The Kidnappers Are Coming! (Colossians Series #2)
In the Western world, there is a mindset that Jesus is not enough. Untold numbers of people believe that people need more than Jesus Christ. In other words, they are not convinced that Jesus is all they need. For many, they believe that Jesus plus something else equals everything a person needs.
The book of Colossians takes an altogether contradictory view to this particular philosophy. The book of Colossians says that Jesus Christ plus anything else equals nothing. These verses we are studying are the key verses of the book of Colossians and it makes it very clear that all fullness and completeness are found in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you know Jesus Christ, you have everything your heart could ever need or desire.
Paul was addressing the deficiency of cults. There were false teachers who had come to the city of Colossae and were saying to these Christians, “Jesus Christ is okay, but Jesus Christ is just one among many. He is not the one and only. You need something in addition to and beyond the Lord Jesus Christ.”
There was a four-headed monster that had reared its ugly head in Colossae. This four- headed monster could be categorized around these four words: intellectualism, ritualism, mysticism, and legalism. All cults have as their ingredients one of these four or a combination of all four of these. Any cult, outside the church; any heresy on the inside of the church, if you will look closely they go off base in intellectualism, ritualism, mysticism or legalism.
We are looking at the subject of intellectualism–the mind snatchers. Paul warns us in Colossians 2:8, with, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
He uses that terminology several times. Back in verse Colossians 2:4, he says, “This I say, lest any man should beguile you…” In verse 16 he says, “Let no man judge you…” Verse 18, “Let no man beguile you…” He is referring to the false teachers who are trying to take away from the Lord Jesus Christ. “Beware lest any man kidnap you through philosophy.”
Inside the church, intellectualism shows itself in liberalism or the view that you need something in addition to Jesus. Outside the church, in the world of the cults, it shows itself in vain philosophy, secular reasoning or an attempt to put man at the center of everything.
The word, philosophy, in and of itself is not a bad word. It literally means a lover of wisdom, or the love of wisdom. Paul was a philosopher. Paul was an intellectual. Probably the greatest intellectual the Christian faith ever produced. There have been men who were tremendous intellectuals who were humble believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Jonathan Wesley, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards and C. S. Lewis were among those.
You do not have to assassinate you brains to become a Christian. When you know Jesus Christ as Savior you do not have to check your brains at the door when you come in. Intellectualism is a formidable foe to the Christian faith, but Christians do not have to be ashamed of their belief in the Bible, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the simple gospel of Jesus. Most of us have an abundance of ignorance but you do not have to lose your mind in order to become a Christian.
I. We Need To Be Aware of Pagan Philosophy
Pagan philosophy is a philosophy that tries to explain the great problems of life and the great mysteries of life apart from God, the Bible and the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are three great questions that people have to grope with. There are three great questions in philosophical studies concerning human life that all intellectual views have to come to grips with. First, where did I come from? The question of human dignity. Second, why am I here? The question of human duty. What is the purpose of my existence? Third, where am I going? The question of human destiny. Pagan philosophy tries to answer these questions apart from the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the tragic deception of philosophy outside of Jesus. “See to it that no one kidnaps you through philosophy and empty deceit.” It means devoid of reality. All intellectual systems outside of Jesus Christ pretend to be more than they actually are. They pretend to be reality and yet they make significant departures from reality. It’s kind of like a house on a movie set. It looks very elaborate, but most of the time there is only a front and no house there. Many of the world’s intellectual systems have a very good front, but they pretend to be more than they are because they deviate from reality.
This captivity turns him or her into a slave. Cults try to enslave the minds of people. They try to confuse the thinking of people and get them to believe that error is truth and that truth is error.
This happens countless number of times in university settings. I thank God for Christian professors. I thank God for Christian high school teachers and for college professors who are Christians. But sometimes those in the university setting will try to snatch the minds of young people and will try to rob them of their confidence and their belief in God’s Word and in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. A young person going into a classroom hears a professor who is skilled in the use of words and knows how to get people off track and to rob them of their faith. It can be a very deceptive and a very destructive thing.
For example, a young person goes into the classroom and hears some things he has never heard before. It’s being told him or her by a Ph.D. and it sounds so good to him or her. Later, students begin discussing what they heard in class. They ask each other, “What do you think about this?” Everybody wants to think they are intelligent. One of the most subtle approaches of those who would take you away from the truth is to suggest that if you do believe the Bible, somehow you aren’t really as smart as you ought to be. If you are a Christian, somehow you are deficient intellectually. God’s Word says to beware, be very careful lest anybody deceive you.
He gives here the basic assumptions of pagan philosophy. He says they are after the tradition of men, they are after the rudiments of the world, and they are not after Christ.
Paul writes, “After the tradition of men…” The word, tradition, literally means to hand down. That is exactly what philosophy has done. Philosophers just build on previous philosophers. They build on the previous views; they build on the belief systems of previous philosophers. They either build on them or oppose them. You can take all human philosophy back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It all starts with them, and people build on top of them or knock them down and they add another view.
For example, the theory of evolution is a philosophy. It is the theory of evolution, not the fact of evolution. I don’t care who says it. It is not an established fact. By the way, it is not new, either. Darwin is not the first person who came along with the idea of evolution. 2,000 years before the time of Darwin there was a man named Anaximander who had a theory of evolution.
Additionally, scientific evidence is moving rapidly away from the theory of evolution. Within the field of science itself there are many who believe that the old evolutionary model can no longer stand the test of full examination. It has real problems in the field of biology. It has massive problems in the field of physics. It has tremendous problems in the field of genetics. So, the very theory itself is on shaky ground.
Evolution really is, rather than a science, a philosophy of life. It is a philosophy about human existence. Evolution is an attempt to explain human existence apart from a personal God. So, Paul wants to be very careful lest people destroy your faith and rob you through philosophy after the tradition of men.
Then Paul says it’s after elementary principles of the world. The word, “elementary”, means the basic elements of the world. It literally means “things in a row.” Such as A B C. Or one, two, three. The basic elements of the world. He is talking about purely secular reasoning. This word can sometimes be used to refer to doctrines of demons. The Bible warns that demonic influence invades itself into secular reasoning. What’s the purpose of it? It is to get people away from the truth as it is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What are the philosophies of this world? Views concerning the three great questions of life. What does pagan philosophy say about the great questions of life? Where do we come from? Secular philosophy says we came from a green scum, a pool of green slime. That’s their view. That destroys human dignity.
Why are we here? If you don’t know where you came from then you really have no reason for your existence. There is no purpose if there is not a God who created you who has a purpose for your life, then there is really no meaning for your existence. It’s depressing to read what some of the philosophers say about the meaning of life.
Let me tell you that there is a reason for your existence! There is a purpose for you being here! God created you. God knows who you are. God knows why you’re here and He has a purpose for your life. Regarding secular philosophy’s third question, Where are we going? Secular philosophy says, “at best you may get to come back as a dog or a bug. Probably you are just headed for oblivion.” Pagan philosophy is utterly futile, and it is not after Christ. It has no room for the Lord Jesus Christ. When you take Jesus out of the equation you don’t have anything. When you do without Jesus Christ there is no purpose, there is no meaning to life whatsoever.
Do you know what philosophy outside of Jesus Christ is? Pagan philosophy is the attempt of a blind man in a darkened room at midnight to find a black cat that isn’t there. The futility of pagan philosophy.
II. We Need To Apply Christian Philosophy
In Colossians 1:9 Paul says, “For in him (Jesus)…” Christian philosophy has room for the Lord Jesus. Christian philosophy understands that ultimate wisdom is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ’s philosophy affirms the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 9 says, “For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.” That’s one of the most magnificent statements in all of the Bible about the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is asserting the deity of Jesus. Jesus Christ is not just A God, He is the God. Jesus Christ is not a Savior, He is the Savior. Jesus Christ is not just A Way, Jesus Christ is the way. He is fully and totally and completely God. God in human flesh.
Jesus Christ ever was, ever is, and ever will be God. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was God in a manger. When Jesus confounded the teachers at the age of 12 in the temple, it was God talking to the teachers. When Jesus Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane it was God choosing the cross. When Jesus Christ was crucified at Calvary it was God on a cross. He is fully, totally God.
Total God, total man. He was fully God, but He was also fully man. In John 1:14 we read, “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” He was as much God as if he had not been man, but He was as much man as if He had not been God. He was fully God, but he was also fully man. He had an earthly mother and a heavenly Father. On His mother’s side He got hungry. On His Father’s side he said, “I’m the Bread of Life.” On His mother’s side He got thirsty. On His Father’s side he said, “I’m the Water of Life.” On His mother’s side He didn’t have anywhere to lay His head. On His Father’s side He is the home for the homeless. On His mother’s side He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. On His Father’s side He raised Lazarus from the dead. On His mother’s side He died on a cross. On His Father’s side He rose again from the dead. Jesus Christ is who He is because He had to be who He is to do what He did. He is fully God. He is fully man.
Furthermore, Paul states in Colossians 1:10 that Jesus is the head of all principality and power. It all resides in Him. The real questions of life can only be answered in the Lord Jesus Christ. Where did you come from? Jesus tells us where we came from. Because Jesus talks about the Father and the God of Creation. God created you. You were not an accident. God was present when you were created. You have human dignity. Why are you here? Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” You have human duty. Where are you going? The Good News of the Gospel is that you are not going to hell but because of Jesus Christ you are going to heaven. You have human destiny and it is guaranteed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this Christian philosophy we have the fullness of Jesus Christ. Yet, that is not all. We have the completeness of the Christian in Jesus. Verse 10 says, “And you are complete in Him.” The word, complete, literally means you are filled with the fullness in him. This is something pagan religions cannot produce. This is something the cults cannot offer. The Christian faith says that your body can become a temple for the Son of God Himself. When you receive Christ through repentance and faith, the Bible says that Jesus comes to dwell in you. You are complete. You are filled full in Him.
Does your heart ever get hungry for something? Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. You are full in Him. Do you ever need peace? Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. You are full in Him. Sometimes this word was used to describe a vessel that was fully rigged and equipped for a voyage. This is what Christ does for our lives. It’s just like our vessel of life has everything we need supplied in Jesus Christ. Of course, you still have problems. The Good News is that in Jesus Christ you have the ultimate solution to the problem. You have someone to turn to, someone who will help you. You accepted Jesus and you still have temptations. Of course, you do. The Bible says, “No temptation hath taken you but such as is common to man.” We have temptations, but in Jesus Christ we can have victory and power over that temptation. You don’t need to go beyond or outside the Lord Jesus Christ. You have it all in Him. You just have to appropriate what you have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
William Randolph Hearst, the deceased newspaper publisher millionaire, was also a collector of great works of art. He had some tremendously beautiful works of art that cost thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. One day he read about a particular collection of artwork that he wanted to have. He took his agent and told him to find those works of art for him. So, his agent began to search for the art. He went to sales and art exhibits looking for those works of art. In about a months’ time the agent found the art Hearst was looking for. He found it in his own warehouse. That is exactly the way it is with some Christians today. You have the treasures in Jesus. You have total fullness in Jesus. You have everything the heart could desire and need. It’s all there in Jesus Christ. You can draw upon His wealth. You can draw upon His riches. You can draw upon His resources. All you have to do is claim what you have in Jesus.
One of my favorite parables is the parable of the prodigal son. It think that’s one of the most true-to-life parables you will ever read. The prodigal son made up his mind he wanted to leave the father’s house. He decided he wanted to the far country. He took his inheritance and went out into the far country. The Bible says he wasted his substance on riotous living. Then, when he had spent all, a famine arose in that land.
That is exactly the way it happens in life. A lot of people think they can find what they are looking for in this old world. The lights glitter. The world promises to provide so many things that you think will satisfy you. That prodigal son went out and spent everything he had and then the famine set in. The famine always sets in. The devil is real smart. He’ll snatch your mind. He’ll get you to believe there is something else besides the Lord Jesus Christ and the simple gospel of Jesus. You’ll go out like that prodigal son did. He made the worst decision of his life in the best place–his father’s house. He made the best decisions in his life in the worst place–the hog pen. Down in the hog pen the prodigal son said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father.” When that prodigal son got home, he found that everything he had been looking for in the far country he found in the father’s house.
Paul says, “in Him dwells all the fullness of all deity bodily, and you are complete, filled full, in Him.” That’s why the most important decision a person will ever make is the decision to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What you are looking for you’ll find in Jesus. He has all of the peace. He has all of the satisfaction. He has all of the love. He has all of the meaning of life. He has all of the purpose you will ever need. He has all of the confidence available to you. Everything you are looking for is available in Jesus.