Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. – Colossians 2:6-15 [ESV]
One of my professors at the seminary was an excellent apologist. He laid to rest one argument after another against faith, the veracity of the Bible, or the biblical account of creation. Once he finished defending the faith, we would think, well of course…why would anyone think differently? He was that sharp.
Sometime later, however, I learned of nuances to his arguments that gave people an out to what he taught us. I have not rejected his arguments, but I’ve learned to tread lightly on apologetic arguments to prove the Christian faith. Some people will go to great lengths to disprove the argument and lose completely the message of Jesus. They might be very far from the kingdom in the first place. But logical arguments serve only so far in bringing people closer to Jesus. An encounter with the fullness of God’s grace and truth alone will do that.
Grace and truth. Grace: Jesus died for us, took our sin, shame, and guilt upon himself, and rose from the dead. He offers eternal life to all who believe. That’s good news. Truth: We need this salvation more than we know. I’m afraid some people reject the Christian faith – or walk away from it – because their understanding of those truths are faulty. But those truths are so vitally important. We cannot function well in this world with only a Sunday School level understanding. Sunday School faith is one thing. Jesus commended that. But a Sunday School understanding of that faith will not equip us to withstand the onslaughts and sieges that are launched against us daily.
Sadly some of those sieges come at us from within the religious community. Some even from distant cousins – or better yet imposters – of the Christian faith. I’m thinking here of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, or Christian Scientists. Their official teachings depart from the historic and orthodox Christian faith. But even then, it’s often through a spouse or sibling, or even child that these false teachings and hopes come. And often it is at times of great vulnerability that they prey on the unsuspecting. Let our understanding ever grow so we can reject those false claims!
Sadder still, is when someone in the faith – strong and faithful – falls due to “empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Read here, the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. One too many drinks. One too many clandestine rendezvous. One too few check-ins. One too few warning signals given attention. Then comes the fall. Or at least the trip. Let our faithfulness return!
Be careful, Paul writes! I think he is most likely talking to obvious pagan influences, philosophies, or especially the Judaizers and the Circumcision Party of his day. They could insinuate their way into churches not well-grounded in the Apostle’s teachings. But it would likely apply to us today even in well-grounded religious communities. Satan is the deceiver. We must be on our guard against false teaching of every kind
Thankfully God welcomes back the wayward sinner. He even throws a party in heaven when one such sinner repents (think Luke 15 and the Prodigal Son!). But we have been freed from our sin. It’s been cancelled, having been nailed to the cross. Walking in Jesus is the way of true life. Let us ever walk with Jesus!
Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus – Lutheran Service Book # 685
Let us ever walk with Jesus, Follow His example pure,
Through a world that would deceive us And to sin our spirits lure.
Onward in His footsteps treading, Pilgrims here, our home above,
Full of faith and hope and love, Let us do the Father’s bidding.
Faithful Lord, with me abide; I shall follow where You guide.
Let us suffer here with Jesus And with patience bear our cross.
Joy will follow all our sadness; Where He is, there is no loss.
Though today we sow no laughter, We shall reap celestial joy;
All discomforts that annoy Shall give way to mirth hereafter.
Jesus, here I share Your woe; Help me there Your joy to know.
Let us gladly die with Jesus. Since by death He conquered death,
He will free us from destruction, Give to us immortal breath.
Let us mortify all passion That would lead us into sin;
And the grave that shuts us in Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus, here with You I die, There to live with You on high.
Let us also live with Jesus. He has risen from the dead
That to life we may awaken. Jesus, You are now our head.
We are Your own living members; Where You live, there we shall be
In Your presence constantly, Living there with You forever.
Jesus, let me faithful be, Life eternal grant to me.
Text: © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110005042