“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are in Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged. Having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Their pastor Epaphras is in Rome and he has just described to Paul the status of the Colossian church and the other believers in the region, specifically naming the church at Laodicea. You’ll recall that these letters were circulated throughout the region for the benefit of all the local churches. It was the Colossian pastor Epaphras who triggered this letter by coming to Rome with news of reversionism, which included the apostasy of Gnosticism. Because of that the Apostle Paul takes command of the situation by writing a letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways in which Paul actually intervened: 1) intercessory prayer for reversion recovery 2) by writing this letter refuting the false teaching of Gnosticism.
Paul’s prayer for these believers is 1) that they will be encouraged 2) that they would have unity by means of impersonal love 3) that they would have a full knowledge of the mystery doctrine 4) that they would understand that true knowledge and true wisdom are treasures found only in Christ.
Encouragement comes from knowledge of God’s Word. The more Bible doctrine you know, the more encouraged you will be. Only when Bible doctrine is metabolized in your soul can you to be encouraged. The Greek word for metabolism is “metaboleus” meaning change or transition. Metabolism, as a medical term, includes all the body processes by which matter, either organic or inorganic, is utilized for growth, repair, and maintenance. The metabolic process by which oxygen is supplied to the brain is how you think. This makes a perfect analogy to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Physical metabolism is analogous to the various stages of the spiritual life 1) to the doctrine which provides momentum in our spiritual lives and 2) to the doctrine which provides the destruction of human viewpoint in our lives.
Just as the Holy Spirit metabolized the Gospel for us, He metabolizes the doctrine we learn. Physical metabolism involves both eating and breathing, which is once again a perfect analogy of the intake and exhale of Bible doctrine. Like a good doctrinal lesson, food on the table can be prepared magnificently. But the food on the table must be eaten and metabolized to sustain life and create energy. Food on the table in itself is not energy. The key to your physical energy is metabolism. Any malfunction in metabolism produces disease. So also, an accurate doctrinal lesson from a pastor-teacher is not spiritual growth; it does you no good until it’s metabolized. There are believers who have been exposed to doctrine and simply look at the spiritual food and leave.
The greatest doctrinal message in the world from any pastor-teacher is no guarantee of spiritual growth; it is merely the first phase in bringing the believer up to the point of metabolized doctrine. Metabolized doctrine is a matter between you and the Holy Spirit. You provide the positive volition; the Holy Spirit then metabolizes the doctrine. God’s grace provision of the human spirit makes possible the understanding of doctrine and sets up a spiritual I.Q. to prepare you for spiritual metabolism.
Spiritual metabolism is the Holy Spirit converting academic knowledge (gnosis) of Bible doctrine into spiritual knowledge (epignosis) of Bible doctrine. But the Holy Spirit cannot do so without your consent. Therefore, you must have positive faith perception; the Holy Spirit metabolizes only what you accept on a non-meritorious basis. Spiritual metabolism is the function of positive faith perception, whereby the believer inside God’s divine power system acknowledges in his own soul the truth of academic doctrine. He understands it through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in his human spirit. Only after the believer acknowledges the truth of it does the Holy Spirit metabolize it. The pattern is, “I understand what you are saying, and I believe it.” If you are negative, you do not believe it and you reject it.
Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love. It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. In other words, impersonal love is how we treat others. Therefore, impersonal love must be based on the virtue of the subject, the one doing the loving (“the treating”). Impersonal love is a function of the Royal Ambassadorship of the believer. It is our love for God that motivates us to exhibit impersonal love toward all. Impersonal love operates from the integrity and virtue that you have developed from learning and applying Bible doctrine.
As a Royal Ambassador, you represent God before the world. Therefore, as royalty, you are to conduct your life accordingly. This calls for high standards of excellence in every area of your life. It calls for honor in your dealings with your fellow-believers and with unbelievers alike. With Jesus Christ as our example, we are to exhibit the same kind of love that He exhibited. This kind of love can be accomplished only by a believer with Bible doctrine in the soul, who is being controlled by the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God teaches us who we are to love. We are to love God, ourselves, and others. Husbands are told to love their wives, and wives are told to respect their husbands. Parents are to love their children and children their parents. We are to love fellow believers. We are even to love our enemies. (Mark 12:30; Ephesians 5:21-6:4; I John 3:14; Luke 6:27)
The Word of God teaches us how we are to love. We are to love unconditionally, as God loves. This means that we are to love others regardless of their race, their beliefs, their language, their place of birth, their body type, the color or style of their hair, their clothes, their behavior, etc. We are even to love them despite their sin. We love the “sinner” not the sin. And, of course, our great teacher was the Lord Jesus Christ. We simply need to practice loving in the same manner as He did. (I John 3:16-24; James 2:1-10)
The Word of God also teaches us why we are to love. Remember what we have learned about God’s love. He loves because He has integrity. Integrity is defined as a state or quality of being complete (God’s love is complete); an unimpaired state of honesty and purity (God’s love is honest and pure); a character of uncorrupted virtue or a loyalty to the truth (God’s love is virtuous and based on truth). Virtue is strength of character based on objective reality. Since God is all of these and more, the objective reality is that He is love. We love because God first loved us. (I John 4:7-11)
No one can execute the Christian Way of Life without love. This includes love for God, love for yourself and love for others. This is the correct order in which we are to love - God first, ourselves second and others third. Why is this true? The Bible says that if we are unable to love our fellowman we cannot love God. Therefore the opposite is true, only by loving God can you have unconditional love for others. The Bible also says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means that love for oneself precedes love for others. As a matter of fact, love of self teaches us how to love others. (John 15:10; I Corinthians 13:1-3; I John 3:16-24; [Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31 – The Golden Rule])
The mystery doctrine of the Church is found in the New Testament and is all caught up in the scripture that says that this mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” At the moment of salvation, every believer becomes indwelt by the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, for a specific purpose. Christ indwells the believer in order to make evident His glory in us. This is accomplished in the life of the maturing believer as he exhibits the character of Jesus Christ. Our objective as Christians is to allow God the Father to glorify His Son by pouring out fantastic blessings on us. As we move through the spiritual life on our way to maturity our capacity to receive blessing from God increases. This increase in capacity sets up the potential of glorifying Christ. As the indwelling Christ, He provides encouragement, motivation and confidence. (John 14:18-21; Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1:27)
Christ’s indwelling serves as a great encouragement for every believer. Knowing that we have the same destiny as our Savior should give each of us a relaxed mental attitude about the present and the future. Christ was tempted by Satan and remained sinless by utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit. It was this life, tested and proved by Christ that became our example for the proper execution of the Christian Way of Life. Christ now indwells the believer in order to bring glory to Himself.
By an act of our will, we too can bring glory to Christ. By allowing the Holy Spirit to produce the character of Jesus Christ in our lives, God is glorified. Jesus is the standard to which we should aspire as believers. There is no place for discouragement to the Christian who is executing the Christian Way of Life. God has given us all the necessary tools to be successful. Our success as Christians means that Christ will be glorified. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
The indwelling of Christ also provides motivation for the execution of the Christian Way of Life. Our personal love for Jesus Christ should motivate each of us to do our best to bring glory to Him. The unmotivated life dishonors our Savior and brings shame to us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:17) For human beings there is no greater motivation than love. It was love that motivated the humanity of Jesus Christ to die in our place as the penalty for our sin. It was love that motivated God the Father to send Christ. It is love for God that is our motivation for wanting to please Him. (John 3:16, 15:13; II Corinthians 5:14-15) The indwelling Christ “pours out” His love in our souls as we advance in our spiritual lives. Knowing and understanding the love of God, by means of study and application of Bible doctrine is to be our motivation for serving Him. (Romans 5:5)
Jesus Christ is the very essence of God; He is the foundation of everything that we believe as Christians. His indwelling of the believer gives us confidence and the knowledge of Bible doctrine is how the believer learns about this confidence. There can be no confidence in this life or in the one to come until the knowledge of God’s Word is gained through persistent study.
Confidence in God brings the believer hope, but the word “hope” in the Scriptures means confident expectation. Through the study and application of Bible doctrine the believer increases this confident expectation: for this life and for the eternal state. It is this reality of “hope” that gives the Christian a personal sense of destiny, which is knowing who you are and what you have as a result of being in union with Christ. This is not an emotional “feeling,” but an absolute truth based on your relationship with the indwelling Christ. Our confidence is not in self or circumstances, but rather in Christ. The indwelling of Jesus Christ is unique to the Church Age in which we live and should be a point of gratitude to God. Jesus Christ indwells believers in order to glorify Himself in their lives. We do this as we abide in Him (fellowship) and His Word abides in us. The word for abide in Greek is “meno” and means to dwell, to remain, to continue in, or to tarry. Abide means “to be at home with.” When Bible doctrine is dwelling in you and you are in fellowship with Christ, the potential exists to glorify Him through your life. (John 15:1-14)
Wisdom is the proper application of Bible doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is knowing the will of God and then doing the will of God. Wisdom is knowledge of what is true or right combined with good spiritual judgment. The good judgment is the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26) Good judgment is related to the believer's scale of values, in which Bible doctrine is circulated in the stream of consciousness. A mirror is created in your soul, so that in the privacy of your priesthood you can look into the mirror of your soul anytime and see your status and your relationship with God or failure to have harmonious rapport with God.
Under the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit, Bible doctrine has to have number one priority in the life of the Church Age believer in order to have wisdom. Wisdom is the sum total of the teaching of Bible doctrine under the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit and the positive response to that doctrine, resulting in faith perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine.
Wisdom understands both the will and the plan of God. If you have it, you know what the will of God is and what the overall plan of God is for you. Wisdom begins when you understand that God has a plan for your life and you begin to see it from the Scriptures, and then understand the true spiritual life that God has for you.
You must have wisdom from the accurate teaching of Bible doctrine to execute the Christian Way of Life. Therefore, you must first have humility (teachability) to have wisdom; for no one is teachable apart from humility. Without humility, your mind is not open to teaching. Humility is the basis for teachability, and teachability is the road to wisdom. No one has or will attain wisdom apart from humility. From humility comes great orientation to life. The textbook of wisdom is the Word of God with emphasis on the New Testament epistles for wisdom and understanding of the mystery doctrine in the dispensation of the Church.