Just because you were born in a Christian family does not make you a Christian, just like being born in a hospital doesn’t make you a doctor! Just because you attended a Christian school, you were christened as a baby, you joined a church, were baptized, or took communion does not make you a Christian. You aren’t even one because you believe in God or live a moral life. So, what does it mean to be a Christian?
How to Get the Faith
Paul addresses the Colossians, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord…” (Col. 2:6). To be a Christian, you have to personally receive Christ Jesus as Lord of your life. If I give you a gift, it is still not yours until you receive it. The name “Jesus” means Savior. If you can save yourself, you don’t need a savior, but no one can live a good enough life to save themselves. Jesus lived the perfect life you can’t live and then gave that life for you. “Christ” means He is the appointed and anointed Messiah, the Promised One who would crush the serpent’s head. “Lord” means the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name.” To believe is to receive. How do you receive Christ? By grace through faith and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).
How to Grow in Faith
Paul continues, “So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude” (v. 6-7). You grow in Christ the same way you received Him – by grace through faith. You don’t have the power to do it on your own. You become a Christian the moment you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, but that is just the beginning. Salvation is not the end, it is front end. At salvation, you are justified – “I have been saved.” The process of sanctification also begins – “I am being saved.” You also get the hope of glorification – “I will be saved.” In the Christian life we grow in four directions – rooted meaning downward, built up meaning upward, established meaning inward, and overflowing meaning outward. Faith in Christ gives us security because we are rooted. When storms of life come, winds of adversity blow, we face health challenges, or financial and relational problems, we can stand. Faith in Christ also gives us maturity because we are built up in Him, growing in Christ. It gives us stability because we are established, not tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine or teaching that comes along. Finally, it gives us prosperity because we are overflowing in joy, gratitude, and generosity.
How to Guard Your Faith
Heresy, or false teaching, came to Colossae. The early church dealt with it, much like we do today. Paul issues a warning. “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ” (v. 8). Captive literally means to kidnap. False teachers do not reproduce. They can’t bring people from death to life spiritually. All they can do is recruit. Cults do not win souls, they steal sheep. Beware of those who use their education, influence, or persuasiveness to “kidnap” your mind. In the name of “higher learning” they will rob you of your faith. Paul gives this warning “so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable” (Col. 2:4). Lies can sound reasonable but they are still lies! Paul outlines several specific heresies in this passage: intellectualism (v.8-10), philosophy (v.8), tradition (v.8), elements (i.e. the basic elements of the universe and worshipping the created rather than the Creator, v. 8), ritualism (v. 11), legalism (v. 16-17), mysticism (18), and asceticism (v. 23). Not all traditions are wrong. Philosophy in and of itself is not bad. But, everything going on in the name of Jesus is not of Jesus! Ask God to give you wisdom. Does what the teaching says add to the Bible? Does it take away from who Jesus is? Paul says, “For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ…” (v. 9). False teachers may not ask you to give up Jesus, but just make Him part of your belief system. Christ plus ritualism, legalism, mysticism, asceticism, etc., is not truth. Christ is not one among other gods. Christ is God. We are fully complete in Christ. He is fully God and fully man and you cannot know God apart from Christ.
Aren’t you tired of feeling empty inside? What you are looking for and searching for, you will find in Jesus.