As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him:…
This letter was written under opposite feelings — feelings that never seem absent from the apostle — the most intense faith in the gospel and the most intense fear for it. No shadow of doubt crossed his mind that it was God's gospel, and that the whole power of God went with it; and yet he was filled with fear for it and its success in the world. This seems a strange contradiction, but it was no difficulty of St. Paul's day, it is the difficulty of all times. We believe in the gospel, and yet we are constantly seeking to preserve it. Why? We are afraid for the gospel not because it is not Divine, but because it is. The world may be trusted to provide for its own. Its products grow naturally, as weeds grow. But the Divine gift comes from another clime, and because it will not thrive without care and culture we fear. It is because it is the ark of God we carry that we tremble as we put our hands to it. The ark will never perish, but the hands that bear it may falter, and for a time let it fall into the hands of its enemies. The Church shall never perish, but there is no promise that the living branch shall not be scathed by unbelief or godlessness. Because of the preciousness of the treasure we hold in earthen vessels, we rejoice and tremble as we receive it in trust from God. As we send out new missionaries, and as the faith of Christ passes into new recepticles, we think of how the faith shall be preserved. We know of the Divine Word which is a light to our path, and the creeds and sacraments; but our text speaks of another safeguard. If the Colossians were to be rooted and built up and preserved from the corruptions of the world, philosophy, and vain deceits, it was not to be by the possession of the Word, creeds, and sacraments, but in addition by walking in Christ as they had received Him. Activity in Christian life and work serves to defend and preserve the faith.
I. Because IT IS PERPETUALLY PROVING IT. Christianity is a science, the knowledge of God; but it is an applied science, and the application of the science of the knowledge of God is walking with God. Astronomy is a science; navigation is astronomy applied to practice. Every time the sailor unfolds his map at sea, and is enabled to mark the very spot where his ship is, he has a fresh proof that astronomy is true. There is many a captain who carries his vessel into port who is quite sure that his nautical tables are true, who cannot astronomically prove them; but he has practical proofs, and the oftener he avails himself of that, the surer he is.
1. So it is with our faith. The Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, are mysterious things; but we prove them as we find this to be true, that the faith which makes us know Him makes us know ourselves, and brings us into a nearer, living, and deeper communion with Him.
2. Prayer is a mystery. Who can prove to us how and why it is answered? But who knows that prayer is answered? He who has gone down upon his knees and has risen with new light and strength. So walk in Christ, so carry and work the mysteries of faith into your life, and then you will have continued proofs of the truth of your faith.
II. Because USE IS A MEANS OF SAFETY. That which we possess, however precious, we are more likely to lose if we lock it up than if we use it daily. It may be stolen long before we get to know it. But what we constantly use we miss directly it is gone. So with the Christian faith. It is those portions that we live by and in, that as we daily use them it becomes impossible to lose. But let there be any part of your creed that is not woven into daily life, and the adversary may be stealing it before you wist.
III. Because IT TENDS TO THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SOUL, If the mystery of the faith is to be held in a pure conscience, then as the conscience grows purer will be the surer grasp of the mystery of faith. It is in the light of the single eye that God's truth reveals itself. If the treasure be held in earthen vessels, then it depends upon the purity of the vessel whether its contents be preserved in sweetness. And among purifying methods activity is one of the most effective. An article in constant use often keeps itself clean.
Parallel VersesKJV: As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: