The Christian Walk: Lesson 5 How to Walk

The Christian Walk: Lesson 5

Part 2: How To Walk

Walk Rooted and Built Up (Col 2:6-7)


The theme passage for this series of lessons gives us some important directives for how we are to live the Christian life. Paul exhorts (i.e., commands; the Greek verb translated “walk” is in the imperative mood) the Colossians to continue (“walk” is in the present tense) living in a manner consistent with this truth.

  1. Walk as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord.
    1. When the Colossians received Christ at the moment of their conversion (the Greek verb translated “received” indicates a past, point-in-time event), they received Him for who He really is, “Christ Jesus the Lord.”
      1. “Christ” – the anointed one of God promised in the OT
      2. “Jesus” – the Savior from sin (“he shall save his people from their sin” Mt 1:21)
      3. “Lord”—the supreme authority, owner, master

Paul wants their present and continuous conduct to conform to the doctrine taught them at the beginning, the doctrine they had committed themselves to at conversion.[1]

  1. How does one receive Christ Jesus the Lord? By faith. This is also how we must live the Christian life—by faith, “not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).
  2. Paul’s concern is that we persevere in the faith we originally received and not become enamored with the philosophies and “vain deceit” (Col 2:8) so prevalent in the world around us. Believers are “complete” in Christ (Col 2:10) and need not partake of worldly foolishness.
  3. A faith that does not recognize the Lordship of Christ is a dubious faith indeed. Some today assert that accepting Christ as Lord is a secondary, optional step one should take at some point after salvation. To be saved, one must simply trust Christ as Savior from sin without any concern about his claims as Lord, they say. But Paul’s words here strongly assert that genuine salvation requires one to recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord at the point of salvation. Salvation entails one receiving “Christ Jesus the Lord.” One’s “walk,” that is, his behavior or conduct, must reflect the fact that Jesus is his Master.

 

 

  1. Walk “in him.”
    1. To “walk” in Christ speaks of maintaining the Christian faith, living and acting under the teachings of Christ as taught by the Savior and his apostles. True believers persevere in faith and in good works.
    2. Paul’s frequent assertion that believers are “in” Christ reflects the fact that Christians are united with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection (cf. Rom 6:4-6). We are dependent on our union with Christ to maintain the Christian walk.

Note the Quote: We were in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4); we are in Him as we were in Adam (Romans 5:12, 21; 1 Cor. 15:22); we are in Him as the members of the body are in the head (Eph. 1:23, 16; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27, and often); we are in Him as the branches are in the vine (John 15:1–12). We are in Him in such a sense that his death is our death, we were crucified with Him (Gal. 2:20; Romans 6:1–8); we are so united with Him that we rose with Him, and sit with Him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:1–6). In virtue of this union, we are (in our measure) what He is. We are the sons of God in Him. And what He did, we did. His righteousness is our righteousness. His life is our life. His exaltation is our exaltation.[2]

  1. Jesus taught that genuine believers are like branches connected to a vine (John 15). Those who “abide” in this connection bear fruit and prove themselves to be genuine disciples. Those who fail to abide in the vine wither, are cast off, and eventually are burned, thus proving themselves to be false brethren.
  2. Walking “in” Christ suggests a life that is directly and permanently connected to Jesus, a life that abides in Christ and is nourished and strengthened by this connection.
  3. Walk “rooted.”
    1. The Greek participle here could be translated “having been firmly rooted.” The form of the word suggests an action which took place at a point-in-time in the past with ongoing effects. The moment a believer is converted, he is, so to speak, planted in the soil of salvation (cf. Ps 1:3; Jer 17:8), remaining permanently rooted therein and growing as a result. Our object is to remain “grounded and settled” in the faith, “not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23). “Having been firmly rooted” is a good way to describe the permanency of salvation and the stability of the Christian life.
    2. The word is in the passive voice, implying that someone else (God) has done the planting. This reflects the fact that God is the active participant in salvation. God provides for salvation; man merely receives God’s provision.
    3. It might sound a bit odd to “walk” while “rooted” securely in the ground, but Paul’s intent is clear. We live the Christian life from a position of firmness and solidity. Faith in Christ gives us secure ground for living the Christian life.

 

  1. Walk “built up”
    1. Paul switches from an agricultural metaphor (a plant) to an architectural one (a building). Just as a plant grows higher and stronger, and as a building grows as it is being built, so the believer should be growing and developing in his faith. A growing Christian life (sanctification) is built upon a proper relationship with Christ (salvation). Jesus is the foundation (1 Cor 3:11) and chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:6) upon which believers build their lives.
    2. Again, the Greek participle is in the passive voice, suggesting the fact that God is the one who is ultimately doing the building. This is a present tense verb, describing ongoing action—”being built up.” This should be the common experience of all Christians. Further, we should note that the process of being built up—what the NT called “edification”—is most commonly related to participation in the local church. Building up occurs in the context of church life.
    3. The building/edification process is reciprocal—we “edify one another” in the context of the church (1 Thes 5:11). How does this occur?
      1. Love one another (1 Cor 8:1).
      2. Admonish, encourage, warn, and support each other (1 Cor 14:3 and 1 Thes 5:14).
      3. Follow spiritual leaders as they follow Christ (2 Cor 10:8; Eph 4:12)
      4. Use the resources God supplies—the Bible, prayer, the church, etc. (Acts 20:32).
  2. Walk “established in the faith”

The word “established” means, “made firm, confirmed, strengthened.” As the believer grows in the faith, his roots go down deeper and become stronger and more stable (cf. Ps 1:2-3 and Jas 1:21).  Again, the participle is in the passive voice, suggesting that God is the one who establishes the believer in the faith—”being established” is the idea. Paul wanted the Colossians to be well-anchored, lest the winds of heresy uproot them and blow them around like waves of the sea (cf. Eph 4:14).

These three ideas—being rooted, built up and established—strongly imply that believers should be firmly grounded and secure in the faith. The whole book of Colossians is an exhortation for believers to persevere in the faith and in good works, even when confronted by false teaching and worldly philosophy (cf. Col 2:8).

These passive verbs (showing that God is doing the action) do not imply that the believer is careless in his approach to sanctification (e.g., “let go and let God.”). But they do teach that God ultimately initiates and motivates the process. God is the one who works in us “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  Believers are still responsible to “labor and strive” (1 Tim 4:10), to make their best efforts (2 Tim 2:15), and to work out their salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). We must cooperate in the sanctification process.

  1. Walk “as you have been taught.”
    1. We must strive to hold fast the traditions the apostles taught (Acts 2:42; 2 Thes 3:6). Churches face the constant temptation to adopt the latest fads and innovation in doctrine or practice in an effort to stay “relevant.” We must staunchly retain our commitment to the fundamentals of the faith without modification. Christianity is a received faith, not one subject to haphazard change. Any significant movement away from the fundamentals is likely a corruption, not an improvement.
    2. Teaching must be a significant element of a church’s ministry. Christ himself commissioned the church to teach (Mt 28:20), and Paul urged Timothy to teach those who could in turn teach others (2 Tim 2:2). Every believer should be committed to learning and spiritual growth.
    3. Teachers are an important part of the growth and stability process. Teachers both convey the content of the faith and provide an example for the congregation to follow (cf. 1 Cor 11:1; Phil 4:9). Thus, congregations must insure that their leaders fulfill the biblical qualifications given for them (1 Tim 3; Titus 1). Too often, churches focus on a preacher’s communication or personal skills and neglect evaluating his moral character.
    4. Those working hard in teaching the Word deserve the respect that accompanies the position (1 Tim 5:17).
  2. Walk “abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
    1. The Greek word translated “thanksgiving” is eucharistia, the root of which is charis, which means, “grace.”  Any recipient of grace should be grateful because he has received something good he does not deserve. Gratitude is an attitude Paul commends several times in Colossians (1:12, 3:15, 16, 17, and 4:2).
    2. In light of God’s work of rooting, building and establishing us, gratitude to God should be abundant in our souls to the point of overflowing.[3] And the present tense of this verb indicates that this attitude of thanks should be a continuing experience in every believer’s life. Those lacking such gratitude may be susceptible to doubt and spiritual delusion (of which Paul warns us in Col 2:8).[4]

 



[1] Expositor’s Bible Commentary

[2] Charles Hodge, vol. 3, Systematic Theology (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 127.

[3] The word “abounding” often pictures a river overflowing its banks.

[4] Expositor’s Bible Commentary 

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