Christ and Christian Experience
Sermon based on Colossians chapters 2 & 3
It was Hudson Taylor who said: “If your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house, are not happier for your being a Christian, it is a question whether you really are.” That may be an overstatement, but the truth is that the Christian experience is an experience of both happiness and sorrow, of both fortune and trail.
There are times that we experience the joy of following Christ and enjoying Christian fellowship, but then there are times when we experience times of dryness and even disobedience in our Christian walk.
However, one thing stands true: Christian experience is not possible without Christ. If you’re not having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ there is no true Christian experience at all. The beauty of the Christian experience is that in times of joy and happiness Christ is there with you and you can enjoy that relationship. But what is even more beautiful is that in times of sadness and sorrow and disobedience Christ is still there with you trying to encourage and to guide.
Today Paul is going to show us what the Christian experience is all about. The Colossians were experiencing all kinds of troubles in their Christian walk, and, therefore, Paul writes to them to encourage and exhort them to continue in their walk.
Let’s look at what Paul is saying to the Colossians and how that applies to our lives today.
The Reality of the Christian Experience (2:6-15; 3:1-4)
The Christian experience is first of all based on the…
1. The Reality of Christ (2:9-15)
It is marvellous to see how Paul constantly brings his readers back to the Person of Christ. Here he gives one of the most sublime and unmistakable verses in the Bible on the Deity and humanity of Christ.
“Lives” is a verb that suggests taking up permanent residence
“Fullness of Deity” means that Christ is “the whole glorious totality of what God is, the supreme Nature in its infinate entirety” (Moule, p. 144).
“In bodily form” talks of the humanity of Christ. The preceding statement corresponds to John 1:1, “the Word was God”; while this statement corresponds to John 1:14, “the Word became flesh,” talking of the incarnation of Christ.
What Paul argues is that there is no fulness in philosophy based on vain human reasoning. Only in Christ can one have fullness. Apart from Him is emptiness. As philosopher Jean Paul Sartre put is, “Life is an empty bubble on the sea of nothingness.”
2. Our Position in Christ (2:10; 3:1-4)
In 2:10 Paul teaches that the believer has in Christ all that is needed for life and godliness.
We are “co-resurrected,” “hidden with Christ,” “we will be revealed with Him in glory” – our position is eternal security.
3. Our Walk in Christ (2:6-7)
Peripateo – Some translations use the word CONDUCT or LIVE instead of WALK. The word has to do with the way in which we “move about” in life. However, for our study we will use the term WALK.
What involves Walking?
1. There must be a conscious decision to take the first step.
2. It must be continual in order to get from point A to B.
3. The physical act of walking, when evaluated by a trained observer, tells much about the condition, characteristics and even the character of the observed. List some of the things you can tell about a person from their physical walk (progress, zeal, determination, laziness, anger, fear, etc.).
How are we to Walk? Well, How did we receive Christ Jesus?
Repentance – A change of mind. To turn from old ways.
Faith – Total trust and surrender to Christ.
“Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God.” (Heb. 6:1)
So, how are we to walk?
Repentance – When we sin we repent (1 John 1:9)
Faith – Continual dependence (1 Pet. 2:25)
What the Christian Experience if Not (2:16-23)
1. It’s not a “Religious Experience” (2:8, 16-19)
In Paul’s day the church already faced great threats from false teachers that were imposing the early Christians with their false doctrines. Some of these dangers were Gnostesism, Paganism and cultic mythology. These dangers, in many forms and shapes have threatened the Church down through the Church age and are alive and well present among our churches today.
Hank Hanegraff, the author of Christianity in Crisis, says this, “In recent years, multitudes who name the name of Christ have adopted a wildly distorted perception of what it truly means to be a Christian. Perhaps even more alarming, millions more have been kept from seriously considering the claims of Christ because they perceive Christianity as a con and Christian leaders as con artists. Under the banner ‘Jesus is Lord,’ multitudes are being duped by a gospel of greed and are embracing doctrines straight from the metaphysical cults. While convinced that what they hear is the real thing, they are in fact turning on to nothing more than a cheap counterfeit. Eternal truths from the Word of God are being perverted into bad mythology – and all the while Christianity is hurling at breakneck speed into a crisis of unparalleled proportions” (p. 10). The author then goes on to quote some of these false religious leaders of our day:
Kenneth Copeland – “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross” – That contradicts Col. 2:15
Morris Cerullo – “You’re not looking at Morris Cerullo – you’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus.”
Benny Hinn – “Never, ever, ever, go to the Lord and say, ‘If it be thy will…’ Don’t allow such faith-destroying words to be spoken from your mouth.”
Kenneth E. Hagin – “Man was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority.”
2. It’s not a “Forbidden Experience” (2:20-23)
That is legalism. Chuch Swindoll in his book, “The Grace Awakening” calls legalists “grace killers.” Here’s what he says about them: “They would hole us back from all the things that God intended His people to enjoy. They still keep untold millions in bondage…They live legalism, expectations, traditionalism, manipulation, demands, negativism, control, comparison, perfectionism, competition, criticism, pettiness, and a host of others…pride, fear, resentment, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, insecurity, fleshly effort, guilt, shame, gossip, hypocrisy, and so many more…grace killers, all!
The Life changing Christian Experience (3:5-17)
1. Our “Former Walk” (3:5-9)
2. Our “Present Walk” (3:10-17)
The great change (vv.10-11)
Put on… (12)
Put on… (14)
The Bottom line is… (17)
The fullness of the Christian Experience is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It means that we walk with Him and obey Him in all circumstances of life.
What is Christianity?
In the home it is kindness
In the business it is honesty
In society it is courtesy
In work it is fairness
Toward the unfortunate it is pity
Toward the weak it is help
Toward wickedness it is resistance
Toward the strong it is trust
Toward the fortunate it is congratulations
Toward the penitent it is forgiveness
Toward God it is reverence and love
In times of joy, that joy is shared with others
In times of sorrow it is total dependence on God
At all times it is purity of life, thankfulness and hope.