Assurance in Christ

Home Church Service 7/10/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.                                                                       Colossians 2:1-5 (NASB)

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but man, our world is so messed up right now! Since March 15, 2020, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, has been the same. Never in my adult life did I expect to see the most basic of daily needs emptied from grocery store shelves. Toilet paper, for example. But when the pandemic was declared in March 2020, toilet paper and paper towel were the first items to become scarce! Everyone was frightened, and rightly so! It was fear of the unknown that left just about everyone with no assurance in or about the future.

The pandemic affected everyone – from those deemed essential workers to those who found themselves without work; from teachers who found themselves removed from the classroom to parents who found their living rooms and dining rooms turned into classrooms, and everyone in between – everyone felt the strain and changes forced upon the world by the pandemic. Even those who follow Christ were affected by the pandemic. Churches were closed and gone was the fellowship so many looked forward to each week. Bible studies and public worship were stopped for fear of spreading the virus throughout aging congregations. While the virus was indeed real and scary in Christian circles, the one thing that set believers apart was the believers Assurance in Christ, the One who holds our future.

Paul is in the midst of a great struggle on behalf of the church at Colossae and Laodicea, that their hearts are encouraged and knit together in love, so they may attain the wealth in full assurance of understanding God’s mystery – Jesus Christ Himself! The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ, giving the church Assurance in Christ that leads to discipline and stability in faith.

When we struggle for others in love, even if we have never seen them, we encourage their hearts to Assurance in Christ, the mystery of God. In Him we find the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge which lead to our discipline and a stability of faith found only in Christ.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What does it mean for the believer to have Assurance in Christ?”

Assurance in Christ means the believer is encouraged in love and has access to the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

1). We must first understand Assurance in Christ means the believer has a true knowledge of God’s mystery.

The knowledge of God’s mystery comes through hearts that have been encouraged by others who struggle on our behalf.

Our labor and struggle are not limited to the church we attend or to the people we know on a personal level. We work and fight for those we have never met. We are to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, to agonize for those who face persecution and tribulation we have never known. We fight against the false teaching that has entered into the church, keeping many from maturing in faith.

To struggle means to strive, agonize and wrestle in prayer. This is the picture of an athlete exerting everything they have – ever ounce of energy – in the struggle to complete their event. The idea is, like Paul, believers should work hard, toil, strive, agonize, and wrestle in prayer for churches and believers around the world – even those we have never seen or met. Our failure to struggle and wrestle in prayer is a major reason so many churches and believers are immature in Christ.

Why do we wrestle in prayer for other believers? Or for those we have not met? The answer? That their hearts might be encouraged. To encourage or comfort the heart of someone is to give them a new heart. Most of us can tell when someone is simply showing shallow sympathy – that only tends to make us feel worse. But true spiritual encouragement – when you know someone is struggling and wrestling in prayer for you – well, that just makes a person feel better. When we struggle and wrestle in prayer for another it brings out the best in that person.

As mature Christians we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ – even those we do not know and have never seen. We seek to be peacemakers, not troublemakers, so we pray the body of Christ will be knit together in love. To be knit together in love means our hearts have been strengthened. This is the task of the church and its individual members – to love one another, to build love among the body and thus strengthen hearts. When the body of believers loves one another then, and only then, can our hearts be “knit together in love,” resulting in hearts that are strong, encouraged, assured, confident and comforted.

With hearts that are prepared, mature believers can have “the full assurance of understanding.” The heart of a mature believer now has the assurance they are truly a child of God. A mature believer uses the spiritual knowledge they have to enlighten and guide them daily. God wants His children to have understanding, wisdom and knowledge. Understanding is to bring or to set together; wisdom is human understanding in spiritual things; and knowledge is a seeking to know, an enquiry or an investigation, especially of spiritual truth. These things help us understand God’s mystery – Jesus Christ.

Paul reveals the secret – it is in Christ where the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge are hidden. In the Greek, hidden does not mean concealed, rather it means to be laid up or stored away, made available to those who seek and desire a relationship with Christ. In Christ we have the brining together of understanding, wisdom and knowledge. Believers already possess wisdom and knowledge but have a long way to go to maturity and complete understanding. Thus, we seek, investigate and enquire about the spiritual truths found in Christ.

Assurance in Christ means the believer is encouraged in love and has access to the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2). Then we must understand Assurance in Christ means the believer has good discipline and stability of faith.

We gain wisdom and knowledge so we may remain unmoved by persuasive arguments.

Paul understood the believers in Colossae already know what they needed to know to be saved – they knew the One they needed to know to obtain eternal life. But this is a young church with young believers who needed to grow to maturity in the faith they had received. Maturity is what keeps believers from being deluded from persuasive arguments. False teachers, then and today, have the ability to make their teachings plausible – to make sense or sound biblical for us today. But instead, they use persuasive arguments to make a believer question their faith.

So how do they do this? The Greek term used here describes the arguments of a lawyer. How many times have you heard of salvation explained through the illustration of the courtroom? As you stand before God, Satan, the prosecuting attorney, lays out his case against you. The problem, however, is that Satan is a liar and a deceiver. In laying out his case he uses very persuasive arguments that sound like you have failed God miserably by breaking His enter Holy Law. But Jesus has, and is, the truth and He will not allow persuasive arguments to delude the court or believers. The term delude here means to miscalculate or to reason falsely, so it is important that believers exercise spiritual discernment and continue to grow to maturity and in our knowledge of spiritual truth.

Paul places added emphasis in the need for our spiritual growth with several vivid pictures. The terms good discipline and stability are military terms. They describe an army, solidly united against their enemy. Good discipline, which is sometimes translated as order, describes the arrangement of the army. Each soldier has a place, and each soldier is in their place. Perhaps you familiar with the phrase, “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians?” The same is true for an army, not everyone can be a general, an army needs soldiers to fight the battle.

 This is a picture of the term stability, sometimes translated as steadfastness. Here the army is in battle formation, presenting a solid, unified front against the enemy. As believers maintain a military discipline or arrangement, as we hold a solid front, unbroken and intact; as we stand immovable and unyielding – never cracking, never backing up and never giving in – the believer progresses forward, just as an army in battle.

Discipline and stability are key to the advancement of an army, like the army, individual Christians must exhibit the same discipline and stability for the whole to exhibit discipline and stability. Earlier Paul used an athletic term – struggle, as in every ounce of energy – to illustrate the personal struggle of each believer. Now, Paul switches to military terms and an army, the collective body of Christ, on the attack together in discipline and stability.

This presents a “Catch-22” situation, for discipline cannot be had without stability and stability cannot exist without discipline. The same is true for our faith in Christ. Our goal is to be mature in Christ, our maturity comes through discipline and maturity – things that come through our enquiry, investigation and seeking of spiritual truth found in Christ Jesus. The body of Christ must work together as well as individually, to present an unbroken, unyielding – never cracking, never backing up and never giving in – front, that is united and growing in maturity, to an enemy that seeks to deceive and make his persuasive arguments appealing.

Assurance in Christ means the believer is encouraged in love and has access to the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Since March 2020 we have lived in a topsy turvy world, a world changed due to a world-wide pandemic. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of a new virus, left many with no assurance in or about the future.

The pandemic even affected Christians as churches were closed, worship and Bible studies stopped so as not to spread the virus further. Believers, however, had one major difference – their Assurance in Christ, the One who holds our future.

Can you see now, how Satan has used so many different persuasive arguments to divide the body of Christ? Not just on the local level either! Local churches argue about everything from the color of the carpet in the sanctuary to the type of music used in worship. And when it comes to Scripture – stand back! Everyone has an opinion on what a particular passage means, first to them and then how others should believe. And if you don’t trouble is soon to follow!!

That says nothing about the many, many denominations we now have in existence. Some denominations have split over the meaning of a single word! Oh, sure, there are weightier issues that have caused splits, but even still, in many cases, little time or thought was put into resolving the issue through prayer and finding common ground. Satan has done a masterful job of dividing and keeping the body of Christ divided.

How can we prevent further divide? Is it even possible to prevent further divide? Well of course there is! But it takes a struggle – wrestling in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ!! First, we must pray within the context of our local church- your home church or small group; second, we pray for area churches – the church down the street or across town. Third we move to the wider context of your local area – churches in nearby towns and cities; fourth comes the national stage – churches across our country; and finally, we move to the international arena of praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.

We must encourage the hearts of one another to knit the body of Christ in love. Together we spur one another on to maturity – growing and building stability and discipline. Together we work to present a united front, one that never cracks, one that never backs up, one that never gives in, to do this we must grow together. Each of us has been given gifts and talents for the growth of the body – we all have a place, and we must all be in our place. This is the body of believers, advancing and growing together.

It is never too late to start praying. Begin today. Pray for your church, the churches in your immediate area, then the wider circle of churches in nearby cities and towns, then move to the national level and finally move to our brothers and sisters around the world. Begin by praying in general terms and then move to specifics as the Lord leads you. Prayer originates with God, and He will move you and place on your heart the things that are on His heart. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and never be afraid to ask God how you should pray.

Above all, remember that prayer is a struggle because you are fighting for those you love and when you fight for those you love the enemy is sure to make it difficult!! We must learn to move from the individual effort to the unified effort of unified army. Together we fight; together we advance; together we grow. Together we have Assurance in Christ – the One who holds our future.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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