are willing to share it with you – for a price.

RELIGIOUS SECRET-PEDDLERS

There’s nothing new in any of this. There were secret-peddlers in the New Testament world too, ranging from charlatans and con men to sophisticated philosophers. What they all had in common was the claim to possess special information, secret knowledge that was the key to everything anybody wanted in life, including even salvation itself.

These teachers were especially active around the early Christian church. Their favorite target was young Christians, like the believers in Colossae, who didn’t have a lot of knowledge or experience in the faith. They would approach them something like this: “The teaching you have already received is fine as far as it goes, but it isn’t enough. You’ve only been exposed to introductory Christianity. Faith in Jesus is all right for children and simple folk, but what you need is advanced knowledge. If you really want to get ahead spiritually, if you want real power, if you want to be one of the spiritual elite, then you need the special secret wisdom that only we can give to you. Never mind Paul and the other apostles. You must follow us if you want the whole truth.”

Paul’s response to these false teachers is to fight against them for all he’s worth.

I want you to know what a struggle I am going through for you . . . Not only is [Christ] the key to God’s mystery, but all wisdom and knowledge are hidden away in him. I tell you these things to keep you from being fooled by fancy talk.

(Colossians 2:1-5, cev)

What Paul says here to combat the religious secret-peddlers of his day could be summed up in just two words: Jesus Christ. Christ is God’s mystery, God’s open secret, God’s truth revealed, God’s answer to every question or problem. You don’t need to buy any insider information or discover a magic formula in order to find the answers you need. According to the apostle, all you really need is Jesus.

Various teachers and experts claim to have their secrets; well, Jesus is God’s secret. Try to top that! He is the clue to the meaning of everything. Paul says that all the treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ. Think of some of the really deep and important questions of life: Where did I come from? What am I here for? Where am I headed? What’s going to happen to me when I die? Is there a God? How can I know him? The answers to all of them are found in Jesus Christ.

But truthfully, most of us don’t think very much about ultimate questions like those. We’re too busy trying to cope with the day-to-day problems of life. The question we really want answered is “Where do I go for help?” When you’re confused, when you wonder what went wrong and how it can be fixed, to whom do you turn then? There are still plenty of secret peddlers offering their help. Recently I received an unsolicited computer message with the heading, “Answers to Your Questions.” “Does the road ahead seem full of obstacles?” it asked. “Let these gifted psychic friends guide your way. Instant answers to your questions on love, romance, relationships, money, wealth, and happiness are only a phone call away, any time day or night. Your new psychic friend is only a call away. Call now, your guide for tomorrow, today!” What do you think? Is Jesus Christ the answer to every question? Or should you try to find a psychic friend or some other alternative? Well, here’s the apostle’s advice:

You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.

(Colossians 2:6-7, cev)

ACCEPTING CHRIST

“You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,” Paul states matter of factly to the Colossian Christians. Yet what an important thing to say, and even more important to have done! Accepting Christ is what makes someone a Christian. No one is born a Christian. You can’t inherit Christianity automatically from your parents the way you inherited your nationality or the color of your eyes. In order to become a Christian, you must accept Jesus Christ personally, for yourself.

But what does that mean? Three things are involved. First, to accept Christ you must accept the truth about him, about who he is, what he has done and what it all means. Accepting Christ means accepting that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, that he died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and that he rose again to demonstrate his power and establish his authority (see 1 Cor. 15:1-3).

But just accepting the facts about Jesus is not enough. You must also accept him, that is, you must trust him. It is one thing to assent to a truth. It is another thing to commit yourself to it personally. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that he did all the things the Bible says he did is not quite the same as accepting him. You haven’t done that until you have entrusted yourself, your life and all that you are and have, to him. It’s the difference between a woman believing that a man is worthy, good and sincere, and actually accepting him in marriage. The former is intellectual belief. The latter is trusting faith. And to accept Christ involves both. “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12, nrsv).

The third element involved in accepting Christ is personal surrender; Christians often talk about accepting Christ as their Savior, but that’s not quite right, or at least it’s not the whole truth. The phrase “to accept Christ as Savior” does not occur anywhere in the New Testament. What Paul actually says is, “You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord.” The only way to accept Christ is to accept him as Lord – not a lord, but the Lord – of your life. People sometimes seem to think they can have Christ as their Savior without obeying him as their Lord. They do that because they want the benefits of salvation without having to pay the cost of discipleship. We all would like to escape the penalty of our sins without having to actually give them up! Most of us would accept Jesus as our Savior, provided we could still be our own little lords now in the meantime and go on doing as we please. But it doesn’t work that way. If Jesus is not your Lord, he won’t be anything to you. To accept Christ at all is to accept his control, his leadership, his ownership over every part of life. It means surrendering yourself entirely to his authority.

CONTINUE TO LIVE IN HIM

“So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him” (v. 6, niv). Accepting Christ is only the beginning for Christians. After a great battle in World War II, Winston Churchill said famously that it was not the end or even the beginning of the end, but only the end of the beginning. So it is with the Christian life. When someone accepts the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s wonderful! If you have truly done that, you are saved from that moment and forever. But that isn’t the end. It isn’t even the beginning of the end. It’s only the end of the beginning. What has to happen next is that you go on living in Christ. “Live in him and keep on living in him always,” Paul says. “Continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.”

How can you live in Christ continuously?

First, by making Christ the foundation of your life. Be sure that your life is “rooted in him.” That word originally referred to the literal roots of plants or trees growing deep into the soil and supporting the whole organism. It came to be applied figuratively to the foundation of a building, whose “roots” had to be driven deep into the earth in order for it to stand and be strong. Jesus Christ is the foundation of every Christian’s life (1 Cor. 3:10). He is the solid rock. All other ground is shifting sand. To say that Christ is the foundation of your life means that he is your core value. He is the thing that you’re building everything on, all your hopes and expectations. He is what is most precious to you. Imagine you were to lose everything you had: your money, your family, your talents and skills, your health, your physical strength, your beauty, your popularity, your freedom. If everything external were stripped away from you except life itself, would you have anything left? Could you go on? Only if your life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, to live continuously in Christ means to be constantly growing, to be “built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” As Christians, as long as we are in this world, our lives are never completed. We’re always an ongoing building project. We’re still under construction. But we’re also making progress. We’re growing, growing in strength, growing in faith, growing in love, growing in service, growing, above all, in obedience. Eugene Peterson has written a book on the Psalms with the wonderful title, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. That is exactly what we need to cultivate, a long obedience lived in the direction of God, moving us toward ever increasing conformity to the likeness of Christ. If our lives are being lived in Christ, if we’re continuously being built up in him, then growth in holiness is our main business now and right up to the end. Obedience to Christ can sometimes be too short. It can never be too long.

Millions of people . . . make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little . . . inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

(Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, page 12)

What about you? Have you signed up for a long-term growth in holiness?

Finally, to live continuously in Christ means that we will be “overflowing with thankfulness” (v. 7, niv). When we live our lives in Christ gratitude will bubble out of us like water bubbling from a fountain. And, interestingly, the more consciously thankful we are to the Lord the easier we’ll find it to live in him. If you want to draw closer to Christ, make it a habit to always express your gratitude. Be thankful for everything that he’s done for you, all that he’s given you, for every blessing and gift, great or small. And be especially thankful that Jesus is Lord. Not me, not you, not anyone else; Jesus is Lord. It’s a good set-up! I’m glad things are that way in the universe, aren’t you? We ought to appreciate it.

Wouldn’t you like to have the kind of life that is rooted in Christ, continuously growing in him, and overflowing with thankfulness? Then come to him today. Accept Christ Jesus as your Lord, and live in him now and always.