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Walk in Jesus Christ the Lord (Col. 2:6-7)

As You Received Him as Lord

Recognition of His Divine Person and Authority

To say that Jesus Christ is Lord is to confess that he is the eternal God, one with the Father in power and glory. To speak as plainly as possible, Jesus Christ is Lord, Yahweh, the Son of God by whom the Father made all things. He is the everlasting God. He is uncreated, eternal, the uniquely begotten of the Father. The Jewish leaders certainly understood that our Lord claimed to be God – not on his way to becoming God, or a personal manifestation of the “God-principle” on earth, or recently deified. They knew he claimed to be the Son of the Blessed (Mark 14:61). Despite his many mighty works and evident fulfillment of all that was written, they rejected him. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). This is because “flesh and blood,” man’s will, reason, and emotions are hopelessly corrupted by sin and cannot arrive at the truth about Jesus Christ unless taught by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has to reveal Jesus Christ to us (John 3:1-8; Gal. 1:16). The Father has to send his quickening, life-giving Spirit to resurrect our sin-killed hearts, reveal his Son to the new heart of faith, and unite us to him in communion of life and grace (Luke 10:22). Thus, at the most fundamental level, for us to receive Christ as Lord requires that we have the new birth so that we recognize his divine person and authority.

Submission to His Word

But there is more than this, for the devils know and confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, the Son of God. They fully recognize his divine person and authority. They are terrified of him, but they do not willingly submit to him. They have no love in their hearts for the Son of God. Their recognition and submission is forced and slavish. They have no delight in obeying him. The Lord Jesus is the author of their existence and the unavoidable authority they cannot escape, but they hate him. I fear some are like this in the church, and for a time many young people grow up in Christian homes with this dark heart – haunted by Jesus Christ, for they cannot escape his reality, but not loving him, running from him, even hating him. Our hearts are so wicked that we blame our parents and even the Lord Jesus Christ for our own miseries. But when we receive him as Lord in faith and truth, our relationship with him changes. We want to run to Him and submit to him. When we disobey him, our hearts are broken not so much because we dread punishment or hate to disappoint ourselves or others. We are heartbroken because we love his glory and want his fellowship. We feel our need of him, that life is not worth living without his smile, and that his presence is the joy of life.

In this way, the Spirit now arrives at the main theme of his letter to the Colossians. It is a letter of imperatives. Receiving and walking with Jesus Christ as Lord is concrete, earthy, personal – husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves, affections, purity, worship, brotherly love, and all the rest. Ours is not a disembodied, esoteric, immaterial faith. The Lordship of Jesus Christ changes all we are and do. And these imperatives have their foundation in the divine person of Jesus Christ. This is the reason the letter begins by telling us who Jesus Christ is as the glorious Son of God. The imperatives of the Christian faith come to life for us in the glory of the indicatives about his person and work. Many do not want indicatives, plain declarations about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Indicatives draw theological lines between truth and error, between the historic Christian faith and modern aberrations and cults. The Holy Spirit is telling us plainly that we shall never have a heart to walk with Jesus Christ as Lord until we see the glory of his divine person and actually draw the right conclusion – that we must submit to him. Submission is not a feeling. Submission to Jesus Christ as the Word of God and as your  Lord does not depend upon the difficulties of your past or present. No child of God considers submission to him as infringing upon personal rights or potential. No, he is the glorious Son of God who laid down his life for us, and we must submit to him. Faith embraces the imperative of coming to him in faith, confessing that he is God the Son, trusting him as our only Savior from sin, and laying down all resistance to his authority in your life. When the Spirit reveals Christ to us, therefore, along with the light that illumines our mind unto the believing of the truth, he comes with power to subdue our wills to teachableness. Then, we willingly yield to Jesus Christ as Lord.

Loyalty to His Person

But surely we can go another step, for our Lord is a real person. He is our Master, but he is also our Savior, our Beloved, and our Desire. We are drawn to him and want to follow him. When we read his Gospels, our hearts burn within us, just as surely as the two disciples on Emmaus Road. The longer we know him, the more we want to be with him. This is all connected to the idea of Lordship – that we are loyal to Him. We cannot endure hearing evil spoken of him, or his name blasphemed, unless love has grown very cold. When our society makes foolish and wicked economic and military and educational decisions, our hearts burn with jealousy for the honor of our Lord. We know that our society looks as it does because it hates the Lord and will not have him to rule over us. And we cannot abide this. Like Lot in Sodom, our souls are vexed for the dishonor done to our Master. We are repulsed by impurity, horrified by blasphemy, and shocked by indifference to God and his Christ. How could it be otherwise, for in receiving Jesus Christ as Lord, we are loyal to him. We revere his person and his work. We desire to please him and for all men to give him the worship that is due unto his name. We confess him before men and urge men to repent and to turn to him, not only because hell is coming but also because rebellion against Jesus Christ makes hell on earth. Far from being satisfied with a disembodied faith or reducing his claims to areas of faith while the “real world” is free to run its own course, we freely confess that Jesus Christ is right now, at this moment, the Lord of every man. All owe allegiance to him. All must seek cleansing and covering by his blood or ruin their earthly lives and then perish in hell forever. Are we loyal to our Lord?  Have we received him as Lord in this way? Once we receive him as Lord and are loyal to his person, our lives are mapped out for us – whatever honors Jesus Christ, I will do. Whatever I would have him find me doing when he returns or calls me to heaven, I will do. Whatever embarrasses him embarrasses me. I am blood-bought. I have a Lord. I am not my own.

Love and Delight for the Master

And here we come perhaps to the highest place we may ascend in this life – to love. No one ever became a real Christian under external compulsion, as in the evil days of the Crusades when men confused and equated Christ’s kingdom with their earthly wars and delusions. Men are made Christians willingly, because they come to see the glory of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and to love him. We receive him as Lord when we instead of dreading his company and his word, we love both. We delight in the Lord. It is our privilege to be with him, to worship him with his people, to hear his word. Yes, he makes us uncomfortable at times, for he presses upon our idols and worldly loves. But we keep coming back to him, like Peter: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Or later, even after his embarrassing and wicked denial: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Of course, we do not always act as if we love the Lord, and it is one of the great discouragements of the Christian life that we find our hearts so cold to our Lord. We want to obey him, pray for grace to obey him, and resolve to obey him, but we also find a principle of sin and death in ourselves so that rarely can we do what we really want to do for him, love Him as we want to love him. And yet, this is another reason we love him so much and have received him as our Lord. He is kind and compassionate, knows our weaknesses, and receives our love, however much we stumble and prove faithless. He is always faithful, and we have come to him not because we have it all together but because we are wrecks in every way. We come to him because sin has utterly messed us up, but he invites us to come for cleansing. When he cleanses our leprosy, then he cleans up our lives. He has everything, and he gives us everything. We love him for this. We love him as the Son of God, our only Savior, the best Master, the most patient Friend, and the most glorious King.

Walk in Him as Lord

Rooted and Built Up in Him

“Walk” is a key Christian word. Walk implies consistency, progress, and direction. A walk is the opposite of light-switch piety, or lightning in a bottle, or mountain top highs – quick, easy, non-idol smashing solutions to our deep-seated sins and their consequences. Assuming strength in our limbs, we walk constantly, uphill and down, under pleasant skies and in storms. This metaphor is well-chosen to teach us what it means to follow Christ – to walk with him as Lord. It is not a momentary impulse of feeling but constant effort and intentional movement toward him and dependence upon him. This is made clear by the first two descriptions of the way we walk in him as Lord. The first is “rooted,” and means to be planted thoroughly in him, well-cultivated, closely clinging. He used this idea in John 15 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Abide in me. We must sink the root of our life deeply in Christ because he is our Lord. He alone has strength and vitality. In ourselves, there is nothing but death and barrenness. The world pretends to be alive, but the world is filled with dancing corpses, dressed up and perfumed to mask the rot and stench of sin. The world outside of Christ is eaten up with moral leprosy – an inner rottenness leading to outward decay, collapse, and madness. Jesus Christ will be seen as Lord in that outside him, there is no life, only misery and brokenness leading to death.

What does it mean in practice to be rooted and built up in Christ? First, it means that we worship our Lord by intentionally attributing to him all life and wisdom – for everything. Family, worship, and work, the individual and the corporate, public and private, all are redeemed and ruled by Jesus Christ. There is no area in which we do not need him and can function without him. “Without him, we can do nothing” (John 15:5). Second, to be rooted in him means we continue tilling in the soil of his word so that we seek all wisdom and sustenance and vitality from him. Real walking with Christ as Lord is a walk of prayer and seeking him – as he sought his Father. We cannot expect to be strong, joyful, able to withstand sinful temptations or endure faith’s trials unless we are implicating ourselves more and more into him, communing openly with him, and in every way placing ourselves under his shepherding.

Third, to be built up into him joins the architectural idea of laying one’s life upon him as a foundation. We build our lives actively upon his word.  The true disciple is always asking Jesus Christ to guide him in the right way and to preserve him from the wrong way. He does not ask the Lord to affirm his willfulness or self-expression so that he can feel good about getting what he wants. He asks Jesus Christ to be Lord of his life and to build him as he wants him to be. A built-up-in-Christ life is therefore an obedient life – obedience to the Lord’s word. Fourth, since this rooting and building are done in the body, in great humility we seek to grow with others in Christ – he is far bigger than my private guru or leader. He is the Head of the Body, and thus we sink our root together in him and build upon him as our chief cornerstone.

Established in the Faith

As we gain clearer and truer views of him, we will know more of being rooted and grounded and established in him. Life is not nearly so terrible, even sudden deprivations and deaths, if we are continually being confirmed in Christ. This is what “established in the faith” means – to be confirmed, to make sure. Our Lord is a real person we can know and love and walk with – not a religious idea, like attending a festival once a year or lighting a candle. He is confirmed in his love for us – look at his cross and see the wells of salvation and rivers of life flowing still from that blood-soaked hill. We are privileged on our side to be confirmed in him – to know that we know him, and to keep growing in him, and to continue finding our life reference and purpose in him. Many backslide terribly for failing to be established in the faith. Their walk with the Lord is unstable. They have little joy in him or delight in what he has done. They do not think about his person and work. They do not listen to the sermons that instruct us in the right way or quickly forget them. But his word is given to us so that we continually think about it, meditate upon it, and thus find ourselves growing in understanding and confirmation in the faith. It is not our feelings about Jesus Christ that make us stable – it is what he has done for us in time and space. He is our Lord, and he will bring these blessings of salvation accomplished into our lives – free and full forgiveness, the joy of being cleansed of our leprosy and admitted to the courts of heaven for help and hope. One way to tell if we are walking with Jesus Christ the Lord is if we are more established in him, more settled, more confirmed in our faith than we were last year, readier to serve, worship, and trust our Lord than we were in times past.

Real growth comes from being established in the truths we have been taught. This is an important idea. The worship and piety of many today is focused upon elevated feelings. But these will not last, and therefore are powerless to lay a foundation for a well-established, rooted and grounded faith in Christ. They will not help us grow up into Christ. This is the reason that churches must hold fast the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Walking with Christ as Lord is not something we feel ourselves into – it is a way of life he sets out for us in his word. Good feelings come as we submit to good truth. And this, sadly, is the reason that many churched youth are led horribly away from biblical Christianity in their young adult and college years. They have not been taught – except to feel their way through life, to follow their emotions to Jesus. This is not the path of submission to his Lordship. He is a speaking Lord, whose words make reality what it is. We grow and are able to overcome the world as we are established in the “form of good words,” the apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42). Urge your friends to leave false churches where there is no teaching of the apostolic faith and when worship is an emotion-laden experience rather than word-based service. They and their children will be swept away by the tides of lawlessness flooding our land. Or worse, they will equate their feelings to sin as legitimate expressions of faith. But those who are built upon Christ and his truth, who submit to him as Lord by holding fast to his word, will survive the storms. Christ Jesus the Lord sits as King above these floods. He has sent them to sweep away his enemies. His friends will endure and overcome.

Abounding in Thanksgiving

Abounding in thanksgiving sweetens every duty. Under Christ’s Lordship, we are not a complaining or a fearful people. In fact, most complaints we utter are really against our Lord – against his wise providences, his loving chastening, or his sovereign right to do by and with us according to his holy purposes for us. We must be very wary of a complaining spirit, as it provokes him – remember the wilderness! The best and only lasting remedy for a complaining spirit is a thankful heart. Christians should be overwhelmed with gratitude – at the Lord’s rich grace toward us, his faithfulness to his promises, his unchanging love, and his constant watchcare over us. Thankfulness is one of our best witnesses to the world of the meaning of walking with Christ as Lord. How, you ask? By showing that we look for nothing but what he gives us, that we are content with him and his wise governance of our lives, and that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Each of these are gospel blows against Satan’s dark, bitter, and complaining kingdom. Why did he rebel? Ingratitude, joined with an abominable pride. If we would fight against him, against depressed spirits, and against the heavy spirit of our age, we must be clothed with thankfulness.

We have constant reason to be thankful and to tell the Lord that we love him and are thankful. Did he shed his precious blood to redeem us? Did he humble himself to become so poor in order to make us rich? Do we have the Holy Spirit to guide our way and be God’s own presence with us? Are we forgiven of all our sins and righteous by Christ’s obedience imputed to us? Is the throne of the HOLY, HOLY, HOLY God our refuge and our home? Does he invite us to cast all our cares upon him? Do we have a glorious inheritance waiting for us in heaven? Do we have God’s Bible? Give thanks. Abound in thanksgiving. Never let an hour pass without lifting your voice to God our Father in thanksgiving, to the Son for loving and laying down his life for us, to the Spirit for revealing Christ to us and indwelling us and filling us with the fruits of righteousness.

But specifically, we abound in thanksgiving because Jesus Christ is our Lord. This requires a little unpacking. We are no longer under the dominion of the wicked one – the Son of God has burst our chains and opened our prison doors. Our destiny is not the world’s doom but Christ’s crown! Whatever the season of life, however hard or lonely, painful or persecuted our way, he rules over us, guards over us, and is working all things together for our good and an eternal weight of glory. We pass through life hand in hand with the Son of God incarnate – he has passed through every dark valley, endured every hardship and temptation, cried every legitimate tear, and felt the weight of sin and judgment and death. And he, he is our Lord! Why would he take us to himself like this? Why would he dwell with us and show himself to us? He is good. He is himself. Let us give him sincerest thanks for being our Lord and Master. May our walk with Him this year be marked by abounding thanksgiving! Tell him, tell him how great and good and merciful he is. Give him constant and sincere thanks. Our attitudes will change. Joy blossoms in the garden of gratitude. Our witness to his grace is more compelling when we simply share with others the great things he has done for us and give him public, humble thanks.


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