There’s a story told about William Randolph Hearst, the late newspaper publisher. Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read about some valuable pieces of art and decided that he must add them to his collection. He sent his agent abroad to locate and purchase them. Months went by before the agent returned and reported to Hearst that the items had at last been found—they were stored in his own warehouse. Hearst had purchased them years before!
That is analogous to the alarming number of Christians today who are on a desperate search for spiritual resources they already possess. Theirs is a futile quest for something more. It’s a heretical fire fanned in part by the false notion that salvation is insufficient to transform believers and equip them for Christian living. Those thus influenced believe they need something more—more of Christ, more of the Holy Spirit, some kind of ecstatic experience, mystical visions, signs, wonders, miracles, a second blessing, tongues, a higher or deeper spiritual level, and on and on it goes.
But to have Jesus is to have every spiritual resource. All we need is found in Him. Rather than attempting to add something to Christ we must simply learn to use the resources that are already ours in Him.
Perhaps the watershed passage in all of Scripture on our sufficiency in Christ is the book of Colossians. Paul wrote it to believers who were strong in faith and love (Colossians 1:4) but confused by a heresy that denied Christ’s sufficiency. Starting today we’ll be taking a very careful look at some key portions of this critical text.
We don’t know the precise nature of the heresy in Colosse because Paul didn’t define it in detail or spend time naming and denouncing its leaders. Instead he refuted it generally by showing that it was rooted in an inadequate and erroneous view of the Person and work of Christ. He wrote the Colossian church an entire epistle focusing on Christ—His place in the universe, His work in salvation, His preeminence as God, His position as head of the church, and His utter sufficiency for every human need. In so doing, Paul demonstrated that the best defense against false teaching is a thoroughly biblical Christology. He warned the Colossians that attempting to add to or take away from Christ always ends in spiritual disaster.
In chapter 1 Paul writes:
[God has] rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:13–20)
The apostle delivers a profound summation when he says that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3) because “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). He is head over all rule and authority (Colossians 2:10). He is life itself (Colossians 3:4)! What more could the apostle say to affirm our Lord’s utter sufficiency?
The error Paul was addressed was multifaceted. These Colossian heretics claimed that Christ alone could not elevate someone to the highest spiritual level. They were advocating a variety of artificial spiritual additives, including philosophy (Colossians 2:8–10), legalism (Colossians 2:11–17), mysticism (Colossians 2:18–19), and asceticism (Colossians 2:20–23). And as we’ll see in the days ahead, the unassailable truth of Christ is incapable of blending with any of those errors.
(Adapted from Our Sufficiency in Christ)