Sermon preached by Pr James Tan on 14 Jun 2020 at Tabernacle BPC English Worship Service

Text: Colossians 2:1-7

The definition of the church, as the body of believers, has been changed over time by man. Churches today are being redefined to man’s own design. It is now often seen as a community centre, a social service, or even an entertainment spot. The church has now been subject to man’s own image and culture, instead of Christ.

One of the themes in Paul’s letter to the Colossians gives us a clear idea of what the Church ought to be: “in Christ”, and not reflective of the world. Paul received news of false teachings being spread through the churches in Colosse and Laodicea (v.1) and wrote to them out of great concern.

[v.2-3] Comforted in the Truth
The Apostle comforts and strengthens the church by reminding them firstly of the love of Christ that binds them together. Even though Paul has never met many of them (v.1), this common love of Christ binds them together. The greater emphasis here, is the Truth that defines what this love is. This love is founded upon the Truth of knowing who God truly is. Even though God is a “mystery”, and one can never fully know God, the Scriptures do reveal what is sufficient, and abundant for us to know of who God is, in “full assurance of understanding”.

The riches and prosperity of the church is found in the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, in God and Christ, revealed in the Bible. With the right heart, filled with the love of God, the study of His Word brings more Truth and clarity. It does not make sense for a Christian to say that one loves God and yet, does not gain anything from God’s Word. The Church in Christ, all believers, should find the greatest comfort in this world in the Truth of God’s Word.

[v.4] Defence against Deception
Being filled and assured in God’s Truth will allow the Church in Christ, to be defended against deception. As the Colossian Christians come under the influences of false doctrines, they must not fall to man’s own created logic and philosophies, or persuasive speech that is contrary to the Scriptures.
If one is not truly “grounded” in the Truth, the persuasion and opinions of others, will persuade one to sin. These persuasions will not turn us to the Bible, but rather justify and encourage us to continue living in sin. The believer’s persuasion must fully be of God, from the Scriptures, or one will surely fall to deception.

[v.5] Secured in the Saviour
The military terms used here for “order” and “stedfast”, shows how the Colossian and Laodicean Christians remained steady in the faith of Christ, and did not falter even while under attack. All believers in the Church of Christ must hold to the Scriptures as one, with the same heart and mind of Christ. Divisions and strife occur when believers do not walk in line with God’s Word. The church’s security is found when every individual member bears responsibility in walking in Christ.

[v.6-7] Continuing in Christ
The illustration of a tree is used in these verses. The Church, in order to continue walking in Christ, must also be firstly, rooted deeply and firmly in the Word, before it can be “built up” or “stablished”. If so, believers would continue to grow and mature in Christ, bearing forth good fruit. Maturity is not dependent on time spent in the church, but rather, how well one responds to live and obey the teaching of God’s Word, “as ye have been taught”. The end result is an abundant spiritual life, filled with much to thank God for. A lack of such maturity results only in bitterness and murmurings.

The Church must truly be found “in Christ”, being rooted, secured, defended, and comforted by the Truth of God’s Word, bound in the love of Christ.

Abridged and Edited by Pastor Clement Chew

To be up-to-date and fashionable in the church world today, you must talk of Church growth. To me, it is like planting rice on the classroom’s cement floor. It is only talk, talk and more talk!

Seriously, we have found the key. Action, not words! What action? Decentralise! Scatter! Scatter the seed of the Word! As Paul says, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Decentralisation is Church growth without sorrow. When a church grows big, so does it multiply problems of all sorts. This phenomenon can be seen the pattern of the early church. Acts 6:1 says, “And in those days, when the number of disciples were multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations.” What did the apostles do? Decentralise! The Twelve, upon whose shoulders fell the administration of the church, did not plod on stubbornly. They quickly appointed deacons, men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, to “serve tables.”

Let us learn from the Apostles’ example, not to carry the load of the Lord’s business upon our lame decisions. Let us give over God’s work, and “serving tables” is as sacred a work as preaching, to those who can do it, and are willing to do it. Let us not restrain others who are able and willing to do what otherwise seems not able to be done.

There is a beautiful Chinese proverb that describes this situation – “分工合作” (fen gong he zuo, i.e. “divide the labour and work together”). We should never rival each other in preaching or any other thing. Paul says, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of goodwill. The one preach Christ of contention not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing I am set for the defence of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:15-17)

As the church grows, there will be no more standing room. What should one do? Decentralise! Put more seats around. Stretch upwards with elevated structures. But when these reach their limit, what must we do? Decentralise again, and keep on decentralising, the best we know how! Decentralisation is the key to church growth.