I shared last time what Paul called “the glorious news I preach all over the world,” and described how different this is than what is typically preached today. One would have to admit our “gospel” is drastically watered down compared to what Paul’s describes. Just to review, we looked at Colossians 1:15-23 and can summarize Paul’s glorious news as follows:
We now know that God is exactly like Jesus Christ, creator and sustainer of all things and the reason everything continues to exist. Jesus Christ is Lord over all things, and all government, rule, and authority exist for His purpose.
Furthermore, there’s no separation between us and God because He has placed us in Himself, so that we now continually live in His presence, holy and blameless in His sight. Our part is to continue to walk in this reality by faith.
This is the good news that Paul preached everywhere he went.
After Paul describes this glorious news, he warns the Colossians (and us):
8 Beware that no one distracts you or intimidates you in their attempt to lead you away from Christ’s fullness by pretending to be full of wisdom when they’re filled with endless arguments of human logic. For they operate with humanistic and clouded judgments based on the mindset of this world system, and not the anointed truths of the Anointed One. (Col.2:8 TPT*)
What’s rather alarming to me is that this is pretty much what we’ve done! Now, I’m not questioning our love and devotion for Jesus and His Word. We’re mostly following what we were taught. I also realize I’m generalizing here. Of course, there’s notable exceptions, but if we’re to take an honest look at the state of Christianity today, by comparison, our gospel is more philosophical and humanistic than what we see in Paul’s description.
- We’ve turned our union with Christ into an abstract concept, a metaphor, a legal position, rather than a spiritual reality we’re to be living from (Phil.3:20).
- We’ve pushed eternal life and heaven into the next life instead of understanding that it’s within us (Luke 17:20-21; John 17:3).
- We’ve allowed deistic philosophy into our theology, creating separation and distance between us and God.
- Rather than an invitation to “participate in the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4), we’ve turned salvation into a decision for Christ.
- Our gospel is more about sin and the fall rather than about adoption (sonship).
- Rather than being a new creation in Christ, we see ourselves more like pardoned criminals.
- Natural philosophy and human reason trumps spiritual revelation from Christ. In fact, we’re wary of anything “spiritual” or supernatural.
- We trust in academic learning more than spiritual gifts.
- We give the devil more power than God on the earth by denying that these supernatural gifts are for today.
- Rather than believing “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph.3:20), we make the Christian life fit well within our imagination and control.
- We’ve turned the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into the Father, Son, and Holy Bible.
- We seem to be engaged in endless arguments about interpretations, theology, or worse, translations, rather than “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph.4:3-4).
- Our mindset does seem to be more like “the mindset of this world system, and not the anointed truths of the Anointed One.”
We’ve done exactly what Paul told us not to do; we’ve turned the glorious gospel into empty and powerless religion.
I know this is kind of like a slap in the face, ripping the proverbial band-aid off, but as they say in recovery programs, the first step to freedom is coming out of our denial. And profound freedom is awaiting us, so rather than arguing these points, why don’t we accept them as they may apply to us, so that we can move on into greater maturity and grow up into Christ (Eph.4:13-15).
I know I can see that I have a long way to go, don’t you?
You’re an unprecedented heavenly species!
I said all that to say we’re not pardoned criminals, we’re a new creation! (2 Cor.15:17). “New,” in the original Greek is καινός (kainos). It means “new in species, character, or mode, unheard of, unusual, renovated, better, of higher excellence (Mounce). Therefore, we’re an unprecedented heavenly species in Christ!
Here’s how Paul continues in this letter:
9 For he is the complete fullness of deity living in human form. 10 And our own completeness is now found in him. We are completely filled with God as Christ’s fullness overflows within us. He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe! (Col.2:9-10 TPT*)
We all know and agree that the fullness of deity dwells in Christ, but do we identify ourselves in the same way? Do we believe that His fullness overflows within us?
Beloved, this is astounding and breathtaking! Christ’s fullness flows in us! And everything exists in Him! This is why Paul is adamant about us not being defrauded by empty religion and philosophies of men. Our true identity is found in Him, not in how we see ourselves, or what other people say about us, and certainly not based on our experience.
Do you understand that this reality is incompatible with religion and human philosophy? It sounds like foolishness to the natural mind because we cannot even conceive what this is unless it’s revealed by Holy Spirit. But God has given us the mind of Christ (see 1 Cor.2:9-16).
I include myself here when I say that when we embrace humanistic Christianity, we stunt our growth as believers and as His body. As I’ve said many times before, we must put all of our thoughts, and what we think we know, on God’s potter’s wheel to be reshaped and re-formed so that Christ can be formed in us.
Let’s not settle for anything less.