Colossians 2:6-7 
Rooted and Built up!

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on September, 03, 2019

Colossians 2:6-7 
Rooted and Built up!

God is committed to growing His people. He has rooted us in Christ through our salvation and fosters our growth through the Holy Spirit working through His Word. Most believers are so absorbed at the moment that they never think of what the Lord’s longterm goals are except as a pass to heaven. God, however, has grand plans for each of us and paves the way for each of us to fulfill those plans. Paul says in Galatians 4:19, the goal is, “until Christ is formed in you!”

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:6-7).

This is, I believe, one of the powerful messages in these verses. At salvation, God fully equips us to grow into a strong, healthy Christian. Paul gives not the least indication that the promise or opportunity to be firmly planted or built up is only for certain Christians. The promises exist for all genuine believers in Christ. There are two important keys to ascertaining that godly life for ourselves: 1) Be a genuine believer in Christ, and 2) walk in Jesus.

The Past Experience

The first (the “as”), becoming a genuine believer is best understood as a one-time incident, even though the “born again” process, like an earthly birth, can be prolonged—depending upon what aspects of the birth one is speaking about. The process is still called as one birth no matter how long the birth pangs, and so it is with becoming a Christian. We go from not having “received Christ Jesus the Lord” to having received Him.

Verse 7’s “having been firmly rooted” in Christ gives us the same impression—it is a one time event but with ongoing effect. The plant or tree goes from not having roots firmly planted to when they are. At some point, that which sprouts becomes a plant. No, it’s not a full-grown plant, but this small tiny plant has the full potential of growing to its full growth and able to bear fruit of its own. Once the roots become rooted, the plant can thrive on its own and no longer needs to depend on the seed’s own temporary nutrition. As a small backyard gardener, I am fully convinced of the difference of pulling up a weed with a firm root or not!

The Future Potential

We need to contrast the beginning of our salvation experience with its effect (the “so”). This expectation of something radical happening because of our salvation experience is right and normal. It’s like turning on and connecting to a whole new network. Our question is, what should happen at that stage. Paul in verses 6 and 7 states several things that should be happening: 1) the ability to walk in union with Christ (6), 2) to be built up or otherwise strengthened in Christ (7), and 3) the strengthening of our faith (7). Without the initial change of knowing Christ, there is no filling of the Spirit of Christ. Without the saving and new life of the Spirit, there is no way to walk in Christ.

The reason I add extra emphasis to this is that Satan likes to confuse us with in-between scenarios that are never true. Let me identify a few of these false conclusions that the immature make:
One of the most common reasons for discouragement in our Christian walk is due to not fully connecting these two elements of salvation and sanctification. So instead of looking to how we feel or behave, we ought to look at our faith and strengthen it.

  • I believe, but don’t have the power of God working in me. (But genuine believers always share the hope of God’s Spirit powerfully working in them.)
  • I’m not too sure about salvation, but I have great excitement when with believers. (But the genuine energy of Christian growth comes from knowing Christ not associating with believers, even though that is good.)

The

The Pattern

It is essential to see that the foundational roots are implanted and that we have the Spirit of God, and yet, we have much room for growth. It is true with all new believers. A great surge of hope and expectation greets new believers thrusting them into bright beginnings of their Christian walk. But when that faith, dwindles by one or more challenges, we start doubting and despair. Some, if not many, have somewhere fallen in disrepair with their impaired network—they are out of it. But here, Paul lays out for us a pattern of spiritual life. I will use four aspects of growth to demonstrate how this pattern works itself out in our spiritual lives, namely: faith, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and humble obedience.

Again, we are looking at the so-as pattern identified in verses 6 and 7. We are asking what specific actions that took place in our salvation should continue to have an effect on our lives as believers right until we see Christ when faith is no longer needed.

Faith

Salvation begins with faith, that is, a special spiritual comprehension of our Lord’s work for us. Faith awakens our persons to the person of God and introduces us to our sins, our guilt, and our need for salvation. As that perception of God becomes more visible, our sins and their burden become increasingly overwhelming and even preoccupying. It is at this point we find disgust with our previously considered good-works which now look unseaworthy. This lack of righteousness is the reason Paul rightly states we are saved by our faith in Jesus’ work rather than our own.

“Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law…” (Gal 2:16).

Faith in God helps us ascertain His presence that kicks us off into a spiritual journey where we become seekers and finders of God through faith in the work of Christ Jesus on the cross. Only in Christ can we find full forgiveness.

Our Christian walk, in the same vein, provides special insight and access to God where our sins become more apparent. It is this rightly perceived holiness of God that the believer seeks to put aside all of one’s own sin.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

But it would be a pity, to think our only response to God is reflecting on our sinfulness. Romans 5:1 and Galatians 2:20 emphasize life with God begins at our salvation. There is a positive element to our salvation that begins not only a conversation with God but a friendship (though not excluding healthy respect). Guidance, protection, and help all come from nurturing our relationship with God. A healthy and developing faith, not of different quality as the incipient faith, but more developed confidence leads us into an abounding life full of His Spirit. Let’s look at the place God’s Word plays in our Christian faith.

God’s Word

God’s Word plays an essential role in a believer’s salvation as well as Christian walk. We ought to immediately connect God’s Word or the Bible with the Gospel—that which needs to be propelled outward to the nations so everyone can hear. The Gospel preserves and reveals saving faith. Peter interestingly describes the place God’s Word plays in a Christians faith and why it is necessary.

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

The seed here is nothing but the Word of God. The word “gospel” is not used here, but it is self-evident that this Word of God generates new life. New life comes from the Word of God, causing a whole new nature to arise in our lives. The new life has its own living principles creating a desire for the things of God and a faith that helps us abide in the consciousness of God’s presence. The place of the word of God, however, is not just to get us to believe but to sustain and strengthen us in our faith as believers.

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Th 2:13).

Many places in the Bible affirm of the importance of God’s Word and the great love of God’s people for His words (Psalm 119 is perhaps the most famous). Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, says, “the Word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” There is an ongoing “work” in our lives due to the Word of God actively performing in our lives! While this is true, Christians often get confused because God’s Word gets dull or not as meaningful. Don’t let your feelings beguile you to the power of God’s Word in your lives! Our problems stem not from the power of God’s Word or our need of His Word but to the dullness of our hearts (which I further explain towards the end).

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Older Christians must train new Christians early on how to read and be nourished by God’s Word. Reading God’s Word is a daily exercise of faith (Mat 4:4) and plays such a crucial and regular spiritual discipline that Jesus likens it to eating.

The Spirit of God

The Spirit of God is rightly associated with our spiritual faith in Christ. Without God’s Spirit at work, there is no conviction that brings genuine salvation.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:6-7).

John quotes Jesus who, like Peter, refers to a Christian’s new life to being “born again” (or literally “born from above”). The first life comes from earthly parents, but the later, the spiritual birth, comes from the regenerating work of the Spirit of God in believing humans. It is here we gain a new life with all of its aspirations and godly desires to please God. God’s Spirit is not only with us in creating that new spiritual life but throughout all our spiritual lives. It makes sense, right? If the same Holy Spirit saves is with us all through our Christian lives, then we should be equally affected by the Spirit of God.

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” (1 Peter 1:2).

With a cursory look at the Old Testament, readers might assume the way the Spirit of God works in our lives is the same as in the saints of old, but that is not true. God’s Spirit does not come upon and away from His people, but lives right within them. Peter clearly states that it is the “sanctifying work of the Spirit” by which we live out our Christian lives. God’s Spirit has set us aside to live for Him and so abides within us just as Jesus predicted.

God’s Spirit creates faith, hope, and holy desires in us so that we perform God’s will for our lives.

Application

Being born of the Spirit of God brings us into God’s family as sons with all of Christ’s promises. Instead of fearing the Spirit’s departure, we can use those thoughts to work along with the Spirit. If Jesus’ Spirit is in us, then we can bank on the Spirit working with us throughout our lives. Many are the saints across time who have been wonderfully kept and protected by the promises of God.

More applicable, perhaps, is the way the Spirit of God helps us live out our Christian lives. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). The Spirit of Christ Jesus lives in us to know and to do His will—providing our needed strength, wisdom, and might. The world wages war against us. There is no place or moment we can drop our guard. The Spirit of God assures us that as we seek Him, then the evil one can’t touch us. Think of all the worries, lusts, fears, anger that attempt to control us. We should give our fears and failures to the Lord and be attentive to the way God works in us through His Spirit. (Check out my book, “Life in the Spirit!” for a more detailed understanding of the way the Spirit of God works in our lives.)

Humble Obedience

The fourth way that I see how our spiritual lives are connected to our salvation speaks about humble obedience. Regarding our salvation, we are, perhaps, well-acquainted with the word “repent.” Repentance has the same meaning as humble obedience as it calls us to turn away from our wayward ways to submit to Jesus. This is the reason the Apostle Peter so openly commanded each of those at Pentecost, primarily Jews, to repent.

“Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

We enter into the kingdom as a child. To find God’s kingdom, we must have a poor spirit (Mat 5:3). Repentance and baptism display the humble obedience that welcomes us into His great love. But we do not only enter God’s kingdom through humble obedience but constantly live in that simple dependence.

James scatters big clouds of confusion that block our knowledge with his words, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10). Humility remains critical when approaching the Lord. We are forgiven, but we still need to be respectful—fully recognizing that we are living for Him rather than He for us. Yes, we are greatly blessed when living in His presence, and yet, we are here to serve the Lord alone.

Application

The Spirit of God creates a new life in us as we repent and follow through with water baptism. Believe and be baptized remain Jesus’ charged words for us (Mark 16:16). It is very unhelpful for people to make excuses for delaying their baptism. Either one follows Christ or not. If we follow Jesus, then we need to be baptized despite the opposition faced.

But beyond baptism, this humble obedience plays out in the way that we openly approach God in our Christian lives. Many of us might have hidden our sins from our parents, but God the Father sees our every sin—there is no hiding. It is best if we come openly before Him and seek forgiveness than to hide our sins. The humbling of our souls enables us to become honest with our sinful wrestlings and admit to our innate weaknesses to fight the spiritual fight without Him. “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet 1:22).

Final Summary on Colossians 2:6-7

The Lord works through all of these critical areas: faith, the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and a humble obedience to grow us into tall, mighty oak trees.

The secret to a healthy Christian life is founded upon a strongly established faith in Christ Jesus.

All four aspects of our faith work together for a strong Christian life. That developed spiritual life doesn’t happen overnight, just as a tall tree doesn’t grow overnight. Instead, having laid our roots in Christ, we then can consistently grow as we live in the awareness of God’s presence (faith). Daily we will take in God’s Word to our souls and closely attune ourselves to how the Spirit of God is working in our lives and the situations around us. Just as our new birth was supernatural, the working out of our spiritual lives likewise is a miracle in the making.

Although fully equipped with bright faith and the spiritual tools to accomplish His good works, we sometimes get dull in faith and even unresponsive to worship and reading of His Word. I would suggest that this is common rather than rare, nothing that God wants for He equips us through His Word. God is trying to speak to us. The problem lies with our hearts, which like hardened soil, become unresponsive to the spiritual seed of life. Many things can interfere with the vitality of our souls, and though not necessarily easily identifiable, they are treated in the same way—through humble obedience.

“But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

We first confess any known sin but then proceed to observe our inattentiveness and even unwelcoming hearts. Due to God’s grace, we should be overflowing in gratitude but when we are not, then we need to confess our stubborn hearts. See here that we are repenting, acknowledge our wrongs, and our weaknesses (e.g., lack of wisdom). When we stoop our hearts before Him, then we can engage in helpful and strengthening studies in His Word.

Those things which founded our new life-giving faith in Christ will continue to provide the needed grace to establish our Christian lives in Christ.

Difference between seeker of Christ and follower of Christ

Study Questions on Colossians 2:6-7

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:6-7).

  1. Explain how the two words “as” and “so” form a pattern.
  2. The “as” is described by two past tense verbs in verses 6 and 7. State the verbs and describe what they refer to.
  3. Put the words “received Christ Jesus the Lord” in your own words.
  4. What are the implications of Paul using Jesus’ complete title and name here in verse 6?
  5. Describe what “rooted” means in the garden and then what it metaphorically describes?
  6. Would you describe becoming a Christian as Paul has here? Why or why not?
  7. The “so” is described by three verbs in verses 6 and 7. State and describe what past events they refer to.
  8. Describe why “walk in Him” is a good description of a believer.
  9. Think about your spiritual life. Describe two ways your faith has been established since you became a believer.
  10. What is one area you would like to be further established in your faith? Please explain.
  11. How does Paul’s description of a believer in Galatians 4:19 “until Christ is formed in you” compare to this description of a Christian here in Colossians 2:6-7?

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